In Plateau, It’s Pwajok Or Lalong
THE elections in Plateau State have departed drastically from the old tradition where the electorate voted for parties only. But this time, the voting pattern is going to be based on personalities and not on parties. The people said that they have been voting before on party ideologies, which they now found out was misleading.
That is why today’s governorship elections cannot be logically and accurately predicted because such predictions or political permutations may likely be faulted at the end of the day. In plateau state, there are two major contenders to the governorship race. Both of them are eminently qualified to occupy the coveted seat of the governor of the state. But unfortunately, one of them must emerge winner as the two of them cannot occupy the seat at the same time. However, there is one other political party that equally fielded a governorship candidate in the state.
The top two of such governorship candidates are the People’s Democratic Party (PDP’s) Senator Gyang Pwajok popularly called GNS Pwajok and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Barrister Simon Lalong. Born on March 15, 1966 in Jos Plateau State, Gyang Nyam Shom, Pwajok, popularly referred to as “G.N.S” based on his initials, lived a greater part of his childhood in this growing cosmopolitan city. He attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1984-1987) and the Post Graduate School of the University of Jos, where he earned a Master of Science Degree in Political Economy and Development Studies in 1991 at the age of 24.
He was engaged as a Lecturer with the Department of General Studies of the Plateau State Polytechnic, and became Head of Citizenship Education Unit, Secretary of the Department Research Committee as well as Editor of “Plapoly Newsletter.” The Department of Political Science, University of Jos found him worthy of appointment and engaged him in 2003 to serve as Lecturer thus providing him the opportunity to teach Public Enterprise Management, Political Economy, Public Administration, the Politics of the World Economy, Theories of Rural Development, among others at both undergraduate and Post graduate levels, where he distinguished himself as a promising scholar.
Conscious of the potentials of youth involvement in politics and the future of democracy in Nigeria, GNS Pwajok has been actively engaged in the formation of virile youth groups and platforms with clear focus on the problems of poverty and development. He was elected as the National Social and Cultural Secretary of the Berom Youth Movement in 1994 and subsequently, Public Relations Officer of the National Youth council of Nigeria, Plateau State Chapter where he pioneered the publication of the Youthscope Magazine as Editor-in-Chief from 1996-1998.
As a young man, God has exalted him to an even greater honour. While serving as lecturer, Governor Jang, his political mentor appointed him to the office of Director General, Political, Research and Planning (2007-2011) and Chief of Staff, Government House (2011-2012), testifying to the fact that he has established himself as one of the moving spirits in the struggle for the building of a just society and a leading figure in the struggle for social change especially amongst the youth in Plateau State.
Under the tutelage of Jang, Pwajok has continued to gain public recognition as a loyal, humble supporter of this worthy course. He has tirelessly served as an advocate of the Jonah Jang vision which is anchored on bringing about “A new Plateau State in the hands of God and a people working together patiently towards responding to the development challenge of building a new era of progress which requires turning away from old policies, values and practices that have failed us and confidently embracing the responsibility to try better ways of doing things thus laying a solid foundation for sustainable poverty reduction, wealth creation, value orientation and stable democratic governance.” As a result of this commitment, he has had even greater challenges and responsibilities during the first four years of the Jang Administration.
He served in various capacities. Pwajok’s major contestant, Barrister Simon Bako Lalong, came to the limelight during former Governor Joshua Dariye’s eight-year tenure when he was speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly. While still being speaker of the house, Dariye was accused of misappropriation of ecological funds meant for the sate by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He, as the speaker, was under intense pressure to frame allegations of impropriety against Dariye thereby paving way for his impeachment. He refused all this until his seat was declared vacant by about six of the 24-member house who crossed to the Labour Party with Dariye.
For this singular act of commitment, loyalty and faithfulness coupled with the fact that the zone where he comes from was entitled to produce the next governor, endeared him to most people. The third contender, Ambassador Bagudu Hirse, was a Minister of State for Foreign Affairs where he was said to have unprecedentedly helped the Plateau people in recruiting them for jobs.
The third biggest political party in Plateau State, the Labour Party (LP), has defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC). After the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the APC, the LP is the next bigger political party in the state to be a force to reckon with. But the Executive Assistant to the Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Clinton Garuba, said yesterday that APC has no strongholds in Plateau State and its gang-up with other opposition political parties against PDP will fail. “The APC as a party has not told Plateau people what it has in store for them.
They have only struggled to whip up sentiments built on sectionalism, divisiveness and related issues with a view to winning some sympathy. “As a drowning party filled with PDP’s yesterday men whose pursuit of selfish and personal interest could not find accommodation in the PDP, it is only a matter of time before their greed will manifest.
The party is already crying foul and calling for the removal of an INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner with whom they saw nothing wrong, when the APC got over 400 votes in Plateau State (the first ever by an opposition) but have turned around seeing to seek his removal seeing that defeat stares them in the face. “The PDP is well rooted in Plateau State as has been shown in the emergence of 3 Senators and 6 House of Representative Members, one therefore wonders which APC strongholds are referred to the APC in Plateau State. If the APC Governorship candidate could not win his polling unit/ward for the APC presidential candidate in the last election, we are at a lost as to which areas the party is imagining to be its stronghold.