•Senator Jeremiah Useni
By Marie-Therese Nanlong, Jos
Trouble is brewing among the Tarok people of Plateau State as the ambition of the Senator representing Plateau South Senatorial zone, Jeremiah Useni, to take over the governorship seat on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in 2019, is tearing the people apart.
Septuagenarian Useni, a Tarok from Langtang North Local Government Area is earnestly seeking to unseat Governor Simon Lalong despite concerns of age and health challenges. He has been campaigning and meeting with relevant stakeholders to ensure he emerges successful at the primary and general elections.
He has purchased, filled and submitted his nomination form, promising that if elected, he would ensure that the lost glory of the State is restored. Among those he has contacted for their support is the umbrella body of the Tarok Socio-economic and cultural organization, Ngwang Ishi O’Tarok, NIO, where he assured his kinsmen of his ability to deliver on his promises.
Other Tarok sons in the race
Apart from Useni, there are other Tarok sons like Victor Lar, Ibrahim Ponyah, Jimmy Cheto, Samuel Jatau, and Samuel Abashe among others, who are vying for the seat. However, a group, Tarok Elders Forum, TEF said it has consulted widely and endorsed Useni as the Tarok consensus candidate for the seat.
The elders in a statement by their Chairman, Selcan Miner, and Secretary, Danjuma Rimdan, while endorsing Useni, said: “The emergence of a plethora of eligible aspirants of Tarok extraction for the gubernatorial race in Plateau State has generated some concern within the generality of the Tarok people. The leader and elders had therefore engaged the different stakeholders and carried out broad consultation within and outside the Tarok Nation, especially with the wider Plateau State family with a view to settling down on and putting forward a single aspirant to the good people of Plateau State for consideration and support.”
Yet another group, Tarok Progressive Youths Association, TAPYA, the umbrella body of Tarok youths, said the elders’ endorsement of Useni is biased and unfair to other Tarok aspirants.
The youths at a press briefing by its President, Lohnan Samson, and Secretary-General, Singa Zhattau, flayed the elders’ action saying it is of no effect as the Tarok Elders’ Forum had been disbanded since March 28, 2008.
They stated: “As young people of the Tarok Nation, we do not often trade words with our elders as part of our age-long values of respect for age. However, that will cease to be the case in the face of any action by the elders, which is capable of jeopardizing the future of both the youth and the Tarok Nation at large.
“We wish to place on record that the Tarok Elders Forum hitherto inaugurated by the Ponzhi Tarok, His Royal Majesty, Mr. Edward Zhattau (of blessed memory), was later disbanded by the Paramount Ruler on March 28, 2008 at NBTT Jos, and could not have issued a press statement on the emergence of a “consensus aspirant” as far as the gubernatorial aspiration of the Tarok nation is concerned.
“We are not unaware of the fact that there are many gubernatorial aspirants of Tarok extraction, who have picked up nomination forms of their various political parties. These include, among others: Mr. Godfrey Mamzhi of the SDP, Mr. Nanzing Bako of the ANN, Senator Victor Lar, Senator Jeremiah Useni, Engineer Jimmy Cheto, and Engineer Ponyak Ibrahim, all of the PDP, etc.,
“As bona fide Tarok sons, we could not have jettisoned one for the other by way of endorsement, except where the aspirants themselves arrive at a consensus, which would imply a voluntary withdrawal by the rest of the aspirants in recognition of the aspiration of one person, and not the coronation by a group of elders as is the instant case.
“In the light of the foregoing, we hereby make a clarion call on all the people of Plateau State to disregard in all respects the statement issued by the Selcan Miner-led group regarding the endorsement of Useni.”