Tom Oshie urges the party not to repeat the Zamfara mistake

“I order you to hold a free election, but I forbid you to elect anyone but Richard my clerk”. This statement was the authorization of King Henry II of England [1133-1189] in his writ to those electing the Bishop of Winchester in 1171. The remark affected the integrity of King Henry II as it was greeted with negative reactions being that it was an order that constrained freedom. The electorates were not allowed to vote their consciences as they were suppressed by the order of the King. That was not democratic in any sense. It means the election was literally hijacked leaving the electorates with no choice. That was an indirect way of telling them that the election would not hold but Richard would emerge the winner.

The above statement has reincarnated in Plateau State APC. The party is suffering the same misdeed in the hands of the Governor, Mr. Simon Bako Lalong. The State APC gubernatorial primary election was hijacked by him and his hatchet men leaving no space for freedom of choice. It is important to state that there are 207 Federal electoral wards in Plateau from which five persons each were supposed to be elected as ad-hoc delegates who will in turn be accredited to vote at the state congress for the governorship primary. But it may interest the public to know that there were no prerequisite delegate elections even though some party faithful actually bought the forms. Some did not buy, but their names were on the voters list. There was no election, but a winner emerged. This goes to show that nothing would have given foundation to the purported gubernatorial primary election claimed to have been held on 26th May, 2022.

It is typical of Governor Lalong to take care of himself while he watches the state drown. The only time he identified with the aspirations of Plateau people was in 2015 when he reminded them that the other party and all it stood for was corruption and nepotism. Granted, the people would not condone such variance to good governance. Lalong dismissed the then legislative assembly on the ground that the executive was building an Arabian Eldorado. For lack of vigilance, the people got swayed, Lalong became the governor and that was all.

Today he is performing far below the government he incited people to sack. He is found wanting in every area of governance. To mention one will be injustice to others as it is all encompassing. Now that the people are seeing a way to change the beloved state for the better, Lalong is coming again to plant an unknown person who would be doing his bidding in the person of Nentawe Yilwatda Goshwe.

It is my candid advice that the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress should look into the sham election that the party purportedly conducted in Plateau State. Mr. Simon Bako Lalong has a record of being a respecter of superiors so they could look away for him to harvest what he did not sow. Dariye was his superior. It was convenient for him to close down the legislature to prove his loyalty then. Now when the state felt Dariye should be let off the hook at Kuje, he is keeping mum. After all, he is now the governor. Now he wants Abuja to kowtow to him to perpetrate his vice grip on the state without questions so that he could award the most expensive contract one could think of; so he could referee an election to re-launch himself. The third term agenda!

      But barring any issues emanating therefrom, Dr. Goshwe has the right to stand for election as a Governor in Plateau State. It is curious that as of the time he came forward to present himself to the quest, he was not conscientious to walk within the rule. He was still enjoying his time as a Commissioner at the Independent National Electoral Commission when the door for membership registration and revalidation of the party particularly in Plateau State was shut in April, 2021.

     Nentawe enjoyed his REC position up till December, 2021.The National headquarters of the party cannot in any way convince the public that he was issued a waiver. Neither can the party make a claim of consensus candidate as they cannot prove that the written consent of all the other cleared aspirants for the gubernatorial position have been secured voluntarily or secured at all. These acts are flagrant abuse of the APC constitution and the Electoral Act, 2022.

    On a moral consideration, an immediate past Resident Electoral Commissioner wanting to be governor leaves a lot to bother about in terms of free and fair election. It is equal to taking the position on what you have been supervising. Even though no legislation shuts him out on that ground, there is no guarantee of a free and fair conduct of the Plateau State gubernatorial elections with him being a candidate. His stooges are still there waiting to do his biddings.

APC, Plateau State is only postponing the evil day. It is either they clean the mess now or regret later. The Zamfara State case is not far-fetched. APC, Zamfara swept the entire 14 Local Government Areas of the state. However, the Supreme Court declared Bello Matawalle of PDP the winner of the governorship race owing to the fact that the Idris’ votes were “wasted”; that the party did not conduct valid primaries in the build up to the elections. That judgment should serve as a lesson for political parties as they ought to follow legitimate guidelines and rules.

The opposition parties in Plateau State must have gone to rest waiting and knowing fully well that APC does not have a candidate yet. And if they proceed with this flawed foundation, it is cheers for the oppositions.

The way forward for APC in Plateau State: The National headquarters should advise the party stakeholders in the state to sit, dialogue and settle with all the other aspirants to achieve a possible consensus candidate within the allowed time- frame.  

 Oshie is a legal practitioner

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