PYC Tenure Elongation Saga: Deputy Chairman Mr Othniel Gongden Spits Fire

In view of the raging Plateau Youth Council debacle, ViewPointNigeria’s reporter Longgul Dakwom reached out to the PYC deputy Chairman to understand a bit more about what is causing the fall-out within the EXCO, below are excepts of our interview with him.

1. VPN: Could you introduce yourself for the benefit of our readers?

Othniel Gongden: My name is Othniel Gongden, the outgoing Deputy Chairman of the Plateau State Youth Council. I hail from Panyam, Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State.

2. VPN: Could you elucidate on the current tenure elongation saga that is ravaging the PYC?

Othniel Gongden: Thank you for that Question, first of all I will make it clear that there is nothing like tenure elongation in PYC. And it can never happen, not under an Exco that I am part of.

Secondly you said it’s a controversy and Is ravaging the PYC, you are correct because a few individuals with personal interest have decided to cause that controversy and trust me, we are ever ready to make sure that people with such colonial mentality do not have a place in PYC.

Let me first of all tell you that for this few individuals to even sat down and think about such unthinkable using Covid 19 as an excuse shows they really underate Plateau Youths. Let me make it very clear that from the beginning, they had no intention to handover as they have turn the Council into their private enterprise. When we observed that, the 8 EXCOs took it upon themselves to salvage the situation to defend the Constitution and Protect the Council from being ridiculed.

My brother, how can you explain that the CWC has not had a sitting in the last two years? And the leadership still attends meeting with the Chairman as Expanded EXCO and approves Proposals for the Chairman on behalf of the other 70 members?

When we noticed their body language, we invoked Article IX, Appendix 4b and wrote the Speaker Requesting him to summon an extraordinary CWC meeting to discuss issues that were burning in the Council which included the Vote of no confidence we passed on the Chairman and equally set a Five-man Electoral Committee to begin election preparation, that memo was written on 17th January 2020, however, the Speaker Ignored us.

Worried about his silence, we wrote a reminder on 16 March 2020 reminding him that we are almost a month to general assembly where elections are supposed to be held therefore, there is need for something urgent to be done. Still we were ignored but the same Speaker and his other principal officer are the people that sat and resolved to use COVID-19 to maintain the status quo. That is laughable. How can they underate Plateau Youths like that? that is the point of controversy my brother and as long as some of us are still around, we will never allow anybody shortchanged Plateau youths of their mandate. People who have failed must be ready to face the consequences of their actions or inactions.

3. VPN: We hear you fell-out with the Chairman after a year of being elected into office –how true is that?

Othniel Gongden: Yes, that is true! I got tired of advising him and seeing things going from bad to worst every day. I was concerned because I noticed the Chairman had lost it completely as it appears he does not understand the difference between leading a movement like PYC and managing a private business or personal enterprise.

4. VPN: There are allegations of corruption and fraud levelled against the PYC EXCO –could you comment on that.

Othniel Glongden: That’s not entirely correct. The allegations were levelled against the chairman (Dr. Fabong Jemchang) and not the EXCO. The Youth Council under our tenure was quite a revelation –since I was born I have never seen the kind of parochial leadership I saw during our tenure. It still baffles me that in this 21sth Century we still have people who believe in such outrageous philosophies.

That’s not entirely correct. The allegations were levelled against the chairman, Dr Fabong Jemchang and not the EXCO. To be candid, since I was born, I have never seen the type of recklessness and high-handedness that I saw during my time as Deputy Chairman in the PYC. It baffles me that in the 21st century we still have people who still have such parochial tendencies. I tried my best as a Deputy to caution him about his excesses but he never changed. It may interest you to know that in the only sitting where the CWC met, a committee was set up to probe our financial expenses and the Chairman went there with his thugs and harassed the committee members and frustrated their efforts.

5. VPN: Could you expatiate on the allegation that the Chairman ran the institution as his personal estate?

Othniel Gongden: Like I earlier mentioned, I have never seen a one-man gang with so much audacity, brazenness and delusion. Let me give you an instance….. In the early days of our tenure when we began to get slots for various functions etc, I raised an observation about the way we share the slots and the Chairman told me that this is an Executive privilege and he can share it however he likes. 

I made known to him that PYC is a movement and there is no Chief Executive anywhere, but that simply we were elected to piloted the affairs and anything given to the Council is for the youths so we ought to be careful. His response left me baffled…….Dr Fabong said, “that is my own business, because he did not come to PYC to suffer”.

It may interest you to know that since we were given the office at the Youth Centre, no EXCO member, not even the Secretary has a table or chair to sit at the Youth Council but the Chairman has maintained a good office with reception and even a waiting room, all well furnished with Council Funds. Essentially, only his office functions all others are comatose.

Let me give you one more instance. The fertilizer allocation that was given to the youths (three trucks load of fertilizers), Dr Fabong totally denied collecting or knowing about it. Now, even though it is true that he didn’t personally receive it because he was not in town, I confronted him during a meeting with officials of the ministry who gave the fertiliser and Dr Fabong said “sometimes you follow a thief and you will go and discover that it is your father, in that case you can not do anything”. So because it is his father that took the property of Plateau Youths, he cannot do anything about it? That is not right……..

A more trivial example is last year’s Christmas, when Government gave Youths Christmas package of two cows. This was given so it will be shared to the youths but the Chairman took one to his Church and killed one for his aids. That is just a little I don’t have time to go into much details but I believe you have a copy of our vote of no confidence where we highlighted most of the concerns.

6. VPN: Would you assess that the action of the Ministry of Youths and Sports in taking over affairs of PYC settles the matter?

Othniel Gongden: Yes, the ministry acted in the best interests of our Youths and the Council.

My brother if you want to look for trouble, speak the truth.

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PYC Tenure Elongation Saga: Deputy Chairman Mr Othniel Gongden Spits Fire

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