BY CHRIS GYANG
“Actions defined a man; words are a mere fart in the wind.” – Mario Puzo.
When the quentessential Charlie Chaplin famously declared, ” Words are cheap, the greatest thing you can say is ‘elephant'”, he may have envisioned present-day Plateau State under the leadership of Governor Simon Bako Lalong and Buhari’s Nigeria in free fall.
Last Sunday, Governor Lalong once again reenacted the third edition of the annual chore, the so-called Plateau State Day of Forgiveness and Reconciliation.
For the third time running, he entertained his audience with a mouthful of banalities about the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation in the march towards peace and unity in Plateau State and Nigeria generally.
But, of course, the governor was only embarking on his trademark mission of deploying empty words, platitudes and sophistry to obfuscate the true situation of affairs in Plateau State and, indeed, Nigeria (which is currently precariously reeling towards disintegration under the very watch of his master – President Buhari).
For a start, can the Governor Lalong administration give what it obviously lacks? Does he truly want there to be forgiveness and reconciliation in Plateau State when his government has deliberately and unconstitutionally refused to hold local government elections in four councils of the state as punishment for his abysmal lack of popularity and political relevance therein?
In addition, he has denied these grassroots citizens their due rights of democratic representation because he surely knows that his APC will lose whenever a free and fair vote is held in those four LGAs.
In all honesty, are the citizens of these four local governments that have been so callously denied their constitutional rights and privileges by Lalong have any sense of compunction if they rightly reject his egrigious Sunday posturing about the values of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace?
And, to boot, can there ever be real reconciliation, forgiveness and peace under the persisting atmosphere wrought by this same Lalong government?
But, of course, Plateau people and indeed Nigerians are well aware that both the Lalong and Buhari governments have always been adept at speaking from both sides of their mouths. In fact, Governor Lalong’s inordinate, invidious relationship with the core north as the so-called chair of equally self-serving northern governors has opened him to their parochial double standards which has today pushed the entire country to the precipice.
Just like the northern elite and their governors who have used double- speak to shield their complicity in the Boko Haram insurgency, armed banditry, record-breaking poverty and illiteracy in Nigeria, Governor Lalong, their latter-day conscript, is attempting to adopt the same noxious script to hoodwink Plateau citizens and indeed Nigerians that he truly cherishes the kind of reconciliation and forgiveness that will lead to sustainable peace.
But, just as the Buhari government and the northern governors have woefully failed to give Nigerians and the north any semblance of sustainable peace, Governor Lalong can’t succeed where his masters have failed because, mark this: words are cheap. True, effective and productive governance is the result of practical and honest action.
Therefore, there can only be peace, reconciliation and forgiveness when there is true justice and equal rights to all citizens, irrespective of their political leanings, tribe or religion. This is a universal truth that Lalong and Buhari must imbibe.
It’s only when Governor Lalong understand this fact, which is also at the very heart of democracy, and procceeds to give the people of those four local government areas their inalienable, just, deserts and walks the talk that there can be true forgiveness, reconciliation and, most importantly, peace – both in the minds of those extorted citizens and in their perception and interface with government.
Otherwise, Governor Lalong’s posturings will continue to be a leap in the dark – what has been sadly described as reversed motion. Which is, consequently, circumscribed within the vicious circle of Mario Puzo’s postulation : “Actions defined a man; words are a mere fart in the wind.”
Chris writes from Jos, Nigeria and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org