By Marie-Therese Nanlong – Jos
Political activities ahead of the 2023 general elections have begun in earnest in Plateau State as gubernatorial aspirants begin to market their candidature to the leadership of their respective political parties.
For the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, aspirants are getting impatient with the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC government in the State led by Governor Simon Lalong and are scheming to get the nod of the party to fly the flag of the party in the 2023 election.
Among the early callers at the State Secretariat of the Party in 2022 to declare their intentions to contest for the gubernatorial seat are Messrs. Alfred Dapal and Timothy Golu, both from the Central Zone of the State where all gubernatorial aspirants from the two major political parties come from.
Recall that the roll call of aspirants has reached about 40 and they are mostly technocrats, seeking to occupy the Little Rayfield Government House.
Declaring their intentions, Dapal, an oil and gas expert and Golu, a journalist, former State and federal lawmaker score the current administration low and lay out their plans to remedy the situation if elected.
Dapal emphasized on unity saying, “There is nothing you can do without unity, we all need to get our heads together, then it will become easy for us to achieve the results that we desire. From every sector, there are challenges, especially on the Plateau. You cannot achieve anything without unity, that is the foundation. Whatever you want to achieve, it becomes easy when there is unity.”
He added, “If we continue to fold our hands, people will run away from Plateau. We have security challenges everywhere, our economy is going down, education is not moving as expected. People are going digital, we are still with analogue. The new waves of COVID-19 and other challenges are hitting us but we are not prepared for anyone, we are not ready to address any of them.
“If you don’t wake up from your sleep and take off some of your comforts, there is a problem. Coming in the forefront of the people is actually leaving your comfort zone, and that is not folding your hands. That means the security challenges we are facing will be handled, the economic downturn that you have, you have to address it.
“The things that are not working well are to be addressed, our healthcare is in shambles. Plateau ought to be the medical tourist destination in this country if we want it to be, if you fold your hands, you can’t achieve anything.”
To Golu, his concept of a new Plateau is about the quality of democratic governance given to the people; comparing what he has to what the former Governor, Jonah Jang gave to the people.
He said among other things, “I was part of the government of Senator Jonah Jang, I celebrate that era. I am happy with what we did as Members of the 7th Assembly that worked together with the former governor. A lot was done, is it the master plan of Jos? Is it the security situation of Plateau State? Is it the infrastructural development that we can see everywhere?
“Eight years were not enough, I am not trying to undermine the provision of our constitution but there is no government that can finish all the work in eight years but you can always do something reasonable to give an indication that if you had enough time, you can do it. There are challenges of the fund but we were witnesses to the prudent utilization of the fund.
“Judicious use of funds to provide quality infrastructure hence the level of respect that existed between the executive and the legislature. The governor never removed the speaker, whatever happened was internal affairs of the House but you can see what is happening now…
“We want to get back to the situation where we can respect democracy the way it should be.
“We want people to feel the positive impacts of democracy. Look at the way they have rejected the electoral bill amendment. Is that democracy? That tells you that somebody is not ready to continue to deepen the quality of democracy the way it should be.”
Responding to their separate speeches, the State Chairman of the Party, Chris Hassan promised a level playing ground for all aspirants but urged all of them to give their support for the party to have a good outing in the election year.