How Plateau Survived Postelection Violence

While taken stocked of happenings before, during and after the Presidential, Senate and National Assemby’s elections in Plateau State, JUDE DANGWAM writes on how the fragile State survived postelection violence.

The 2019 general elections like no other has recorded one of the highest turned out of voters across Plateau State to exercise their franchise having realized the power that lias in their thump as Nigeria’s democracy keep growing by the day with the help of voter education by the electoral umpire, the civil society organizations, religious leaders and traditional rulers among other stakeholders in the the country.

Plateau State the home of Peace, Hospitality and Tourism is equally seen as “God’s Own State” like the Biblical “Israel.” Plateau is strategic to the unity and survival of Nigeria which make her too fragile than any states of the federation.

The fragile State in the last one week has passed through some trying moments as a result of the “fall out” of the Presidential, Senatorial and National Assembly in the state and the country in general.

The series of delayed in the announcement of some results of the National Assembly elections in Plateau State has and is still brewing ugly head which one considered it as a serious threat to the peace and survival of Plateau State after the relentless efforts of the Barr. Simon Lalong led administration in the last three and half years as the Governor of Plateau State.

The National Assembly elections across Plateau State is carracterized by different form of irregularities leading to some of them declared inconclusive, while some took a longer days than ever for the winner to be announced. A tipical example is that of Plateau North Senatorial seat where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) finally declared Barr. Istifanus Dung Gyang of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the election.

The result, Collation and Returning Officer for the Plateau North Senatorial District, Professor Christopher Vande, said the PDP candidate polled a total of 269,555 votes, while that of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Rufus Bature polled 171,233 votes.

The situation surrounding the elections of Plateau North Senatorial District and that of Bassa/Jos-North Federal Constituency leaved much to be desire especially when the election guidelines is set aside and a truce is expected to be reached by the two wary parties led by the Resident Electoral Commissioner Mallam Husseini Pai at the Jos-North Local Government Secretariat where the LG Collation centre is located.

After five hours(from 10-2pm) of intensed meeting on Tuesday 26th February 2019 with various stakeholders for a common ground, the meeting ends in deadlocked and was rescheduled for Wednesday. The story on Wednesday was another icebreaking one as Police is said to have taken over the matter and was investigating the collated results from ward level and INEC workers were invited by the Police, the Resident Electoral Commissioner was said to have traveled to Abuja.

The re-examination of the result on Thursday finally laid to rest the tension in Jos metropilis and its environs with the declaration of the winner of Plateau North Senatorial District with that of Bassa/Jos-North Federal Constituency pronounced inconclusive.

The electoral commission had delayed the announcement of the results on the claimed that it was due to irregularities recorded in Tudun-Wada/Kabong Ward were the PDP is laying claimed as their stronghold with the voting strength of 93,000 registered voters.

The delayed was also recorded on who become the winner of Bassa/Jos-North Federal Constituency among the two major political parties(APC and PDP) with Alh. Haruna Maitala from the APC and Hon. Jonathan Dabo of the PDP where result were declared inconclusive five days after elections.

The Collation and Returning Officer for the Bass a/Jos-North Federal Constituency, Professor Francis Kwese announced that the “APC candidate polled 114,705,” while the “PDP candidate polled 89,262.”

Similarly, the news of controversial winners rocked the Plateau Central Senatorial District and that of Southern Zone.

According to a document made available by the Peoples Democratic Party to Journalist last week as an evidenced to the conduct of elections in Central zone of Plateau State. The document was duly signed by the Collation/Returning Officer Professor Joseph Mangut and it reads thus. “In the course of collation of results from Kanam L.G.A, it was observed by all stakeholders involved that there were observable challenges in 9(Nine) of 5(Five) Wards under Kanam L.G.A and after constructive deliberation on same, it was finally resolved that the process be declared inconclusive.

“I Prof. Joseph Mangut, the Collation/Returning Officer, by virture of the powers conferred on me by relevant section of the Electoral Guidelines hereby declare the Elections in Kanam inconclusive 25th February, 2019.” The PDP L.G.A Returning agent Samuel Goar signed as well Sam Mbok of APC appended his signaturw with and indication “Under Durex”.

However, the electoral umpire INEC later issued a statement
declaring that Hon. Dimka Hezekiah Ayuba, candidate
of the APC won the Plateau Central senatorial zone, though the main opposition party PDP refuted such declaration when elections were not held in places declared to be inconclusive in the zone.

INEC maintained that Ayuba, who is a former Police Commissioner, polled 149,457 against oponent Paradang David Shikfu a Frmer Comptroller of Nigeria Immigration Service and candidate of the PDP who scored 145,048 votes.

The statement declared Yusuf Adamu Gagdi of the APC winner of Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency when elections in Kanam LGA were earlier on announced inconclusive by the Collation/Returning Officer Prof. Joseph Mangut.

The statement by INEC’s Head of Voter Education and Publicity in Plateau State, Mr. Osaretin Imahiyereobo disclosed that Plateau South senatorial election was declared inconclusive, while that of Shendam/Mikan/Quan’Pan Federal Constituency is won by Hon.Longgap Komsol Alphonsus of the APC who defeated the current Member Hon. Johnbull Shekarau of the PDP. And in Wase Federal Constituency, the current member Hon. Idris Ahmed of the APC was declared winner and returned elected.

In Barkin-Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency, one time member of the National Assembly Hon Simon Davou Mwadkwon of the PDP was declared winner; and for Jos-South/Jos-East Federal Constituency, Dachung Musa Bagos of the PDP emerged winner while in Mangu/Bokkos Federal Constituency the current member Hon Solomon Maren Bulus of the PDP has now returned elected; and Langtang-North/Langtang-South Federal Constituency is won by Beni Lar of the PDP becoming the first ever woman to go to the Green Chamber for the fourth time.

The suspense created by INEC in the Northern and Central Zones of Plateau State indeed had generated reactions on the tension from civil society organizations, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and His Royal Majesty the Gbong Gwom Jos and Chairman Plateau State Traditional Council Da. Jacob Gyang Buba urging INEC to exhibit transparency to prevent violence in the state.

The PDP on diffrent fora accused the electoral umpire and Governor Simon Lalong as the brain behind the delayed in the announcement of result particularly that of Bassa/Jos-North to pleased certain individuals who assured the Governor of his reelection bid.

Even though, the Executive Governor of Plateau State Barr. Simon Lalong through his Commissioner of Information and Communication distanced self from the well publicised accusations he said. “The moves and incitements are orchestrated by certain individuals in order to set the state on the path of crisis after the hard earn peace recorded in the last three and half years of the Rescue Administration.”

Lalong charged INEC to be just and stick to the electoral guidelines in carrying out it’s responsibilities in the state. “The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC should carry out it’s duty in a free, fair and transparent manner inline with the guidelines of elections as stipulated in the interest of peace and justice.

“Plateau State must not be triggered into any form of violence; because the lives of citizens of our dear state remain Paramount than anything,” he cautioned

The resolution of the elections results for Plateau North Senatorial Zone, and that of Bassa/Jos-North Federal Constituency was a wise decision in averting crisis in the state and it’s tendency of affecting the forthcoming Governatorial/State House of Assembly in the State.

The public outcry on INEC as well relevant stakeholders especially the Royal father Da Jacob Gyang Buba has played a very significant role in ensuring that State never fall into crisis again! As citizens of Plateau will be converging across polling units to cast their votes only God know who will emerged the Governor of Plateau State out of the 22 candidates with many of them not ready to collapsed their structure to any other candidate.