As the 2015 general elections gradually approaches, politicians in Plateau state, as elsewhere, are already warming up for the showdown at the polls with each perfecting the act of outwitting opponents in order to emerge victorious.
The quest for the average politician to occupy political office has turned into a frenzy with the fever spreading across the country despite the fact that the timeline for campaigning as scheduled by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has yet to come.
With the recent comment credited to Governor Jonah David Jang of Plateau state to the effect that he did not know the person who will succeed him at the end of his tenure in 2015, the contest has been thrown open with various contenders emerging and seeking to occupy the exalted seat of the governor of the state.
Jang was recently quoted to have said in his Christmas message that he didn’t know the person to succeed him but believed that only God would direct him to know the next governor of the state.
His comments, for many observers of political events in the state, may after all signal the death of the notorious issue of godfatherism, a political strategy where the incumbent is expected to chaperon the ascendance of an anointed candidate.
The issue of godfatherism has often played a significant role in the politics of the country, with the trend becoming the order to the day across all states of the country, making it imperative for politicians jostling to succeed in political races to always try to get the support of the incumbent and others in power.
Investigations by Peoples Daily reveals that consequent upon the comment by Governor Jang, various aspirants have emerged to gun for the position of governor of the state, cutting across the three senatorial zones of Plateau state.
At the fore front of those seeking to take over from Jang come 2015 are about eight prominent politicians namely: Yiljap Abraham, a former Commisioner of Information, Professor Long Sabo Wapmuk, the present Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), ex-Gov Fidelis Tapgun, Senator Victor Lar, Professor Shedrak Best, Secretary to the Plateau state government, Nandom Ishaku Pyennap, a member of the state assembly, Air Vice Marshal Wuyep and Eward Pwajok, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.
Save for the enshrined zoning arrangement within the party, which could eventually eliminate some of the contenders, pundits are of the view that of the eight contenders, only Yiljap, Wapmuk, Tapgun, Pyenap and Pwajok are considered serious enough to contest for the seat of the governor.
However, if the party’s zoning principle is to be followed in the state, the next PDP candidate is expected to come from Plateau South Senatorial Zone, paving the way for aspirants from the zone to gun for the governorship position and ending the aspirations of others from the two other zones.
Many however believe that some aspirants are merely aspiring in order to boost their political profile, with many of them are expected to fall by the wayside when things get really dicey.
Recent happenings indicate that the cordial relationship existing between the incumbent governor and Yiljap, have left many to assume that Yiljap is likely to become the next PDP governorship flag bearer in the state. But the governor’s recent reshuffling of his cabinets, which saw Yiljab moved to the Ministry of Tourism, has given credence to the rumour making the round to the effect that the relationship between him and his boss may no longer be rosy.
Furthermore, observers are of the opinion that even if Jang throws his weight behind Yiljap, the latter lacks popularity in his southern zone, and the aspirant was recently quoted to have said that he hardly battle for any political position and even his current office, he did not ask for it, stressing that everything was in the hand of God.
For Professor Wapmuk, also from Plateau South, an academician and currently an administrator with many years or experience in office, age may not be on his side even as many hailed his character. Some say he is relatively unknown in the political terrain of the state.
A candidate that could possibly influence the outcome of the guber election in the state is Nandom Ishaku Pyenap who is also from Plateau South. Many are of the view that if Governor Jang should throw his support behind Pyenap, there is every possibility that the ruling PDP in the state would have a better chance of winning the governorship election in the state.
This, according to findings, is predicated on the following facts; Pyenap is young and has the support of youths in the state. It was also common knowledge that even members of the State House of Assembly are supportive of his ambition to contest for governorship seat.
Fidelis Tapgun is also considered a major contender in the governorship race. This is in spite of negative comments associated with his name to the effect that even though he was once a governor of Plateau State, Tapgun has been out of the state’s politics since the return of democracy in 1999 and that no remarkable achievement was recorded in the state while he was both a minister and an ambassador. This is also aside of the fact that he is also an old person like Professor Wapmuk. Some observers however are of the view that Tapgun has the support of the common people in the state.
Investigation by Peoples Daily equally indicates that from the central zone of the state, only Professor Shredrak Best is interested in the race. Many believe that even if zoning is not respected, the tendency of Best becoming the governor is very remote because he has no grassroots appeal, a case that came to the lime light following the defeat of his political godson during the just concluded PDP primaries for the local government election, which portrays Best as lacking support from his locality.
In the Northern Senatorial Zone, Edward Pwajok who is the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, is also considered as a major contender among those eyeing the number one seat in the state. Although he is of Berom origin, same as the incumbent, it is generally believed that if zoning is jettisoned by the party, he may likely to be supported as the next PDP governorship candidate by the incumbent governor.