BY TAYE OBATERU
NOT unexpectedly, incumbent Governor of Plateau State, Jonah David Jang coasted home to victory for a second term of four years in Tuesday’s governorship election. He polled 823,536 to defeat his closest rival, his deputy, Pauline Tallen who flew the banner of the Labour Party and polled 494,975 votes.

Jang won in 13 of the 17 local government areas while Tallen won in four putting paid to the long-drawn struggle to wrest power from Jang by an opposition group within the PDP. The group known as PDP Two was constituted by prominent politicians in the state which made it appear very formidable.

Members of the group later moved out into the Labour Party when the effort to take over the control of the party failed. However, they could not sustain the tempo of the struggle to the end as a crack emerged after the selection of Tallen as the governorship candidate by a five-man elders committee. Many believe that the road to defeat for the opposition was paved from that point.

Jang had rightly or wrongly, been accused of many “sins” ranging from alleged sidelining of those who worked to bring him into office, a ‘know-all’ attitude that spurns advice, rigidity and a generally poor human relations, which pitted him against some political heavy weights in the state. While many ordinary people regarded these allegations as political gimmickry characteristic of the elite, the protracted crises which dotted the last three years of the administration made some feel that any alternative to him that would engender peace would be welcome.

It was this search for an “alternative” to Jang that gave the opposition some fillip until what some tagged the “wrong” choice of candidate.

As some political observers argued, Jang had wormed his way into the hearts of many with the development projects, especially roads, which his administration executed, and could not be upstaged by just any candidate. “Jang is a performing governor whose activities have endeared him to the people and it will take more than mere propaganda to make the people view him differently. Even if you must change him, you must come up with a candidate that can match his pedigree not one considered a part of his administration or who is perceived to be over-ambitious or disloyal”, a political analyst, James Bature told Vanguard.

Although Tallen pulled a huge crowd that sent jitters down the spine of Jang’s supporters and strategists during her campaigns, it was learnt that some developments which should have been an advantage eventually became a disadvantage and did her campaign irreparable damage. For instance, it was claimed that the massive support she got from the Muslim Hausa-Fulani community especially in Jos North Local Government Area who had accused Jang of taking side with his Berom people in the protracted sectarian crises might have been her greatest undoing.

Her political opponents capitalized on this to bandy various speculations that eventually worked in Jang’s favour. It was so effective that she lost to Jang in her local government area Shendam where she got 26,605votes to Jang’s 35,064.

One of such allegations was that she had promised to give the Hausa-Fulani community an Emir of Jos, a proposition many indigenes found unthinkable. Coming in the thick of the strong ethno-religious animosities generated by the unending crisis which has divided the state capital to Christian and Muslim areas, the sing song was that Tallen was out to sell the state to Muslims.

Much as her campaign organization tried to debunk the allegation it appeared to have stuck. This, coupled with the manner she emerged as the candidate of the Labour Party which was greeted by allegation of manipulation in her favour, worked in Jang’s favour. It was such that many who initially disliked Jang or his style stuck to him nonetheless because he was a “devil” they knew and preferred to the alternative offered them.

The alleged arrogance of some individuals and groups even from outside the state that Jang should not be allowed to return as governor also, ironically, strengthened his position. It became obvious as the election d
rew closer that the opposition could not upstage Jang because the chorus among many, even in churches was, “it is not for outsiders to tell us who should govern us”.

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