Mr Damishi Sango, Chairman, Plateau chapter of the PDP, has accused Gov Simon Lalong of sponsoring a “third force’’ in the state’s governorship race.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that a “third force’’, outside the APC and the PDP, has emerged to challenge for the Plateau governorship seat, with retired Brig. Gen. Jon Temlong of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), as its candidate.
NAN also reports that many other political parties, outside the PDP and APC, have collapsed their structures into the new fold, with their candidates queuing behind the ADP to unseat the incumbent APC, and prevent its predecessor, the PDP, from regaining power.
Political pundits have alleged that some powerful forces in the PDP were sponsoring the “third force’’, after losing out in the arrangement that brought in Sen. Jerry Useni as the PDP candidate.
The PDP forces were said to be particularly angry over allegations that Useni rejected some names submitted for consideration as his running mate because they were said to belong to some “rival PDP power blocs’’.
But Sango told NAN on Sunday in Jos that the “third force’’ was the handiwork of Lalong to divide the votes of the PDP in the governorship election scheduled to hold March 2.
“The `third force’ is aimed at reducing the strength of the PDP. It is sponsored by Governor Lalong to share PDP votes. We have evidence to prove our position.
“Anyone working for a `third force’ is working for Lalong; the group’s existence will affect us negatively. It is aimed at causing confusion to distract and decimate the PDP,’’ he alleged.
Sango particularly rejected suggestions that the “third force’’ was being sponsored by former Plateau governor Jonah Jang.
“Jang cannot do that. He is too intelligent to fall into that trap. When Lalong won election in 2015, people celebrated the defeat of Jang, not the PDP candidate, Gyang Pwajok. So, Jang knows his friends.
“People linking his name to the `third force’ merely want to malign him. If I were Jang, I will sue them.
“Jang has no reason to want to destroy a house he personally built. He is one of our dependable pillars. He is a PDP elder, member of its Board of Trustees, and a member of the campaign council.
“Allegations that Jang is not being carried along is thrash. That is not possible. Useni cannot run for governor alone. No one can sideline Jang because he has people, connections, influence and a wide reach.
“People merely drop names to curry favours. Jang and Useni are close. Both are soldiers. They are both senators and are very good friends. No one should deceive you with lies to cause confusion,’’ he said.
On the crisis that followed the nomination of Mr James Dalok as Useni’s running mate, Sango said that the decision as to who to run with Useni was solely his (Useni)’s prerogative.
“The governorship candidate has the last say. That is what the PDP constitution says. He is the one that will work with the choice and it is only proper to allow him to decide who to work with.
“Many stakeholders opposed Dalok, especially from his Mangu Local Government, but Useni needed someone he could trust. The good thing is that we have resolved the issues that sprang up after Dalok’s emergence.’’
He also rejected the claims that some nominees were rejected by Useni because they were political associates of Jang.
“Useni did not reject anyone because of his links with Jang. That is not even thinkable because he needs Jang to win the elections,’’ he said.
On recent defections from the PDP, he said that those that left had “never won even councillor seats in their wards’’.
“The only defector I know of is Mr Chris Giwa. We are not perturbed by his departure because he has never been a political asset. In the last two years, he has moved to four political parties. He is not useful politically.’’
Sango expressed optimism that the PDP would win all elections in Plateau, saying that the party was already mapping out strategies to ensure that the elections were not rigged in favour of losers.
Reacting to allegations that Lalong was sponsoring the “third force’’, Mr Yakubu Dati, the Plateau information commissioner, wondered why someone could be talking about a non-existent force.
“What is third force? Is it a registered party?
“Gov Lalong is focused on delivering the dividends of democracy and will not be distracted by fertile imaginations of the opposition, who are grappling with imminent defeat.’’
Also reacting, Dr. Haruna Dabin, the governorship candidate of the Providence Peoples Party (PDP), challenged Sango to name the said third force.
“Sango should name the third force. In any case, I do not think that Lalong, who will soon leave the Government House, will waste his resources on any force,’’ he said.