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2019: Will Running Mate Tussle Undo Plateau PDP?



The emergence of James Dalok as running mate to the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Plateau State, Sen Jeremiah Useni, is causing upsets within the party, ACHOR ABIMAJE writes.


s the campaigns for governorship and Senatorial elections kick-off on the December 1, 2018, Plateau State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been thrown into crisis over the nomination of James Dalok as Deputy Governor to Sen Jeremiah Useni who is the flagbearer of the party ahead of the 2019 governorship election.

Dalok’s choice as deputy governor  has caused uproar in the PDP family even as the development has continued to tear the umbrella family apart in the state.

Observers of Plateau politics point out that the development if not properly tackled can jeopardise the chances of the party come 2019 governorship election.

Dalok’s nomination  was contained in a press release, issued by Sen Useni’s, Media aides, Hon. Atiku Yusuf Abubakar.

Recall that the state chapter of the PDP, zoned the deputy governor’s seat to Central Plateau, with specific reference to Mangu Local Government Area, in a micro zoning arrangement.

A letter signed by PDP State secretary, Emma Tuang, read: “The State working committee of our great party the PDP, after due consultation in line with zoning principle for the 2019 general elections has  hereby recommended the following personalities,” Hon. Benedict Shingnuhul, Hon Caleb Mufwan, James Barry, Prof. Shedrak Best and Danladi Mwantok, all from Mangu LGA for your consideration of any of them to serve as your running mate in the 2019 general elections.”

But the governorship candidate said pursuant to the party’s request, “and having perused the CV’s of all these personalities, and carried out wider consultations, Dr. James Dalok, was picked as my running mate in the forthcoming 2019 Governorship elections.”

He added “Dr. Dalok, is an accountant by profession. Before his nomination to serve as running mate of Senator Useni, he was the deputy director and head of revenue in the Industrial Training Funds (ITF),” the release stated.

The situation culminated in agitation for the state chairman of the party in the state, Hon. Damishi Sango, to resign from office, by the five persons who were penciled down as likely running mates.

The aggrieved party men expressed their loss of confidence in Sango’s leadership, noting that he does not add value to the party. They maintained that his resignation will allow room for healing, reconciliation and peaceful election which will bring victory to the party in 2019.

In their statement issued in Jos, the five deputy hopefuls said the PDP family in Mangu had used all avenues to communicate its feeling to Sango about the choice of Dalok, but he had rebuffed them thereby making the party to lose momentum in the local government area.

It read in  part: “We are the five members of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from Mangu council, who were privileged to be nominated and recommended for consideration of any of us as deputy governorship candidate of our great party by critical stakeholders at a lawfully-convened meeting of the party held on Sunday, October 14.

“From all the facts available to us, we have every reason to believe that the choice of Dr. James Dalok had been made even before the primaries began.

“We, as a council, have been deceived and made to go through a needless process of democratisation.

“We wish to state emphatically that we have lost confidence in the leadership of Damishi T. Sango. He should resign as the Chairman of PDP to allow for healing, reconciliation and peaceful elections that will bring victory to our party.

“Staying in the opposition for another four years, when the political barometre fa-vours PDP, is not worth it.”

The aggrieved party members are urging the leadership of the party in the state to as a matter of urgency resolve the deputy governor’s feud so as not to jeopardise the chances of the party in next year’s governorship election .

But the state publicity secretary of PDP, John Akans, said the party was  not bothered  about  the petition.

He said,  “The deputy governorship is not a contest. The  governorship candidate  has the right to  select his running mate in consultation with party,  which he has done.”

He pointed out that the party was not in the possession of any petition from any aggrieved person over the choice of running mate.

Said he, “we have not received any petition from anybody but we have read in the social media that some people are aggrieved. Based on that, the Mangu people and other necessary party organs are handling the issue, it is not a big deal, we are not in crisis.”

Still, Prof Shedrack Best,  the former secretary to the Plateau State government under the tenure of former governor Jonah Jang  who spoke with newsmen in Jos confirmed the development.

He said, ‘Yes, we have petitioned the national secretariat of our great party,  because the process of the deputy governorship’s selection was abused by the party’s leadership.

“The issue at hand is not so much for us to resolve but we are trying to draw the attention to the mismanagement of the process by  the leadership of the party.

“And we think that such an abuse of the process should not be allowed to go as if nothing went wrong. We thought that the interest of the party should be protected. We felt deceived to have taken part in a process that never was.

“We were meant to believe that there was a process that led to the emergence of the person he has adopted, whereas the party chairman has lured the whole thing into a non-democratic process, and because of that, many have been discouraged.”

A PDP stakeholder and former senatorial aspirant for Plateau Central Senatorial District, Mr. Isaac Wadak has observed that the party did not handle the issue of his deputy governor well.

Wadak while speaking to our correspondent recently noted that those who are against the choice of Dalok saw themselves as potentials but did not make the list, consequently the reason for their grievances.

He assured that the party has already put machinery in place towards resolving the issue. “The party is already looking into the issue by setting the machinery to ensure that all aggrieved party members are pacified so that we can have one voice and work towards the success of the party during the next elections”. He said.

Meanwhile the 17 Local Government PDP chairmen in the state have unanimously endorsed the candidature of Dr. James Dalok as running mate to Sen. Useni.

A press statement signed by Hon. Philip Jwe on behalf of the PDP chairmen forum said after a meeting of all the party chairmen with the State Working Committee members of the Party, on Friday, October 19, 2018, the chairmen unanimously adopted that they will work tirelessly at the grassroots to ensure the success of the governor and deputy in particular, and all other elective positions in the state in general, during the 2019 general elections.

As it stands there is not an end in sight to the friction generated by the choice of the running mate. While time appears to be running out on the PDP, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which appears much more stable is poised to capitalise on the crisis in the PDP ahead of the governorship poll in the state next year.