The ambition of a business mogul, Geoffrey Bawa Shitgurum, to be governor of Plateau State under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019 may be heading for the rocks following allegations that he had been convicted in the United Kingdom over some shady deals.
He was said to have defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the PDP last month.
The PDP for Peace and Good Governance Forum, a pressure group, therefore demanded that an investigation should be carried out on the allegation.
The organisation said following the conviction in the UK, he may not be qualified to contest the Plateau State PDP governorship ticket.
The National President of the forum, Rev. Jonah Pam, told journalists in Jos that the entry of Shitgurum in the political race of Plateau state will be a great minus and disservice to the party.
But when contacted, a core and unrepentant loyalist of Shitgurum who didn’t want to be mentioned dismissed the allegation, saying that was the mischief of the APC and the ruling government.
“Shitgurum is an accomplished businessmen and technocrat who has done well for himself and the nation. I don’t know why the people making the allegation decided to wait till the election period to raise the allegations. It’s the hands of Esau and voice of Jacob. In 2019, Shitgurum is taking over Plateau Government House. The APC in Plateau state is gone; they’re fretting over impending defeat”, he said.
He said “Even as the elders were happy about the defections coming into the PDP, we must not fail to point out anomalies where they occur in our journey to relevance and we must say that in this instance an anomaly has occurred which must immediately be addressed by our party if we want to be taken seriously.
“We have noticed that one of the persons who have defected to our great party, is a certain character whose presence in our party will not only spell doom for it in the current build up to the general elections but may dent our image as a party to the extent that we may not be able to recover in the near future.
“The defection of Geoffrey Bawa Shitgurum ordinarily should have been welcomed by all lovers of our party since the man has carved out an image for himself as somebody who knows his way in business and politics.
“But that is only a perception and we must not let such inconsequential impressions not based on any empirical evidence, make us lose sight of the bigger picture, which is what the party stands to lose if the anomy is not addressed.
“The PDP has in the past been blackmailed as a party that not only condones corruption but has been painted as one that harbours criminals. The party was still battling to recover from that blackmail when former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori who was convicted in the UK came back and rejoined the party.
“This is a huge burden that the party is still grappling with and is doing all within its powers to improve on its image and the perception of the people.
While that is going on at the national level ahead of the 2019 elections, in Plateau State, we have erred by allowing Shitgurum who has a similar case of conviction with him to join our party.
“We are persuaded to think that since all information may not be available to the leadership of the party at every given time and given the need to secure an advantage over our opponents, we may have overlooked certain key characteristics for party membership, especially for those who like Shitgurum want to contest for the governorship ticket of the party.
“But since it has now come out in the public domain that the man may not be what he professes to be, then it is imperative that the PDP should do the right thing and launch a special investigation into his case so that at the end day we will not end up with an exercise in fuiltiy. Shitgurum had shown that he is not to be trusted even before he defected to the PDP.”
Pam said when it was first rumoured that Shitgurum was planning to join the gubernatorial race against the incumbent Governor Simon Bako Lalong, not many took it seriously “Shitgurum is a brother and close confidant of the Governor.”
According to him, to support the position, Shitgurum quickly dismissed the rumour with the wave of the hand and called it mere fiction of rumour mongers.
He said, “However, a fraudulent intent, no matter how it is carefully concealed at the outset, will generally in the end, betray itself. The rumour became a reality when the news of Shitgurum’s defection from the APC to the PDP in the state dominated the headlines last month. The media also reported his declaration to run for the office of Governor on the platform of the PDP.
“Shitgurum was acclaimed to be a seasoned business tycoon and going by this assumption, he should be able to appreciate the sanctity of trust and loyalty. Governor Lalong and the APC accepted Shitgurum and accorded him deserved recognitions in the party but he betrayed that trust and left to join forces with the opposition.
“That meant he did not only lie to the governor, he also lied to the Paramount Ruler of the Goemei nation, The Long Goemai, Mishoum Martins Sheldas. The paramount chief sensed the acrimonious tension brewing up in his domain and summoned a meeting with Godfrey Shitgurum. He asked if he has interest to contest against his brother. Shitgurum denied it out rightly only for the Chief to hear about his declaration. That is an affront to the entire Goemai nation.
“The political space is wide enough to accommodate everybody’s interest. However, in electing who represent the people, we must be circumspect to guard against treacherous characters who will betray the trust of the people. Integrity, moral decency and loyalty should not be sacrificed on the altar of politics.
“Shitgurum affirmed that he has the character, capacity, credentials and competence to build a new Plateau. The only character he has demonstrated in politics so far is that of betrayal. How can a man that does not believe in his party’s ideology and can cross carpet so easily to another party be trusted to govern a State?
“Even Shitgurum’s business competence is now in doubt over his handling of the Jos Inland Dry port. The Port was concession to him since 2006 and his highly celebrated business sagacity could not manifest in the completion of the Port for over 12 years and still counting, whereas the Kaduna Inland port that started long after Jos has since been commissioned and operational.
“On the Plateau, Shitgurum got several contracts through proxies and left many of them abandoned. How does this demonstrate capacity and competence? The Plateau electorates have a genius for identifying pretenders. Money and corruption are ruining the land, crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits and treating the people like sheep.
“The PDP as it is has a surfeit of qualified and respected persons who can fly the party’s flag without attracting unnecessary negative reactions to it.
It is our suggestion that the PDP should wash its hands off anything that would be burden to it and refuse to allow its platform to be used by someone whose entry into the party would engender more problems than solutions.
“The party must use the likes of Shitgurum to set an example and sound a note of warning to others whose only interests in the party is to use its platform to cover their tracks while gunning for political offices to desist from doing so.
The Plateau PDP, having produced governors for the state in the last 16 out of the near 20 years of Nigeria’s return to democracy cannot afford to compromise on integrity and might leadership standard.
“The screening committee of the party must do a thorough job to investigate all those expressing interest in flying the party’s ticket. It must check thoroughly the allegations that Shitgurum especially the allegation that engaged in fraud in the UK and ensure that all materials pertaining to the case are availed the party while he should be given the chance to defend himself. If found guilty, Shitgurm should not be allowed to contest for the ticket of the party and be should be disciplined according to the party’s statutes.*