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Plateau: Party Stakeholders Are The Godfathers

LalongTHE issue of political godfatherism in Plateau State is a very interesting one in that the immediate past governor of the state, Da Jonah David Jang, having spent his eight years tenure, bowed out of office on May 29 but failed to produce a successor. He came to power in 2007 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Political watchers said that before election, political offices had allegedly been shared with the connivance of the former governor, optimistic that the PDP candidate, Senator Gyang Pwajok would carry the day. If things had worked the way they had wanted, there was no way the former governor would not have influence the appointments of key positions in the new cabinet.

The ex -governor would have been calling the shots if they had won, judging from the fact that the-would-have-been governor is a young, but brilliant man who cannot look at Jang in the face and say ‘no’ to his requests because when the late Senator Gyang Dantong died, it was Jang who paved the way for Pwajok to succeed him without much challenge. And again, it was the fervent wish of Jang that Pwajok succeeds him after his tenure. But things went sour.

Since the coming into power of PDP in the past 16 years, it had been dominating Plateau unchallenged. That was why the electorate believed that whoever was presented by PDP must win. So the 16 year-old jinx was broken when the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, who was a Speaker during the tenure of former Governor, Senator Joshua Chibi Dariye, won the election.

This victory by APC puts PDP in the opposition as opposed to what obtained in the past 16 years.  What is being considered by Lalong in making appointments was individuals’ role in ensuring that APC won the election. That was considered when Mr. Rufus Bature was appointed Secretary to the State Government (SSG). Bature’s appointment was never influenced by anybody because he earned it, having served as Director-General of Lalong Campaign Organisation.

Also drafted into Lalong’s cabinet is Mr. John Dafaan who was appointed Chief of Staff, Government House. He was Chief Protocol Officer during Dariye’s government. He was drafted into the position because no other person is competent enough to hold it. Barrister Yusuf Gambo Hawaja is the Deputy Chief of Staff Government House and Silas Vem was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff to the Deputy Governor.

Former Vice Chancellor of the Plateau State University Bokkos, Prof. John Wade, is also appointed the Director – General, Research, Documentation and Planning at Government House while Mr. Cyril Tsenyil goes for the State Accountant – General. Mr. Cletus Kangkum becomes Principal Private Secretary to the governor. Having played an active role in the enthronement of the governor and APC in the state, Mr. Samuel Emmanuel Nanle is rewarded with the Director, Press and Public Affairs to the governor.

All the key appointments were done based purely on experience and competence. However, appointment of commissioners has not been done because of intense lobbying by stakeholders who believe that they or their candidates deserve to be recognised in the cabinet. It was even gathered that the first list of commissioners had to be dropped because of competition and vested interest. Up till now, the final list of state commissioners is being awaited.

Besides, recently, the governor approved the dissolution of Governing Council of all Plateau State owned tertiary institutions which include Plateau State University Board, Plateau State Polytechnic, Barkin Ladi and College of Agriculture, Garkawa. Others are College of Eduation, Gindiri, Colleges of Health Technology Pankshin and that of Zawan.

Before now, the governor had dissolved the boards of parastatals in the state. Those who could not make the list of commissioners have hope in the boards.

Coming to the appointment of Principal Officers of the Plateau State House of Assembly, especially its leadership, intrigues and horse-trading played out during the election of the leadership of the house.

During the House of Assembly election in the state, PDP has 13 elected members leaving APC with 11. The House is made up of 24 members. In this circumstance, PDP would want to prove its numerical strength from the outset. But APC leadership in the state was interested in producing a Speaker in spite of all odds against them.

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