There is palpable anger in the political circles in Plateau, especially in the two major political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress over a statement by former Governor and senator representing Plateau North senatorial zone that the Senate is not meant for young people.
Jang was said to have made the comments in a radio programme in Jos on Friday.
But his followers are seeing it as a mark of betrayal and attempt to shut them out from realising 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 chance 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. Gyang is with the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, while Pwajok, who won his election under PDP later defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. Posters indicating their interest have many times flooded the city of Jos
They are said to be perceiving the as 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. 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.
A former member of the 6th and 7th National Assembly, Mr. Bitrus Kaze, he would not believe that Jang actually said so as the constitution of the Federal Republic had outlined qualifications for any elective office. He added that the statement could be the senator’s personal opinion, which he was entitled to.
He said, “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” 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.
Legislative aide to Pwajok, Mr. Ayuba Pam, is of the view that it was Jang’s opinion, which he was free to express. He said that if Jang seriously holds that view, he would not have allowed a younger person to aspire to succeed him. .
Pam said, “Late GNS Pwajok was in the senate through that mindset and was later to succeed him as governor but for the defeat by APC. If he says senate is not for the youths then ask him to define which bracket of youths he’s talking of? Our extant laws allows youths participation in governance and thankfully too, Jang was in chamber last year when the senate passed ‘the young shall rule’ bill. Ask him further on this if there was any age limit as to who contests for the seat of the senate?
Jang’s Media Aide, Mr. Clinton Garba, said that Jang must have been talking out of experience as a former governor and serving senator.
He said, “My take is that the Senator point of view is taken out of context he simply stated that most parliament 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 youth who have gotten experience and he himself mentioned GNS , so I think his emphasis is the experience that most times come 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.