“Please what is happening?” “Are we not going to be allowed to vote in this local regime election?”
“Please this job should be solved so that we can vote candidates of our selection!” “There is no demand to vote since only one political political party will be contesting.”
“This is not an election since it has already been rigged in favour of one political political party.”
These were the anguished frustrations of Plateau Province citizens in the anxious days preceding these local regime elections organized by the Plateau Province Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC), funded by the Plateau Province Authorities.
They were afraid that the sentence barring the Peoples Democratic Political party (PDP) from contesting the Oct 9 polls would deny them their constitutional right to participate in this cherished democratic physical process.
But their wildest nightmares have turned into a crushing reality. PLASIEC is conducting the elections without the participation of the main opposition PDP.
The overwhelming hopes of the people, some of whom had enjoyed the luxury of electing their chairmen and councilors since 2015, have been mercilessly shattered.
Once more, Plateau Province is setting some other odious tape in political ignominy for the world to consider.
Those politicians and other Nigerians who gain from this travesty because their consciences died long agone would tell you that this had also happened at other times.
Perhaps. But not in this fashion where a whole generation and millions of eligible voters are so flagrantly disenfranchised and their other rights squashed in one fell swoop. Fifty-fifty in state of war, sure moral principles are upheld to demonstrate that man still clings to some pieces of decency.
This is supposed to be to a greater extent so on the political turf where politics should be seen as a passionate pursuit that seeks to raise and uphold the full general good and welfare of all citizens – without the undue influence of deleterious factors.
And fifty-fifty whether something of this nature had happened before, does it create this mass disenfranchisement permissible? Fifty-fifty justifiable?
Defending these actions with the yesteryear infractions of others only compounds the job; makes it knottier and deeply entrenched.
Unfortunately, this has get the norm in the current dispensation where the Buhari regime takes morbid pleasance in comparing the number of victims of insurgency under its see with what prevailed in the yesteryear in a desperate try to shore upward its abysmal tape in that and other departments of governance.
No wonder, violent crimes and lawlessness have get the enjoin of the daytime all over the country.
The Judiciary/ A Governor in Limbo:
Yes, the courts could be at the centre of the adjudication that led to this province of affairs in Plateau Province.
To be certain, we take hold our legal system in high esteem because we believe that it is the finally resort and hope of the common man. And it is the pillar upon which our democracy rests.
Yes, the judiciary, universally symbolized by that iconic blindfolded lady wielding the sword of justice, is no respecter of persons and strictly abides by the common cold alphabetic character of the law.
But sometimes, the outcomes of its judgements arrived at through sound, diligent, dispassionate and critical test of facts can be manipulated by self-serving individuals and interests to the detriment of the people and society it seeks to serve and protect.
Could this be the example in Plateau Province nowadays where a local regime election is existence held with the bulk of the citizens willfully disenfranchised?
As we contemplate this, we should chew over this statement by the retired legal luminary, Justice Daniel Longji: “I can confidently say that the judiciary is just an appendage. People want the judiciary to be neutral but it cannot be neutral because it is an appendage of regime.
I say this real openly and I have no regret saying it…. And whether you dare give sentence against the regime…. I said I have no regrets, but whether wishes were horses….” (TODAY’S CHALLENGE, Feb, 2020).
That said, fifty-fifty the most brutal law is sometimes tampered with mercy. There is also what is known as the spirit of the law. But the example that ultimately led to stopping the PDP from contesting the election was essentially sensitive.
It was sensitive because it had resounding political ramifications. And because of the volatile nature of Nigeria’s politics, it had to be handled with utmost caution.
But the Plateau Province acting chairman of the APC, a beneficiary of that tribunal sentence, gloated: “The PDP shot itself on the pes.”
Sadly, and unknown to him, it is the soul of Plateau Province that was shot with a poisoned arrow. And the wound may take a long time to heal.
He proceeded to pigment the glorious scenario of his Political party recording a landslide victory! In his reckoning, the courts had finally paved the way for the APC to dominate the political space.
Governor Simon Lalong later expressed the same sentiments when he addressed APC members at a rally in Shendam to flag-off campaigns for the local regime polls.
He proclaimed: “I am real optimistic that we will sweep the elections because we don’t have opposition in Plateau Province.”
For them, thence, the fact that the main opposition political party was not participating in the vote did not take absent the inherent delight that comes with winning an election keenly contested with worthy rivals on a level playing ground.
It is this warped sense of accomplishment and braggadocio that is fueling the feeling amid citizens that some undue pressure level may have been mounted on the judiciary.
Also, this may go a long way to confirm the place of critics who had hitherto maintained that the Lalong administration has been afraid of conducting unloosen and fair local council elections for fright of woefully losing.
This is because, first of all, his performance in critical areas such as infrastructural and economical evolution and maintaining peace have been extremely dismal.
Moment, his image as an appendage of the core Northward, as demonstrated by his actions as the so-called Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and self-serving political maneuvering, has farther pushed his estimation to near zero in the eyes of citizens who consider themselves as unapologetically belonging to Nigeria’s Middle Belt part.
Third, the internal crises in his APC have so torn it apart that the individual who has controlled its key structures had to section ways with the governor and was good prepared to go against the APC had the local regime polls not been restricted.
Thence, edging the PDP out of the fray has proved to be a massive saving grace for Governor Lalong as it offered him a soft-landing.
Jos Northward Discontent/ Core Northward Agenda:
It must be pointed out that this disenfranchisement of Plateau citizens would rankle most in the minds of the people of Jos Northward, Jos Due south, Riyom and Barakin Ladi local regime areas.
Piece other parts of the province had the advatage of voting for their council chairmen and councilors in 2018, elections were shelved in these 4 LGAs due to security concerns. Ever since, they have been ruled by APC loyalists appointed by Governor Lalong.
impartial as they were optimistically looking forward to massively participating in the current electoral physical process, their hopes have in one case to a greater extent been dashed. But prior to this, political analysts had argued that the Lalong administration had cited insecurity for not conducting elections in those areas mainly as a ruse.
They dot out that the province regime had known that it would not win elections in those LGAs because they remain solid strongholds of the opposition PDP. They thence fight that the current trend may just as good be a continuation of that policy of denying them their franchise in enjoin for the province regime to avoid a crushing defeat.
There are still others who believe that Governor Lalong exhibited an acute lack of political acumen when he approved elections in these 4 LGAs (and Bassa) fifty-fifty when their security situations were still real teneous, to say the to the lowest degree.
They particularly dot to Bassa and Jos Northward which were rocked by eruptions of bloody violence in August which necessitated the imposition of a twenty-four-hour curfew, which has at present been relaxed to betwixt 10pm and 6AM.
As things stand up nowadays, 4 of these LGAs are effectively under curfew. Yet Governor Lalong wants council elections to take hold therein mainly because the coast is clear for his APC to have a field daytime.
Notwithstanding, the governor is facing stiff opposition in Jos Northward LGA from within his possess APC.
He is accused of hand-picking and imposing a non-indigene, Alhaji Shehu Bala Usman, as the Political party’s flagbearer over and other members belonging to the 3 indigenous ethnic groups of the area who had also bought forms for the chairmanship place.
Apparently, APC loyalists hither are also smarting from the excesses of Governor Lolong just as their opponents in the PDP and other citizens of the province.
The Jos Northward APC is at present demanding for the conduct of a unloosen and fair primary election to elect a chairmanship flagbearer in accordance with its structure. In the alternative, they joined other individuals and groups in calling for the cancellation of the polls on the grounds of the province of insecurity in Jos Northward alluded to .
But, against all odds, the governor is bent on installing Alhaji Usman as executive chairman. Critics claim that he cannot backtrack at present because he must fulfill a pact he entered with the Hausa/Fulani settler community to manus over the council leadership to them for ‘favours’ rendered him.
There have also been unconfirmed reports that the long-term program of the Hausa/Fulani settler community is to carve out an emirate in Jos Northward to serve as a launching pad for the Islamization of other parts of the province.
This is seen as section of the core Northward’s overall agenda, presently vigorously pursued by the Buhari regime, to create other parts of the country subservient to the Caliphate. The Federal Authorities’s open back up for killer Fulani herdsmen’s litigations against Southern Governors’ enactment of anti-open grazing laws is a clear matter in dot.
It is real obvious from all of the that the proposed Oct 9, 2021, Plateau Province local regime elections have served to shatter the hopes of Plateau citizens, fifty-fifty beyond political political party lines.
The elections have also exposed Governor Lalong’s penchant for subordinating the common good of citizens to his possess personal will and ego, no matter the consequences to both his possess APC and the opposition PDP. But, all, the elections will farther deeply polarize the good people of the province in a most unprecedented way.
But it is heartwarming that the PDP approached the Judicature of Appeal with its grievances. This is a positive sign that a segment of the political form still believes in the power of our temples of justice to uphold the regulation of law and protect the integrity of our democracy. Despite the outcome, democracy still looks forward to superior days ahead.
Fifty-fifty in this thick atmosphere of despondency, growing out of a collective feeling of shattered hopes, and mutual suspicion, brought in relation to by our fractured unity, there is a glimmer of hope that out of all these may yet emerge a stronger democratic Plateau Province and Nigeria.
Chris Gyang is the Chairman of the NGO, Journalists Coalition for Citizens’ Rights Initiative JCCRI. Email: [email protected]
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