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Jerry Useni, Pdp and the Burden of Zoning in Plateau

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – When in 2015, the Senator Jonah Jang led Peoples Democratic Party, PDP administration in Plateau State defied all entreaties and refused to uphold the unwritten agreement to zone the gubernatorial seat to the Southern zone, little did the Party know that this would eventually become a burden.

At that time, majority of the Party faithful were of the opinion that the Southern zone should take the seat but the then governor vehemently opposed the idea, insisting that his zone which he argued was deprived for many years should take the turn again and hand over to the Central zone by 2023 before it would get to the Southern zone. That decision cost the Party the gubernatorial seat as party members opted for the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the incumbent governor, Simon Lalong, from Southern zone.

•Senator Jeremiah Useni

Having shot itself in the leg, the PDP ahead of the 2019 election is seeking to present a candidate from the Southern zone who will serve for only a term and hand over to someone from the Central zone.

To achieve this, the Party is thinking of presenting Senator Jeremiah Useni who they see as an old man and who will not have much strength to seek a second term but rather hand over power to his deputy who the Party insists must come from the Central zone.

The Senator actually has the credentials but the people are worried as the issue of old age is a minus to him. Being a septuagenarian, and prone to illnesses arising from old age, the people are not willing to endure such a governor.

However, apart from Useni from that Zone, there are others like a former Member of the National Assembly, George Daika, a former Senator, Victor Lar, a former State ALGON Chairman, Kemi Nshe and a new face in the race, Sam Abashe, a technocrat venturing into politics. They are all known to have interest in the governorship seat.

From the Central zone too, there are people like the former Chairman of Mangu local government area, Mr Caleb Mutfwang, and Architect Hart Bankat. There are others who are waiting on the wings.

Though Useni was said to have agreed to the one tenure arrangement, he has a contender in Abashe who has publicly declared that he would respect the gentleman agreement on zoning and contest only once, leaving the stage for another person saying that he has a blueprint which if   followed, will re-position the State on the path of progress.

Abashe insisted that gaps which were existing in governance and insecurity in the State were due to lack of blueprint on how to tackle them and with his blueprint, four years was just enough time to lay the foundation and allow others build on it.His words, “I have done my homework well and will hit the ground running and leave the stage after a tenure, having set the pace for whoever will take over from me to follow.   I spent most years of my career life in the Department of Peacekeeping, developing policy and reintegrating people who suffered violence into the society and having spent 15 of those 22 years in the Horns of Africa, the experiences were simply an eye opener for me.

“I came to realize the level of waste we are having in the State and I realize that we were having security challenges because people come to governance without a blueprint, if you have a blueprint, you will not have many problems. So I took the option of early retirement and with my team, we researched into what makes good governance and how to give good governance.

“Plateau is a viable economy if harnessed, we can raise billions in IGR and stop depending on federal allocation. Free education is doable and the gaps in security could be filled if we adopt the good policy of past leaders, monitor, evaluate and see where we can apply them. Investment in agriculture can improve the economy but we have so much waste. “


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