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PDP losing stranglehold on Plateau politics

Severally, the party’s hierarchy had attempted to mend the divisions within the state chapter of the PDP, but has achieved no tangible results while the…

Severally, the party’s hierarchy had attempted to mend the divisions within the state chapter of the PDP, but has achieved no tangible results while the internal wrangling rocking the party has continued to grow deeper and deeper. That the PDP has not totally cascaded into the deep ravines of oblivion in Plateau State is due largely to extraneous factors having to do with the equally disorganized nature of the opposition parties in the state.

The crack in the ranks of the PDP has given the opposition parties in the state a window of opportunity to go for the kill, reaching by redefining the political landscape of the state. Already, the opposition has recorded major electoral victory that are quite significant in the political calculations of the state.

For instance, the PDP lost two seats in the state House of Assembly to the ANPP and came close to losing a third one in the rerun election in Panskhin North state constituency last week.

The internal wrangling within the party has been underplayed by the two factions to make each side appear unperturbed by the activities of the other.

The way and manner parties of less reckoning are springing up and trying to upstage the PDP at the grassroots has made those with genuine interests in the party to be worried about what may become of the PDP in the next dispensation if things are allowed to continue the way they are.

Governor Jonah Jang, speaking at a recent press interview, said though he was aware of the existence of the two factions of the PDP in the state, he has chosen not to take any action against or for any of the factions. He added that even while it is within his powers to close down the parallel party structures, he has chosen not to do so for now.

But the chairman of one of the factions in the state, Chief Emmanuel Mangni countered the governor’s position, saying the governor has no powers to close down the secretariat of the party, run by a state executive committee duly elected by the majority of party members in the state.

He said contrary to the claim by the governor that he magnanimously allowed the parallel party executive of the party to function, they (his faction) had it on good authority that Governor Jang had tried all he could to frustrate his executive from growing but his efforts failed.

“The aides of the governor led an assault on the party office where they tried to vandalize the party office and remove our flag poles. Later, they tried to intimidate our landlord with revocation; they used the state radio to blackmail some of our members to say that they have dissociated themselves from the party and they physically assaulted us in Abuja at the national convention of the party,” he stated.

He added that recently, a member of his faction, who is the chairman of Jos-South was attacked by yet to be identified persons, an allegation that was confirmed by the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Lerama.

On the other hand, the Dakum Shown led executive, when contacted, however, refused to comment on the issue, saying they would not join issues with the parallel executive of the PDP.

As the war of attrition continues, both factions have continued to re-strategize towards consolidating their grip on the party machinery in the state. While Shown and his group have continued to warm their way into the hearts of the state government for its continued survival, the Mangni faction has gone to the grassroots to win more party members to its side.

Recently, when the Shown faction undertook a tour of the state, the Mangni faction came out and directed members of the party loyal to it to boycott the rallies, resulting in the rallies being poorly attended.

Such show of strength has continued to divide the party to the consternation of many who have expressed the fear that the PDP may wear itself out if defi-nite action is not taken to address the drift.
Already, the Action Congress (AC) in the state, which had been bogged down by a similar problem of factionalisation, has dissolved the two parallel executive committees and set up a caretaker committee led by Chief Amos Gizo.
At the last count, some PDP members of the sate House of Assembly have identified with the Mangni faction in a move that is seriously adding to the confusion within the ranks of the PDP in the state. The endorsement of the Mangni-led faction by the lawmakers is coming on the heels of a similar move by chieftains of the party in the state, like Jimmy Cheto, a governorship aspirant; Lumumba Adeh,a former federal lawmaker and Senator John Shagaya.
Two former civilian governors of the state are also said to be siding with the Mangni faction of the PDP but have chosen not to do so publicly until a more auspicious time.
However, there is no doubt that the division within the party has reached a stage where it cannot be ignored. The recent bye-election in Pankshin North in which the former speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Emmanuel Goar, who had his election nullified by the election tribunal narrowly emerged victorious has further raised the specter of the crisis with claims and counter claims by the two factions of the PDP.
While some attribute Goar’s victory to the support provided by the state governor, others have linked it with the wholesale contribution of the Mangni group.
Those who linked the victory to Gov. Jang’s factor say it is because a lot of resources was deployed by the governor during the election to secure victory for Goar, while those who link the Mangni faction to the victory attest to the fact that the Mangi faction has never engaged in anti- party activities, like the Shown faction is wont to do. They add that the Mangni faction dispatched key members like the faction’s assistant organizing secretary and a former chairman of Pankshin local government, who is very popular in that area to spearhead Goar’s campaign
But there are fears that if the PDP does not put its house in order and on time, the same scenario might not play out for both factions to claim victory in subsequent polls. Many fear that since the PDP has had two of the 17 local government seats it claimed to have won in the last local government elections annulled by the election petitions tribunal, then the party has cause to worry as more of the cases are by the tribunal dispensed with.
The local government election petitions likely to be concluded soon by the tribunal include that of Mikang and Langtang South where the internal wrangling in the party has seen party members taking each other to court over who deservedly is the party’s candidate  in the council election.
Similarly, the PDP had had some of its electoral victories in Riyom and Bassa/Irigwe council areas upturned by the election petition tribunal; verdicts that the affected PDP candidates have challenged at the Appeal Court.
The court may likely affirm the judgement of the tribunal or rule in the favour of the applicants. If however, the PDP candidates lose their appeal, it’s a further confirmation that the party is gradually losing its vice-grip on the affairs of Plateau State and that its 12 year reign may likely come to an end in 2011.