By Ben Osawe
It’s appropriate to begin this piece with a congratulatory message to his Excellency Barrister Caleb Mutfwang for the ruling of the Supreme Court that affirmed him as the duly elected governor of Plateau state in the 2023 gubernatorial elections.
Relatedly, it is apt at this moment to appreciate the decorum exhibited by Dr. Nentawe Yiltwada Goshwe in not only challenging the elections of Barrister Caleb Mutfwang both at the Electoral tribunal and the Appeal Court but also the maturity, friendship and goodwill exhibited severally when both parties met prior to the determination of the case at the apex court.
Indeed, nothing reflects this sense of goodwill better than the trending photo of both parties shaking hands and laughing prior to the beginning of the court session.
Both are sons of Plateau apart from demonstrating that the matter is about the future, destiny and good of Plateau state and nothing personal, it communicated clearly the message that Plateau is STRONGER TOGETHER!
Beyond the euphoria of the Supreme Court ruling? What next for Plateau State? I put forward below some reflections that could enable the state turn the corner, positioning and recapturing its historical place as the Home of Peace and Tourism.
Drawing from the slogan of his Excellency Barrister Caleb Mutfwang- ‘The Time is Now’, this time is not a time for assuring political jobbers and the political boys that there is no further threat and that it is their own time to have unfettered access to the public till but rather a time for hard work, real hard work! In order to introduce a level of coherence in the reflections I have structured the conversations under the following 5Rs:
Recognizing where we are as global community: The acronymsVUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) era (also known as TUNA Turbulent, Uncertain, Novel, Ambiguous) perfectly describes these times and the framework 2024-2030.
The United States Army in the context of the cold war developed VUCA while an Oxford University Executive Education program developed TUNA. Both concepts taken together are consistent with ancient biblical texts and so does not come as a surprise to many who are observing intently the ‘colours of the sky and the messages therein’. So, with these uncertainties comes the real possibilities of a world at war characterized by geopolitical tensions driven by greed for power, resources in particular precious metals and strategic minerals, the desire for control etc. The Global economy will certainly take the hit with less than impressive growth as the turbulence will affect growth projections in many nations. Currency crisis added to the combustible mix of food, fuel and water crisis will result in contentions among and between nations given the scarcity that is likely to arise. Riots arising within nations due to scarcity and perceived leadership failures in many nations and even the rolling back of democratic governance in many nations. Climatic challenges piling on further pressures on nations. Rising debt due to rising interest rates with undue pressure on many nations including Nigeria given the nation’s indebtedness and debt service.
Reassessing the current place of Plateau State within national and global community:
The issue given this macro-outlook how can Plateau State proceed? The bible says ‘suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14:28-33). Its critical therefore, for his Governor Caleb Muftwang and his team to step back, take a retreat and reassess the state with a view to realistically reassessing the state, locating its place within the current context of national and in the light of the emerging winds in the horizon. Scenario planning and future study skills are critical here because in the process of this possible futures, pathways will be developed for the state. This period requires lots of innovative and strategic thinking, the development of robust partnerships, the discarding of ‘small mindedness’. The breaking of boundaries to find solutions rather than being insular within familiar boundaries. The recognition that there is no free lunch and that political jobbers must be ready to join in doing the hard work.
Rebranding Plateau State: Given the unfortunate narrative that has been foisted on the state as a result of the several conflicts, bloodletting and deaths since 20001, it’s critical that an innovative branding program be unveiled and relaunch the state from the current narrative of conflicts that people have. It’s time to celebrate and market the states’ more than 30 brand assets. An imaginativeness that puts on the domestic and international platforms the ‘soft power of the state’ (music, arts, creativity, hospitality, friendship, cultures, etc) as well as the hard power (brand assets). It’s critical that the space be created for the seeding of a culture that markets the state’s brand assets.
Reimagining and Repurposing Plateau State: The question is, what is the Plateau Vision? Do citizens know it? Is the vision put in a form that inspires citizens? What about the values? What does Plateau State hold high as values of the state? Are these values modelled by leadership? Does Plateau State have a strategic plan? How was it developed? Was it developed through robust conversations or the product of a group of persons? Do citizens have access to the plan. Is it robust enough to the shift the state from being back ward state? The reality is that Plateau State has to be reimagined and repurposed for the common good.
Rebuilding and reposition Plateau State: The State of States Report (2023) puts the economic numbers in Plateau State as follows: Total Revenue was N98.73 billion, Operating Expenses + Loan Repayments (N137.77 billion), Dependence on Federation Account (76.65%), Internally Generated Revenue (23.35%), IGR per capita (N3,225), Capital Expenditure per capita (N3,306), Total Debt per capita (N33,122), Recurrent Expenditure (N90.06 billion)( 84.65%), Capital Expenditure (N16.33billion) (15.35%). Domestic Debt (N149.01bn), Foreign Debt ($32.40m), 17/36 debt ranking size, Health Spending 8.37% as % of total spending, Education Spending 19.97% as % of total spending, Debt Service 66.73% as % of revenue, Total Health Spending Per capita N860.41, Total Education Spending per Capita N2,052.59. These are not impressive numbers. There is a lot of work to be done. It is time for all Plateau sons and daughters to roll up their sleeves to join in the rebuilding and repositioning of the state.
May the coming days usher in peace and shared prosperity for all in Plateau state!
Long Live Plateau State
Long Live Nigeria
Osawe wrote from Jos, Nigeria.