Political frenzy heightens on the Plateau ahead of 2019

by AljazirahNigeria | January 2, 2017 11:59 am


AljazirahNigeria examines the unique role the Tarok people of Plateau State and other political heavyweights are currently playing in the political calculations taking place in the state ahead of the 2019 polls.

By Gaaden Puun, Jos

In Plateau state, the burden of the 2019 political leadership search is squarely in the Southern zone but with particular focus on the Tarok people, AljazirahNigeria reports.

Since leaving office in 1983 under the political bigwig, Chief Solomon Lar, Tarok, with about five local government areas are the dominant single ethnic group with the capacity to wrestle political power with little opposition.

As the current administration of President Mohammadu Buhari enters another year, the clock towards 2019 general election is ticking fast with growing political momentum around gladiators.

The seemingly movement of forces and political characters from one political party to another with scheming alignment upon realignment on which block grabs power in the next dispensation, has thrown open the consultation climate in Plateau.

The opportunity to achieve their political aspirations as individuals or groups with common interest is now keen.

To avoid the past mistakes, many politicians are becoming wiser.

Political observers can recall how the then ruling Party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) crumbled during the last national elections at the center with some states caught by miscalculation through the wrong choice of candidates.

The gubernatorial election in Plateau would have been purely a PDP affair but for the imposition of Sen. Gyang Pkajok on the people.

It was the result of this miscalculation and wrong choice of candidate that caused Plateau state PDP the governorship slot.

Political stakeholders in the state told AljazirahNigeria that the party’s key players within the state have since realized their mistakes and have begged all its supporters to forgive them for the humiliation and pains inflicted on them by the defeat from the APC.

One of them, former governor Jonah Jang now a senator representing Plateau North senatorial district at the national Assembly publicly addressed the party supporters in Jos recently seeking forgiveness for misleading the party.

Other senior stakeholders followed with the same appeals to their people.

It appears the party has unanimously agreed to allow the Southern zone of the state to produce the party flag bearer at the 2019 governorship election.

The feelers from within the party and its body language indicate that they are strongly moving towards pulling its finest choice from the Tarok extraction to challenge Governor Bako Simon Lalong who has many factors to his advantage as APC’s choice.

With this arrangement and calculation now, the big issue now is the heavy burden residing with the Tarok in the PDP on who to throw its weight behind.

Gladiators have started indicating interest and desire to contest for the next governorship election.

Some are known faces like Sen JT Useni, whose credentials are quite formidable.

He is a retired general in the Nigeria army, a former national leader of the defunct ANPP/DPP, a former governor of the old Bendel state,, a one time FCT minister and also considered to be the number man during the administration of late General Sani Abacha.

He is currently the senator representing Plateau South Senatorial district at the National Assembly.

His followers see him as the leader of the North Central and a perfect replacement for Chief Solomon Lar.

He is being considered to play the role of a kingmaker in bringing one of his ‘boys’ to contest, a party chieftain told AljazirahNigeria.

The second choice may be that of Senator Victor Mainasara Lara, a two-term House of Rep member and a one-term Senator representing Plateau South, who has given a shot twice at the governorship slot.

A political tactician and a smart energetic politician, who never gives up, he may still give a third short.

Also Hon. Nandom Ishaku Pennap sees himself as the perfect man to run for the Tarok nation. He was a before the Court removed him.

He has proved his popularity by contesting and winning the state assembly election with landslide victory to represent his people at the State House of Assembly.

He believes that he has been a loyal son who deserves the blessing of the Tarok elders to nominate him to contest in 2019.

Another powerful character expected to be considered by the Tarok appears to be Hon Bani Lar, a third-term member at the House of Representatives and an adviser to the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.

A lawyer by discipline and a human, rights campaigner, she controls the political structures of the two local government areas of Langtang north and Langtang south.

Her supporters are currently calling on her to consider contesting the governorship election, but up till now Hon Bani Lar has declined such overtures saying they were too early.

Reliable sources say there is a dark horse who is still in active service at the federal level, whom the elders may pull out to contest as a last resort.
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