From Andrew Ajijah, Jos
The race for which party takes control of leadership in Plateau State for 2023 appears a tight among three political parties in Plateau State.
They are the People’s Democratic Party PDP, All Progressives Congress APC, and the Labour Party LP.
The Voice Politics investigation following ongoing campaigns points out that each of these parties has the needed capacity and sympathy to spring a surprise at the elections.
This is backed by the profile of the parties’ flagbearers.
Dr Nentawe Yilwatdat of the APC, is experienced in Politics as Resident Electoral Commissioner and has tall academic qualifications. Moreover, he is of the ruling party in the state and has a lot of supporters campaigning for him.
The candidate of the People’s Democratic Party PDP in the state, Barr Caleb Mutfwang equally enjoys huge support across the state and partisan lines
It is a similar situation for Dr. Partrick Dakun of the LP who recently decamped from the APC after the 2022 party primaries. He cannot be waived off because a lot of aggrieved APC members are on his side
Moreover, civil servants seem to be in tune with him and his political ideologies and are drumming for his victory.
The PDP candidate, a one time executive council Chairman of Mangu local government area, a lawyer, hails from the largest ethnic group in the State.
Equally, the three candidates have made choices for running mates that are equally with very high pedigrees.
APC’s Pam Botmang is the immediate past Commissioner of works, a vibrant young politician who’s late father was a deputy governor to former Governor Joshua Dariye. This is also boosted by the desperation for a Governor of Berom extraction.
That of the PDP, Mrs Josephine Piyo also has equal opportunity as a Berom lady. Piyo had occupied several elected political offices, the only female deputy in the ongoing race. She appears the most acceptable running mate among all.
The LP Edward Pwajok (SAN) had served Plateau State as Anthony General and Commissioner of Justice for about eight years during the Jonah Jang administration. Pwajok was elected member, House of Representatives for Jos South/Jos East federal constituency . He is also a Berom speaking person from Kuru district.
Interestingly, All the candidates are of the Christian faith and of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), the most popular christian denomination found among Plateau indigenes.
However, the deputy gubernatorial candidate of the APC Pam Botmang and Edward Pwajok SAN of the LP are of the Roman Catholic denomination.
The APC candidate has the incubemt Governor, Barr Simon Lalong, who is contesting Plateau South Senatorial district with six local government areas.
Nevertheless, he has two major hurdles. Five of the said local government areas are occupied by the opposition parties and Beni Lar, daughter of late Solomon Lar seeks to return to the House of Representatives for the fourth time on the ticket of the PDP for Langtang North/Langtang South federal constituency. Beni Lar seems to have inherited her father’s Political structures and has track record of defeating her rivals.
Again, the immediate past council chairman of Quanpan local government area, Isaac Kwalu who left APC secured the PDP ticket of Quanpan, Shendam/Mikang federal constituency in the coming election, and he is not a pushover.
Another chance the APC governorship candidate can beat his chest is the support of a serving house of representatives member, Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi of the Pankshin Kanke Kanam federal constituency who is hoping to return to the national Assembly.
The likes of Idris Wase, the deputy Speaker House of Representatives, a fourth time member from Wase federal constituency is in support of Dr. Nentawe Yilwatdat to succeed Governor Lalong.
Though the APC candidate has in his fold the likes of Latep Dabang, the immediate past Plateau State Chairman of the APC who left the party for PDP, and is now the Director General of the PDP gubernatorial candidate will certainly affect APC’s support base.
There are insinuations that some footsoldiers of Latep are still in the APC working as wolves in sheep clothing against the party.
For Labour Party, the former Governor Joshua Dariye, who recently got presidential pardon and was released from Kuje prisons, and who is among frontline politicians in the state is mobilizing for Dakun. This is a no mean support. Dairye appointed Dr Partrick Dakun Commissioner of health during his tenure, while Governor Simon Lalong was Speaker of the Plateau State Assembly.
Meanwhile, Senator Jonah Jang is known to be solidly behind the PDP governorship candidate because both the candidate and the running mate are his political apostles who worked during his administration as local government chairmen.
Another monumental strength the PDP gubernatorial candidate is mustering from northern Plateau is the total resolve by Sen Istifanus Gyang, the incubemt Senator for Plateau North and Musa Bagos, the Member House of Representatives for Jos South/Jos East federal constituency, the Member who stopped the proposed rebuilding of Jos main market by Jaiz bank.
The PDP also has it state Party chairman from the northern zone Hon Chris Hassan, a one time Commissioner of works.
Similarly, the All Progressive Congress APC also chosed Hassan’s counterpart at the same Senatorial zone, in person of Rufus Bature, former Secretary to the Government of Plateau State, a grassroots political mobilizer.
The unfortunate insecurity and economic hardship bediviling the country and with grave consequences on people of the State might be a stepping stone of the opposition political parties in the state. Most citizens as a result of this are yearning for change. It is for this too that the votes might likely be on personality and capacity of candidates rather than political parties.
Until the dice is cast, no one can authoritatively say who shall occupy the Little Rayfiled-Plateau State Government House as Governor among these. Only time shall tell.