In the past only the candidate of the two major political parties APC and PDP were serious contenders in Plateau State, but next year’s governorship election in Plateau State will be contested by four other parties.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has lifted the ban on electioneering campaigns ahead of next year’s general elections. In the next four and half months, the candidates and their political parties have the opportunity to engage with the electorates to convince them that they have the interest at heart.
In Plateau State, the race for the coveted Government House, Little Rayfield, Jos, has taken off. Before the campaign proper, INEC published the names of all the candidates and the political parties that have been duly nominated for the contest. From the list, there are six major political parties and their flag bearers in the race. The parties are the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party (LP), the Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP), the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
The scramble among these six political parties to gain or retain control of the state has commenced in earnest. The scramble for the soul of Plateau State is no doubt regarded by the contestants as the biggest competition that is staged every four years like the Olympics. Every contestant has their eyes on the prize and no one is ready to let go or give up. However, only one among the six will succeed in clinching the plumb job.
Director of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Plateau State chapter, Gbenga Aluko said the importance attached to next year’s governorship election cannot be overemphasized.
“No wonder, the parties went for the best and capable personalities to bear their respective flag in the competition. It is a game that whoever wins takes control of the human and capital resources of the state for at least four years. Hence, each of these political parties had, through the primaries chosen a candidate with the requisite capacity for the election.” He added.
For instance, the ruling APC has Dr. Nentawe Yilwada as its flag bearer and the PDP Caleb Mutfwang. Others are Dr. Patrick Dakum of the LP, Dr. Samuel Abashe of the APGA, Prof Luka Pampe of the PRP, and Chief Manji Gontori of the YPP. These personalities are some of the best on the Plateau. None of them is a pushover because they are accomplished individuals in their own right.
APGA – Dr. Samuel Abashe
The APGA candidate, Dr. Abashe, is not a pushover in Plateau politics. He is a diplomat; therefore he is very knowledgeable in international relations and diplomacy, as well as public administration. Abashe has over 30 years of experience in international relations and diplomacy. He served at the United Nations (UN), assisting the world body in peacebuilding across Africa. No doubt, his experience in diplomacy, administration, management, and leadership garnered as a UN staff will help in the course of the electioneering campaign where such skills will be needed to sway the electorates to back him in the race.
YPP – Chief Manji Gontori
Similarly, the YPP flag bearer, Gontori, is a young man in his early 50s. He has considerable support from the electorate, even though his political party is relatively unknown in the state. Thus, he has the capacity to spring surprises, judging from the prevailing political awareness across the state.
Gontori became a household name in Plateau through the activities of his non-governmental organization, the Manji Gontori Foundation, Pankshin, which trains and empowers women and young people. The foundation has helped to train and empower a lot of women, youths, and other vulnerable persons through skill acquisition and the establishment of small and medium-scale businesses. In the words of supporters of the YPP: “Next year’s general election is not about incumbency factor, because the voters are wiser and are better informed of their rights to choose.”
PDP – Caleb Mutfwang
In the same vein, the PDP flag bearer, Caleb Mutfwang is a household. Aged 57, the former chairman of Mangu Local Government Area is a trained legal practitioner. He was enrolled as a solicitor and advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1989. The ambitious lawyer took a bold step to establish his firm, known as Caleb Mutfwang & Co, a firm of legal practitioners, which was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in 1996. As a professional, Mutfwang is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). He also belongs to the International Bar Association (IBA), the Christian Lawyers’ Fellowship of Nigeria, the Christian Legal Society of America, and the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM).
Mutfwang is a devout Christian. He is clear-headed and credible, and observers believe he is someone capable of governing Plateau State and taking it to a higher level of development. He has acquired considerable leadership and administrative experience over the years that will help him to make a difference. His maturity and composure are believed to have endeared him to his admirers. As a former local government chairman, Mutfwang has a strong grassroots base as an advantage in the contest.
APC – Dr. Nentawe Yilwada
His APC counterpart, Dr. Nentawe Yilwada is also a strong candidate, based on his credentials and leadership capability. Yilwada is a digital system and energy engineering expert, a community developer, and a lecturer at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi. He has over 29 years of experience working as a consultant with international development partners, as well as organizations in the public and private sectors. The information and communication technology (ICT) guru also trained at the United Nations University International Institute for Software Tech., Macau, China on Building Electronic Governance Structure
Nentawe’s last place of work before he ventured into politics was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), where he served as the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Benue State before he resigned to contest for next year’s governorship election on the Plateau. He was appointed INEC commissioner by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017.
At 52, Nentawe is much younger than other co-contestants. This has endeared him more to the youths. This advantage added to the fact that he is well-exposed and the candidate of the ruling APC, may give him an edge in the race. This means, for instance, that he has the incumbency factor behind him.
All things being equal, voters in Plateau State have to make their choice among the six candidates. Incidentally, each of them possesses the right credentials for the office they seek to occupy.