Has By-election Altered Political Equations On The Plateau? ACHOR ABIMAJE looks at the intrigues that led to All Progressives Congress (APC’s) defeat in the just concluded Jos North/Bassa federal constituency by-election and the matters arising

There is disquiet among the members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Jos the Plateau State capital, following the defeat of the party’s candidate Hon. Abbey Joseph Aku by the candidate Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Hon. Musa Agah, in the recent Jos North/Bassa federal Constituency bye-election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) slated Saturday, February 26 for the conduct of the by-election to fill the vacuum created by the demise of the former occupant of the office, Hon. Haruna Maitala, who died in a fatal car accident last year.

Trouble started for the ruling APC during the by-election primary at the Lamond Hotel Appollo crescent Jos where two aspirants Hon. Suleiman Yahaya Kwande and Hon. Abbey Joseph Aku scored 344 votes each, prompting the chairman of the committee, Hon. Abu Ajiya, to declare the primary election inconclusive.

But that did not help the situation as the duo claimed to have won the primary election. Kwande alleged that the primary election was rigged in favour of the governor’s candidate Hon. Abbey Joseph Aku, a former commissioner in Lalong’s Cabinet. It became mandatory for the umpire to reschedule the primary for a rerun as required by the electoral law.


Not satisfied with the development Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande petitioned the chairman of the APC Appeal Committee, claiming manipulation and cancellation of his votes during the party primaries in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.

Kwande, in the petition addressed to the chairman of the appeals committee, made available to our reporter in Jos, asked the party to declare him winner of the party primary election based on the votes he scored.

He explained that despite the forces at the corridor of power that mounted pressure on him to step aside for a government candidate, he went into the poll and won with a clear margin.

The petition reads in part, “It is on record that I scored 349 votes against 344 votes scored by one Hon. Abey Joseph Aku who emerged second at the time of computation of individual scores.”


He claimed that four of his votes were “deliberately and mischievously declared invalid” and objected to declaring the election inconclusive, which he said is “gross abuse of the democratic principle, the Rule of Law and indeed a robbery of my victory in a broad daylight.”

“I humbly and peacefully urge you to promptly investigate my complaint and return my mandate by declaring me the winner of the bye-primary election,” he stated.

The rerun primary exercise was held at Prestige Event Centre, Jebu Bassa, in Bassa local government area. Kwande and his delegates boycotted the exercise.

Announcing the result of the primary election rerun, chairman of the electoral committee, Rt. Hon. Abu Ajiya declared Aku as winner after scoring 809 to beat his close rival, Kwande, who scored 74 votes.

But another drama was to ensue in the build up to the polls. A key political player in Jos North, Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingre, publicly denounced Governor Lalong over the by-election.

The cleric, after the Juma’at prayer on the eve of the February 26 by-election, ordered his followers in Jos North to vote for the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) instead of the APC.


These events set the time for the election which turned out to be an abysmal outing for the APC which came third behind the PDP and PRP – a relatively new party in the state.

INEC’s returning officer Yinka Oyerinde declared PDP’s Musa Agah as winner with a total of 40,343 votes. According to Oyerinde, Agah defeated Muhammed Adam Alkali of PRP, who garnered a total of 37, 757; and APC’s Aku who polled 26, 111.

There was jubilation in Jos. Reacting, former governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang, described PDP’s victory at the bye-election as an indication of what will happen on the Plateau in 2023.

According to the former governor, “The result not only reflects the mood of the people but it is a foretaste of what to expect as the 2023 general elections are fast approaching.”

Governor Lalong also congratulated PDP and its candidate, Agah, and commended the electorate for coming out to vote for their candidates of choice and conducting themselves in a peaceful and orderly manner which ensured that there was no breakdown of law and order throughout the process.

The governor, in a statement, issued by his director of press and public affairs, Dr. Simon Makut Macham,

also appreciated INEC for conducting the exercise in a transparent manner and ensuring that all parties and candidates had a level playing ground to campaign and participate in the bye-election.

With the poor outing of the ruling party at the election, the prospects of the ruling retaining its dominance in the state ahead of 2023 has become topical.

How much of a litmus test was this one election for both parties going into the 2023 general elections.

But whether or not this singular incident is a strong enough indication that the political plane in the state would shift in 2023 is another matter.

This is despite the fact that Plateau was considered the cradle of PDP as it held its first presidential primary in Jos back in 1998. Also one of its key founding fathers and later national chairman, Late Chief Solomon Lar, was from the state.

But the party’s dominance in the state was cut short in 2015 due to the APC tsunami and the revolt against the imposition of a governorship candidate by the former governor.

APC has since controlled the state since 2015, securing a second term in 2019.

Speaking to our correspondent in Jos, political analyst Ukandy Odey said PDP’s victory reflects that the party has overhauled itself. He noted that at the eve of the election, the party reached a certain momentum of victory and eventually won.

According to him, it all started with the recent Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Council polls which he said “manifested on the Plateau which showed that the consolidation process is working positively”.

He added that if they continued with that momentum, “PDP will put up an impressive showing in the general elections come 2023 in the state.”

But the North Central director of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) Comrade Steve Aluko however disagrees with Odey because the Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency rerun is not a total reflection of votes gotten by APC.

He argued that the votes garnered by PRP were largely from APC members, stressing “if you add the APC and PRP votes you will discover that PDP goes nowhere.”

Aluko also blamed the post-primary crisis in APC for the poor performance of the party.

He however said that what might define the 2023 outcome is how the process by which candidates will emerge.

“If the processes in APC and PDP are credible enough, it will be a totally different game. Again, the performance of the PDP guy that won the rerun may also be a factor in 2023. If he performs very well he may retain his seat.”

He added “One factor that nobody should wish away is that this election is an isolated one and 2023 will not be an isolated election. Whosoever that emerges as senatorial and house of assembly candidates will be a factor. So if you pull all these together going by experience of results of other states where PDP has also lost is the case of protest vote.

Another public affairs analyst, Comrade Simon Acheneje, said for APC to come a distant third in the election could spell doom for the party in 2023.

He argued that if caution is not applied, PDP will take control of the state in the next governorship election.

“It seems like APC is gradually losing its grip in the state,” he said


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