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Plateau: Useni assures of pursuing his guber petition to Supreme Court

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• As Plateau Central Lives With Consequences Of Violating Pankshin, Kanke And Kanam (PKK) Rotation Formula 
The elections in the central zone of Plateau State have been won and lost but the losses are blamed on non-compliance with the agreed formula to rotate political representation among the three dominant groups – Pankshin, Kanke and Kanam (PKK) that make up the zone.

One of the victims of the violation is Mr. David Shikfu Parradang of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who contested with Mr. Hezekiah Dimka of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 general elections. Dimka won the election to the Senate.

Not satisfied with the result, Parradang took his case to the election petition tribunal but the tribunal upheld Dimka’s election at the end of the day. The Court of Appeal in Jos equally dismissed Parradang’s petition and affirmed the decision of the tribunal. That marked the end of the contest. He now has to oil his machinery for 2023.

However, some political observers have said Parradang was hasty, as he didn’t have enough experience to aspire to Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They think he should have started from the scratch.

Others argued in his favour, saying not much experience is necessary for anybody to join the race and become a senator, adding that that was not what counted against him.

Parradang had enough experience in the public service, having served in the Immigration Service as Controller-General when Abba Moro was minister of the Interior during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013. That was the time a recruitment exercise under his watch was marred by irregularities and casualties. When he eventually retired, he joined politics as a new breed. But some say he did not join the queue but went straight to contest for a seat in the Senate against others who had been there.

The PDP primary for the Senate was with old players like Professor Dakun Shown, former state PDP chairman Istifanus Mwansat and former Speaker of the State House of Assembly Joshua Madaki, but somehow, Parradang won the party ticket, even as a new entrant with no political structure of his own. He only relied on the PDP structure built by Shawn and Mwansat who had been in the party for more than 10 years.

His APC rival Dimka, happened to be his brother. They are from the same Kanke local government and the same tribe, which has the least number of registered voters among the six local governments in Plateau Central. He had to face the challenge of his brother and the pressure of political attrition between Kanam and Kanke. Kanam already felt slighted because it was denied the opportunity of a second tenure. Again, the is a rift between Kanam and Pankshin and the latter insisting it must always produce the member for House of Representatives, which is against the PKK rotation agreement. At the end of the day, that worked against Parradang.

In the case of Timothy Golu, people said he was a victim of his own doing in the contest between him (PDP) and Yusuf Gagdi of the APC for Pankshin, Kanke and Kanam Federal Constituency. According to political watchers, Golu was well accepted in his first tenure in PKK, which just ended in 2019 because it was the turn of his local government (Kanke).

Mwansat

Emmanuel Goar from Pankshin, who was there before Golu, spent four years. It was expected that Goar would give way to either Kanke or Kanam but he decided to contest again against the zoning agreement after doing four years. They saw his move to re-contest then as a stab in the back of Kanke and Kanam. So, Kanke and Kanam joined forces against him and they voted en masse for Golu in 2015, thereby defeating Goar in the PDP primaries.

However, when Golu too finished his four years, it was clearly the turn of Kanam in 2019 based on the zoning formula. But Golu shunned the formula and attempted to alter it just as Goar did. Kanam held it against Golu as his decision to re-contest did not go down well with them. They gave their votes to one of their own, Gagdi en bloc, while crumbs from Kanke and Pankshin were added and he defeated Golu in the polls.

Those aggrieved member (Goar and Shown) whom Golu defeated in 2015 PDP primary when he jettisoned zoning arrangement and their supporters too all worked against Golu.

Curiously, the genesis of violation of the zoning pact originated from when the former governor of the state, Senator Joshua Dariye contested in 2015 for the Plateau Central Senatorial seat on the platform of PDP, but he later joined APC after his victory.

It was alleged that Kanam too betrayed the trust offered by Kanke and Pankshin when Kanam voted massively for Dariye from Bokkos. Kanam delegates denied the chances of an Ngas man to become a senator.

Because of this history of political back-stabbing, the PDP and APC in Pankshin and Kanke allowed Kanam to win the coveted seat into the House of Representatives, not because Kanam has the voting strength but because of the history of betrayals and the need to extract a pound of flesh any time opportunity presented itself.

Political calculations suggest that Kanam is standing on one leg in the tripartite agreement among Pankshin, Kanke and Kanam because if politics in the areas continues like this, Kanam does not stand to gain much.

Those who monitored the election in Pankshin and Kanke expressed surprise that Golu lost at the tribunal, as the Returning Officer for PKK had earlier declared that the election was inconclusive and that that was duly agreed by all the party agents while the Returning Officer stamped the document with INEC stamp, concluding that the collation be suspended until the issues of irregularities in Kanam were resolved.

They added that they were astonished when they returned in the evening to hear that the result had been declared in favour of Gagdi of the APC. They claimed that when they asked the Returning Officer what informed his strange decision, he told them that the result was declared under duress. However, based on the Electoral Act, the Returning Officer had signed the declared result whether willingly or under duress it couldn’t be voided.

Stakeholders were surprised that Golu also lost at the Court of Appeal as the court was of the opinion that what the Returning Officer signed and authenticated was the valid document in Electoral Law and that the law court would always uphold that position.

The whole drama is now history, while the losers are looking forward to the 2023 general elections.

In a similar development, the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in Plateau State, Senator Jeremiah Useni has expressed determination to pursue his gubernatorial appeal case to its logical conclusion. Useni stated this recently while addressing stakeholders of the party. He declared that he was ready to pursue the case to the Supreme Court because he was convinced that the gubernatorial election was marred by irregularities, adding that he will not give up no matter the advice from anybody.

“It is a shame that while we are pursuing our petition at the Appeal Court some elements within the party are campaigning for 2023. They should exercise restraint because nobody knows tomorrow. On our appeal case at the Court of Appeal, I want to say that if I did not get justice I will proceed to the Supreme Court. I will not give up no matter the pressure or advice from any quarter,” he said.

On the crisis in the PDP which led to the suspension of the state party chairman Hon. Damishi Sango and his deputy, Hon. Amos Gombi respectively, Useni said the National Working Committee of the party, which received the report of Senator David Mark-led Committee which investigated the impasse absolved the duo of Sango and Gombi of all the allegations levelled against them.

Useni, who said he has been appointed the leader of PDP in Plateau State said those behind the petition against the chairman and his deputy have been directed by the National Secretariat to withdraw their petition and tender apology while the embattled chairman was also directed to resign and handover to his deputy.

He said: “After going through the report, no money is missing as alleged in the petition. The chairman and his deputy have been cleared of all the financial misdemeanor of N1.6billion levelled against them. The chairman was appointed as a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, so some people are just out to blackmail others for their selfish gain. This is not good for our party.

“Apart from this, I have been appointed as the leader of the party in Plateau State. That is why I am convening this meeting. I did not appoint myself. The appointment is from the National Secretariat. I also want to say that the party is not divided, we are one in PDP.

“Those behind the petition against the chairman and his deputy made mistakes because you cannot write a petition against me and sack me at the same time, the writer cannot be the judge. We have to be civilised in whatever we are doing,” he said.

At the meeting, members of the National Assembly and State House of Assembly on the platform of the party were absent.


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