Jonah Jang’s Jaunty Jingle


The Evangelist edition, October 3, 2022. By Emeka OBASI

Elders across the nation should wake up to their age. Many do not attract respect after selling their wisdom for wads of United States dollars. Da Jonah Jang is sitting atop the Jos Plateau with shimmering grey hairs.

Jang is one Middlebelt elder that has remained constant as the Northern star in support of power shift from the North to the South in 2023. Unfortunately, his party, the People’s Democratic Party, piloted by a man from the North Central Geo Political Zone does not believe in Fair Play.

When a wise man speaks, we just keep our ears wide open. Jang is a trained Military pilot, he has seen inclement weather, he saw war and is in vantage position to speak out when the polity is charged. That is exactly what he has done by withdrawing from the campaign council of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Jang has a special place in Nigerian History. He is the only one that has served as governor in three different states. In 1985, the Air Force officer was appointed military governor of Benue. A year later General Ibrahim Babangida moved him to Gongola. Gongola was Atiku’s state.

As a retiree, Jang joined politics. In 2007, he was elected governor of Plateau State and was in that position until 2015. For a man to be governor for 11 years, we need to respect his interventions.

Jang served under three presidents, two from the North and one from the South. He was in the Senate too. This is a man we should listen to. The country cannot afford another Northern president after eight years of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

I wrote about this former Plateau State governor in 2014 after his 70th birthday celebrations. His children made many laugh when one of them revealed their father’s nickname which the old man did not know. Stone, they called him because he never laughed.

The smiles appeared when he started seeing grandchildren all over the house. Today, the cheer mood has disappeared because of funny games playing out in the polity. Jang is a crisis manager. His party rejected wise counsel.

That Jang survived Babangida says so much. The 1985 plot to oust IBB had a lot of Benue flavour. Jang was governor and the Tactical Air Command, Makurdi under Air Commodore Bayo Lawal was the epicentre of operations.

The brains behind the coup were tough Benue officers. There was the very brilliant Wing Commander Ben Ekele, an Igala, described as one of the best fighter pilots anywhere. Lt. Col. Mike Iyorshe, a Tiv, was so brave that even as he received bullets in Kirikiri, his shout of ‘Nigeria, we shall rise again’ made news.

Commander Anthony Achukwu Ogwiji, of Idoma background, just like Lt. Col Chris Oche, was involved in the coup with Squadron Leader G.A. Ahura. That attempt affected the Nigeria Air Force in no small measure.

Jang survived as governor of Benue until August 26, 1986. He was redeployed to Gongola. Col. Yohanna Madaki swapped position with him. That was because Prof. Dupe Olatunbosun accused Madaki, a lawyer, of corruption.

Madaki did not last in Benue. While in Gongola, he deposed the Emir of Muri, Muhammadu Abba Tukur, following corruption allegations. The colonel spent barely a month in Benue before he was sacked. Jang spent two years in Gongola. Retirement from the Air Force came in 1990.

Jang is therefore, not at sea when we talk about the country. He had seen it all from the air. And we should have a good laugh when we hear that the first time Jang boarded an airplane was in 1965. The journey was from Kano to Frankfurt, Germany. Here was a man flying to train as a pilot.

First African Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku has also spoken as a wiseman. There was no diplomatese in his condemnation of the Atiku presidential council for using his name to gain political mileage.

A book launch billed for Chida Hotels Abuja on September 28 listed Anyaoku, 89, as Guest of Honour, an occasion that was to be used to flag off Atiku’s campaign. The elder distanced himself from the organisers.

When you see elders act their age, it shows that there is hope. PDP chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu is an elder. He is from the North, like Jang. He was a minister, like Anyaoku. That is where the comparison ends. The former Senate President is at peace with the sinking ship of his party.

Some PDP members in Plateau are charting a different course. They are flying Atiku Airways. Many of them have forgotten that Jang is a trained pilot. He has flown round the country and knows where the shoe pinches. Injustice breeds insecurity.

Jang is also seeing visions not just because he is an old man. He is an ordained pastor. It was his mother’s wish but the son chose the Air Force. God watched the Berom man. The first sign was when Jang’s boy, Benjamin Kwashie rose to the position of Anglican Archbishop.

This jingle of Power to the South must continue to resonate. PDP is heating up the polity. It is not enough to shout Power to the people. The party has taken a backward step that can only lead to failure. (Vanguard)

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