By Stephen Danjuma Kwande 

BEFORE the emergence of Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda as the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in Plateau State, other eminent contestants were also in the race for Little Ray-field. Most of them are from the Central Zone of the state which is generally believed to be the zone to produce the governor. This rotation as agreed by politicians is to give some semblance of equity as politicians jostle for political offices. 

Therefore, right now, it turns out to favour the Central Zone of the state which comprises Mangu, Bokkos, Pankshin, Kanke and Kanam. 

This understanding which is irrespective of political party seems to be binding on all in the state. So far, this arrangement has been generally upheld except in 2015 when the then governor of the state, Da Jonah Jang, failed in his attempt to disregard it. It was vehemently resisted by the electorate with the trumping of the then governor’s candidate and this has taught politicians in the state a valuable lesson.

The outcome of the APC governorship primary which produced Dr. Yilwatda did not come without resentment from some contestants who lost out. Some aspirants staged a walkout as the event got underway, alleging a skewed process in favour of the eventual winner. Little wonder that when the result eventually came out, aggrieved aspirants believed that the winner, Dr Yilwatda was a government-backed candidate. Even the deputy governor who was a co-aspirant staged a walkout too.

My position on the matter is not intended to stir further debate or conversation since the primary has come and gone but to steer a course of action towards healing the wounds for a peaceful, progressive Plateau State. The task before all the former aspirants is to move on. They should be able to chart the path of reconciliation if the party is to capture and retain power in the state. Though the task before them is herculean, they cannot afford to go to the polls with a divided house. 

Even if the governor had interest in who emerged as the party’s standard bearer, it is only human that one should be interested in one’s successor for the sake of continuity. Some have gone to argue that former governor Jang attempted to impose a successor but was resisted. 

True, but the scenarios are different. Jang did not respect the zoning formula of the state. He brought someone eminently qualified but that was against the sentiment then because the person he brought came from his clan. This was the crux of the matter and Plateau resisted it. If he had brought someone from the Southern zone in accordance with the principle of rotation, the story would have been different.

The primary election which was held peacefully merely produced what I call “first among equals”. All the aspirants as I mentioned earlier are eminently qualified to govern the state. However, what worked in favour of Dr. Nentawe was that he had won the hearts of many in the state with impeccable achievements. He had everything working for him. His accomplishments at an early age placed him head and shoulders above many of his peers and accorded him the recognition he now enjoys.

I have interacted with many people and have not seen or heard anything untoward about his character. Even if there is any, not being infallible as anyone else, it is apparently not enough to make anyone lose sleep.

The central message here is that the whole APC family should rally round the winner and ensure victory at the polls. Plateau is a unique state and we must remember that a house divided against itself will not stand. It will be in the interest of all APC members to sheathe their sword and work for victory. With due respect to the former aspirants, it is good to show grace in defeat while the winner shows magnanimity in victory.

The act of magnanimity will start the process of healing. It entails meeting all co-aspirants, and discussing how to move the party forward for the purpose of winning the next election.

Dr. Nentawe’s personality, profile, carriage have earned him some quantum of respect in the eyes of the delegates, hence his emergence. I implore him to urge his supporters to calm down and embrace all constructive of criticism. They should also exhibit maturity as the journey to Little Rayfield gets underway.

The sky is your limit if you and your team show grace. Many people have already testified to the strength of your character, your humility, resourcefulness, your vision. Plateau will be expecting so much from you. Our former and present governors have worked to the best of their ability and we expect you to build on what they have done.

Surely, you will have overwhelming support from the people of Plateau State. We are already enamoured of your blue print, your vision and mission. The security challenges facing the state can be addressed with the right frame of mind. And your success will be determined by the caliber of people around you.   The right people will help you make the difference as the election approaches.

Kwande, a political analyst, wrote from Abuja

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