With Governor Lalong not eligible for re-election in the March 11 Governorship Election, transition in the ‘Home of Tourism’ will certainly be an interesting process to watch out for beginning from the political bout between APC’s Nentawe and Mufwang of the main opposition.
Ahead of the 2023 gubernatorial elections, the electorate in the ‘Home of Peace and Tourism’ has been consistently inundated with programmes and policies as marketed by politicians and their ‘Hallelujah Boys’ across the State. This bothers especially on why they should be elected into office on March 11 2023, hence making the atmosphere politically active and virile.
Like most of his colleagues in other states across the country who are rounding up their second and final term in office, Governor Simon Bako Lalong would be seeking to hand over the baton of governance to his preferred candidate at the polls, Professor Nentawe Yilwatda; a university lecturer who until recently served as a Resident Electoral Commissioner for Nigeria’s election management body in Benue state.
Despite being a greenhorn in politics, being his first political outing, the former electoral umpire prides himself as a technocrat who will build on the legacies and peace efforts of the outgoing Governor. He says with his over 25 years of experience in academia; he possesses the quality of mind and the tenacity of spirit to put Plateau on the right pedestal of leadership and service.
He also submits that having worked and consulted for several international organisations, he has acquired the requisite experience and network of friends in the international community to hoist the state on the global map and by implication, experience greater dividends of democracy.
His supporters also say he is running on a clean slate as his antecedents in public service are as white as snow, though not infallible. They are quick to dare anybody with a contrary opinion to come up with allegations or anything uncomplimentary against him, stressing that he is new generation leader the state desires.
Not to go without putting up a challenge, his critics say he is overrated by his handlers, adding that the outgoing governor is trying to exploit his lack of basic knowledge of politics to help him cover his tracks on assumption of office.
They further opine that Nentawe has been a complete novice in the theatre of politics, who will undoubtedly be puppeteered and controlled by Governor Lalong in order to hold on to the reins of governance; albeit – through the backdoor. They conclude that the people of the state are wise enough to say no to such political antics as even Governor Jonah Jang, who had more achievements to show as chief executive of the state, failed in his bid to impose a successor.
For the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and it’s candidate, they are not resting on his oars as they give the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and its flagbearer, a run for their money.
The former council boss and lawyer enjoys the backing of former Governor Jonah Jang, who, since leaving office, has continued to play the role of a navigator for the party in the State. Jang, a retired Military General who had served as Military Administrator in the defunct Gongola State,, still wields considerable influence in the state’s politics. To many, he is seen as a messiah of sorts within the state’s largely dominated Christian community, thus making him a force to reckon with on any day.
Again, unlike the APC candidate, Muftwang of the PDP though not a high-flying politician, is not a newcomer to the game, having contested for the seat of a member of the House of Representatives in the past, where he narrowly lost out at the primaries. He would even beat eighteen other aspirants in a keenly-contested primary election to emerge as flagbearer of the main opposition party.
Muftwang, who presided over the affairs of Mangu as Local Government Chairman, is reputed to have brought modest development to the people which they still enjoy to date. Apart from the belief of his supporters that he possesses the magic wand to rewrite the narrative in Plateau, they have gone on to accuse the Lalong administration of failing on all indices of governance An accusation he lays further at the doorsteps of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government, claiming that the only industry thriving in the country is that of kidnapping.
The PDP candidate also prides himself as a new-breed politician. just as he often admonishes his supporters to be polite and civil in their conduct, a trait that has earned him applause in the civil society space.
His critics, however, accuse him of not being a Workers-friendly leader. pointing to his tenure in office as Mangu Council boss. Many of these critics allege that he was fond of withholding workers’ salaries while expressing fear that Plateau, being a state heavily dependent on the civil service, will be subjected to untold hardship which he may replicate at the state level if elected.
Indeed, with Governor Lalong not eligible for re-election at the forthcoming election, transition in the ‘Home of Tourism’ will certainly be an interesting watch; beginning from the political bout between APC’s Nentawe and Mufwang of the main opposition. The choice is, however before the people of the state to hand their mandate to a Minister in the Temple of Justice or an Academic and former electoral umpire.