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Ripples In Plateau South Over Useni’s Endorsement

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Recently, the Tarok Elders Forum endorsed Senator Jeremiah T. Useni to contest the PDP governorship primaries in Plateau state. ACHOR ABIMAJE writes that the endorsement is generating reactions from stakeholders, especially those of Useni’s Plateau South

The Plateau state chapter of the People Democratic Party (PDP) has zoned its governorship candidate to the Plateau south senatorial district. What this means is that all the aspirants who are going to slug it out in the party’s governorship primaries will be from the Plateau south and will mostly be of Goemai and the Taroh ethnic stock.
Governor Simon Lalong, the incumbent governor is from Shendam local government council and he is of the Goemai speaking language.
Plateau south comprises of six local government councils which are Shendam, Mikang, Wase, Langtang North, Langtang South and Quanpan .
As at the time of filling this report, there are about 14 PDP governorship aspirants jostling to contest for the party’s governorship ticket in the state.
Out of this number, the Taroh tribe has abaut five aspirants, including Engr. Jimmy Chitto, Sen. Victor Lar, Engr. Ibrahim Ponyah, Arch. Samuel Jatau and Sen. JT Useni popularly called Baba Mai Tuwo.
It is against this background that Tarok Elders Forum (TEF) conducted a mock primaries for the governorship aspirants of the Taroh ethnic stock with a view to presenting only one aspirant during the PDP primaries in the state.
At the end of the mock primaries, it was said that the Senator representing Plateau South in the National Assembly, Gen. Jeremiah Useni (retd.) received the endorsement of Tarok Nation to contest for the 2019 Governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A statement jointly signed by the Chairman and Secretary of Tarok Elders Forum (TEF), Rev. Canon Selcan Miner and Barr Danjuma Rimdan respectively, observed that “the emergence of plethora of eligible aspirants of Tarok extraction for the gubernatorial race in Plateau State has generated some concern within the generality of the Tarok people.
“The leader and elders have therefore engaged the different stakeholders and carried out broad consultation within and outside the Tarok nation, especially with the wider Plateau State family with a view to settling down on and putting forward a single aspirant to the good people of Plateau state for consideration and support”.
Describing the former Minister of federal capital territory as a “quintessential and consummate public officer, infrastructural development guru with vast exposure on security management and peace building strategies”, Miner said his emergence was through painstaking consultations and interaction with various interest groups including the aspirants.
He said, “The leadership of the Tarok nation places on record, the deepest respect and appreciation to all the Tarok aspirants for their cooperation and active participation in the process leading to the decision, “especially those who presented themselves in person or were creditably represented at all the interactive sessions, and pray that history will give them a pride of place.”
But in a swift reaction, the Plateau Southern zone leadership of the party disclosed that it has not reached an agreement on consensus governorship candidate.
PDP Southern Zonal Vice Chairman, Hon. Domle V Simon and the state Legal adviser, in a joint communique issued to newsmen in Jos after the meeting of the Taroh Nation’s stakeholders in respect of consensus governorship candidate said consensus is best made after the aspirants have purchased their forms which will enable concerned stakeholders to know who among the aspirants is serious in his aspiration.
According to them, some of the aspirants are unknown to their party’s architectural arrangement as these aspirants have not even visited their electoral wards, local governments, zones and the state levels of they party as required.
They alleged that most of the Taroh Elders in the committee for selection of governorship aspirant were APC affiliates that are sympathizers of Governor Simon Lalong who is the sole governorship candidate of All Progressive Congress in the state.
“That PDP has no area of connection whatsoever with APC,and so the members of the APC cannot and should not mediate for the PDP in a case like this “ they stressed.
They resolved that those of them who are members of peoples Democratic party in Langtang north and South local government councils have distanced themselves from any decision that would be arrived at by these pro- governor Lalong sympathizers within Taroh Nation.
The decision of the Taroh Elders committee to support Useni has generated reactions from the supporters of Senator Victor Lar, Jimmy Cheto ,Arch Samuel Jatau and host of others wishing to run for governorship race in the state.
Some of the supporters of the candidates who felt betrayed by the process that led to Useni’s adoption insisted that if allowed to stand, it will create more problems for the party.
It was gathered that there is an increasing resentment to the idea even as the matter is being discussed at hush tones in most gatherings.
However, Senator Useni while submitting his expression of interest nomination form at the PDP national Secretariat, said he will restructure Plateau State, and end insecurity, if elected governor of the state in the coming general elections.
Useni, who is also a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, is promising to provide free education, boost Agriculture and attract foreign investors in the State.
Some of his supporters described him as a man whom the cap fits.
They have however, called on the party leadership to ensure a credible governorship primaries.
If nominated, Jeremiah Usani may be facing Governor Simon Lalong who is for now the only aspirant seeking re-election under the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Cross section of the people who spoke to LEADERSHIP on the development said all the aspirants have the right to contest the primaries in as much they all obtained their nomination and expression of interest to contest form adding that they should not have disqualify other aspirants for only Senator JT Useni.



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