Some youths in Barking Ladi Local Government Area, Plateau State have demanded for the cancellation of the APC Primary elections held in the locality last Saturday.
This according them is sequel to the obvious manipulation of the exercise by a group of influential persons in the party.
The polls the youths allege were more of a nomination than Democratic elections.
The youths who spoke under condition of anonymity believe such anomalies if allowed could ruin the future of the party.
According to one, “this impunity was one of the things that led to the failure of the PDP in the 2015 general elections. And if the APC is the party of justice as we know it to be, the right thing must be done.”
Controversies started looming in the party after Barr. Ezekiel Mandyau who reportedly was never in the race until three weeks to the exercise was declared winner in the recently conducted Primary elections of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Plateau State.
A group of youths in the locality had two months ago raised alarm over an alleged plot by some stakeholders to impose candidates in the party.
The situation it was learnt became prominent when the top two candidates of the party – Hon. James Dung Gyang and Barr. Ezekiel Mandyau began moves to pick their nomination forms less than a month to the Primary elections.
According to sources, Barr. Mandyau became the party stakeholders’ favourite owing to a purported zoning arrangement in the party.
Hon. J.D. Gyang on the other hand was reportedly the popular candidate amongst majority of the electorates owing to his long standing relationship with them which he started building since 2014.
James according to a source was the lead sponsor of the party in the LGA before the 2015 elections where it became the ruling party in the country.
He was said to have been involved in several humanitarian works – issuing scholarships, donating fertilizer, grains and clothing to vulnerable groups in the local government.
Mandyau on his part, an ex employee of Jos University Teaching Hospital has been involved in human rights defense but without any known political intentions.
He was said to have not been known in the party until months after the announcement of plans earlier this year by the Plateau State Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) to hold the LG polls.
The attempt by the party stakeholders to introduce zoning according to reports was opposed by a cross section of party faithful in t
he LGA who appeared to be in support of Hon. Gyang.
Their argument was that the arrangement was not constitutional and not established right from the beginning of campaigns.
According to a top stakeholder in the party, the acclaimed people’s favourite, Hon. Gyang had consulted all relevant stakeholders in the party including the Plateau State Secretary to the State Government, Rufus Bature, one time Gubernatorial candidate, Arch. Pam Dung Gyang, former State Assembly Speaker, Isa Song and a top statesman, Jok Alamba among others who all assured him their support.
They however according to the stakeholder turned their backs three weeks to the primaries, demanding that he stepped down to allow the eventual party flag bearer’s district (Gashish) stand in the secondary polls.
The district is however the origin of the immediate past LGA Transition Chairman, Bitrus Doro, another reason Hon. Gyang’s supporters didn’t agree to the arrangement.
However, those who opposed the move including Hon. Gyang were allegedly victimized in a bid to pave the way for Barr. Mandyau, the zoning candidate’s victory.
Hon. Gyang himself, according to a Ward Party Chairman was denied his screening certificate on allegations of non-possession of academic requirements.
He was said to have provided the relevant documents to prove his innocence but the screening clearance certificate was not released until it was 24 hours to the polls.
The Ward Party Chairman said even after the release of the certificate, James Gyang’s bank accounts were frozen allegedly to prevent him from proceeding with campaigns.
The party source equally stated that on the day of the elections, all delegates were camped in restricted locations.
There he said they were given strict instructions to either vote the supposed elders’ candidate (Mandyau) or face the fate of a Party Ward Chairman who was suspended for opposing the decision of the elders.
Multiple other sources who wouldn’t want their names in print say some of the supposed elders of the party – SSG, Rufus Bature, Jok Alamba, Isa Chungwom Song, Elder Daniel Chung, the current LGC Chairman and one Captain Donny were in the hall where the elections were held allegedly to ensure strict compliance to the directive allegedly against constitutional provisions.
The elections were equally said to have been held against the party’s constitution in an open ballot system where delegates’ votes were monitored and dictated by the party elders.
It was further said that the delegates were assigned one person to write candidates’ names for them in their voting slips.
According to a party stakeholder, Elder Daniel Chung however, only those who could not read and write were assisted in the voting exercise.
The LGA Party Chairman, Hon. Gyang Mark equally said only those who were illiterate were assisted in line with the party’s constitutional provisions.
According to him, “There was nothing like imposition in the Primaries. Maybe they say so because Barkin Ladi respects zoning. Both APC and PDP zoned to Gashish.”
As at the time of filing this report however, the two contenders for the Chairmanship seat as well as the electoral committee officer that conducted the polls, Prof. Longmas Wapmuk were still being contacted for comments.
It was however learnt that Hon. Gyang had protested against the alleged irregularities in the conduct of the Primaries before the completion of the exercise last Saturday.
He was however summoned alongside his opponent, Barr. Mandyau by the LGA Chairman in his office for a closed door meeting shortly after he attempted protesting.
That move by the Chairman reportedly brought some calm in the venue of the primaries which ended in favour of Barr. Mandyau.
One of the delegates at the polls however said he had no much confidence in the winner of the polls as according to him, “Barkin Ladi was largely in support of Hon. James who was the candidate of the poor masses. Barr. Mandyau was the candidate of the elites but we had to do what they wanted because you can’t oppose an elder and you know they say what an elder sees while seated, a child might not see it even from a high mountain.”
However, whether the issue is going to be contested in court by the concerned parties if left unattended, only time will tell.