Winston Churchill in his essay on Joseph Chamberlain remarked that “one mark of a great man is the power of making lasting impression upon the people he meets. Another is to have handled matters during his life that the course of after events is continuously affected by what he did”. To some extent this remark is true about Air Commodore Jonah David Jang; a two time Governor of the defunct Benue and Gongola States and by the Grace of God, through the mandate of the people, the Governor of Plateau State.
Born on the 13th of March 1944 at Du, the very cradle of Middle Belt politics in Plateau State, Nigeria, J.D.Jang began his education at the Junior Primary School, Du in 1953 and proceeded to the Senior Primary School, Riyom in 1956. He received his Secondary School education at the renowned Plateau Provincial Secondary School Kuru now Government Science School, Kuru where he graduated in 1964.
He left Kuru for Kaduna and enlisted into the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) as OFFR Cadet in 1965, from where he embarked on a Flying Training Course at Germany and subsequently the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA) Kaduna. From 1975 to 1979, he successfully completed the Junior and Senior Command and Staff courses at Ternhill in the United Kingdom and Kaduna respectively. On completion of these courses and satisfactory assessment in the Nigeria Air Force, he was moved to NAF Headquarters between 1981 and 1985. As a result of his operational and administrative experience he became the Commanding Officer Equipment Supply Wing and Commander, Equipment Supply Depot, Ikeja, Lagos.
At a very young age of 40 in 1985, Jonah David Jang had the rare privilege of becoming the Military Governor of Benue State (now Benue and Kogi States), under President Ibrahim Babangida. He rose up to the challenge of leadership with a high sense of mission and commitment to excel in this new assignment. Benue State rapidly developed under his leadership as he embarked on innovative programmes and fundamental reforms designed to strengthen unity and cohesion amongst the people.
Leadership was further entrusted to Jonah David Jang early in his life when he was posted to Gongola State (now Adamawa and Taraba states) as Governor. Here, he again brought his experience to bear and painstakingly undertook policies, programs and projects which have remained major landmarks and indelible inheritance bequeathed not only to the people of Gongola State but the Middle Belt in general. His involvement at this level coupled with his fearless disposition as a result of his professional career in the Air Force, did not becloud his sense of responsibility and commitment. Quite unusually too, he refused to allow the glory and trappings of power to deter him from making useful contributions to the grassroots and to national development.
In 1988 he was promoted Air Commodore after going through all other ranks and he returned to the Nigeria Air Force Headquarters, Ikeja, Lagos, as Director of Supply. He attended the Senior Executive Course at the Royal College of Defense Studies, London, United Kingdom in 1989 and returned to take up command appointment as Director of Works Headquarters, Nigeria Air Force, Ikeja, Lagos, until he voluntarily retired in August 1990.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Air Commodore Jonah David Jang is exposed and widely traveled and this has been responsible for his fair dealings with all. Since retirement he ventured into self employment as Chairman Agro -Tech, Chairman LO-DONWET Mining Industry Nigeria Limited, and Chairman Jang Farms Nigeria Limited and had a brief stint with the Benue Cement Company as a Director between 1991 and 1992. In the year 2005 he became the Chairman Warri Refinery Petro Chemical Company, Warri.
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As a result of his commitment to the liberation of the oppressed and the attainment of equality, social justice and good governance in the country, Jonah David Jang made bold to challenge the seemingly unending transition to civil rule programmes especially under the dictatorial regime of General Abacha when he joined the National Democratic Coalition. He had earlier been successfully elected by the people of the Northern Zone to represent them at the Constitutional Review Conference in Abuja in 1996. Fearlessly he became a pioneer member of the G18 that successfully metamorphosed into the largest political party in Africa (the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). He is today a Member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP having served along with other statesmen at the Political Reform Conference in Abuja in 2005.
Since he joined politics on his retirement; Da Jonah David Jang has established himself as one of the moving spirits in the struggle for the building of a just society and a leading figure in the struggle for social change. As a changed man himself, he believes politics is a vast mission field and not a dumping ground for those without purpose, nor a vocation for liars, public treasury looters etc. He has since embraced the opportunity to be educated in the word of God by enrolling into the Bachelor of Theology program of the Theological College of Northern Nigeria where he graduated in 2003. He is today the National Vice Chairman of NIFES Nigeria.
Governor Jonah David Jang is a man that is never daunted by the size of any challenge nor ready to compromise basic principles of good governance. For a man like this being a governor, or a leader, is not something to be done like just a job. It is for him a special call, the type that imposes grave responsibilities on men and binds them to their times. It is a call that has been strengthened and reinforced by a sense of mission. Governor Jonah David Jang has certainly not arrived at the Government House Rayfield an empty man but a refined politician who knows there is a job to be done on the Plateau and is willing to offer service for the total redemption of the state.
It is appropriate to close this citation by stating that the story of Governor Jonah David Jang is a grass to grace story of God’s love for a young boy who lost his father early in life. Like all village lads, young David grew up within his surroundings but like all great minds he did not allow the stultifying-surroundings to blur his vision. From such humble beginnings, God has exalted him to the position of a One Star General in the Nigerian Air Force, a one time Governor of former Benue and Gongola States, a renowned politician, a Pastor, a Middle Belt activist, a nationalist, a statesman whose countless contributions to national development have been recognized and crowned with several traditional titles in Beromland, Tivland, Igala land, Idoma land and other parts of Nigeria. What better title can be used on such a jolly good fellow? A Chief: but which chieftaincy? A retired Air Commodore: but is he tired? An Executive Governor: but what is so Executive and new in him being a Governor? His Excellency: but what is so Excellent about a devout husband, a loving father (Baba Jang) being addressed as Your Excellency?Little wonder then that this rare gem, in his humility, prefers to be simply addressed today as the Governor of Plateau State Da Jonah David Jang!
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