By Taye Obateru
Governorship aspirants within the PDP in Plateau State recently demonstrated a common camaraderie by gracing the flag off of the campaign by one of them, former Sports Minister, Damishi Sango. Many are wondering if it was a sign that they are ready to work together to stop the second term bid of incumbent Governor Jonah Jang.
It is no secret that many prominent members of the PDP in Plateau State are united against the second term bid of Governor Jonah Jang. Although many agree that the governor has ‘performed’ by virtue of the development projects he has executed across the state, they disagree with what they call his style which they believe negates his efforts in other areas.
This has remained a subject of debate as the governor’s supporters adduce other reasons for the opposition against him. Many of them often allege that his refusal to distribute state resources as largesse to those who see themselves as political “powerhouse” is the major problem.
However, the no-love-lost relationship between the governor and his deputy Mrs. Pauline Tallen which was climaxed by the recent decision of the deputy to pick a governorship nomination form is being touted as evidence of Jang’s inability to carry people along.
While Jang’s supporters describe the action of the deputy which is seen as unprecedented as disloyalty and as some of them put it, “fighting the government of which she is a member”, others view it as a pointer to the fact that she “has been pushed to the wall” by the actions or inactions of the governor.
Some of those close to the deputy governor alleged that she had been virtually sidelined in the scheme of things apart from alleged condescending treatments that give the impression that she is seen as a “foreigner” in the administration. The allegations and counter-allegations continue.
One of Jang’s supporters, Mr. Joseph Pwol believes the governor is misunderstood. He said beyond being misunderstood is the issue of envy by those who feel they cannot match his performance. He believes that the gang-up against the governor would fail.
According to him, “the governor’s performance speaks for itself and it is well acknowledged by the people. They (opposition) should seek to build alliances with governor Jang in order to remain relevant.
The truth is today on the Plateau, they are perceived as detractors or rather enemies of development on the Plateau. They need to redeem their images by forming a network which will portray them as people with integrity. That way, they would re-integrate into the polity. People tend to misunderstand Gov Jang; they see him as being arrogant and a non-conformist but that’s not true.”
The gathering at Sango’s declaration as the Hill Station Hotel penultimate Monday is significant because it puts a question mark on the belief that the individual interests and ambitions of those in opposition within the PDP would make it difficult for them to form an effective force against the governor.
Sources said the development caused some stir in Jang’s camp because it was banking on their inability to work together to coast home to victory at the primaries.
The uncommon solidarity they demonstrated by gracing Sango’s campaign launch was said to have been designed to clear such doubts and send a clear signal that they could agree to present a common candidate to face Jang. Speaker after speaker re-echoed this expressing their preparedness to make necessary sacrifice to “rescue the state”.
Sango in his declaration speech echoed what appeared to be the feelings of members of the opposition saying Plateau deserves a change. He said the 10-point agenda of the Jang administration had failed citing what he called the collapse of peace and security, education, health commerce and the promotion of ethnicity, bigotry, vendetta and division which he described as major problems that must be reversed.
Sango decried what he called the neglect of the sacred trust to protect lives and property by those entrusted with the responsibility resulting in the drift into mutual fear and despair among the people.
Whether the various aspirants would be able to work together to come up with a common candidate to face Governor Jang at the primaries is the question on many lips in the state.
The eventual answer could point to who emerges the PDP candidate in next year’s election.
Sango who had been in the governorship race since 1998 pledged to serve for one term only in elected and to provide free education and free health for children under five years.