Dariye, Mantu battle for Plateau Central ticket
Plateau Central District is a politically conscious zone. The struggle for its senatorial ticket has generated interest, owing to the calibre of politicians in the race. Who represents the district in 2015? Correspondent YUSUFU IDEGU examines the battle of the gladiators.
The senatorial election in Plateau Central Zone has always been the toughest in Plateau State. Next year,’s election may not be different. The zone parades many vibrant politicians. Therefore, constituents are anticipating an epic battle.
The aspirants include former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu, former Speaker of theHouse of Assembly and House of Representatives member from Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Constituency Hon. Emmanuel Goar, Senator Sati Gogwim and former Governor Joshua Dariye, who is the senator representing the district.
Mantu lost the seat in 2007. But, the ebbulient politician wants to stage a comeback. He is the first senator to represent the zone in this dispensation. He was in the Senate between 1999 and 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was the Deputy Senate President for six years. But, his attempt to return to the Senate for the third time failed when he lost to Major Sati Gogwim, a less popular candidate, who contested on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Since his defeat in 2007, Mantu appears to have gone into political oblivion. He did not feature in the 2011 election. But, he was always at the PDP National Secretariat, Wadata House, Abuja, on party assignments. His bid to return to the Senate did not come as a surprise to political observers. He has revived his political structures for this purpose. He is believed to have the backing of prominent party leaders.
Since Mantu lost the senatorial election in 2007, the PDP has lost control of the zone to opposition parties. When the ACN candidate won the poll in 2007, the party failed to manage the opportunity. In the 2011 election, the Labour Party (LP), fielded Dariye. The ACN lost the seat to the LP. Thus, there is doubt over the PDP’s popularity in the district.
Mantu’s motive is to reclaim the zone from the LP. But, other aspirants claim that they have the same goal in mind. Hon. Goar has declared that he has the strategy to recapture the zone for the ruling party. He spoke on his new formula on the day he declared his intention to run.
“I have concluded plans to run for the Senate in 2015. I need to recapture my senatorial zone for the PDP. We lost the zone to the opposition in the two previous elections, but I believe I have all it takes to bring it back under the PDP fold,” he said.
The legislator added: “At the moment, I am the most experienced legislator from that zone. I started from the grassroots by representing my people at the state constituency, where I became the Speaker of the House. I left there for the Lower Chamber of the National Assembly where I am representing Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Constituency. The people will prefer someone that is so close to them; someone who they can access and someone who will be humble enough to render account periodically.
“The zone does not lack politicians in top places with national recognition, but what the people require is someone who has grassroots acceptability and well experienced in legislative system. I am not lacking in the area of legislative experience, having served in the House of Assembly and the House of Representatives. Hence, I consider myself good enough to serve my zone and my state at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.”
Goar said that the senatorial election might be a walkover for the PDP, if the party fields an experienced aspirant like him. “The ruling party lost the zone because it did not field experienced candidates. But, I am confident this time around that the party will not regret when I emerge as its flag bearer in the zone. I can assure my party that I have began to work towards giving them that victory because what the people want is an experienced man like me. The people of the zone has lost out. As a result, they could not get their dues from the national cake. The same people have cried to me to come to their rescue and I have made up my mind to heed their cry by offering myself to serve them in the senate,” he said
But, Mantu also believes that he is the right person for the job. He said it would be easy for the PDP to recapture the zone, if he is the flag bearer. The former Deputy Senate President said that since he decided to keep a low profile in the last seven years, the PDP has not found a credible replacement for him. Mantu has begun consultations with stakeholders on how to realise his ambition.
However, Goar and Mantu will face a tough battle. Dariye of the LP is not ready to take a rest. Dariye has remained popular in the zone. Although he defected from the PDP, his influence has not waned. A source said that PDP leaders have been mounting pressure on him to return to the fold. He left the party, following his misunderstanding with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Sources confirmed that PDP national leaders are optimistc that he will return to the party before the election. President Goodluck Jonathan, added the sources, is expected to receive him at a rally in Jos, the state capital. “If not for the bomb blast of May 20 in Jo,s which killed scores of people, the reception for the former PDP stalwart, including Senator Dariye, would have been held,” added the source.
Senator Gogwim, who represented the zone between 2007 and 2011 on the platform of the ACN, is also on his way to the PDP. He lost the 2011 poll to Dariye. The retired soldier has not hidden his ambition to return to the Senate. His campaign posters and hand bills flood the zone. Gogwim said he has experience for the job, urging the people to give him a second chance.
The primaries will be tough because the gladiators are not ready to step down. At the shadow poll, delegates will vet the condenders and make up their minds.
A party chieftain, Mr. Joshua Nanle, said that Goar may have an edge over Mantu and Dariye because of his grassroots appeal. Goar is believed to be closer to the masses than the two senior politicians. He is also said to have come from the Angas ethnic group, which is the most populous in the district.
“In Plateau Central Zone, Angas is the largest ethnic group. But, we have been patient and the minorities have been ruling the zone. The only Angas man, who went to Senate in 2007, ran on the opposition party. This time around, we expect other tribes in the zone to respect our wish to take our turn in the ruling party. The Angas tribe cannot remain in the opposition for too long. And for the Angas, turn, we have no other candidate than Hon Goar. He has done well in the House of Representative. We want him to go to the Senate on the platform of PDP,” Nanle added. .
Another factor that may count against Mantu and Dariye is the fact that voters will prefer to vote for candidates, based on their local government of origin. The zone comprises five local governments; Mangu, Bokkos, Pankshin, Kanke and Kanam. In 1999, the people voted for Mantu, who hails from Mangu. After completing two terms in the Senate, he was succeeded by Gogwim from Kanke. Later, Dariye from Bokkos was elected.
Ahead of next year’s poll, there is the agitation for power shift to either Pankshin or Kanam, the two local governments that are yet to take their turns.
Alhaji Salisu Shehu from Kanam said: “In the 2015 election, I don’t think the likes of Mantu and Dariye will have a chance. I will advise them to allow other local governments have it. We have Pankshin and Kanam that are yet to take their turns. We are looking for candidates from the two local governments. In Kanam, we have resolved to vote for candidates from these two councils.”
No doubt, Goar is popular. He may be the voter’s favourite. But, can he withstand Dariye’s asernal? The former governor is a factor in the zone. He has proved that he is the leader the district, both as governor and senator. His followers love him. Many chieftains across the parties are also loyal to him.
Mantu is also a clever politician. He is highly connected. He is respected in the zone. In fact, observers believe that Dariye and Mantu can spring surprises.
The question is: Can Goar beat these gladiators at the primaries? Time will tell.
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