With the return of democratic structures in 1999, the political arena in Plateau State has been a theatre of some intrigues despite the myriad of security challenges ravaging the state.
Plateau was a stronghold of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, before it was taken over by the All Progressives Congress, APC in 2015 as a result of a miscalculation by the then ruling PDP in its selection of a gubernatorial candidate.
However, the PDP has now regained power in the state.
The APC led by Barr Simon Lalong governed the State for eight years.
However, the party failed to win the mind and soul of an average Plateau citizen under his tenure; many still held the opinion that the PDP was a better option.
The Party’s woes were compounded by the selection process during its governorship primary election last year which led to the emergence of Dr Nentawe Yilwatda.
Nentawe’s emergence was greeted with disaffection among some party stalwarts, with Dr Patrick Dakum dumping the party and flying the ticket of the Labour Party, LP, in the gubernatorial polls, coming a distant third in the race.
There were also a litany of ligations against the emergence of Yilwatda, but the elections have come and gone.
Those who won have started the act of governance, while the aggrieved are slugging it out at the various election tribunals in the State.
Interest has now shifted to the scramble for federal appointments, a development that is pitching the party members against each other.
Some members are being accused of engaging in anti-party activities during the general elections.
The APC, which was the ruling party in the State came second to the LP in the Presidential election. The PDP came third.
In the National Assembly elections, the PDP won two senatorial seats, five House of Representatives seats, while the APC won a senatorial seat and three House of Representatives seats; the Labour Party did not win any.
Sadly, the sitting governor (Lalong) lost his senatorial bid in Plateau South, winning only one (Wase) out of the six councils, also losing his council of origin (Shendam).
The implication of the above is that Plateau people were really careful about who they wanted for a particular position.
However, recently, some stalwarts of the APC in the State raised concerns that plans were being hatched to suspend some of them from the party over alleged anti-party activities.
A chieftain of the Party, Hon. Lumumba Dah Adeh in an interview with journalists in Jos, the State capital, had raised concerns that the party leadership with instructions from the immediate past governor of the State (Simon Lalong) is hatching plans to suspend some of them because they paid a courtesy visit to the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. George Akume in Abuja to congratulate him on his appointment.
He said some people within the party’s hierarchy in the State were not pleased with their visit to the new SGF.
The development prompted Hon. Adeh and Hon. Komsol Alphonsus to write a letter to the Chairman of the party.
According to him, “the letter is to help, particularly the leadership of the party, to avoid plunging the party into an unnecessary crisis as it were”.
He added that the said letter which was addressed to the state Chairman and copied to certain leaders of the party at the National level is to draw their attention to the happenings on the Plateau.
On what might have triggered the impasse, Adeh, who was a former member of the House of Representatives (Jos North/Bassa Constituency 1999 to 2003), said, “the crux of the matter is that some of us, leaders of the APC from Plateau, who are resident in Abuja decided to pay a visit to the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
“We felt that since we are close around Abuja, we should show solidarity being that the new SGF, Sen. George Akume is from the North-Central and also recalling the days of the Benue/Plateau; and for the fact that he is one person who some of us have worked closely with.
“That’s the reason we quickly reached out to those who were within Abuja to go and pay that solidarity visit, congratulated and also prayed with him”, he explained.
The former lawmaker added that shortly after the pictures taken from the visit went viral, different stories started emanating from leaders of the party.
He added that they were reliably informed that the immediate past Governor of the State (Simon Lalong) was not happy.
“Maybe because he also was interested in that office but couldn’t make it, unfortunately”.
Adeh, however, noted that because a family member lost out on something did not mean they should not recognise other members within the family who were so lucky to be elevated to certain positions.
“So, it was after then that we got informed that because of the visit, virtually everyone on that contingent was pencilled down for some phantom anti-party activities so they can subsequently suspend or even expel such members from the party”, he further explained.
Adeh called on the party leadership to exercise caution, especially given the fact the APC is at the Tribunal, and hopeful of gaining the victory it won at the polls on March 18, 2023.
However, the Chairman of the APC in the State, Hon. Rufus Bature has gone further to issue a stern warning that individuals posing as elders of the party in the state while engaging in anti-party activities will face sanctions in accordance with the party’s constitution.
Members of the party who engaged in anti-party activities before and during the general elections have also been told not to expect any appointments.
Bature gave the warning during a stakeholders’ meeting held at the party’s secretariat in Jos.
Among those present at the meeting were the immediate past Governor, Simon Lalong, his deputy, Prof. Sonni Tyoden, and the immediate past Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Idris Wase.
Others were: former Minister for Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, Plateau APC governorship candidate, Dr Nentawe Yilwtada and his running mate, Mr Pam Botmang, members of the state and national assemblies, local government chairmen, party officials, among many other APC stakeholders
Bature acknowledged that, “We are aware of certain members who worked against the interests of our great party in the last general elections, therefore disloyalty will not be rewarded.”
The chairman also said due process would be followed and those who needed to be sanctioned would be, in line with the party’s constitution.
Bature further stated that the party also watched with dismay, the activities of some self-styled leaders, who had allegedly been jumping from pillar to post, in search of federal appointments.
He further disclosed that the Party leadership in the state has uncovered desperate attempts to divide its ranks through the creation of a parallel party office.
Bature affirmed that the party is fully aware of those clandestine activities, which the APC strongly disapproves of.
Also speaking, the immediate past governor of the State, Simon Lalong has charged the members in the state to unite, and reclaim power from the ruling PDP.
Lalong said that with unity of purpose, the party would achieve its goal of “retrieving its stolen mandate”.
The former governor expressed concern over some members’ actions, which he said were capable of causing “disaffection, disunity and disintegration” of the party.
According to him, every member of the party stands to gain more, right from the state to the national level if the APC returns to the Government House in Jos.
“In the last few months, some people thought that APC is finished in Plateau, but by the grace of God, APC will wax stronger in Plateau.
“As we move in to reclaim our mandate, let’s unite because there is strength in unity, but if we are divided, our target may elude us.
“I know that in party politics, you can fight, but when you come into your room, you resolve, unite and forge ahead as one family”, he admonished.
Investigations revealed that the disharmony brewing up in the State APC may not be unconnected with the jostle for appointments in the President Bola Tinubu-led federal government.
“Having lost the governorship election, the APC members see federal appointments as the only option left for them.
“This is why there is power play to make sure that some are kept out of the way either by way of suspension or expulsion,” a top party source said.