Senator Jonah Jang as the outgoing governor of Plateau State strictly rebuffed the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s zoning principle in the adoption of a governorship candidate for the 2015 election when he pushed for the late GNS Pwjok who is from his senatorial zone as a successor. Jang is now alleged to be pushing for the adoption of regimented zoning in the election of a new party executive, a development that would knock off other contenders for party chairman.
By Marie-Therese Nanlong
The party is yet to recover from the anti-party activities of leading members that was stoked by the decision of the immediate past governor, Senator Jonah Jang to push through his fellow Berom, the late Senator Gyang Pwjok from his senatorial district, as the PDP candidate against the party’s spirit of zoning.
Now, in a reversal of roles, the former governor is pushing for the adoption of strict zoning of positions in the state executive of the party.
In Plateau North where the positions of Chairman, Assistant Treasurer, Organizing Secretary, Vice-Chairman, Assistant Organizing Secretary and Financial Secretary have been zoned to, the Zonal caucus is believed to have apportioned the positions to local government areas to fit in with alleged plans to satisfy particular candidates and interests.
The decision has inevitably stoked the division in the party that according to one source has seen the pro and anti-Jang groups return to the trenches.
“There are two distinct groups in the Party, the G34 and the Plateau PDP Patriots; the G34 initiative is headed by those who did anti-party during the last gubernatorial election in the State who remained in the party but are still aggrieved with Jang for the role he played in handing over the victory to the APC.”
The other group is known as the PDP Patriots who are mostly supportive of Jang.
Now the issues in the party have been further compounded by the decision of the state leadership under the alleged Senator Jang to zone the offices in the state executive to the benefit of what some allege to be their associates.
It is no surprise that though the office of chairman has been zoned to Plateau North, it has been further zoned to Riyom Local Government Area, where one of the aspirants said to be favoured by Jang comes from.
Damishi Sango, a former Minister of Sports during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration ,who is from Riyom is said to be the favoured candidate of Jang to become the next chairman.
The decision to adopt zoning to local government level it is generally believed among some stakeholders was seen in many quarters as an attempt to post the office of chairman to Sango, Jang’s favourite for the job. That decision was in the wake of the interest in the job made by Mr. Bitrus Kaze from Jos East which is also in Plateau North.
The prospect of Kaze getting the job would have seriously distressed Jang; especially given the strong opposition made by Kaze against the decision of the former governor to support the late Pwjok for the governorship ticket. Ironically, at that time Kaze and Jang had clashed over the issue of zoning as the former insisted on the party adopting zoning in the choice of a candidate, an issue that Jang rebuffed to his political loss.
Commenting on the matter, Kaze who sees the reconstitution of the exco as an opportunity to rebuild the party and take opportunity of the mistakes of the All Progressives Congress, APC led administration said:
“As far as Plateau is concerned, PDP is the first love of the people but the way the Party was run, the people were not happy. With a sensible and correct leadership willing to give what belongs to Caesar to Caesar and what belongs to the people to the people, you will see the Party coming back stronger. That is one of the motivating points for my interest in contesting for the Party leadership.”
Expressing worry that the Party seems not to have learnt its lesson on imposition of candidate, Kaze stressed, “In a bid to rid some of us out of contest and to perpetuate their tradition of imposition, a few persons are going about insinuating that I wouldn’t have complained had the purported attempt to zone the PDP Chairmanship seat to Riyom by some PDP elites in Plateau North favoured Jos East LG.
“Even if it favoured Jos East, what if this bad precedence is furthered by the LG chapter of the party to further zone the seat to an electoral ward other than the one I come from? The principle of zoning as propounded by the founding fathers of the PDP in its 1999 constitution states that “in pursuant of the principles of equity, justice and fairness the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels.”
For Senator Jeremiah Useni from the Southern zone, “PDP is not dead on the Plateau. We made some mistakes, all we need now is to go back and take stock; even in the coming election of Party Executives, we need to correct our mistakes by bringing in people who have the interest of the Party at heart and will work to reconcile and carry every member along.”