As the wave of defection continues in the land, Dr. Godfrey Bawa Shitgurum, a former political ally and kinsman of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to contest the governorship election with him come 2019. In this piece, ACHOR ABIMAJE takes a look at the political implication of this action for the governor
The list of governorship aspirants on the platform of People Democratic Party (PDP) in Palteau State keeps swelling up every day even the entrance of Dr. Godfrey Bawa Shitgurum who has just defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and has expressed his interest to contest the 2019 governorship election in the state against his brother and kinsman, Governor Simon Lalong of the APC, who he financially supported to win the 2015 governorship election in the state. This development has put to rest speculations and hide and seek game in the past as his governorship posters have flooded the streets of Jos and Bukuru metropolis and in most cases he denied any knowledge of the posters saying it was the hand work of some mischief makers in the state . Indeed, the long awaited Dr. Godfrey Bawa Shitgurum has finally joined the race for the forthcoming 2019 gubernatorial contest in Plateau State, as he declares his interest to contest the governorship seat against his friend, the incumbent state Governor, Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong. The aspirant, who has chosen to contest on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was seen among aspirants called by the state party Chairman, Hon. D.T. Sango, at the state secretariat of the party in Jos, the Plateau state capital. Speaking to the media, the Business mogul said his interest to contest is to bring his contribution to better the lives of his people in the state. Dr. Godfrey said, as an International Businessman, he knows that, despite the contributions of others, there is still need for someone like him to add value in rebuilding the state. He noted that incumbent factor will not work in favor of Governor Lalong in 2019 going by the scenario that played out against Senator Jonah Jang who was the governor of the state who fielded late Senator Gyang Pwajok his kinsman as the PDP governorship candidate but lost the contest because the people of Plateau have taken a decision on who became their Governor in 2015 against the power that be in the state as at then.
We need a better Plateau and this can only be achieved by rebuilding it. “Sure, we have the incumbent governor from the southern zone of the state, but we and the good people of the state, need a change that will give our people a better life, especially, with respect of good health, empowerment and better education among others. “The incumbent Governor has done his best like others before him, but the time and the circumstances around, indicates that I put in my own input to give the desired impact. “From what you can see, the incumbent Governor, my friend, is in the All Progressives Congress (APC), while I am vying on the platform of the PDP. This is so, because, the PDP has a better manifesto for the masses when compared with that of the APC. “My major interests, as a governor, if given the opportunity by my party and elected by my good people, will be to consolidate on the peace in the state, introduce the state to international businesses by attracting those doing business with me to invest in the state and to better the level of healthcare and education and many more. “I, however, want to state here that I am not ambitious, but I am a Plateau man that simply wants to contribute my quota. The Southern zone of Plateau State has four more years to be at the state’s helm of affairs and I will humbly respect that.” Shitgurum added the current the crisis in the state could be addressed by the bringing the warring parties to round table with a view of addressing their differences so that peace can return back to the warring communities on the Plateau. He stressed further that the Peoples Democratic party on whose platform he is vying to run for the seat of governor of Plateau against the incumbent Governor of his state has been re branded and become a party to beat on the Plateau and urged delegates at the forth coming governorship primaries on the Plateau to give him their mandate so that he could use his international links to woo investors into the state Our correspondent recall that Dr. Godfrey, a renowned International Businessman and an indigene of Plateau State from Kwande in Quan’pan Local Government Area (LGA) was one of the biggest sponsor and promoters of Governor Lalong, while on his drive to become the number one citizen of the state from 2014.
He is a brother and a kinsman to the governor and has indicate interest to contest the same position with him in 2019 under the platform of PDP .This development is causing tension in governor Lalong camp as majority of the people of the state sees his defection to PDP as a major setback to governor in the state. Our correspondent reliable gathered that the long Goemai nation their paramount ruler Mishom Martins Sheldas has summoned a meeting with the gubernatorial aspirant where according to reliable source he was asked if he has interest to contest the governorship election with the incumbent governor Simon Lalong where it was alleged that he denied the allegation only for them to hear about his declaration, therefore lying to the entire Goemai Nation the source was quoted to have said. But in a swift reaction to our correspondent the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on media and publicity Mr. Mark LONGYEN said Dr. Godfrey Bawa has declared to run for the office of governor on the platform of an opposition party in the state, a now depleted and relatively weak PDP, which Governor Lalong defeated in 2015, even when he was even an opposition candidate, saying why should the Governor and the APC lose sleep over his decision? According to him, “there is actually no big deal about someone, a kinsman for that matter, who supported you to win an election coming out to contest against your reelection, it is normal in politics. For instance, Dr Bawa said on the day of his declaration that Governor Lalong had done his best for the state, but that he too, as an international businessman, would like to contribute his quota, if given the opportunity. “Last weekend in Katsina, we saw two brothers from the same father and different mothers slugging it out for the Senate seat on the platforms of different political parties, the APC and PDP, and the APC brother won, which is a winwin thing for their family. He pointed out that the new aspirant’s entry into the governorship race should be seen as helping to enrich the polity, avail the electorate with a quantum of quality options and even make the contest more interesting, especially looking at his chances in the PDP primaries and the post-primary implications. In another development former governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye serving 14 years jail term in kuje prison Abuja has debunked the insinuation that he directed his followers in the state to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party as a result of his present travail. There is a speculation in Plateau State that Senator Joshua Dariye who was recently jailed by the Federal High Court Abuja as a result of mismanagement of N1.1 billion ecological fund when he was the governor of the state has directed his supporters to dump All Progressive Congress for the Peoples Democratic Party.
A political associate of the former governor who was his former Director General Campaign and stalwart of the All Progressive Congress in the state, Chief Maichibi Vwarji stated that the speculation making the round that followers of Senator Dariye are set to dump APC in protest of his jail term were figment of their imaginations adding that some people in the state simply want to catch on the unfortunate situation for cheap political gain. “I am aware that some people are going round the state especially Plateau Central senatorial district that they have the mandate of the former Governor Joshua Dariye that all his followers should defect to the PDP. I want to categorically state that Senator Dariye has not given anyone such mandate. “It is a rumour, I am in constant touch with him, I was with him recently and after I intimated him with the rumour, he mandated me and his other associates to go round the state and debunk the speculations and to tell them that they should all remain in All Progressive Congress” he said. He narrated that the present predicament of Senator Joshua Dariye was dated back to when he was the governor of Plateau State adding the present administration did not institute any suit against him. “When I met him recently along with two other people, this issue was tabled before him. He strongly condemned the insinuation that the present administration was behind his predicament and has done nothing to help him out of the situation. He stated that the matter was dated to when he was the governor of the state and directed us as his close associates to enlighten his followers and remained in APC. “You cannot rule out the possibility that some of his followers were annoyed by the judgement but the fact still remain that the APC led government has nothing to do with his travail” he said. Chief Vwarji said political structures of Senator Dariye is still intact adding that the insinuations were diversionary and ploy to cause confusion within APC family in Plateau State. But in a swift reaction, the Secretary of APC in Plateau State Alhaji Bashir Sati said it was a figment of some people imagination that followers of the former governor have concluded arrangement to dump the party. “The party is not aware of such threat. Just last week we rounded up local government tour, we were in Bokkos Local government which is the council area of the former governor. What they told us was that they are missing him and we assured that all hope is not lost. “We are not aware that anyone is making it an issue, we told them to remain calm and keep faith with the judiciary. We have the confidence that justice will be done to the case” he said
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