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2019: As Zoning Threatens Plateau PDP After Primaries

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In this piece, ACHOR ABIMAJE reports that the crises generated over PDP primaries in Plateau State are threatening its prospect in the forthcoming general elections

It is no longer news that the senator representing  Plateau South in the national assembly, Jeremiah Useini, has  won the governorship primaries of the  Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  to fly the party’s flag in the 2019 governorship election in the state.

But there are indications that the party may suffer a great setback in the February 2019 election if the allegation of inbalance that is rocking the party now is not addressed as another round of crisis is looming.

The PDP has zoned its governorship candidate to Plateau South Senatorial zone, which comprises of six local government councils.

These include Langtang North, Langtang South, Shendam, Mikang, Wase, and Quanpan Local government councils.

Useni  is from Taroh ethnic stock in Langtang north local government council of the state. The member representing Langtang north/ Langtang South federal constituency and  PDP flag bearer Hon. Beni Lar is also from Langtang North.

Similarly, Barrister Peter Dandam Kefas, the flagbear of the party for the Plateau South Senatorial zone is also from  Langtang North local government council.

The trio are all from Tarok ethnic  stock in the state.

The senator popularly called Baba Mai Tuwo is the former military administrator of the defunch Bendel state and also former minister of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

He won the Plateau PDP Governorship primaries conducted in Langfield Resort little Rayfield, Jos, on Sunday 30th September, 2018 in the state.

The results announced showed that a total of 13 aspirants participated in the gubernatorial primaries.

He defeated Johnbull Shekarau, the member representing Mikang /Quanpan, Shendam federal constituency   and 11 others in a well organised and peaceful primary attended by 2,097 party delegates from the 17 local government areas of the state.

Before the PDP governorship primaries, Senator Ibrahim Mantu-led Committee set up by the Plateau PDP to dialogue with the party’s governorship aspirants had signed an undertaking with the 13 aspirants to support any candidate that may emerge as the governorship flag bearer of the party.

Recall  that the State Working Committee of the party had earlier inaugurated a committee to dialogue with the 13 aspirants jostling to grab the party’s ticket in the 2019 governorship elections.

However, the former Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, who headed a five-man committee came up with a resolution reached with all the 13 aspirants that anyone who emerges the Party flag bearer, would have the full corporation of the other 12.

While signing the agreement, the aspirants agreed that the campaign would be issue based and not assassination of  character, promising not to decamp, but that they would rather unite and work with the wining candidate.

Mantu said, “It is a family affair and they had agreed to conduct themselves in a brotherly manner. They have five days to complete their assignment and we want them to base their campaigns on issues and not character assassination. I am confident that whoever emerges, we will all support him to change the change”.

It was gathered that 2,097 delegates participated in the PDP exercise and breakdown according to Local Government Areas were as follows: Shendam – 118, Qua’an Pan – 117, Mikang – 107, Langtang North – 147, Langtang South – 106, Kanam – 136, Kanke – 108, Pankshin – 124; Mangu – 159, Bokkos – 139, Wase – 90, Barkin Ladi – 119; Riyom – 107, Jos East – 104, Bassa – 157; Jos South – 120 and Jos North – 140.

The results showed that Senator Useni got 1,018, Rt. Hon. Johnbull Shekarau, 340, Sen. Victor Lar 249, Rt. Hon. George Daika 199, Hon. Nicholas Kemi Nshe 117; Dr. Ponyah Ibrahim 62, Godfrey Bawa 35; Yitman Maimako 4, Nandom Ishaku Pyennap 1, Arc. Sam Jatau 5, Sam Abashe 3; Engr. Jimmy Cheto 7 and Brig. Gen. Musa Gambo 0. 33 invalid votes were recorded.

Since the announcement of the results, there have been no disagreements among the aspirants unlike the situation in 2015 where after the governorship primaries most of the aspirants defected to other political parties to pursue their aspirations, while other disgruntled aspirants still remained in the PDP but voted against the party’s governorship candidate along with their supporters.

When contacted to speak on the outcome of the exercise, the State Deputy Chairman of the party, Hon. Amos Gombi said: “As you can see, everyone is at home with the outcome of the election. The processes were transparent and some of the aspirants have congratulated Senator Useni, they have gone to his house to congratulate him. As we speak, none of them has approached the Appeal panel to lay any complaint.

In order to avoid a possible defeat in the next general elections, a group under the auspices of PDP Youth Mandate Actualization Network has  lamented the outcome of the party Senatorial primaries held in Plateau South Senatorial zone of the party where the Senatorial candidate and the governorship candidate are from the same tribe and the same council area.

The group feared that Senator Useni, the flagbear of the PDP governorship election  in the 2019 is Taroh from Langtang North  while Barrister Peter Dandam Kefas, the flagbear of the party for the Plateau South Senatorial zone is also from Tarok  ethnic stock and from Langtang North LGA also.

The group called on the stakeholders to correct the inbalamce for  the  party to be able to record landslide victory come 2019 in the state.

Addressing newsmen in Jos, Barrister Noel Begun Dogari, a one-time assistant legal adviser of the PDP in the state

said “ Our inability to forsee these outcomes especially at the Senatorial district level is a major cause, we do not accept it and wish to sound it with a loud voice and in clear terms that the national Secretariat and all relevant organs of the party must step in and do all that is within its powers as enshrined in the written and unwritten constitution of our great party to address this matter”.

“We call for the adjustment  of the imbalance in the southern zone and I believe the party is set to retake our mandate come February, 2019. Anyone who has followed the political history of our state would agree that it is always not a surprise that either Langtang North or Langtang South would win  due to the imbalance in the creation of federal wards and constituencies as an ethnic group with the control of close to 30 federal wards in the zone. It will take as much as the brutal suppression of candidates from among the remaining ethnic groups as was the experience at the APC primaries before such capacity can deprive them”.

While speaking further, he stated that: “It is in a bid to cure this ugly development that our great party has enshrined in its constitution the doctrine of zoning of elective and appointive positions so as to avoid a situation of perpetual domination of any group within its membership .

“The mood of the people in four out of the six local government areas in the zone: Wase, Mikang, Quaapan and Shendam that comprise of the Southern zone of Plateau state has suddenly become melancholia once the Senatorial primaries were concluded. This is not unconnected with the facts that the Tarohs have enjoyed more than a fair share of the Senatorial slot in the zone since the return to civil rule in 1999.”

“Langtang North has produced four out of the five  senators  who have represented and still represent the Southern senatorial district at the chambers.”

According to him, Senator Silas Jangfa 1999- 2003, Senator John Shagaya 2007 -2011, Senator Victor Lar 2011 -2015, Senator Jeremiah Useni 2015 till date, adding that they must state that the miscalculations and highhandedness  that characterized the party just before her ousting in 2015 steers them  in the face as they foresee a populist revolt against the current status quo which may lead them to avoidable defeat

He said that as a concerned party faithful, they found the attempt to relive the past a clear case of recklessness on the side of their great party .

“We are average citizens of the state and feel the pain of mis-governance, poor performances, insecurity, lack of employment and deprivation .”

But in a swift reaction, Mr. John Akans, the publicity Secretary of Plateau state chapter of he People Democratic Party PDP told our correspondent  in Jos that they is nothing much the party can done in this circumstances stressing that the problem is not the making of the party rather he blamed the people of Plateau southern zone for the problem.

According to him, it is now left for the stakeholders of the zone to addressed the wrong or injustice that has been melted out to other people of the zone adding that critical stakeholders from the zone are doing everything humanely possible to see what can be done.

“It is a problem that has been caused by the people  of the zone. Thank God relevant stakeholders of the party from the southern zone are talking with the view to resolve the issue.” Akans said.

For Pam Dalyop  a citizen of the state who spoke to our correspondent said PDP should as a matter of urgency  address this inbalamce before it is too late or else Ithey may not get the support of other people from the zone who felt surcharge and would want to do anti party.

Be that as it may, the battle for Plateau 2019 would be  between governor Lalong  of the APC and  former FCT minister JT Useni of the PDP..

He added that unlike the 2015 governorship election when governorship aspirants threw away the baby with the dirty water and the bath away after PDP primaries, this time around  governor  Lalong of APC will not have it easy as all the PDP aspirants and their supporters are intact ,none of them decamp after the governorship primaries, they all promise to support Senator J.T Useni to beat the incumbent governor Simon Lalong.



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