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Plateau North by-election: Stage set for epic battle

Published by Tribune on Thu, 27 Sep 2012

The Plateau North Senatorial District by-election promises to be an intense battle, as the candidates are tested politicians. Isaac Shobayo writes.THE stage is set for the October 6, 2012 Plateau North senatorial by-election. No fewer than six candidates have emerged on the platform of six political parties to contest the by-election. The election has rekindled the politics of the state, as various interest groups and politicians across the state are presently congregating in the zone to lend support to their political parties.Apart from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which had a primary that produced the former Chief of Staff to Governor Jonah Jang, Mr Gyang Pwajok as its standard-bearer, other candidates emerged through affirmation at their respective primaries.The candidates are Action Congress of Nigeria's (ACN) Barrister Yusuf Pam, Labour Party's (LP) Honourable Lumumba Dah-Adeh, Democratic People's Party's (DPP) Colonel John Dungs, All Nigeria Peoples Party's (ANPP) Dr Danladi Atu, All Progressive Grand Alliance's (APGA) Mr. Chris Giwa and Barrister Bala Tanko Bako. Their mode of campaign is similar and centres on the restoration of peace to the troubled zone, which has been under siege in the past 10 years, occasioned by crises in different flanks comprising Jos North, Jos East, Jos South, Bassa, Barakin-Ladi and Riyom local government areas of the state.All the candidates seem to be capitalizing on the crisis and perceive it as a winning streak that needs to be explored to give them the mandate of the zone. Apart from this, the ongoing campaign is not devoid of mudslinging and sentiment: to the candidates fair is foul, foul is fair and the end justifies the means.Chris GiwaGiwa was once chairman of the Plateau United Football Club, a position he held till the end of Dariye's administration. From all indications, resources to prosecute the election will definitely not be a barrier to his aspiration considering his present financial status. However, despite his resources, his presence is reportedly not being felt in the six local governments making up the zone, unlike when he contested the governorship election where his presence was felt in all the nooks and crannies of the state. His campaign is more of radio jingles than physical contact.A source close to him revealed that he is skeptical of injecting too much money into his campaign based on what happened during the last governorship election where he spent huge amounts of money without corresponding return in terms of votes. Based on the political realities on the ground, Giwa might find it difficult to make an impact in the election. Yusuf Pam Pam was a former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in the state under Dariye's administration. The highly intellectual candidate also served in the same capacity under Sole Administrator, Brigadier-General Adetunji Olurin, of the state during emergency rule in 2004 before his resignation. Apart from being a lawyer, he is also a business man and presently the chairman of civil organisations in Plateau State. The Nigerian Tribune learnt that his joining the race was propelled by some powerful external influences.Pam is from the same Du village in Jos South Local Government Area of the state with the governor, he is of Berom stock, the largest ethnic group in the zone and the state as a whole. Though the three dominant Berom speaking local government areas, Jos South, Riyom and Barakin-Ladi are presently polarized over the election, the influence of the governor in these council areas cannot be wished away. But the Nigerian Tribune learnt that the Pam has devised a means of getting his share of votes from the areas.It was learnt that some of his supporters who strongly believe in his aspiration are presently traversing Hausa/ Fulani settlements in these areas to sell his candidature to the people by exploring ethnic affinity sentiments to make a headway. And many of them have started keying into this on the premise they share the same extraction with his late mother Mrs Elizabeth Pam who wielded a wider and greater influence before her demise. There is also an indication that he may get votes from the troubled Jos North local government, especially from the Hausa community. Gyang Pwajok Pwajok emerged the flag bearer of the party by defeating the former Deputy Senate President in the Second Republic, Senator Wash Pam, with an unimaginable margin that made the contest look like a walkover. Pwajok, who is an immediate past Chief of Staff to Governor Jonah Jang, is a highly intelligent young man in his late forties. His interactions with various groups in the course of his campaign were convincing and depicted his understanding of the prevailing situation in the zone and how to go about addressing them.He holds Master Degree in political science from the University of Jos and hails from Jos North Local Aovernment area of the state, but he is of Berom extraction with roots in Du village in Jos South local government. He has a brighter chance of conveniently wining in the three Berom speaking local governments despite the resentment in Riyom council. It was learnt that PDP bigwigs like the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Serah Ochepe, Super Permanent Secretary Istifanus Gyang, Honourable Simon Mwadkon and others political office holders have got a marching orders from the state secretariat of the party to work assiduously towards delivering the areas to the PDP candidate.Lumumba Dah-adehDah-Adeh is a former member of House of Representatives. While at the National Assembly, he served in various committees central to the survival of the lower chamber and was after that appointed Special Adviser to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo on NationalAssembly Matters.His emergence as the standard- bearer despite the controversy that dogged the primary election conducted by a cross section of the party depicted that the party strongly believes in his candidature. He is from Bassa Local Government Area of the state and is highly influential in Jos North Local Government Area, especially among the youths. His inroads into Jos East Local Government Area might be dicey because of the influence of his arch rival, Dr Danladi Atu in the local government. He also needs to extra work to penetrate the three Berom speaking local governments.David DungsColonel Dungs (rtd) was a former Military Administrator of Delta State. Since his retirement, he has been involved in the politics of the state. Dungs was a former member of the PDP before his defection to the DPP in 2011 to contest the senatorial seat, but returned to the PDP after the election. When it was obvious that he would not be allowed to contest for senatorial by election on the platform of PDP, he returned to the DPP where he was given the ticket of the party without much ado.Dungs is a strong contender from Riyom Local Government Area of the state. Being of Berom extraction, he has a chance of making a headway. Investigations revealed that cross sections of people of Riyom Local Government Area are still livid over the way the seat was taken away from the local government after the death of Senator Dantong. He may get the node of the people on this premise. But he will have to work hard to penetrate the two other Berom speaking local governments.Danladi AtuDr Atu was a former Chairman of Jos North local government area of the state under the administration of the former Governor Joshua Dariye's administration. He was initially elected as the standard-bearer of LP but his victory was squashed on the premise that the primary was conducted without recourse to the lay down procedures, forcing him to jettisoned the party for ANPP which willing surrendered the ticket to him on platter of gold.Though ANPP is on the verge of extinction in Plateau State, Atu in the past two weeks of picking the ticket has inject life into the party and as well re-position the party. The crisis that trailed his exit from the Labour Party has whittled down his chance of winning the election. Though he is a veritable force in politics of Jos East but just one local government cannot give him the seat. There is a speculation that he is in the race to take his pound of flesh off the Labour Party which rejected his emergence as candidate of the party.Bala Tanko Bako. Bako is a Jos-based legal practitioner. He has been in politics for quite some time. In the last election, he contested the senatorial election of the zone on the platform of APGA and came second in the election to the surprise of many. He is from Jos North local government area of the state, where the chunk of the votes is.
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