Frontline leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Plateau State and former governorship candidate of the party, Senator Jeremiah Useni, has described the congress held by a faction led by Senator Jonah Jang as sham, saying it would not stand the test of time. Useni, who was addressing his party supporters at his campaign office in Jos, urged his loyalists, who want to contest the state congress, to reconcile and put forward one person for each position so they could form a parallel executive.
He accused the national secretariat of the party of fuelling crisis in Plateau State PDP because of its doublespeak. Useni said that after forming the parallel executive, he would see how the national secretariat would handle the two executives of the party in the same state. He commended those who boycotted the election for their doggedness and firm stance.
According to him, “As far as I am concerned, there was no election. Our people should remain firm. We shall have our own executive. Let us wait and see how the national secretariat of the party will handle the two, because when the other faction presents their own exco, we too will present ours.
When they say, ‘this is our chairman,’ we will say, ‘no, this is our own chairman.’ Don’t fight; don’t abuse anybody. I have not accepted what (election) has happened at all. It is zero.”
Speakers upon speakers stood up to air their grievances. First to speak was the convener of the meeting and former PDP factional chairman in the state, Chief Emmanuel Mangni who told supporters that they had fought reactionaries before and won, stressing that they would not relent in this battle.
Mangni said, “When the wicked elements’ plot was hatched, Hon. Damishi Sango was fought to a standstill, but we did not relent in our struggle. They wanted to conduct a sham congress then, but we stood our ground.”
He described those who boycotted the sham election as the real leaders of the party. Former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emmanuel Go’ar, he described the crisis in the state PDP as unfortunate, and referred to their faction as the winning team that would laugh last. Go’ar said when the two factions were invited by the national body to Abuja, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State was appointed to mediate between them and serious decisions were taken, including that all court cases should be withdrawn and other crises to be resolved.
He said that anybody desiring to introduce impunity in the party would be fought within the ambit of the law, adding that the charade (election) that recently happened should not dampen members’ morale. He said those planning to leave the party were free to do so as they were not needed.
Another speaker and former member of House of Representatives, Aminu Zang, said the plan and intention of the illicit group was to upstage them, describing it as a charade.
Also, a two–term member of House of Representatives, Bitrus Kaze, revealed that when he bought his nomination form, he was told that he had offended the ‘god’ of the party. He said he was always on the side of justice and truth, saying that if people did not fight injustice now, “our children will suffer.”
The first female member of the House of Representatives from the North, Ngo Sarah Dokotiri, wondered how someone, who did not purchase form was returned elected in a congress, adding, “Is that democracy? We have to fight the devil. You should keep fighting for your rights. If you see a snake, don’t run away, but try and kill it.”
In the election conducted by the other group led by Jang, the following people were elected: state chairman – Chris Hassan; Secretary – Emmanuel Tuang; PRO – John Akans (JP); Woman Leader – Rita Tuamrin; state Treasurer – Ismaila Jibrin Abubakar; Vice Chairman (Central Zone) – Jerry Satmak; Vice Chairman (Northern Zone) – Davou Mang; Vice Chairman (Southern Zone) – Simon Domle and State Organising Secretary – Yakubu Chocho. Others are Assistant Organising Secretary (Central) – Justina John; Assistant Legal Adviser – Panshak Dakyen; State Woman Leader – Martin Dakur; Deputy Chairman – Capt. Bitrus Golen.
The result was announced by the Chairman of Congress Election Committee, Major–General Amnon Kalaye Kwaskebe (rtd). Problem started when there was a division in the party hierarchy with what people say was a war between two generals – Lt. General Jeremiah Useni (rtd) and Air Commodore Jonah Jang. It even led to litigation when PDP conducted its ward and local government congresses, which one of the two factions dissociated itself and a Jos High Court nullified the election conducted by the PDP for lack of merit, as the committee did not adhere to the electoral act.
However, in the different congresses held by the two groups, Senator Jang, together with Senator Istifanus Gyang, produced Chris Hassan as the chairman of the state PDP while Senator Jeremiah Useni produced former House of Representatives member, Bitrus Kaze as chairman for the state.
The Jang group, it seems, appears smarter than the Useni group. The governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, was chosen by the national secretariat of the party to mediate between the two groups. It was resolved that the two opposing groups should withdraw all court cases to ease the resolution by the Ortom committee and it fixed a date for the congress after resolving some pending issues.
While the Useni group lowered its guard, the Jang group went ahead to conduct its congress, which produced Hassan, but the Useni group regarded it as “a sham election.” Then the Useni group said it too would produce its own chairman and challenged the national secretariat on how it would handle two chairmen for the state at the same time.
The congress election by Jang group has not been nullified by the national secretariat, suggesting it has some legal backing. The national secretariat of the party actually brought neutral officers to conduct the election, according to the standard laid down by them.