In view of the massive furore which engulfed the “Plateau-sphere” in the past week with regards the PDP Northern Zone congress which took place at WAYE Foundation, Doi on 31st March 2016, ViewPointNigeria sat down with Hon. Bitrus Kaze to get his views on the key happenings, issues and non-issues. Kaze candidly gave his thoughts about the proposed zoning arrangement, its implications on the PDP brand and then described what transpired at the meeting. Below are excerpts.
(1) The question on everyone’s minds at the moment is, what happened at the Plateau North PDP congress at WAYE foundation, Doi on 31st March 2016. Could you tell us?
Before I tell you what happened at Doi on 31st March 2016, let me take you back to a few hours prior to the congress. On the morning of 31st March 2016, I was intimated of a clandestine meeting in progress at the residence of Francis Bot, where several party stalwarts loyal to distinguish senator Jang, convened secretly (and unconstitutionally) without inviting myself or other stalwarts and decided unanimously that the State Chairmanship position be zoned to Riyom LGA. On hearing this, I rang, Francis Bot to understand what was going on at his residence and he confirmed to me that a meeting of party chairmen was indeed in progress, but that he only provided his house as venue and that he was not actively involved. At that point, I made it clear to him, that any decision taken in such clandestine and unconstitutional circumstances would be contested by myself, seeing as some of us were not invited to such important meeting for obviously reasons.
So by the time I got to Doi for the Congress at 2pm, I was already full of suspicion about the obvious plan to scheme us out. When the meeting started, the Zonal Chairman (Mr. Sale Adudu) whom I hear was absent at the earlier meeting at Francis Bot’s house, appeared to be in the dark about the decision already taken by the people who met at Francis Bot’s house. As such, he spoke for a while and then said everyone should settle down for a communication about how the EXCO positions will be zoned by our leader (the distinguish Senator), but the Senator quickly countered, saying there was no communication from him and that the Zonal chairman should continue presiding. Now, allow me to digress a little – as I understand from sources at the meeting, Francis Bot in his address at his house had made clear that the distinguish senator was the architect of the zoning formula (zoning chairmanship to Riyom), but that he did not want his name to be mentioned as having anything to do with it.
Hence the confusion of the Zonal Chairman (Sale Adudu) who himself was absent at the earlier meeting and didn’t know if it was himself or the senator that would communicate the zoning. In any case, Adudu looked slightly lost about how to proceed and someone who was at the prior meeting at Francis Bot’s house quickly proceeded to he high table and handed over a list to Adudu to understudy, before he announced how the respective offices were zoned etc.
After the announcement about the zoning of the principal officers was made, the first person to respond was Hon. Edward Pwajok (the Hon. member representing Jos South/Jos East). Pwajok, argued that being a legal mind, he can say authoritatively that the method for which the offices was zone (without consent of the zonal chairman, other EXCOs and aspirants) was unconstitutional and therefore null and void. And that as representative of Jos South/Jos East, he ought to have been invited to any such meetings where key decisions such as zonings are undertaken.
At this point, the distinguish senator got up, fuming and rebuking Edward Pwajok, almost snatching the microphone from him. As this drama was unfolding, I D Gyang equally got up and took the microphone from Pwajok and started to chastise Edward Pwajok for being supposedly disrespectful, uncanny and petulant in his response, particularly about insinuating that distinguish Senator Jang was somehow involved in some sort of conspiracy. The rancour went on for several minutes then another EXCO member who was equally left out of the clandestine meeting, Hon Gyang Badung (the state organisation secretary) got up and queried why he was not invited to the meeting at Francis Bot’s house. At which point, the distinguish senator got up again and shouted him down, asking him to sit down and not speak again.
This is exactly was transpired at the meeting. We left the meeting without any agreement about the positions proposed or any other decisions.
(2) The Central and Southern zones have equally zoned offices to respective LGAs, similar to what the Northern zone has done, why is it that you have an issue with that of the Northern zone?
Zoning in Plateau Central and Plateau South were done according to the true tenets of democracy. They were based on extensive consultations, discussions, liaison, negotiations and give-and-take – they were not authoritarian and dictatorial like we have in Plateau North where one person single-handedly determined how the positions will be allocated and then stood silently in the background giving the false impression of neutrality, whilst his foot soldiers try to implement the plan.
In any case, to buttress my above statements about the central and southern zones working according to the tenets of democracy, consider this: In Plateau South, all party stalwarts converged at the house of Senator J T Useni, they discussed extensively with all stakeholders, negotiated accordingly and then zoned respective positions to certain LGAs in line with the consensus agreements. The same was done in the Central zone, where leaders converged at the House of the Zonal Chairman and openly discussed how to allocate the positions. This very democratic manner of discussion, negotiation, horse trading and give-and-take is what was missing in the Northern Zone caucus. With all due respect, it would appear that our distinguish leader in Plateau North (even though saying he didn’t want to be involved in who emerges) actually went behind the scene to orchestrate the entire list single-handedly (perhaps with the support of some of his lieutenants).
Going back to the charade that happened at WAYE foundation. Through-out the drama that was unfolding, where tempers flared and people voiced their opinions, I had my hands raised (signifying that I wanted to make a contribution), but I was never given the opportunity to speak. I was ignored consistently from the start to the end of the meeting. At the end of the meeting though, someone said to me that the moderator was under strict instructions not to allow me to speak at any point during the meeting – that I think is rather unfortunate!
(3) What then is the position of other party leaders (Joshua Dairye, J T Useni, Ibrahim Mantu etc) on what happened at the Northern zone congress?
On the day of what I now refer to as the WAYE foundation charade, I got back home and shortly after, I kept receiving calls from virtually all Plateau leaders, because they had heard about what happened. Virtually all political leaders from the Central, Southern and some from the Northern zones kept ringing me serially. I wouldn’t want to mention names but since you mentioned the three, I can confirm that leaders like Senator J C Dariye, Senator J T Useni, Ex-Senate President Ibrahim Mantu and a host other distinguish politicians rang me to understand the true position of things.
Undoubtedly, these elders understand the consequences of undemocratic tenets of imposition on the Plateau polity, particularly after the brutal 2015 election where this type of undemocratic behaviour orchestrated the defeat of our great party. A situation which illicited a rare apology from the principal who brought such wrath on the PDP family (I encourage your readers to refer to Ike Ikwerenmadu report and see what he said the reason for the loss of the governorship of Plateau was). So to answer your question, even though many of these leaders (Useni, Dariye, Mantu etc) are not from the Northen zone – they recognise that such undemocratic behaviour in any zone will lead to another loss in 2019 if care is not taken. So the extent to which we (and by “we”, I mean all democrats) will sit at the sidelines and watch us go down the drain like we did in 2015 without arresting the situation is unlikely.
(4) Have you got any other closing thoughts or comments?
Yes – what I was particularly disappointed about, is the comment the distinguish senator made, when he addressed us at the congress. He said and I quote “they think they have cleverly zoned the Chairmanship of the party to the Northern zone, thinking that, it would stop us from contesting the governorship election in 2019. But let me tell you, if we want both the Governor and the deputy to emerge from the Northern zone in 2019, that we can do it quite easily.
In my opinion, this comment is most unfortunate, because it shows that we still have not learnt the lessons of 2015. If at this point, we are perceived to still be scheming to sweep power from Plateau South, i.e., under the same circumstances that led to the horrendous defeat in 2015, then it shows we are still deluded and have not leant from history. On a personal level, what I learnt from the 2015 elections, is that the entire Plateau electorate rejected the concept of injustice, imposition and dictatorialism – so I ask the question, why are we still be bent on doing same?
The reality of it is that, certain people know that I stand for justice and fair play and that I will not subscribe to their canny plans to return power to Plateau North in 2019. I say this without apology to anyone and I make bold to say, that it is the turn of Plateau South to govern and we all have to respect that. Any ideas/plans about Plateau North seeking the governorship in 2019 will only lead us further into the wilderness like we have now found ourselves.
I was the first to take a position that Plateau South needed to be given the opportunity to govern and that position has been vindicated by the Ike Ikwerenmadu report. As such, I do not apologise for telling the truth and given the chance, I shall continue to tell the truth, irrespective of whose ox is gored.
In closing, I must say that a lot of credit goes to Senator J T Useni and Senator Joshua Dariye for the FairPlay and equity they have demonstrated. Very earlier on when we started picking up the pieces after our defeat of 2015, they determined that since Plateau North has not held the office of State Chairman, the office needed to be zoned to the area.
Hon. Bitrus Kaze spoke to Dr. Chinan Mclean of ViewPointNigeria
For other related articles on this subject of Plateau North Zoning of PDP EXCO offices see:
- Clinton Garuba: http://www.viewpointnigeria.com/re-ayuba-pam-dangwongs-accusations-jangs-aide-issues-rejoinder/
- Ayuba Pam Dangwong: http://www.viewpointnigeria.com/zoning-of-pdp-chairmanship-a-cacophony-of-lies-by-ayuba-pam-dangwong/
- Titus Alams: http://www.viewpointnigeria.com/8436-2/
ViewPointNigeria shall get through to the aides of Senator Jang to get a response to the points outlined here by Hon. Bitrus Kaze.
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