Many in the Plateau State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP are aggrieved over the party’s failure to adhere to the principle of zoning of the governorship ticket of the party. However, the impressive qualities of the chosen candidates and the failure of the opposition to present a formidable candidate is helping the ruling party on the plateau.
By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Senator Gyang Pwajok’s emergence as the PDP candidate was understandably a sore for many who had sought for the adherence of the zoning principle. In the consideration of such advocates, the candidate should have emerged from Plateau South, the only zone yet to produce a governor for the state since the commencement of the Fourth Republic.
His problem with the southerners was worsened by the fact that the party also overlooked the south in the choice of a running mate. Arc. Yilji Gomwalk whyo was picked as the deputy governorship candidate is from the Central Zone.
Party chieftains from the south blame President Goodluck Jonathan whom they say would not get their votes because “he failed to stop Governor Jonah Jang from imposing a candidate” on them.
Not surprisingly, disenchanted personalities who might have shaped the outcome of the elections are said to be engaging in anti-party activities and few others mostly those who contested the PDP ticket with Senator Pwajok had either left the PDP for the APC or joined in forming a parallel PDP in the State.
The aggrieved members including former Governor, Fidelis Tapgun, immediate past state PDP Chairman, Dr. Haruna Dabin, Arc. John Alkali, Godfrey Miri, Jimmy Cheto, Chris Bature, Victor Lar and nine others who formed a parallel party machine similar to the PDP 2 that came to light in 2011.
Injustice and imposition
Their group called “Reformed Peoples Democratic Party” say they will resist the injustice and imposition by the governor and party executives, warning that the “Reformed Peoples Democratic Party will not vote President Jonathan.”
As it stands, the governorship election has three strong contenders namely; Mr. Simon Lalong, APC; Senator Gyang Pawjok, PDP and Amb. Bagudu Hirse of the Labour Party, LP.
Lesser known is Mr. Sabiu Musa of the African Democratic Congress, ADC.
Remarkably, of the three, the PDP candidate is regarded as the only one doing much to win the peoples’ heart through intensive campaigns.
His effort is mainly seen as breaking the backbone of the resistance to his aspiration which is now rallying around Lalong, who is from the south, the zone that advocates of zoning had said should produce the next governor of the state.
A number of bodies including the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN were quick to caution Governor Jonah Jang on his insistence on Pwajok.
In a letter addressed to the governor and signed by leaders of 12 affiliate member churches titled “Issues and Concerns over the Forth Coming 2015 Elections”, the body urged the governor to know that certain political decisions have implications well beyond political circles hence the need to be cautious.
The said letter was signed by Rev. Soja Bewarang, State CAN Chairman for and on behalf of the Church, Catholic Arch-Diocese of Jos, ECWA President, COCIN President, Bishop, Anglican Jos Diocese; PFN, Patron and Bishop of the Methodist of Jos Diocese, the TEKAN General Secretary, Pastor of CPFN/PFN, Baptist President Jos, the CAN and PFN as well as the Regional Secretary (IFES-EPSA).
Sensing the animosity among politicians, leaders of ethnic nationalities in the state under the aegis of Plateau Initiatives for Development and Advancement of the Natives, PIDAN expressed worry over the political happenings which they say are capable of breeding disunity among tribes in the state.
The leaders lamented the current political antecedent which they say has not provided the desired platform for equity and justice in the state. President of PIDAN, Dr. Aboi Madaki said the leaders cannot fold their arms and watch the state head the wrong way especially as the elections approach.
However, a member of the PDP Presidential Campaign Committee on Planning, Research and Strategy, Mr. Yakubu Datti believes the people of the state will vote massively for the party at all levels in the 2015 general elections despite the grievances.
Datti said Plateau has been a traditional home of the PDP and would not afford to fail the party this time around adding that President Goodluck Jonathan has delivered on all his promises but what remains is for the administration to consolidate on the gains of the last four years.
Party for the people
Supporting Datti’s point at the party’s official flag-off campaign for the 2015 general elections in Mangu where all candidates of the Party were presented to the people, Governors Jang, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State and Gabriel Suswam of Benue State as well as Senate President David Mark among others maintained PDP is the party for people of the North Central so they would work to ensure the party’s victory in the coming elections.
Similarly, Mr. Daniel Kungmi, the Director-General of the PDP campaign organization during the ongoing campaign of GNS/Yilji in the state said all aggrieved members who have grudges will bury their grievances and work to ensure the Party’s victory in the general elections.
Addressing Party faithful at the Barkin Ladi mini stadium, Kungmi said, “PDP is one, by the 7th of February, every internal problem in Plateau PDP will be solved, even aggrieved members will be pacified and every one will come together to work for the Party.”
The Party’s governorship flag-bearer, Pwajok reminded youths at the gathering that “the elders have confidence in the youths and are prepared to hand over the mantle of leadership to us. We should not and will not betray the confidence. Get your voter’s card, come out and vote and avoid the exploitation of religion and tribe but engage in acts which will promote peace and unity in the state.”
The APC gubernatorial candidate, Lalong who has equally kick-started his campaigns is banking on the sympathy of the people who may likely give him protest votes but pundits say he is no match for Sen. Pwajok who is enjoying the backing of government, the support of the governor and the national leadership of the Party.
Despite the focus on the governorship and Presidential seats, those contesting the Senate seats are not leaving anything to chance as the candidates in both Parties are also doing their jobs to ensure they emerge victorious in the coming contest.
The six senatorial candidates from the APC and PDP include Mrs. Esther Sambo (APC, Northern zone) contesting against gov. Jonah Jang of the PDP, Barr. Satzelang, (APC, Central zone) contesting against Sen. Joshua Dariye of the PDP, Gen. John Shagaya (APC, Southern zone) contesting against Gen. Jeremiah Useni of the PDP.
As it is, very little is known about Mrs. Esther Sambo of APC who is Afizere by tribe and set to battle governor Jonah Jang for the Plateau North Senatorial seat. Though she is not really known and her tribe is a minority in the zone, she is sure of clinching the seat as many in Jos North, Jos East and Bassa are said to be in support of her ambition.
Equally unknown is Barr. Satzelang from the Central zone who is contesting the seat with Senator Joshua Dariye of the PDP and whom many know is no match for Senator Dariye who is a serving Senator and well loved by the people.
It is however a different issue in the Southern zone which parades two Generals, John Shagaya of APC and Jeremiah Useni of the PDP.
Many believe the battle will be fierce as both are Tarok from the same Langtang North local government area. Though Senator Shagaya had served a term in 2007 before he was defeated in 2011 by the incumbent Senator Victor Lar who is not seeking a re-election, people of the zone are said to be more receptive of Gen. Useni who they said has done more for them.
While the candidates and their supporters go about their campaigns, every finger is crossed as it is the electorates who will decide the outcome of the elections billed for February, 14 and 28, 2015.