Gunning For Jang

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Tenure politics is in firm shape in Plateau as Lalong treads an old pathway by instituting a judicial probe panel to comb the books andreport on the eight-year administration of Jonah Jang. CHAMBERLAIN ODEY reports that the Commission may run into moral dilemmas as it commences sitting.

Inauguration of a judicial commission of inquiry into the two-term, eight-year government of former Governor Jonah David Jang from 2007 to 2015 by the Governor Simon Lalong-led administration may not have been unexpected, but it comes on the heels of a political tirade from Jang to Lalong which surmised the latter as an “accidental governor”. Inaugurating the commission in Government House, Governor Lalong alluded to political antics, intrigues, and polemics when he acknowledged that his predecessors – including Jang – earliercommitted public resources to launch such audit inquest into the official transactions of their predecessors, and as incumbent governor, he knows and expects his successor to drag him before a similar instrument of accountability when the time comes. Beyond this, Lalong underscored the development as a “necessity”, justifying it further as arising from a sense of responsibility “which, out of duty and good conscience, we cannot afford to ignore.Further to this, is the fact that our citizens, acting on the strength of the mandate given to us, have repeatedly called for a review of the activities of the past administration, on the strength of what we have placed in the public domain, in our bid to get our people to understand the challenges we are confronted with”. Justifying the timing of the Commission, Lalong said; “I must state, like I have done in my several addresses to the state, that what seemed a delayed action concerning the constitution of a Commission of inquiry, is certainly not a delay, but a deliberate line of action which takes cognizance of the fact that investigations by anti-graft agencies are process-driven, and that the bureaucratic compilation of government documents and facts that will be pleaded before any judicial commission, must follow the process of law”. The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), Plateau State chapter, was quick in indicating its approval and commendation of the Lalong administration for “taking the bold move”, urging it to make sure that a culture of transparency and accountability are upheld as pillars of public service. But not so for Nde Alexandar Molwus, a former political adviser to former governor Jang, who summarily dismissed the commission as constituted by Lalong as “valueless and diversionary”. Molwus pointedly said it is particularly disappointing that Lalong will refer to the precedent of former governors as reason for his action, rather than being ingenious to conceive and implement such schemes and programmes that will cushion the hardship of the citizenry, recalling that it is worth noting that the outcome of previous probe panels came to naught.Curiously, Jonah Jang, who is presently serving as the Senator for Plateau North senatorial zone in the 8th National Assembly, in a reaction, welcomes the development, saying it is the most potent and scientific method to end the musings and speculations about his tenure as governor of Plateau State. Ever since, political debate continued on the matter, as government spokespersons tied a damning state PDP press review of the Lalong administration as an articulated and orchestrated effort to diminish the essence and urgency of the Commission, and divert public attention from the temerity of the issues which memoranda to the Commission would provoke. Whether the debate will abate in the near future appeared improbable for now, as Lalong strengthened hispolitical warship with the appointment of four Special Advisers including one on Media and Public Affairs and another on Politics and Political Strategy; and a quantum of Special Assistants wandering and lurking around with portfolios without offices. Meanwhile, the Justice Stephen Adah Commission may have concluded receipt of memoranda from members of the public as its secretariat situated at the Azi Nyako Youth Centre gets ready for business which is due to commence this month. Yet, not a few members of the public see the Commission as morally hackneyed, contextually sequestered, and circumstantially doomed. For instance, some of the estranged Jang apostles, who allegedly burrowed the foundation for Lalong to cast a political obituary of Jang could be implicated in the ‘sins’ of the first tenure of Jang; besides, the same group is already tired of the style of governance of Lalong and his executive odyssey, and are already wishing him away. Checks by Forefront indicate that several political pundits in Plateau are curious about the moral burden being borne by the Lalong administration when the Commission considers the dealings of the Jang administration when it comes to tertiary education especially. It was gathered on good authority that the contentious issue of the arbitrary closure of the State University in Bokkos by the Jang administration had much political undertones. Two drammatis personae in the saga are key figures in the Lalong government. They include John Wade, presently, the director of Research and Documentation, Government House, who was at the receiving end as the Vice-chancellor of the State University and Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, now the deputy governor to Lalong, was Vice-chancellor of the University of Jos that offered the technical enablement that ensured that Jang had his say and his way to interrupt and impair the growth of the State University. The deputy governor had interestingly looked in all directions except this in writing the report of the transition committee of which he was head, and the same report provides underpinning impetus for this administrative offensive which tripod is the judicial Commission of inquiry. Certainly, a routine is afoot amidst an ambience of bitter political rivalry and thirst for vendetta. The terms of reference of the commission are as clear as the parameters of hostilities that areencompassing and precipitous. Whether the outcome will bear the intended consequences, and whether the people will benefit from the probe is not likely to be derived as much from compelling evidence as from the intricate web of the connections of the casualties therefrom. By and large, nevertheless, the commencement of sitting by the Commission this month is also the dawning of a new political season – an eloquent prelude and a grandiloquent preface to politicalproceedings that will shape alliances and ambushes towards Plateau in 2019.

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