By Marie-Therese Nanlong,
The race to the Plateau State Government House in Little Rayfield, Jos has begun in earnest. Posters of different colours and shapes are defacing public spaces. Permutations have left the gubernatorial seat for the Central zone which has five local government areas of Bokkos, Kanam, Kanke, Mangu, and Pankshin.
Recall that Joshua Dariye from Bokkos governed the State from 1999 to 2007, Jonah Jang from Jos South in the Northern zone governed from 2007 to 2015, and the incumbent, Simon Lalong is from Shendam in the Southern zone.
Feelers suggest the central zone should take the turn from Lalong in 2023 hence the emergence of about 40 aspirants from the two major political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Some of the gubernatorial aspirants from the two parties are, Pukat Barde, Manji Gontori, Danyaro Sarpiya, Timothy Nantok, Sunday Biggs, Jonathan Akuns, Dakas Dakas, Hezekiah Dimka, David Dimka, Satu Jatau, John Sura, Sonni Tyoden, Dauda Gotring, Latep Dabang, Garba Pwul, Timothy Golu.
Others are Patrick Dakum, Nentawe Yilwatda, Caleb Mutfwang, Shedrack Best, Alfred Damiyal, Mazadu Bako, David Parradang, Bagudu Hirse, Jonathan Aminu, Sipak Shase’et, James Shwarapshaka, Amos Gizo, Alex Ladan, Kizito Gukas, among others. Any qualified person from any part of the State is eligible to vote and be voted for but the existing unwritten rotational formula appears to be an established sacred arrangement.
An attempt in 2015, to alter it denied former governor Jonah Jang the opportunity of ‘installing’ his successor as citizens insisted on zoning and voted in Simon Lalong from the preferred zone. Political parties seem to have learned from that experience as they adopt zoning for now. There are political alignments ongoing especially within Plateau Central as to which LGA should produce the next governor.
Among the aspirants in the two parties, about 15 are from Mangu, local permutations suggest that since Mangu and Bokkos make the Mangu/Bokkos federal constituency, support should be given especially by members of the APC to ensure someone from Mangu clinches the gubernatorial seat while someone from Bokkos gets the House of Representatives seat. A stakeholder, Matthew Dashe who bore his thought noted that there are credible contenders for the House of Representatives seat from Bokkos like Dr. Elkanah Garang among others.
According to Dashe. “These alignments are predicated on growing assumptions and arguments within the ruling APC, which suggests that the Mwaghavul Nation of Mangu LGA, given their population, track record of cooperation in delivering “Doma Votes” and quality of aspirants should be allowed to produce the next Governor. “Mangu LGA played the Joker in 2015 when the Mwaghavul Nation came together to anoint Prof Sonni Tyoden as their consensus candidate. The APC made a vital gain by picking him as the running mate of Rt Hon Simon Lalong who eventually won the polls.”
“Feelers among the political rank and file in Mangu have suggested that the political stakeholders within the APC are beginning to align with the school of thought making the emphatic move for the emergence of a Mangu Governor.
There are moves within the LGA to have a 2015-like-consensus-candidate which will further consolidate the efforts so far.
“There is growing support for the idea of Bokkos retaining the House of Reps position. This has given the foundational strength the political calculators in Mangu need to bargain with other Federal Constituencies. Feelers have also suggested that the political actors in Mangu, after securing the assurances of Bokkos that Bokkos should retain the House, Kanke should retain the Senatorial seat and return the favour Mangu gave to Kanke in 2019 leading to the emergence of Senator Hezekiah Dimka.
“Proponents of this idea have also proposed that Senator Dimka be allowed to return for a second term, giving assurances that Mangu will support Kanke to get the seat if they support Mangu for the governorship seat.”
He added, “There are a few House of Reps contenders from Bokkos, who should be supported, like a philanthropist and Medical Doctor, Elkanah Garang among others.”
Meanwhile, it was gathered that there are proposals for the Mwaghavul Nation to secure an alliance with the Berom Nation in the Northern zone for a Mwaghavul/Berom ticket but how far this idea will go remains to be seen as events unfold in the coming months.