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      Alade Emmanuel

      Tinubu is a workaholic, says Lalong
      by Nicholas Kalu, Abuja and Vincent Ikuomola Abuja
      Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, yesterday described the President-elect Bola Tinubu as a workaholic.
      Lalong said anyone who is not hardworking cannot work with the former Lagos State Governor.
      He spoke during the presentation of a book titled “40 Day and 40 Nights: Simon Lalong’s Struggles and Triumphs in the Nigerian Debacle” in Abuja.
      The book was written by veteran journalist and Chairman of The Nation Editorial Board, Sam Omatseye.
      Lalong who was the Director General of the Tinubu Presidential Campaign said: “I worked under Asiwaju. Anybody who works under Asiwaju would know if you are not hardworking; if you don’t have the patience for diligence and hard work, you will not work with him.
      “And one good thing about him is that anything you do that is appreciable, he will appreciate you.
      “I thank him for allowing me to work with him and I thank God he became the President-elect and in a few days, he will be the next president of Nigeria.”
      Lalong said the title of the book was taken from one of his political experiences while Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, in the course of which he was detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
      He said: “The 40 days and 40 nights were the periods that we fasted while we were in the cell. The very first day I told my people ‘let’s start fasting’ and we all fasted. All attempts to remove us before 40 days did not work. But on the 40th day, we were all granted bail.
      “This book is an attempt to narrate my journey from childhood to the present moment and show how the grace of God has been good to me and my family.
      “I consented to the book being written to be able to inspire others particularly the younger generation with my grass-to-grace story.
      “I wanted those who did not have an idea of my personality, upbringing, trials and triumphs to know that my life has been of total dependence on God.
      “It is not aimed at generating controversy but to tell my story to the public in a detailed manner.”
      The President-elect, represented by the Director of Media and Publicity Tinubu/Shettima Campaign, Bayo Onanuga, described Lalong as a gentleman and a man of character.
      “Governor Lalong was the DG of our campaign and I am happy to be associated with the launch of this lovely book. The governor is a complete gentleman.
      “He is a man that has the mind of steel and you can see it in the way he withstood all the pressure by Nuhu Ribadu, Olusegun Obasanjo to betray his governor and he did not do that.
      “He stuck with his governor and spent 40 days and 40 nights in detention to show he is a man of character and he deserves to be applauded,” Tinubu said.
      Former Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, who chaired the event, said through a rare exhibition of courage and initiation of homegrown policies, Lalong tackled Plateau’s security challenges.
      He said the style adopted by Lalong should be adopted as a template by his colleagues.
      The former Chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, represented by the Director General of the National Orientation Agency, Dr Garba Abari, said: “By institutionalising the peace processes and creating the Plateau Peace Agency, he showed visionary and inclusive leadership.
      “We must commend and appreciate Governor Lalong. History will be kind to you for all you have done.”
      Omatseye said he followed Lalong’s story when he was Speaker and tracked his response to the trials and trauma.
      The author said: “Some of us were waiting as the then president baited him. Some said it was a matter of time for him to cave in. After all, governors like Joshua Dariye had fallen under the president’s imperial bullying.
      “The little man of the Plateau was only one of Obasanjo’s dominos. He was going to fall but we were only waiting to see how and when.
      “Much of what happened is in the book, but for us outside, we saw that the man did not flinch. lt unfurled like a political thriller.
      “He was not going to fall, not even with the puff-puff of a minister job offered by the president for betrayal. Obasanjo fell morally. Lalong tackled the bear. He triumphed by saying no.
      “If saying no meant he would lose his job and for the better part of a decade he was out of a job, he would stay in detention for 40 days and 40 nights. Unlike Christ, though, he was eating.
      “He did not only survive, he became governor. As his stewardship progressed and I encountered him, I thought it was time to document that story. But in following his story, something else as potent as his fight for the rule of law caught me.
      “I was fascinated that at one time, in his village, everyone wanted Fulanis in their backyard. They scrambled for the herders. They ate together, partied and their children enjoyed pet names from the Fulanis. Everybody wanted them on their farms. It was halcyon time. I pondered: what happened to us? When did we lose this sense of community?
      “So, telling Lalong’s story is not about him alone. And we see a lot about him. Who would have thought, looking at him, that he was such a good soccer maestro that not only girls flocked around him but soccer saved his life and education? But his story is like a retelling of an era in Nigeria.
      “That was why I thought people should read his life’s story. It is not only a story of a man whose father thought he would never bear a child, but a perspective of a generation.”
      The book was reviewed by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah.
      At the event were Governors Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Kwara), Babagana Zulum (Borno) and Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger).
      Deputy House of Representatives Speaker, Ahmed Wase and Lalong’s predecessor, Joshua Dariye, were also present, among other dignitaries.

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