…’We were treated like a leper’
…’It was like squeezing water out of stone’
By Tom Okpe
A scary picture of what transpired in the run-up to the February 25, 2023 presidential election in predominantly Christian Plateau state was unveiled when stakeholders of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state visited APC National Chairman, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, in Abuja.
Led by former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Rep. Ahmed Wase, they claimed that they were treated ”like lepers” trying to sell the Muslim-Muslim ticket to the people of Plateau state.
Briefing newsmen after meeting with Ganduje behind closed doors, Wase said they were subjected to a status akin to pariahs over their party’s choice of the Presidential candidate and his Vice as Muslims, dubbed the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
The party’s presidential flagbearer, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former Governor of Lagos state, and the Vice Presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima, a former Governor of Borno state, are both Muslims.
Leading about 20 other stakeholders, Wase recalled how they had to overcome high odds stacked against them to convince the electorate to cast ballots for Tinubu and Shettima at the presidential poll.
He said the over 300,000 votes secured by now-President Tinubu at the poll in Plateau State was like squeezing water out of stone.
He said: “We squeezed water out of stone considering the demography in Plateau State, due to the Muslim Muslim ticket.
“We sacrificed so much even when religious sentiment were shipped against us. The religious factor affected us so much that we were looked at as a leper, yet survived it.
“As far as we are concerned, the Plateau State APC chapter has done very well. We performed beyond expectation by coming third with 300,000 votes.”
The Daily Times recalls that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Labour Party (LP) candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, winner of the presidential election in the state. He polled a total number of 466,272 votes.
Tinubu was Obi’s closest rival in the state with a total of 307,196 votes while the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, garnered 243,808 votes.
On the Election Petition Tribunal’s confirmation of Governor Caleb Mutfwang as duly elected, Rep. Wase expressed optimism that the APC governorship candidate in the 2023 poll, Nentawe Yilwaltda, would upstage Mutfwang in the end.
He was optimistic that what he described as ”the needful” would be done at the appellate courts.
According to him, Yilwaltda would emerge victorious based on the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The immediate past Governor of the state, Simon Lalong, who is presently Minister of Labour, was re-elected in 2019 on the platform of APC.
The former Deputy Speaker, who also recalled his unsuccessful bid for the Speakership of the House of Representatives, remarked that APC stakeholders in the state were taken aback when Plateau did not get two ministerial slots as reward for their painstaking effort at the presidential poll.