Quite recently, I had a conversation with one of my friends from Bokkos Local Government. Interestingly, here is a man who knows the XYZ of Plateau politics and to a large degree, the greater conventional politics. The import of our conversation was on the fast approaching 2019 election which would perhaps serve as a litmus test for 2023.
Some of my readers I’m certain will ask rhetorically why I am writing on the upper political dispensation and not the one at hand. I think I’ve written a lot on that.
Thus, it’s time to join the league of advanced planners. The reality is that, next year’s general elections will form the dynamics that will remarkably define and usher 2023’s dispensation. Firstly, let me come clean. I am a passionate advocate of peaceful and truly democratic elections reflective of the people’s will.
Quite frankly, I wish we could have this electoral breakthrough in 2019. Is this possible? The answer is a thunderous yes. However, the ball is in our court to make it happen. I grew up learning the art, science and practical sense of politics at Campus unionism level before I took a bow and joined the mainstream, albeit, it is not my primary calling. I do so as part of my contributions to nation building. In other words, my kind of politics is not one based on the projection of a party but very fundamentally, on the basis of support for one’s quality of vision and manifesto.
Assessing the Impact of Rotational Politics in the Light of 2023’s Election
What impact does zoning agreement have on democracy? This part of the article will focus on the critical analysis of the pros and cons. Over the years, the theory had generated both heavy and light criticisms. Many have debunked the theory on the grounds that it doesn’t have roots in the 1999 constitution (as amended). On the other hand, many others have upheld it because directly or indirectly, they have benefited from it. As I earlier mentioned, it has its advantages and disadvantages in my view. The people of Plateau state and indeed Nigerians have become accustomed to it.
The Governorship seat for example rotates within the 3 senatorial zones that make up the state (Plateau North, Central and South). Democratically, his Excellency Gov. Joshua Chibi Dariye held sway for 2 terms (1999-2007). He hails from Bokkos in Plateau Central.
Thereafter, he was succeeded by Gov. Jonah David Jang from Jos South in Plateau North who served from 2007-2015. Now, in the spirit of zoning, the natural progression would have been a credible person to succeed Gov. Jang from the Southern Zone. He anointed his political son GNS Pwajok of blessed memory. Here was a man with outstanding and rich political credentials but unfortunately he lost to the incumbent Governor Simon Lalong from Shendam (Southern Zone). GNS Pwajok didn’t enjoy much supported not because he was not credible or perhaps his manifesto wasn’t convincing. He had a unique blueprint and I truly admired his courage. Gov. Lalong got overwhelming support from different angles in the spirit of zoning and he coasted to victory with a total of 564,913 votes against his closest opponent GNS Pwajok who got 520,672 as announced by INEC. Having served for one tenure, the incumbent seeks to be re-elected in 2019. His performance can best be judged in the court of public opinion. Now in the spirit of zoning, almost all the political parties have zoned their Governorship seats to the South except that of Aliance for New Nigeria (ANN) with Alex Ladan as its flag-bearer. He hails from Mangu in Plateau Central.
On the other hand, Social Democratic Party (SDP) is enmeshed in crisis. Prior to the crisis, Amb. John Pofi from Plateau Central emerged winner of the primaries but after the manifestation of some developments, Godfrey Miri from Plateau South debunked the earlier result and got recognized by the national headquarters. However, John Pofi took the matter to a court of competent jurisdiction and presently awaits the outcome. Other flag-bearers are Gen. John Temlong of ADP, Gen. Jeremiah Useni of PDP, the incumbent Gov. Simon Lalong of APC, Chief Joe Bitrus Musa of ADC among others all from Southern Zone. Surely, a winner will emerge among the aforementioned and this will be based on the collective decision of Plateau people.
After 2019, What Next?
After 2019 governorship election, preparation in earnest will begin for that of 2023. Ideally, the seat would be zoned to the Central zone. Gladiators and analysts have started making their projections and charting different roadmaps. Hopefuls are beginning to set their eyes on the seat and are making moves covertly and overtly to see the possibility of clutching the opportunity.
Both new and old faces in politics are expected to emerge. It will be interesting quite frankly. Different interest and youth groups are mounting pressure on some people in Central Zone with accomplishments in leadership, philanthropy, education and business to go for the plum seat and use what they have got to move the state forward. If the pressure becomes huge in scope and scale, in other words, if the pressure is consistent with their motivation, the following names will ring a loud bell in 2023: Prof. Sonni Tyoden, Mr. Alfred Dapal, Dr. Patrick Dakum, Nde Hezekiah Dimka, Hon. Timothy Golu, Joseph Lengmang (Joelengs), Kefas Ropshik (Kefiano), Dr. Chinnan Maclean Dikwal, Chief Pedro Dafur, Dr. James Dalok, Prof. Shadrack Best, Santos Ayuba Larab, Amb. John Pofi, Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda, Rt. Hon. Istifanus Mwansat, Dr. Bala Yilkyes, Arch. Hart Bankat, Hon. Jiritmwa Morgak, Hon. Diket Plang, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Goar among others.
What INEC should do
I truly commend INEC for its role in sustaining and strengthening democracy. Elections are crucial to the sustenance of democracy undoubtedly. Although, the electoral umpire has its weaknesses in many respects but I do believe that it will overcome those weak areas and emerge stronger than ever before. INEC needs to rekindle the confidence of all electorates by ensuring the conduct of free, honest and transparent elections. It should collaborate with security forces to maintain peaceful and credible elections. There must be a level playing field for all candidates irrespective of their party platforms and all policy initiatives must be respected to the latter so history could place the country as a truly democratic one.
My wish for Plateau State
Plateau is one of the 36 states in Nigeria. It is remarkably cosmopolitan. Our politics is a boiling point in the Middle-Belt and perhaps the North in general. We’ve got boundless human and natural resources. What do we lack, almost nothing. governments come and go. Dariye did it. Botmang did it. Jang did it. Lalong is doing it. After the incumbent, somebody will come and continue. They all did their best but the best of the best is yet to be attained. Plateau needs security. Our people have suffered beyond measure. The youths need to be engaged on critical ventures so they could feel the motivation to contribute to development. Education and the elimination of poverty must be taken to heart as cardinal priorities of current and future governments. I believe in the capacities of those I mentioned earlier who might seek for governorship election. Anybody that emerges in 2019 and 2023 respectively deserves our collective support, prayers and solidarity. I sincerely hope for a better future. I wish Plateau state the best.
Satmak Dapar writes from Cyprus International University, Northern Cyprus, Turkey. He can be reached via email@example.com