Crisis is brewing in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Shendam Local Government Area of Plateau State, which is the home of the state governor, Barr. Simon Bako Lalong.
The simmering crisis, according to investigations, stems from alleged subterranean moves by top officials of the APC to impose their chosen candidates to vie for various offices in the forthcoming local government council elections scheduled for the first quarter of next year.
The Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) had in its revised LG polls guidelines issued early last month listed the eligibility criteria for participation in the council elections by LG chairmanship and councillorship aspirants, including the datelines for purchase and submission of nomination forms, screening of candidates, conduct of primary elections leading to the February 17, 2018 date for the council polls.
However, the buildup to the primary election, which the PLASIEC has scheduled for between Friday 13th October, 2017 and Monday, 20th November, 2017 has been stormy in Governor Lalong’s backyard due to the unceasing intrigues, schemes and chicanery by a few party officials said to close associates of the governor.
According to reliable sources within the APC secretariat in Jos, the Plateau State capital, the Zonal Chairman of the party in the Southern Zone of the state, Mr. Paul Attsar has allegedly postponed indefinitely, conduct of primary elections in four out of the 20 electoral wards in Shendam local government area without notifying the state leadership of the party.
Sources further revealed that Mr. Attsar, working in concert with the Shendam local government Chairman of the APC, Hon. Auwal Hamza, announced barely 24hours to the conduct of primary elections across the 20 wards in the locality, that the party primaries have been suspended indefinitely in Shendam “B” Ward, Kwapkilik Ward, Yelwa East Ward and Yelwa West Ward, citing “security challenges”in the listed areas as their reason for the postponement. The party has scheduled Saturday, November 11, 2017 as date for the primaries in Shendam LGA.
Contrary to their claims, however, our correspondent reliably gathered that the top party officials had three weeks ago named their preferred aspirants as those chosen by the “Stakeholders Forums” as candidates for the councillorship in the affected wards, but such announcements were vehemently rejected by majority of the APC faithful in those areas.
Earlier on, there were attempts by the top APC chieftains to change the approved method for the conduct of primaries by the party from voting by each ward’s congress to adoption by the “Stakeholders Forum”, which will apparently favour their preferred aspirants.
Our correspondent further learnt that it was after this bid was rejected that the party’s hierarchy in the locality resorted to postponing the primaries in the four wards. Sources said the resentment to the attempted imposition had earlier snowballed into protests which attracted the attention of the Plateau State governor during one of his visits to his home town of Nyak, popularly referred to as Ajikamai.
Governor Lalong was said to have swiftly instructed the Chairman of the Interim Management Committee in Shendam Local Government Area, Mr. Elias Kwaps, to investigate the cause of the protests and propose robust measures to douse the rising discontent within the party in order to avoid mass defections to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which still sees the LGA as one of its strongholds.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the PDP, which is being driven by a former Chairman of the local council, Mr. Nicholas Kemi Nshe, has perfected a strategy to cash in on areas where the ruling APC slips, by offering its tickets to disenchanted aspirants of the ruling party in order to regain its hitherto mass appeal in the locality.
As at the time of filing this report, our correspondent learnt that the Shendam LGC caretaker chairman, Mr. Kwaps had convened a meeting in his residence, of stakeholders in the four wards where primary elections were postponed, with a view to finding a way out of the looming mass protests which could badly affect the party’s fortune, especially as the closing date for submission of list of candidates by political parties draws nearer.
It is all too clear that Governor Simon Lalong faces an uphill task in his bid to conduct the LG polls with the opposition PDP in Plateau accusing his administration of making desperate efforts to rig the elections for his party. Prior to the issuance of the guidelines for the local council elections, the Plateau State chapter of the PDP had alleged that the governor was “too scared” to conduct the LG polls for fear that the APC would perform woefully, and that such poor performance would serve as a red light to Lalong’s chances of winning a second term in office.