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Generals ‘war’ over PDP’s soul in Plateau

By Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos
29 December 2019   |   3:32 am
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Plateau State in the 2019 general elections, Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Timbut Useni

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Plateau State in the 2019 general elections, Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Timbut Useni, is at war with former Governor Jonah David Jang over the soul of PDP in the state.

There has been a cold war between the two generals over who controls the party, but it came to a climax penultimate Wednesday, when Chris Hassan, who was backed by Jonah Jang, wanted to occupy the state party chairman’s seat, as provided for in PDP’s Constitution, since the former state chairman, Hon. Damishi Sango, had voluntarily resigned.

It was at this juncture, when the Acting Chairman, Amos Gombi Goyol got wind of Hassan’s intention that he allegedy mobilised some thugs to the party’s Secretariat to prevent Hassan from entering the place.

The security agencies’ attention was drawn to the happening, and they quickly responded. They met Goyol’s men in action, and the police had to shoot in the air to disperse them.

While Goyol has the backing of General Useni and Damishi Sango, the Chris Hassan faction is heavily supported by PDP members in the House of Assembly and Jang, backed also by other national PDP lawmakers from the state.

Jang told journalists that what happened when Hassan wanted to take his rightful seat at the secretariat was very right and constitutional.

He argued that according to the party’s Constitution in Section 47

(6), where the chairman of the party resigns before his official tenure
expires, somebody (a party stalwart) from the same local government must take over. But at Sango’s resignation, the baton passed on to Goyol, who was his vice-chairman, though not from the same local government as Sango.
So, in accordance with the party’s Constitution, Goyol is not qualified, which was how Hassan came on board as the Acting Chairman before the next congress, sometime in April.

But at the Secretariat, Hassan said he had taken over the party leadership, adding that he was going to complete Sango’s tenure.

Jang said: “When the chairman of the National Working Committee (NWC) spoke to us in Abuja about asking Honourable D.T. Sango to resign, in accordance with the recommendations of Senator David Mark Committee, he said the Constitution would be followed, which is what we have done. And so, we have already done the job. So, Chris Hassan is now the chairman of the party, until we have the next congress.”

On why they did not allow Goyol to continue till April, when the congress will hold, to avoid the controversy being generated, Jang said: “The party’s Constitution did not say, even if it is one day, we should wait for the congress. It says to replace. What has happened in Plateau PDP is to tell Nigerians and the world that PDP has an internal democracy. You will be shocked to hear that in the Northern Zone, Riyom said they should be allowed to replace Sango. And we told them that the chairmanship was zoned to Riyom. It was zoned to the northern zone. It only happens that Sango is from Riyom.

“And yet, they insisted that they would replace Sango. We voted, and Chris Hassan won overwhelmingly, as Riyom only got four votes at the northern zonal meeting. For the fact that we allowed that voting, PDP does not muzzle anybody. We allow due process and we follow the democratic way of doing things so that our party will remain true to its name— the Peoples Democratic Party.”

However, former Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly and former member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Emmanuel Goa’r, said he was sad that the party’s state EXCO, where he has been working hard to strengthen the structure in the state, only to be told that a group of security personnel mobilised by a sitting Senator from the state planned to stage a coup against PDP.

Goa’r added that he never knew PDP would organise a kangaroo meeting by to unseat the acting chairman.

He said the national secretariat had asked that the purported letter accusing Sango of some misdeeds, written by 16 party members, should be retracted, which was done to ensure that peace reigned.

He said: “Sango resigned honourably and his deputy, Amos Gombi Goyol, took over. We never knew there was a secret meeting to unseat the EXCO in the state, which was an agenda to destroy the party in the state.

“Some of us who work hard to ensure the party’s progress have declared what happened this morning as null and void. The people of Plateau, particularly PDP members, should disregard it and wait for Gombi to call a meeting.

“It is unimaginable that a senator invited security operatives to come to the Secretariat to harass and embarrass loyal party members, shooting live bullets.”

Amos Gombi Goyol is not in town, as he is said to have travelled to Port Harcourt, Rivers State to attend a function.

As the PDP crisis deepened, the General Jeremiah Useni’s faction suspended the party Secretary, Mr. Emma Tuan, for allegedly being a dissident, who has been working against the party’s unity in Plateau.

The party, under General Useni, has therefore set up an investigative committee, comprising five members, headed by Barrister Felix Pienswang, to investigate all members involved in the “coup” on the day the party structure at the Secretariat was disrupted.

The committee was charged with the responsibility to investigate all those who planned the disruption of party activities and report back to the state Secretariat within two weeks.

Addressing party faithful, General Useni said those involved would not go unpunished.

He told journalists after a closed-door executive meeting that the programme was successful, as members freely spoke their minds, and that the suspension of the party’s Secretary was a welcome decision.

Useni urged the five-man investigative committee to be critical of any invited member that fails to respond, as such should be marked down as a saboteur. They also stand to be suspended and expelled from the party.

He admonished the committee to work hard, as he was sure that those causing problems in the party are also meeting, though they should be ignored.

He promised to provide funds for the renovation of the state Secretariat. Useni accused the dissidents of earlier requesting N38m to renovate the Secretariat.

He emphasised that anyone who refused to appear before the committee as requested is already guilty, as a discipline is very important in a party constitution.

“… Those dissidents are not good coup plotters; they are Confucianists. They are confused and are confusing others. Plateau is PDP and Plateau will remain PDP…”