From Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
Following the alleged imposition of a governorship aspirant from the Southern zone of the state for the forthcoming primaries of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) by former Minister of Defense General Theophilus Danjuma, the Patriotic Northern Taraba Elders Forum (PNTEF) has expressed disappointment with the elder statesman for promoting tribalism and division in the state.
In a press statement issued in Jalingo, jointly signed by Elder Timothy Mazong, Alhaji Usman Adamu Mafindi and Alhaji Ali Lau, the Forum said that Danjuma has shown total disregard for the existing zoning arrangement and the ethnic diversity of the state to the disappointment of all who hold him in high esteem.
The Forum enjoined the retired General to work towards promoting the unity and stability of the state rather than promoting tribal interest as that is capable of further breaking the fragile lines holding the unity of the state.
“While we were hoping that the Southern and Central zones, the party officials and stakeholders will honour the initial arrangement and support the party’s governorship candidate to come from the Northern zone, we were shocked that Gen TY Danjuma (retd) during his recent visit to the state instead, endorsed an aspirant from the Southern part of Taraba state. We feel betrayed, disappointed and neglected by someone we accord so much reverence, respect and hold in high esteem as a father to all.
“Imagine the southern zone alone ruling the state for eight years, enjoying the position of the state party chairman for four years, and producing the governorship candidate again for another eight years to make up sixteen years. How can this work in a multi-ethnic state like Taraba? We, therefore, appeal to Gen TY Danjuma (retd) who has done a lot to unite Nigeria and is respected worldwide to rescind his decision and support the move to bringing the party’s governorship candidate from the North in the spirit of fairness, justice and equity.
“Our effort is to see that we consolidate our internal democracy and place our Party, on a good pedestal to winning the forthcoming governorship election in the state. We all know that PDP has been the ruling party in Taraba state since 1999. This has been possible due to our level of mutual understanding in terms of zoning, rotation, and running an all-inclusive policy that gives every member, region and ethnic composition a sense of belonging.
“In 2015, Gen TY Danjuma approached the Northern Taraba elders to support the move for the governorship candidate of our great party to come from the southern zone, precisely, his candidate Arch Darius Dickson Ishaku, of which we agreed and worked to deliver the party in our respective constituencies. This was due to the much respect and honour we accord to the elder statesman who has done his best to keep Nigeria united and contributed immensely to strengthen our political party.
“More to this arrangement and agreement was that after the eight years tenure of Arch. Darius Dickson Ishaku, power will rotate back to the northern part of the state. It was this same arrangement that produced the now ‘endorsed governorship candidate’, Col Kefas Agbu as the state party chairman with the expectation that the governorship ticket will go to the Northern zone. On several occasions, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku and even the party chairman Col Kefas Agbu have confirmed this zoning arrangement.
“At this moment that our democracy is so fragile and the battle ahead is so tense, we plead that Gen TY Danjuma (retd) should not allow his decision to divide the party ahead of the 2023 general election. He should not take decisions that will portray him as a tribalistic and ethnic jingoist.
“We hereby, affirm our plea that having supported the southern zone to rule for eight years, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, should allow its candidate for the 2023 governorship election to come from the Northern zone. Gen TY Danjuma (retd) should consider our request as it is the only sure way to sustain our unity and brighten our party’s chances of winning”.