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Solomon Daushep Lar (1933–2013)

The long time politician, a former governor of Plateau State, was 80 years old. He had been receiving treatment for some time for an undisclosed ailment.
Solomon Lar was born at Pongaa in Langtang area of Plateau State in April 1933. The son of a farmer, he went to Sudan United Mission Primary School in Langtang. He attended Gindiri Teachers’ College, where he qualified as a teacher. He taught at the primary school in Langtang before returning to Gindiri for the Senior Teachers’ Training Programme. He earned his Higher Elementary Certificate and taught at the senior primary school level. In January 1959, he was elected councillor to the Langtang Native Authority. In December that year, he was elected to the Federal Parliament on the platform of United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC). He was re-elected in 1964. He was a Junior Minister in the Federal Ministry of Establishments and was parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa until January 1966.
After the military coup of 1966, Lar went to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, graduating with Law degree in 1970. He was called to the Bar in 1971 and became a private legal practitioner. Among other things, he was a member of the Board of Amalgamated Tin Mines of Nigeria from 1972 and Chairman of the Board of African Continental Bank. Lar was a member of the Justice Ayo Irikife panel of 1975-76 that recommended the creation of new states in Nigeria. He served in the 1977-79 Constituent Assembly that worked on the 1979 Constitution that paved the way for the return to civilian rule. When the ban of political activities was lifted in 1978, Solomon Lar was a co-founder of the association called Club 19, which, together with Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim’s National Council of Citizens, formed the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP). After Waziri left NPP to found the Great Nigeria Peoples Party [GNPP] Lar remained in the old NPP and, under its platform, was elected Governor of Plateau State in 1979. He was re-elected to the post in 1983 but was sacked when the military overthrew the Second Republic in December 1983.
As governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lar was credited with executing many development projects that lifted the living standards of the people. These included many road, water, sanitation, health, education, rural electricity and infrastructural projects. Chief Lar was popular known in the Second Republic as The Emancipator. He promoted the Emancipation Programme that aimed at uplifting the state’s indigenous ethnic groups against what he called domination by settler groups, notably the Hausa/Muslim communities clustered around Jos. It was a controversial policy that contributed to the heated politics of the state but was actually a continuation of First Republic UMBC ideology.
When political activities were again allowed in 1989, Lar became a member of the Social Democratic Party [SDP] and was an important backer of Fidelis Tapgun, who became Governor of Plateau State on SDP’s platform. When General Sani Abacha seized power in November 1993, Lar was one of the prominent politicians he appointed into his first cabinet in effort to douse the tension generated by the June 12 election annulment. Lar was Minister of Police Affairs until March 1995. In the last year of Abacha’s rule, Lar was a member of the G-34 group of senior politicians led by Dr Alex Ekwueme that issued a set of demands. Following Abacha’s death in 1998, this group was instrumental in the formation of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] with Lar emerging as its f national chairman. He led the party to a sweeping victory in the 1999 elections, winning the Presidency and majority of seats in both chambers of the National Assembly as well as governorships of 21 states.
In 2001, Lar was replaced as PDP chairman. Since then Chief Lar continued to play the role of a statesman in national life. When a violent political crisis erupted in Plateau State, following acrimonious local government elections in November 2008, the presidency appointed him as the chairman of a committee to search for peace. With his death last week, this country has again lost an important statesman just when his services and wealth of experience are sorely needed.

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