Much ado about Plateau LG Polls  By Mahdi Garba

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Governor Simon Lalong

In September, the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) declared February 17, 2018 as the date for the much anticipated event in the state. PLASIEC Chairman, Mr Fabian Ntung slated run-off or re-run for February 24, 2018, in case of any. The date for the election has been long-awaited under the administration of Governor Simon Lalong, adding that the Governor is appointing Local Government Caretaker Committee for the second time in less than three years.

Opposition parties, most notably the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) insisted that the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government is resorting to Caretaker Committee to halt LG polls in the state because they are afraid of defeat. It is not unusual to hear these ranting from the PDP especially now that the are still nursing the historic defeat against them during the last general election. The defeat in the 2015 gubernatorial elections befuddled most of the PDP members in Plateau state. An average of whom underestimated the APC candidate, Simon Lalong then. Little did they knew that the hurricane of change is sweeping many strongholds of the then ruling PDP, including Plateau state.

In Plateau state, prior to the 2015 elections, there was a cold internal crisis in the party. The former Governor of the state, Jonah David Jang who spearheaded the affairs of the state for eight consecutive years in year 2015  anointed late Senator Gyang Nyom Shak Pwajok as his successor. This has generated furore in the polity of the state. Being that, the late GNS Pwajok was said to be a kinsman of Governor Jang from the same senatorial zone, Plateau North which is peopled by Berom natives.

Other PDP stalwarts from the the other two senatorial zones of the state saw it as an attempt to hijack the state from them. Most of them are aspirants who contested the parties primary elections with Governor Jang’s candidate, GNS Pwajok. These are people like Jimmy Cheto, Victor Mainasara Lar, Ignatius Longjan who was then Jang’s deputy among others too numerous to mention. Some were even said to have engaged themselves in anti-party activities, just to make sure Governor Jang and his cohort meet their Waterloo in the elections. Though Late Pwajok was an idol to many in the state especially the  teeming youth but identifying himself with Governor Jang  has also contributed to his defeat.

Now that the Local Government election is scheduled for February 17, fingers of spectators are crossed to see the result of the elections. From all indications, the Politics of the state has taken a new dimension. Not just the APC and the PDP but all  parties are going to be well-represented in all the seventeen local governments of the state. Although the major contenders are from the ruling APC and opposition PDP.

The APC must be very cautious as the upcoming LG elections in the state is a yardstick that is going to forecast the victory of the ruling party in 2019 general elections. The APC needs to restrategize against the upcoming elections, being that Governor Lalong’s APC-led administration’s failure to fulfill myriads of its campaign promises, especially the 52,000 minimum wage that impelled most civil servants in the state to vote for him. Another minus counting against the Governor is the abandoned projects in the state. Succinctly, If I am compelled to assess  the APC administration in the last three years on a scorecard I will conclude that there is nothing to write home about. Before we commended the Lalong administration for restoring peace in the state but with the recent attacks on Jol community in Riyom LGA and Taegbe, Ancha, Nkyie-Dagwhro villages  of Bassa LGA pose a political threat to the ruling party come February 17.

Though the opposition PDP remains optimistic in the upcoming elections, some electorates are of the motion that neither APC nor PDP can deliver but other parties that were never tested before. Others are of the view that personality politics is the only option. Voting candidates base on their performance in previous assignments, thereby eschewing party politics. This is a good omen for the politics of the state because it is only through this good people would be saddled with the responsibility of governing people the way it ought to be done.

With this development, it is left for the political parties to go for candidates that are servants of the masses, since party politics  never seems to be a priority in the February 2018 LG elections. The herculean task before political parties is to screen aspirants  in other to have the right candidates in place. Delegates must get the right candidate if they are really serious in winning the elections.

Come 2018, all that has been the status quo in most states during LG elections in Nigeria where the ruling party sweeps all the local governments like in the case of Kano under Governor Kwankwaso, Jigawa under Governor Badaru and Yobe earlier this year cannot happen in Plateau State. In a situation where such may happen it cannot be justifiable owing to the style democracy is now taking in the state.

Mahdi writes from Jos and can be reached at mahdigarba@gmail.com

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