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NIGERIA: Appointments that Drew the Wrath of Plateau

 Jonathan (right) with Jang during one of the president’s visits to PlateauDisappointed with a number of issues, especially their non-representation in the appointment of Board of Federal Universities, the Plateau people now regret ever supporting the election of President Goodluck Jonathan.

As acting president, it was public knowledge that President Goodluck Jonathan enjoyed the huge support of the Plateau State Governor, Chief Jonah David and his people. The Governor did not hide this fact as he openly moved against zoning, an understanding waiting to edge out Jonathan from the 2011 contest. Indeed, Jang was the first governor from the North to openly declare support for Jonathan at a time others dreaded to touch him. Jang’s support for Jonathan was however interpreted variously by observers. Some thought the reason was because Plateau had suffered injustice in the past, a situation believed not to have abated during the Yar’Adua administration and being a Christian president, he would be of help. No doubt, Plateau has had it rough in terms of civil unrest and to this the Governor had cried foul, lamenting injustice. Of course, panels of inquiry were set up by both the federal and state governments without any corresponding effect. A frustrated Jang had even dragged the federal government to court before he was prevailed upon to withdraw the case.

It was therefore understandable why he was quick to embrace the Jonathan presidency. The Governor defended his position, saying he didn’t hate the North, but has never been an advocate of zoning because it promotes mediocrity.

This position, Jang maintained through to the 2011 elections when he led Plateau to an overwhelming victory for Jonathan. Plateau under Jang recorded over 1.2 million votes for the President. But Jang’s fantasy still packed up as Plateau is yet to justify its support for the Jonathan administration. Instead, what have been consisted were sustained attacks on the defenceless people of the state. Jang was jolted when in the aftermath of the first attack on Plateau the federal government ordered troop deployment in the area and literally took over control from the Governor despite being the Chief Security Officer of the state. What followed was the declaration of a state of emergency in four local government areas of the state, in addition to holding back their monthly subvention for the period it

At this point, the relationship between the Governor and the President was strained. But no one of such previous experiences drew the ire of the Plateau people like the appointment of over 120 persons into the Board of Federal Universities with Plateau having zero representation.

The development drew reactions from across the state, as they questioned their sin to deserve such intimidation from the Jonathan administration. And more pronounced is that they seem to regret ever supporting the President. Former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Istifanus Caleb Mwansat, who addressed the press on the development, raged and described it as “the height of unfairness by President Jonathan to Plateau people.”

According to him, “Even constitutionally, Nigeria is expected to be governed principally on social justice; there should be equitable distribution of the common wealth of the country. Section 3 (1) and of the 1999 Constitution as amended, lists the states that make up Nigeria, and Plateau is one. Section 14 (3) of the same constitution also talks about the principle of federal character, in terms of appointments and distribution of infrastructure development; I want to say that Mr. President has breached this section of the constitution.”

Looking at it politically, the former speaker still did not see any justification for the exclusion. He said “Plateau State is predominantly a
PDP state, and during the presidential elections, nearly all the people, both PDP and non-PDP came out to give Mr. President their overwhelming votes of over 1.2 million votes. Having sown bountifully like this, why are we not reaping bountifully?

“With all respect, what is the support base of Bauchi, Kebbi, Yobe, and indeed other states in the North of the Niger? I am sorry that I have to mention names, but I am only doing so for comparative analysis. There is no state in the North of the Niger that has given the President more support like Plateau in terms of political party and even personal support as an individual,” he said.

While describing it as a betrayal of trust, Mwansat said, “I think that is an insult. I don’t think Plateau State is so educationally backward that Mr. President could not find even one person to appoint.

“I stand to be corrected. I think outside Benue State, in the entire North of the Niger, there is no other state that has as many Professors as Plateau. So, the question is what is wrong? Even if you want to divide it by the number of state; 120 divided by 37 shouldn’t give our state zero representation? So, what is the justification? We are not asking for favour; we are only asking for our right as equal stakeholder in Nigeria,” he said.

Turning to National Assembly members from the state, Mwansat said “Our representatives at the National Assembly also need to answer this question. Why are they not asking the question? And if they have asked, what response did they get? They’ve not told us.”

Citing another injustice visited on the Plateau, Mwansat said “In my presence, when Mr. President came to Plateau sometime back to commission some projects, he asked Governor Jang to submit the bill that this state expended on the federal roads here so that they can be refunded and used for other developments.

“But as I speak to you today, almost three years after that statement was made, no kobo has been re-funded. Meanwhile, there are states that carried out their federal projects, even after Plateau has done so, and they’ve been re-funded; what is our sin?

Also faulting the alleged discriminatory policies of the President, member representing Jos South/Jos East in the House of Representatives, Hon Bitrus Kaze said “the people of Plateau State feel thoroughly betrayed and are justifiably becoming disenchanted with the administration’s policies.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, which prohibits any form of discrimination and promotes the need to conduct the affairs of government or any of its agencies in such a manner as to command national loyalty, President Goodluck recently approved a whooping 120 names for boards of all Federal Universities in Nigeria, unfortunately of all the Chairmen and Members not a single name is from Plateau State.

“Mr. President secured the highest percentage of votes from Plateau State compared to any state in the North. There cannot be any justification whatsoever for reciprocating our invaluable support with such discrimination. We condemn in the strongest terms possible and totally reject this show of ill-will and bad affections against our people, very unfortunately by the same man we so affectionately, enthusiastically, emphatically, and overwhelming voted into power in the 2011 presidential election.

“Plateau State parades a plethora of accomplished professionals in divergent areas of academic pursuits, who are more than capable of discharging any task related to the academia at any level anywhere in the world. That President Goodluck found none from Plateau State worthy of consideration is terribly shocking to us. Our confidence in the ability of the Jonathan Presidency to do justice to our maligned State is being severely eroded. We are bewildered and cannot fathom why Mr. President must pay Plateau people in very bad coins,” he said.

But Mr. James Gala, a political analyst in the state said: “What did we expect? Does Jonathan give a damn about the Nigerian Constitution? While this obvious disregard for loyalty signals a weak bargaining aptitude and possibly lacklustre acumen on the part of our own state chief executive and the PDP stalwarts from the state. It is also an indictment on all of those who went on our knees asking God for a Christian President.

“When the Israelites harassed God for a King to rule over them, He gave them a tyrant in the person of King Saul, who tormented them right out of their wits. When some among us went on their knees and asked God for a Christian President, He gave us Jonathan, who doesn't 'give a damn!'

“My advice: when we go on our knees to pray penultimate 2015, let us ask God for a good president, who will give a damn about the Nigerian Constitution. Such a President may be an atheist for all I care. But let the person be one who gives a damn,” he said.

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