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Lalong: The man wearing four caps



If it were in the military, Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State would have been decorated with the rank of a four-star General owing to not just how he is holding four strategic leadership positions but how he is giving good account of himself in all respects. This is quite a positive development to Plateau State given the image of the state in the past as crises ridden and prone to violence, writes YAKUBU DATI.

FOR the over seven years that Lalong has been governor, the negative image Plateau has acquired has been banished and now, the rest of the country is seeing Plateau in a new light as the Governor is bringing out positive vibes from the state with his imminent decoration as Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and the task he has been given of returning his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the seat of power in 2023.

If it were in the past, many would have asked how a governor who could not keep his state secured and free of violence would be so decorated and trusted to sell his party to the rest of the country. But with Lalong, many have realised that Plateau is donating to the APC and to Nigeria a new type of leader.

Someone mentioned recently that Lalong is emerging as one of the most outstanding leaders of his time due to his adroitness in leadership, strategic planning, sense of organisation and clinical execution of projects.

In civil parlance, he could be described as a man wearing four caps while making each to sit well on his head.

As governor of Plateau State, Lalong has done so well not just in ending crises and violence in the state but has introduced a new template of leadership that gives all a sense of belonging.

He has also fared well in terms of infrastructural development in the state under his legacy projects initiative which invested heavily in health, education, agriculture among many other facilities.

His concern for the welfare of citizens has made him see to it that workers on the state pay roll receive their wages promptly which gave rise to his nickname ‘Governor Alert’.

Recognizing his leadership qualities, his colleague governors in the northern part of the country made him the chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum. Following a seamless transition from Kashim Shetima, his predecessor and Vice Presidential candidate of the APC, Gov. Lalong went on to strengthen the mechanism put in place to address myriad of challenges facing the region through a united front.

Governor Lalong provided an all-inclusive platform that unified the region such that the north is today speaking with one voice on issues.

As a good party man, passionate about leadership, Governor Lalong also submitted himself for election in the party primary and has been returned as the APC flag bearer for Plateau South senatorial zone.

This is also because the party recognised his ability to not only win in the general elections but also offer the good people of the state quality representation as a senator.

This is owing to the much he had achieved when he was a state legislator where he rose to become Speaker of the state Assembly and chairman, Conference of Nigerian Speakers.

With the myriad of successes recorded and to cap it all, he has been appointed the Director General of the Tinubu/ShettimaAPC presidential Campaign Council.

Thinking that all these enormous responsibilities would weigh him down, many were surprised that not only did Lalong hit the ground running but has been able to add value to the campaign.

No sooner had he resumed on his desk than the all the attacks on the APC presidential ticket on account of religious factors began to die down.

By accepting to serve as the DG of the campaign council, Gov. Lalong was able to elevate the discourse from sentimental to developmental issues by projecting his persona on the ticket.

Once his appointment as DG was announced, people stopped viewing the Tinubu/Shettima ticket from the lens of religion as they were content that with Lalong, all the fears about a skewed ticket has been addressed.

References were being made to his leadership in Plateau State where he has treated people with fairness and justice regardless of faith or ethnicity.

The APC gained tremendously from his appointment as the fear that northern Muslims would be gravitated to vote for a northerner in another party in the presidential elections also died down as they viewed Lalong as deserving of their trust and confidence. His appointment as DG also watered down the attempt by some aggrieved party leaders to blackmail the party on religious ground.

Lalong’s handling of the affairs of the campaign council made the council more robust and attractive that every party member desired to be listed to contribute his quota unlike the other parties where people even picked quarrels for being named into their campaign councils.

Since his appointment, Lalong has provided the needed leadership to carry everyone along such that even when an issue arose with the NWC of the party, he went to work and all the aggrieved calmed down.

Many have wondered how Lalong is able to combine these caps and still look good. They forget that this is not the first time that the governor is multi-tasking on issues of leadership.

It was while serving as governor that he was for instance appointed to head the 49 member campaign committee for Ondo State and he duly returned the APC candidate as governor. Before that, while serving as member representing Shendam State Constituency, he became speaker and then chairman of Conference of Speakers and he performed well.

The presidency must have noted these sterling qualities in him and have decided to honour him with a CON. What a great way to honour a man with so many caps.

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