By Our Reporter,
There is palpable anger in the political circles in Plateau state, especially in the two major political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) over a statement by former Governor and now Senator representing Plateau North Senatorial District that the Senate is not meant for young people.Jang was said to have made the comments in a live radio programme on JayFm 101.9 in Jos on Friday.
Reacting to this comment, most youths in the state, especially those from his constituency among other politicians, have continued to view the Senator’s comment as a mark of betrayal and attempts to shut them out from realizing their political aspirations.
A number of youths who spoke after the programme, said that by saying the Senate is not for young people, the Senator has ruled out the chances of handing over to a younger person.’
Protégés of Jang, who owe their political fortunes to the former governor like Messrs. Istifanus Gyang and Edward Pwajok who are both in the House of Representatives for Jos South/Riyom and Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituencies respectively, are believed to be interested in contesting for the Senate seat.
You would recall that Hon. Gyang is with the People's Democratic Party, PDP, while Hon. Pwajok (SAN), who won his election under PDP and later defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC), already have posters indicating their interest across the state, particularly in the city of Jos.
Pundits and youths in support of their political permutations while speaking with REALITY have held the view that the comment of the former Governor may be directed at them, as they are warming up to contest for the Senate seat in the next general elections in the hope that Jang, who is over 70 might not re-contest.
Political watchers in the state, who also listened to the comment of Senator Jang, opined that “In the event that he (Jang) re-contest, there are also indications that some of them are ready to slug it out with the Senator, as they believe his political weight has diminished since he left the Plateau Government House as governor and that he can be defeated giving the new realignments in the state.”
Reports also making the rounds in the state (not REALITY) holds that a former member of the 6th and 7th National Assembly, Mr. Bitrus Kaze, said he would not believe that Jang actually said so, as the Constitution of the Federal Republic had outlined qualifications for any elective office and the that the statement could be the Senator’s personal opinion, which he was entitled to.
Hon. Bitrus kaze was quoted as saying, “Since I did not listen to the radio programme during which Sen Jonah Jang is reported to have stated that "the Senate is not for the youth", I have deliberately chosen not to believe that he actually said so. This is because the statement sharply contradicts a position he has publicly adumbrated over the years and at different forums.”
According to him, “During a lecture in Jos mid-March 2014 to mark his 70th birthday for example, Gov Jang (as he then was) expressed his determination "to weed the old brigades from contesting future polls" and "to mentor young politicians to take over the mantle of leadership" (Leadership 15th March 2014). Assuming that he made the statement, it simply remains within the confines of his personal views. Age, exposure and maturity surely matter as far as aspiring to public office is concerned; this is why age is unambiguously determined by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended). To my mind however, in addition to fulfilling all the requirements of the laws, credibility, strength of character and integrity matter much more than anything else.
Another contender to the Senatorial seat for Plateau Central District, under the platform of the PDP, Mr. Isaac Wadak, was quoted to have expressed surprise at the statement of Senator Jang.
Wadak, who was a Permanent Secretary under Jang’s administration, was quoted to have said, "If he actually said that, I should be surprised because, I remember that in the earlier days, when he was asked by Journalists where he drew his strength from and he said it is from the youths. So, for him to hold this view now, I think something must be wrong somewhere."
However Jang's Media Aide, Mr. Clinton Garuba who has reacted to most views making the rounds has said his boss (Sen. Jang) might not have been politically correct but, was quoted out of context.
Garba was quoted to have said, "My take is that the Senator’s point of view is taken out of context. He simply stated that, most parliaments’ Upper Chambers are meant for people with vast experiences, which comes with age. Hence, why most of them are older, he went ahead to state that there are youths, who have gotten experience and he himself mentioned GNS so, I think his emphasis is the experience that most times comes with age of course with exceptions like he rightly stated. I will continue to respect him for his frankness and not just been politically correct.”