Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong is the senator representing Plateau North at the National Assembly. He turned 50 on February 20th. The celebration came belatedly on the April 5th. Staying alive for half a century is indeed a milestone. It became necessary for Dantong to do a stock taking of his life. Thus the celebration was marked by the lunch of a magazine called, the Lang Mark that chronicles events of his endeavor during these years.
Dantong was educated at the University of Jos as a Medical Doctor. From the Landmark magazine, one could perceive that the Senator is one who lived up to the ideals of the medical practice. People go into the medical practice to help mankind. The knowledge of this fact lives people wandering as to why the nation suffers brain drain that is particularly grim in the area of the medical practice in Nigeria with medical doctors preferring to practice in foreign nations where they find better ’working conditions.’ Perhaps Dantong’s upbringing as the son of a pastor ensured he grew up to develop an observable sense of humility. He chose to practice at the Vom Christian Hospital in the heart of the Berom Land. He says one of his greatest challenges at the Vom Christian Hospital was to work without basic tools and enough support manpower. There was a period when he was the only Medical Doctor at the hospital for six months, at times doing two shifts and with no salary all through the period. This gives the impression of one who actually wanted to serve his people.
As Dantong grew, politics also grew with him. His political life dates back to his time in secondary school and on campus where he held leadership positions in the area of students politics and also within religious associations on campus. In the mid 1990s, the peak of the political struggle against the military in Nigeria, his name was mentioned in connection with the tussle for the chairmanship of his local council of Riyom. The fame of Senator Dantong however started when he won elections to represent Riyom/Barkin Ladi at the House of Representatives under the All Nigeria’s People Party, ANPP in 2003.
Nigerian political parties are not founded on foundations of ideologies. As sad as this may be, it has made it possible for politicians to change from one political party to the other. While Dantong’s political momentum was building up, it appeared a certain arrangement within the ANPP made it impossible for him to run for a second tenure. Determined to maintain this momentum, Dantong switched over to the People’s Democratic Party, the PDP and successfully contested for the northern senatorial seat in April 2007.
Nigerian politicians have been the subject of criticism for perpetual betrayal of the nation due to nothing other than selfishness. There is no denying the fact that a large majority of Nigerian leaders have a distorted understanding of what success is and what it is not. There are however, pockets of acceptable leadership here and there. It is obvious that Dantong’s new political role has given him a bigger opportunity to demonstrate his belief that there is no sense in life that is stationary or one in which more steps are taken backward than they are taken forward. He says he “sees politics as a game people should venture into in a bid to render service to others and not as a money making enterprise.” There seems to be a general consensus that he has lived up to his principles.
Dantong believes that so much has been learnt in the nine years of democracy so far and had military rule not interrupted the steady progress of the Nigerian political life, the nation would have learned far more that we have learnt. He says that in as much as we can learn from the mistake of others, people should not be comparing the Nigerian democracies with some of the oldest in the world.
According to the Senator, people always come to politicians to ask for money and that is unfortunate. He however believes that the people will eventually come to understand why this isn’t right.
Senator Dantong is married to Hannatu with whom he has four children.