By Joseph Dangme Rinyom
Jonah David Jang is the governor of Plateau state. He does not have any constitutional powers to run for a third term. However, he could have a say in who succeeds him, especially when he is in control of the machinery of government that would allow him to cajole, intimidate and/or simply frustrate those he considers political opponents. Interestingly, Air Commodore Jang has thrown his hat in the ring alongside his fellow soldiers: General Abacha and General Obasanjo. The three basic characteristics of their tactics are: keep it simple, basic, unsophisticated, crude and dare-devil: make yourself the centre of it all and do not shy away from anyone knowing the agenda. Put it out in plain sight but say nothing about it yourself. Recruit sycophants to do your dirty work while you pretty yourself with pointing out, to whomever you find, your incredible achievements in office. Abacha hired YEAA and a hundreds of Committees of Friends and associates. Obasanjo had Mantu, Kayode and co as his undertakers. Jang has figurines of political hangers in the forefront of his agency.
Intimidate, frustrate and persecute political dissenters: Sani Abacha had Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, his deputy General Diya and co put behind bars. Obasanjo changed party chairmen like dresses and fought his Vice, Atiku, in a disgraceful and ultimately embarrassing (for him) public arena just to have a grip on his desire to succeed himself. Jang is seemingly intimidating all those who would like to succeed him. Unlike in many other states where politicians jostling for the governor’s mansions are already rehearsing their speeches, the silence on the Plateau is deafening. His recent scheming to suspend the chairman of his party in the state for daring to consult on his own ambition to succeed him (Jang) falls smack down into this category. While his wards talk about loyalty and disloyalty, the instrument of suspension spews out unsubstantiated and spurious claims of financial impropriety against the party chairman, with the intention to damage his credibility when he contests. Remember that Atiku’s cardinal sin against Obasanjo was so-called disloyalty, which in plain English was Atiku’s refusal to endorse Obasanjo’s third term agenda. The PDP Party Chairman may not believe that Jang has the singular connection to God and would not wait on Jang to pronounce, by himself, who would succeed him. This dovetails into the third characteristic.
Invoke the name of God: Both Abacha and Obasanjo claimed they were waiting on God to reveal the path for them. Abacha died before he heard The Voice. Obasanjo was disgraced out of office. Jang has told Plateauns that he was fasting and praying for God to reveal the person to succeed him. Why he thinks God cares to reveal His (God’s) choice to him (Jang) alone is beyond comprehension. Until now, he (Jang) has not been imbued with any prophetic attributes, why would God reveal to him to wait for Him (God) to reveal to him (Jang) who was going to succeed him (Jang)? Apparently, Jang thinks he knows who would succeed him and is merely waiting for God to endorse his choice so he could announce that to the state, who then must sing the Kumbaya. Unfortunately, he is a poor student of history. From all indications, Dariye did not want Jang to succeed him, yet Jang is occupying the seat today. If Jang thinks himself capable of playing God, in the sense that his pronouncement at the end of his so-called prayers and fasting as to who would succeed him would brook no opposition, especially within the party, then he is less smart than people assume he is.
Of course, power belongs to God. But Jang is no God. Few months from now, he would be a commoner on the street, stripped of all paraphernalia of power and office. Even if he succeeds in installing one of his minnows, whomever that may be, he still has to learn the lesson of Babangida, TY Danjuma, etc who foisted Obasanjo on Nigeria and eventually found themselves peeping from the outside.
To my fellow Plateauns, the decision on who succeeds Jang remains ours to make. It is the most singular power we have in a democracy and we must not mortgage it to any one person, no matter how hardworking or how much he has achieved; not even if the immortal JD Gomwalk comes back to the seat. The beauty of democracy is the “right to make the wrong choice.” We did not listen to Dariye and chose Jang who has worked hard. We must not listen to Jang and his self-appointed prophetic status. It is a god-complex we must all shun because it is only self-serving.
Joseph Dangme Riyom via firstname.lastname@example.org