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Plateau APC chieftains jostle for Lalong’s ministerial post

Several chieftains of the All Progressives Congress in Plateau have begun pushing for the ministerial position from the state in case the current Minister of…

Several chieftains of the All Progressives Congress in Plateau have begun pushing for the ministerial position from the state in case the current Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Bako Lalong, resigns.

This is even as Lalong, the immediate past governor of the state, said he is currently confused as to the right decision to make; whether to abandon his ministerial position or go to the Red Chamber.

“As I am now, I am a very confused man because of whether to go to the left or to go to the right but pray for me to take the best decision,” he said last week while receiving an award during an organized labour event in Abuja.

He said though his friends in the labour sector kept reminding him of the need to stay with them in the struggle, he did not think his constituents in Plateau would agree with them, insinuating that the prevailing call from his constituency was for him to go to the Senate to represent them.

Recall that in late November, the Appeal Court declared the minister the winner of the Plateau South Senatorial District. He has already collected his certificate of return, although he has not yet resigned from his current ministerial position.

Sources within his party in Plateau disclosed that the minister’s acquisition of the certificate of return suggests his imminent resignation. But his aide on media, Dr Makut Simon Macham, said Lalong was still consulting his district on whether to remain as minister or go to the Senate.

But while the consultation continues, Daily Trust gathered that this has ignited ambition among party chieftains and supporters, prompting many hopefuls for the position to converge in Abuja to pursue their aspirations.

Observers note that political godfathers have been actively supporting their favoured candidates and political loyalists in their bid to secure the position and that there is a conflict of interest among the APC chieftains in the state, as each is pushing for their preferred candidate to succeed.

Our correspondent gathered that Prof. Saleh Mohammed Kanam, a former chairman of Kanam LGA in the state and current Provost Marshall at the Faculty of Law, Misau Campus, is touted among the leading candidates eyeing the position.

Sources within the APC revealed that the academician, a strong supporter of the party, is gaining support from both the recently declared winner of the governorship election in the state by the Appeal Court, Dr Nentawe Yilwatda, and Yusuf Gagdi, the member representing Kanam/Kanke/Pankshin federal constituency in the House of Representatives.

These sources mention that both Yilwatda and Gagdi have close ties to the presidency and can effectively advocate for their interests to succeed.

Analysts also said Kanam, with his solid academic background, could bring valuable expertise, deep knowledge in a specific field, and offer insights for policymaking.

His strong understanding of research methodologies and critical analysis, they said, could contribute to crafting evidence-based policies.

Furthermore, they noted his ability to mobilize grassroots support due to his previous role as a former chairman, which could be advantageous for the APC.

Similarly, Professor Dakas Dakas, a legal luminary who earlier served as the Attorney-General of the state during Lalong’s administration, is another name being put forward to replace the former governor in the federal cabinet.

Pundits highlighted that his extensive experience as a legal practitioner could significantly contribute to shaping public discourse and decision-making processes.

Prof. Dakas was part of the committee responsible for the constitutional amendment within the APC and has been a loyal member of the party leading up to the recent general elections.

Analysts say his involvement in the party’s constitutional amendment could earn him recognition among the contenders.

Also, the immediate past Secretary to the Government of the State in the Lalong administration, Professor Danladi Atu, is another contender for the ministerial position.

Sources say the former university lecturer is gaining the support of Lalong, adding that the former governor is likely to support Atu as his preferred candidate for the position.

Pundits however argue that Atu, despite his over-a-decade tenure in politics, lacks the grassroots support that other candidates possess for the ruling APC. However, he is well-grounded in academia, highly knowledgeable, and is expected to showcase expertise in government policies.

With Lalong, in almost all his outings in Abuja and most recently at the award ceremony where he revealed his dilemma, is Professor Garba Sharubutu, the Executive Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), who pundits also say may be one of those the former governor might be lining up to replace him in the federal cabinet.

Komsol Alpanson, a former member of the House of Representatives, is also regarded as one of the prominent politicians providing strong competition in the race.

Observers describe him as a grassroots politician capable of garnering significant support for the party, particularly within his constituency. They note his previous membership in a Tinubu support group leading up to this year’s general elections.

However, some pundits say the allegation that the young man’s decision not to support the party’s candidates during the last election, due to his grievances with Lalong, might impact his chances. They noted that he aligned with a faction that opposed former Governor Lalong from the state.

Festus Fuanter, who hails from the same LGA of Shendam as Lalong and Komsol, serves as the assistant national secretary of the APC and is also aspiring to secure the ministerial position. He held the position of commissioner for Land Survey in Lalong’s administration.

Observers noted that while Fuanter has established himself within the party, particularly considering his current position, he however lacked political grounding in his constituency as Komsol.

However, they highlighted that his strong relationship with APC chieftains at the national level could potentially give him an advantage over other candidates.

There are also reports of groups and individuals actively rallying support for Rufus Bature, the state chairman of the APC. Pundits note that Bature, who has been involved in politics for over two decades and is a staunch supporter of Tinubu and all APC candidates in the last general elections, may be considered a safe alternative to Lalong, should the former governor choose the Red Chamber over the federal cabinet.

Bashir Musan Sati, a former state secretary of the APC, and Sani Mudi, a former adviser to Lalong, are also reportedly eyeing the ministerial appointment. Both individuals, who come from Jos North, have been pushing for the position, according to sources.

Pundits, however, said the influence of top politicians is likely to be a determining factor in the appointment of the minister when Lalong finally tenders his resignation and proceeds to the Senate.

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