By Marie-Therese Nanlong, JOS
THE race for the Plateau State Government House in Little Rayfield in 2023 is gathering momentum.
Hordes of aspirants from the various political parties are on the prowl angling to succeed Governor Simon Lalong of the All progressives Congress, APC, whose two-term tenure will elapse in less than two years.
Aspirants from the two dominant political parties in the state- APC and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are advancing reasons they should be given the opportunity to govern Plateau.
Where the pendulum of victory will swing is a question of time but from all indications, the contest for the soul of Plateau State will be between the APC and PDP as there is no third force in the state yet.
Surprisingly, those aspiring to succeed Lalong are not only tested political actors but also people from the business community, and public service.
There are permutations as to which of the three zones should be considered for the plum job. Popular opinion in the polity suggests the central zone as most favoured in tandem with the initial zoning formula the current democratic setting stands on. Currently, most of the aspirants are from Plateau Central.
In the ruling APC, each of the aspirants is waiting for Lalong’s blessings but the governor is keeping his card close to his chest, causing discomfort among the hopefuls.
Their counterparts in the PDP, who feel the state belongs to the party if not for a “miscalculation” in 2015, are equally jostling for the support of either of the two party’s gladiators – former Governor Jonah Jang and former Senator, Jeremiah Useni to make an impact.
Jang, who is a force to reckon with in the PDP appears to have ‘arrogated’ to himself the leadership position of the PDP in the state. Senator Useni is also in contention for the control of the PDP hence the internal wrangling within at the state party secretariat.
Despite the wait for the ‘anointed candidate,’ feelings in public domain suggest that citizens who are in a position to make or mar the chances of any of the parties in 2023 are equally waiting to support the person they feel will help the state overcome the myriads of problems on ground.
Plateau Central aspirants
Dr. Danyaro Sarpiya: A public servant, accountant, a deputy director at the federal level from Ampang West in Mangu Local Government Area.
He is said to enjoy the support of the youths and has been an active follower of political activities. He has the potential to mobilise power blocs to his advantage.
Chief Jonathan Akun: A retired banker from Bokkos, a sibling of the late Jethro Akun, former PDP chairman in the state as well as a former deputy governor in the ill fated Botmang administration after the ‘impeachment’ of former Governor, Joshua Dariye.
He is a community leader, who is at home with his people; he is sure of home support.
Professor Dakas C. J Dakas(SAN): An academician; he will rely on his past antecedents as a member of the state executive council during the Joshua Dariye-led administration.
He is an orator, of the Mupun tribe, from Jipal District, Mangu LGA. His track records speak for him, but can he sail through as a ‘minority’ in the central zone? Only time will tell.
Satu Jatau: A new entrant, also from Mangu LGA is a zonal manager at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in Yola, Adamawa State. Though also new in the political atmosphere, he has friends and well wishers who are urging him on.
Kizito Gukas: A quiet achiever but considered a green horn on the political turf, Gukas is an astute administrator. His entrance is bringing excitement and apprehension, being a strong contender with age and track record on his side.
Key stakeholders are said to be rallying support for Gukas who is Mwaghavul from Mangu LGA, to chart a way forward for his aspiration.
Gukas who is in his 50s is a deputy director in the Federal service but started his leadership role as Corps Liaison Officer in Epe Local Government Area in Lagos State where he served between 1991 and 1992.
A graduate of Sociology from the Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, graduating in 1991, he also attended the School of Preliminary Studies, SPS, Keffi, Nasarawa State University from 1985 to 1987 and is a member of the Certified Pension Institute of Nigeria and the Chartered Institute of Human Capital Development of Nigeria.
Brig. Gen. John Sura: The aspirant, whose posters are already dotting the public space has a track record in the military and would want to translate same in the political arena.
He is from Panyam district, Mangu; he is a known philanthropist who loves sports and has sponsored football tournaments over the years among youths in Mangu.
Garba Pwul(SAN): The first indigenous Senior Advocate of Nigeria in the state, has served as defence counsel for political parties since the inception of the current democratic era. He is said to be a close ally of Governor Lalong but is he the chosen one? Again, only time can tell.
Dr. Patrick Dakum: Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Human Virology, Abuja, is a trained medical doctor, administrator, and politician.
Like Dakas, he is Mupun; was also a Commissioner under Dariye serving in the Health and Information Ministries. He is hoping on the pedigree and currently working hard to turn the table in his direction.
With this array of technocrats, pundits believe any decision to give one of them a chance will definitely not be a bad idea because “Plateau is sure to be better for it in 2023.”