…He’ll lose, he’s our worst governor ever— PDP
By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Jos – As the race to occupy the Plateau State Government House at Little Rayfield, Jos commences, the State Governor, Simon Lalong of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Jeremiah Useni of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Jon Temlong of the Action Democratic Congress, ADC, Haruna Dabin of the Providence People Congress, PPC, Godfrey Miri of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, among other candidates are doing their best to ensure they emerge winner in the all important race.
So far, some contestants have flagged-off their respective campaigns while others are yet to start. But foot soldiers of the respective candidates are working to convince the electorate to give their votes to their respective principals in the March, 2nd governorship election.
For Lalong who on 5th January, 2019, flagged off his re-election campaign, he has to surmount many challenges posed by the main opposition Party, the PDP, which says he has done nothing to merit a re-election. But his political permutation and scorecard could work in his favour.
Although his moves are being closely checked by the opposition parties, Lalong is determined to retain his seat and his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mark Longyen was very optimistic that his principal would return to office as he said, “Nearly four years down the line, Governor Lalong has fulfilled virtually all the promises he made during the 2014/2015 electioneering campaigns.
“The mammoth crowd that thronged the Rwang Pam Stadium on his campaign flag-off was no doubt a clear indication of the people’s immense love and massive support for their dear governor. It is also an indication of what to expect in the forthcoming elections, that is, a well deserved victory for the Governor in 2019.”
The Lalong campaign flag-off had the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, former Benue State Governor, Senator George Akume, former Plateau State Deputy Governor, Pauline Tallen, who represented the First Lady, A’isha Buhari, among others in attendance.
The event also witnessed the defection of some members of some opposition political parties, including the PDP, to the APC and the defectors included PDP members like Ambassador Chris Giwa, Laurenzo Gatau, Simon Ngwan and Alhaji Abubakar Dashe. The State PDP Publicity Secretary, John Akans and PDP stalwart, Isaac Wadak dismissed their defection saying, “it is of no consequence” as “they were not having any political relevance in PDP.”
With the development, Longyen boasted that “Without doubt, the Governor’s deft political strategy is a political masterstroke which has paid off and has succeeded in depleting the camp of the opposition ahead of the 2019 polls. Governor Lalong’s excellent scorecard in his first tenure cuts across all sectors of the state’s economy, he deserves a second term in office to consolidate on the unprecedented achievements so far put in place.”
The Governor also admitted this much when in his remark at the flag off jokingly stated that he had no opponent for the election ahead since the main opposition candidate was not a man but merely a “Boy”, referring to Useni who is also known as Jerry Boy.
Reeling out his principal’s achievements, Longyen continued, “The Governor’s victory in the 2019 polls is already a done deal. You don’t expect the opposition to sing our praises, they will always churn out imaginary tales to deceive the electorate and paint us black, but the people are not fools, they won’t vote for them; they are not ready to return to Egypt, which the PDP represents.”
Apart from Longyen, another APC supporter, Israel Malan believes Lalong would carry the day as he stated, “Governor Lalong’s experience as the longest-serving Speaker of the State House of Assembly from 2000-2006 had exposed him to the rudiments of politics and striking the needed balance to manage diverse group interests in the state. The Governor made sure he constantly engages with the federal government on all matters of interest to the people of Plateau.
“This ensured the establishment of a Nigerian Airforce (NAF) 220 Base for Search and Rescue Operations in Kerang, Mangu Local Government Area, the establishment of two Mobile Police Force Barracks at Longvel, Shendam Local Government Area and Gashish, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area to deal with isolated cases of insecurity in the state. This has also helped immensely in the recent return of many Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs spread across different camps in the state back to their ancestral homes.
“Also, the governor established the Plateau State Peace Building Agency, PPBA, which provides a proactive platform for constant dialogues amongst the state’s heterogeneous communities and religious groups. The agency holds periodic consultative dialogue with traditional rulers, religious leaders, civil society groups, women and youth groups and has succeeded to a large extent in dousing tensions and preventing conflicts among ethnic and religious communities.”
His supporters highlighted his achievements in the agriculture sector with the keying into the federal government Anchor Borrowers Scheme, which availed farmers of funds for massive food production and the economic empowerment, the securing of about N3.38bn African Development Bank loan facility for the production of Irish Potatoes under the Potato Value Chain and the procurement several tonnes of Fertilizer in the past four years which are sold to farmers at subsidized rates as well as the “Tractorization Scheme” aimed at availing farmers of farming implements to boost food production in the state.
His achievements in the education, staff welfare, filling of vacant traditional stools and the upgrade of class status of traditional rulers, attempts at reviving moribund industries, youths and women empowerment, improved IGR, completion of ongoing projects, his supporters say would add to his chances of taking the seat.
However, the main opposition party in the state, PDP, claims that Governor Lalong has performed dismally in his first tenure and deserves to be booted out of office in 2019. For instance, while inaugurating its governorship campaign council recently and during his Party’s campaign flag-off in the Mangu Mini Stadium in Mangu local government area, the State PDP Chairman, Damishi Sango rubbished Governor Lalong’s achievements and expressed optimism that PDP would regain the state during the 2019 general elections.
According to Sango, “Today is the beginning of our collective statement; drive and fight for the soul of Plateau come 2019, with this inauguration of our Campaign Council. We shall leave no stone unturned in our campaign and resolve to rescue Plateau from the dismal leadership of the APC and give out people some sense of relief and hope. Lalong is the worst Governor in the history of Plateau State, we are ready to kick him out of office in the coming election.”
Senator Jang who is Lalong’s predecessor, at the said Mangu event noted, “The APC under Lalong has been a government of deceit and the people are tired and ready to send them packing from the Little Rayfield Government House.”
Meanwhile, as the clock ticks towards the polls, it remains to be seen how Governor Lalong and his main challenger, the PDP candidate and ex-FCT Minister, retired Lieutenant-General Jeremiah Useni will slug it out.