From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
Women and youths of Pengana State Constituency of Plateau State have called on the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in the State to as a matter of urgency consider the wife of the Late Ezekiel Afon as a worthy successor in the scheduled by-election to replace her husband.
Afon of the APC had died few hours after he was re-elected to represent Pengana constituency in the March 9, 2019, House of Assembly election, and since then his seat has been vacant until the Assembly Speaker, Rt. Hon. Abok Nuhu Ayuba, notified the the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through a letter dated 20 June, 2019, of the existence of a vacancy.
The Speaker’s notification led to the scheduling of a bye-election, but the APC is yet to name any candidate that would fly the party’s flag in the election which would be held on August 3, 2019.
But the youths and women of Pengana have come out in their mass to drum support for Late Afon’s wife, Helen Afon, saying she is the right person to replace her husband because she was the brain behind her husband’s success and exploits as a legislator.
They also argued that she understood her husband’s plans and programmes for Pengana constituency more than any other person, and that it was due to those developmental initiatives that he was re-elected before he died few hours after his re-election.
Those who spoke with journalists on behalf of the women and youths also cited example of spouses replacing their late husband’s in the legislature as it is now in Taraba State, another example in Cross River State and even in Plateau State where the wife of the Majority Leader, Gyang Danfulani, replaced him when he was killed.
Speaking on behalf of the youths, Lere Samson of Gurum ward said Pengana is originally a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Constituency, but that it was because of the love for Afon that makes the people to vote for him when he defected to the APC.
According to him, Afon was first elected into the Assembly under the PDP in 2015, but defected to the ruling APC in 2017, and that the people massively followed him to the APC because of his antecedents, and he was still re-elected under the umbrella of the APC.
Samson said the love for Afon in Pegana is still very much alive in his household, and that for APC to clinch the seat again, they should give the ticket to his wife, Helen, who he described as as astute politician herself and the brain behind Afon’s political achievements.
He stressed that any wrong moves or fielding of an unpopular candidate by the APC, the PDP will retake Pengana in the forth coming by-election.
“I am from Gurum ward where Late Hon Ezekiel Afon came from in Pengana Constituency of Plateau State. I worked closely with him as a youth mobilizer from Pengana. He has many laudable projects in Pengana and has touched the lives of many people. But as God will have it, he died few hours after he was re-elected to represented the good people of Pengana for another four years.
“But based on the current happenings now, and for the good job late Afon has begun in the lives of Pengana people to continue, we the youths of Pengana are saying that the wife of the late member, Helen Afon, can fit in well into the vacant seat he has left.
“First, she is also a politician, and she was out for campaign with her husband throughout the electioneering process across the whole wards in Pengana Constituency.
According to him, “Mrs Afon did not only campaign for her husband, but also for President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Simon Lalong, the senator as well as the member of House of Representatives, all of the APC.
“So, from the top to the grassroots she was involved in the electioneering campaigns and political process. It was because of her doggedness alongside her husband that APC got the impressive result they got in the 2019 general elections from our local government area, which is Bassa.
“So, Mrs Afon knows the blueprint of her husband more than any other person, and we strongly believe she can beautifully carry on from where her husband stopped. During the election processes, she related very well with the youths, the women, the elders, the stakeholders and the electorates of the constituency, and she has the people at heart as her husband.
“Our call to APC therefore is that they should bring out a credible candidate for the by-election, which in our careful consideration should be Late Hon Ezekiel Afons wife, Helen Afon. She has her husband’s goodwill in the whole of Pengana constituency, and we are assured she will represent us well in the state house of assembly. This is the minds of the youths in Pengana,” he said.
In her remarks, Helen Luke said the APC government should consider Mrs Afon as a good replacement for her husband not for the purpose of compensating the family for the good work the husband has done for the party, but because she is equally capable of representing the constituency after closely working with her late husband.
Luke said apart from the replacement, the APC government should reasonably compensate the Afon’s family in several ways because their late father worked tirelessly to ensure the party’s success in the 2019 elections, of which he is not alive today to enjoy the fruit of his labour.
She noted that wives taking over their husband’s legislative seat when they passes on is becoming a norm across many states of the federation now, and that it is a welcome development.
“It is high time, she stressed, that Plateau State and other states in the nation begin to emulate this practice, pointing out that if Ezekiel Afon had died before/during the election there would have been nothing to clamour for but that he died few hours after he was declared winner of the election and was still jubilating”.