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2015: Who Takes Over from Jang? (News Analysis)

Agabus Pwanagba, Jos

Since the return of democratic structures in 1999, Plateau State have remained a theatre of sort, where a number of bizarre and extreme political measures have been experimented; churning outcome in unusual proportion which has continued to threaten and shake it right to its rocky crust.

Plateau state governor Jonah Jang

Plateau state governor Jonah Jang

From the declaration of emergency rule in 2004 on the State by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, to the lingering ethno-religious unrest that has further marked the State out in the last 14 years; the dynamics in the state are not short of a case study for any political analysis.

As the February 2015 general election approaches with so much in the offing, the million-dollar question however is who will govern the eventful state when Governor Jonah Jang bows out in May 29, 2015?

African Examiner observes that Political activities ahead of the 2015 general election in the state have not yet picked up in earnest as key political players are in the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which Governor Jang is the leader in the State.

Political gladiators are watching with keen interests the political atmosphere and the body language of Governor who kept repeating himself in state functions that he still doesn’t know his successor, stressing that he is praying and waiting on God to reveal and anoint him.

The situation has gathered a tick cloud of anger among political groups across the three senatorial districts even as each of them is scheming and strategizing to produce the successor of the Governor in 2015.

It is interesting to note that each of the three senatorial districts has occupied the plum seat for about eight years without zoning the position exclusively at any given period since 1979 when late Chief Solomon Lar from the Southern Senatorial Zone was elected as the first civilian governor of the state and Amb. Fidelis Tapgun, in 1992, who is also from the southern zone and Senator Joshua Dariye who govern the State from 1999 to 2007, hails from the Central Senatorial District which he now represents at the senate.

The development is currently generating ripples and swelling controversy across party divides which if not control with maturity devoid of ethnic and senatorial sentiment will poised patriotic members of the zones to a show down in 2015.

Some few months ago in a chat with journalists in Jos the Special Adviser to Governor Jonah Jang on Political Affairs, Mr. Alexander Molwus, had declared that there has never been zoning in the State, when it comes to the governorship election.

He said “when you look at PDP in Plateau State from 1999 to date, there is no zoning. In 1999 we had two candidates that contested the primaries of the PDP, from the Southern Zone, four candidates from the Central Zone and two from the Northern Zone, the lot fell on the Central Zone.

He added that, “When the Governor then wanted to go for a second term; two candidates emerged from the Northern Zone, one candidate from the Central Zone and one candidate from the Southern Zone. The lot went back to the Central Zone.

He further explained that, “In 2007, three candidates emerged from the Southern Zone, no candidate from the Central Zone and two emerged from the Northern Zone. The lot fell in the Northern Zone. In 2011, three came out from the Southern Zone, none from the Central Zone and three emerged from the Northern Zone. The Northern Zone got the ticket.

He asserted that, “If you look at that trend, would you say there is a culture of zoning in the governorship elections in Plateau State, no.

Speaking on his expectation for 2015, Molwus said, “The problem with Plateau is that it is politically sensitive and has a fair understanding of distribution of power.

The Political aide maintained that, “Whatever happens, candidates may come out from any of the zones. It is when these candidates emerge, that decision, decorum and understanding of the total welfare of the State as a party that the party fateful will decide, where the governorship will go.

Molwus further stated that, the governor had publically stated that he wants to encourage the youth to take leadership position in the State and that he himself doesn’t know who will succeed him, saying “he is waiting on God to give direction as to who will properly lead the

State, come 2015”.

However, campaigns for the governorship seat has remained an open secret as no one has genuinely declared ambition to contest the controversial seat, even those believe to be nursing the ambition have refused to make an open declaration.

So far the only courageous man who is believed to have indicated interest is the former Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Hon. John Clark Dabwan who hails from the Plateau central senatorial zone, has since printed and littered Jos with his campaign posters

without indicating the specific position he is gunning for.

African Examiner gathered that the former Speaker is believed to have been forced to resign as Speaker of the House due to his unquenchable ambition to succeed Governor Jang.

It was also gathered that he was forced to resign as his colleagues believed he was not representing the House as expected.

Another politician whose posters are pasted within Jos-Bukuru metropolis and hails from the Southern senatorial district is, J.P. Garba of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

He is from the Southern zone of the state, but he is unknown.

Political pundits believed that Jang is holding the game close to his chest and that he is still studying the atmosphere as to where the pendulum swings to in his favour.

However, a group under the aegis of Plateau Integrity headed by former Commissioner of Information in the State, Hon. Nuhu Gagara recently briefed Journalists and accused Governor Jonah Jang for zoning the governorship seat to Plateau North Senatorial zone where he is about to complete two term of eight years, describing the intention as politically immoral.

The Integrity group had also confronted the Governor over the governorship seat in the state, claiming that, the Northern Senatorial zone where Jang is currently serving should not present candidates for the seat, claiming that the zone is about completing its tenure of office.

But in a reaction, Governor Jonah Jang berates the opposition who does not believe in the vision of his administration and described those professing that he has already zoned the 2015 governorship ticket to the Northern senatorial zone of Plateau state where he is currently serving, as prophets of doom.

Jang gave the reaction during the closing ceremony of the State’s 3rd General Solemn Assembly, held last month, initiated by the State Government to bring together different denominations, ethnic nationalities in the State as well as politicians and government appointees to pray for the permanent peace in the State and charge the people to pray for his successor.

He described as unfortunate, an act where some people would just sit and fabricate lies to make it look real, pointing out that, “some have even said that I have groomed my son to succeed me.

“As you all heard from the preacher, I was chosen by God to rule this state, and let me assure you that up to this time am talking I don’t know who will succeed me, but my prayer is that, any body that will succeed me must be a God fearing person”.

Also, in a swift reaction, another group under the aegis of Plateau Democratic Transparency Coalition said it will not be fair to ask Plateau Northern Senatorial District not to contest the governorship seat, adding that there has never being a time in the history of the State since the second republic that any of the three senatorial zones have had the exclusive right of contesting the seat alone.

In a press statement signed by its Coordinator, Stave Bond and made available to African Examiner in Jos, it reads, “The record shows clearly that no zone has enjoyed the exclusive reserve of zoning the governorship. For instance; Chief Solomon Lar from Southern Zone

contested with John Kadiya in the North during the Second Republic, Amb. Fidelis Tapgun

from the Southern zone contested with Mr. Bagudu Hirse from Plateau Central during the aborted Third Republic, Chief Joshua Dariye from Plateau Central contested with Yohana Dalyop and Jonah Jang from Northern zone in 1999 and Jonah Jang contested with Dame Paulin Tallen from Southern zone in 2011.

“The electoral process allows candidates with interest to emerge from their various parties through vigorous internal party mechanism. To us, this is the spirit that drives the democratic institution where merit is allowed to excel. Any call on the governor to exclude the Northern zone from contesting for the governorship is a clear departure from democratic ideals and it is tantamount to infringement of the democratic right of such zone, this will be resisted vehemently”. The statement stressed.

In Plateau State there is no real opposition, the opposition becomes strong only during the general elections as 90% of them are usually disgruntled members of the ruling PDP, who move to the opposition in an attempt to actualize their political ambition.

For instance almost all those who defected to other political parties from the PDP prior to the 2011 polls, have either returned or are pleading to be re-admitted into the party.

On the lists of political heavyweights who defected in 2011, but are still working their way to return or have returned are Dame Pauline Tallen who contested under the Labour Party (LP), former Sports Minister Damishi Sango ran under the All Nigeria People’s Party

(ANPP), other candidates, Amb. Fidelis Tapgun, Arch. John Alkali, Engineer Jimmy Chetto and a host of others.

However, the question on the lips of most Plateau people is who succeeds Jang come 2015? In an attempt to answer the 1million-dollar question, the names of some movers and shakers of politics in the state may readily come to mind.

Favourably disposed to occupy the new Government House under construction at Little Rayfield from the Southern Senatorial District of the State is the incumbent deputy governor, Mr. Ignatius Longjan.

But given his diplomatic background and calm disposition, he may after all not be a personality who can be said to be a typical Nigerian politician.

However the lure of office and all its attendant incentives could have an amazing effect on the personality of any individual, Longjan inclusive.

He has proved to be a loyal deputy. His undoing might be his age as he is of the same age group with Governor Jang and the Governor had always said they are grooming the younger ones to take over from them.

The name of the immediate past Commissioner for Information and Communication, who is at present the Commissioner for Tourism in the State, Yiljap Abraham, sure sends signal that should Longjan decline to join the race, Jang and PDP party machinery may be forced to

channel their full arsenal to Yiljap. The only snag that may work against him is the fact that he is not a core politician that has structure in Qua’an Pan Local Government where he hails from, let alone the entire Southern zone.

On the contrary, he could capitalize on his present position as a cabinet Commissioner in the Jang administration to build goodwill, not just in his immediate constituency, but the State at large.

Rumours are rife that the former Minister of Science and Technology and immediate past deputy governor of the State, Dame Pauline Tallen is already oiling her machinery to run for the number one seat in the State.

Tallen, an experience politician is working towards actualizing her dream of becoming the first elected female Governor in the country.

Senator Victor Lar, a current serving senator representing the zone, a force to reckon with, has remained quite since his election to the national assembly.

Lar’s current posture we are told is unconnected with the advice given to him by political heavyweights in the state, to maintain his silence while quietly working underground to build structures that could be used in the realization of that mandate in 2015. Be that as it may, “silence”, like they say might not be golden’, so his silence at the national assembly may count against him.

Prof. Longmas Wapmuk is the incumbent Director General of Industrial Training Fund (ITF). He hails from Shendam like Tallen. His second tenure as ITF boss will come to an end in August, 2014. The former University Don is said to have started networking and creating

structures to push his gubernatorial project. Those close to Jang say they are in real good terms, but if the governor makes good his promise to support a younger person the ITF DG may well be on his own.

Some observers believe that Jang is pushing him to destabilise former governor Fidelis Tapgun, who has shown interest in the seat.

Amb. Fidelis Tapgun was governor of Plateau state on the Platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) in General Babangida’s brief transition peogramme.

He has been very active at the national level in the politics of PDP. He was DG in the Obasanjo/Atiku re-election campaign in 2003, and later Minister of Commerce and Industry.

Tapgun has been working underground for sometime, networking his contacts and seeking the support of those that matter. An ardent supporter of President Jonathan, Tapgun has tremendous goodwill in Abuja. But he is not in the good book of Jang.

It would be recalled that, during the last special convention of the PDP, the Jang led delegates attempted to humiliate him, saying he was not a member of the party. Tapgun had defected to the Labour Party, prior to the 2011 polls, but never came out openly to identify with the party.

However, Tapgun supporters argue that Jang himself abandoned the PDP and ran for governor on the platform of ANPP, before he returned unconditionally to the party.

As it is, Tapgun who is strong on ground will be counting on any mistake that the governor will make in his bid to anoint a successor.

In the Central zone, the likes of the current PDP Chairman in the State, Dr. Haruna Dabin is believed to be eyeing the seat.

Dabin is a vastly experienced politician who has worked in the national secretariat of the party and with the party in his hands, anything can happen.

His major challenge now is, reports have it that he is not in the good book of Jang.

Feelers also have it that, the former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the State, Prof. Dakas Clement Dakas, who hails from Pankshin, is believed to be young, intelligent and eloquent is also warming up for the governorship of the State.

He is believed to be in the good books of the governor, but whether he will be considered is another thing.

Prof. Shedrach Best, a political scientist has been the Secretary to the State Government since Jang’s re-election in 2011. Coming from the academia, Best add to the crop of strategists Jang planned to assemble in the last lap of his government. He hails from Mangu LGA, where he is locked in political battle with the former Speaker John Clark Dabwan.

He is among those tipped to replace Jang even as he battles with his local front.

The Northern senatorial district which the governor comes from is believe to be flying the kite of the current Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the State, Barrister Edward Pwajok, who has been in his position since 2007.

He is a gentleman, who is quite, but intelligent and a close associate of the Governor. He also hails from the same Local Government with the governor.

It is believed that he is equipped and has the financial muscle, even though if he is picked he will be sponsored by the party.

Senator Gyang Pwajok is the current Senator representing Plateau North.

He was Chief of Staff to Governor Jang at the time of the demise of Senator Gyang Dantong.

Jang gave him all the backing to emerge victorious at the bye-election to replace Dantong, by defeating the likes of former Military administrator of Delta State, Col. John Dungs (Rtd).

Pwajok falls under the category of those Jang had promise to handover to.

But he is a kinsman of the governor. There if federal character is anything to go by, he will be disadvantaged on the session plan of the governor.

Another candidate is Architect Sam Galadima, who aspired for the seat under the defunct AC a few years ago. He has since returned to the PDP.

Galadima has been Commissioner several times in successive Military administrations in the State before 1999.

He comes from Plateau North, his Jarawa tribe, arguably the second largest in the zone, will naturally make a case. But will he get the support of Governor Jang?

Governor Jang though has put tremendous efforts in structural development and well being of the State. On a whole, the person that will emerge as the candidate of the governor will determine the propensity of sharpening the future and history of the State and its people.


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