Since the return to democratic rule in 1999 to date, two political parties have governed Plateau State, but now it’s a three-horse race to the gubernatorial seat.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held sway between 1999 to 2015, while the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has been in power from 2015 to date.
Prior to the emergence of the APC in 2015, there has never been any serious opposition in the State.
However, since the PDP became the opposition in the state, it has always given the ruling party a good run for its money.
In 2019, it took a rerun for the incumbent Governor of the state, Simon Lalong to be returned to Little Rayfield Government House.
Despite being in power for about eight years, the ruling APC has not really been accepted in the state.
Recall that the sitting Governor, Lalong, lost his senatorial seat in the February 25, 2023 election.
With 24 hours to the governorship polls, the front runners for the number one seat in Little Rayfield include the candidate of the APC in the state, Dr Nentawe Yilwatda, who resigned from his position as an INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) to run for the governorship of the state.
Nentawe’s candidature has been bedevilled by court cases.
Among the three front runners, he is the youngest, and he is being powered by Governor Simon Lalong.
He has in different fora tried to sell himself to the electorate, but cannot extricate himself from the incumbent government of the state.
Many still believe that his emergence will be a continuation of the Lalong administration since he brought him on board.
But as a ruling party candidate, you can’t write him off.
Nentawe also has acceptance amongst the youths in the state, but his party and structures behind him might be his Achilles heel.
Barr. Caleb Mutfwang won the PDP ticket to run for the gubernatorial seat of the state.
Unlike the APC candidate, Mutfwang’s emergence has been accepted by those who contested against him, as they congratulated him and have even gone on campaigns with him.
There was no litigation challenging his emergence as candidate of the PDP, as he has enjoyed maximum support of the party’s supporters and critical stakeholders in the party.
The PDP candidate was a council chairman in the state and a practising lawyer.
Mutfwang’s term in office as chairman was short-lived following his removal, alongside other council chairmen in July, 2015, by Governor Simon Lalong, before the expiration of their tenure.
As a grassroot politician, Mutfwang has followership cutting across the 17 local governments of the state.
Another plus for the PDP candidate is that the party, despite not being in power for about eight years, is still widely acceptable in the state.
He will be encouraged by his party’s performance in the February 25, 2023 elections, as it won five out of the eight House of Representatives seats in the state and two out of the three senatorial seats, with the third yet to be declared.
For the Labour Party candidate, Dr Patrick Dakum, who like Nentawe has been enmeshed in legal tussle for his party’s ticket, it will be a herculean task.
Dakum was a Commissioner during the Joshua Dariye administration in the state, and before throwing his hat into the governorship contest, was heading the National Centre for Human Virology in the country.
Dakum, who was also of the ruling APC, and was even vying for the governorship ticket of the party, withdrew during the contest when he realised the process was not as seamless as he had expected it to be.
He dumped the APC for Labour Party, and his candidature has been challenged by the party’s initial candidate, Yohanna Margif, until this week, when the Supreme Court declared him the party’s authentic candidate.
The Labour Party, despite its presidential candidate winning the state, did not win any National Assembly seat.
But Dakum is a household name in the state; he is trying to leverage on Peter Obi’s victory in the state, as Obi even visited the state to show his support for him.