Gyang Bere, Jos
Former member of House of Representatives and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lumumba Da’Adeh, has declared that APC will have a smooth sail in Plateau State in the 2019 general elections due to prompt payment of worker’s salaries and pension that have strengthened the economic fortunes of the state.
A former member of House of Representatives had declared that Governor Simon Lalong has failed in providing dividends of democracy in Plateau State, do you agree?
Let me start by saying that whether such statement is made with positive or negative intention, it is relative and it depends on what the person intends to achieve. However, if you want to look at the APC situation since it took over power in 2015, it is better understood when you look at it holistically from the national level, taking into consideration the fact that there was a government in place on the platform of PDP which was there for 16 years before the coming of APC government.
The APC came on board because people felt the PDP government was not doing enough, therefore the expectations on the APC government became so high to a point that it was naturally impossible to meet or satisfy those expectations in a short period of time. Also, the coming of the APC coincided with the down turn of the economic fortunes of not only Plateau State but Nigeria. We are happy today that it is not that bad as it were, the economic indices like we have now indicates that there is progress in certain areas of the economy, from less than N10 billion in the foreign reserve, now we have more than N40 billion.
The impact might not be felt directly by the people especially concerning having bread on the table but it is a thing that secures the future, and gradually Nigerians, including citizens of Plateau State will begin to feel the positive impact. It is easy for people to criticise the government or not been able to see what the government has done, but there are evidence in regular payment of salary, while others criticised and say what is the big deal about payment of salary.
But consistent payment of salary by the Lalong’s rescue government has strengthened the economy of the state. Whenever salaries are paid, the economic activities in the state is heightened and by so doing people feel the positive impact while each time there is no salary for one to three months, everything virtually come to a standstill that was why the government decided to make payment of salaries a priority besides infrastructural development.
Again, if you place what has come to this government on the table, to what the PDP government used for few years prior to the coming of this administration, you will realise that it is nothing compare to what the PDP government got within few years in office. I believe if given a little more time, there will be stability in the economic position of government and people will begin to appreciate what the government is doing.
The PDP believes that Governor Lalong has gotten more money than what the PDP government got in eight years in the state, coupled with the Paris club funds and Federal Government bail-out to states. What will you say about that?
It is not a matter of believing, it is a matter of presenting facts based on statistics, and the facts can be place on the table to support the argument. Having inherited three months’ salaries and about 13 months’ pension arrears, if you put all these things together you will realise that the APC government in the state has prudently manage the finances of the state, there is no doubt about it, these are not issues that can be discussed speculatively, the figures are there for any doubting person to see.
Payment of salary is supposed to be an obligation of government to workers, why is the present government portraying it as an achievement?
If it is an obligation, why did civil servants in the state didn’t hold the last government for arrears of three months’ salaries and 13 months’ pension? Of course, it is an achievement, if the previous government did not fulfil that obligation which perhaps contributed to their removal from office, why wouldn’t government boost of living up to the expectation of the people, especially in Plateau State that is core civil servants’ state. The economy of Plateau revolved around payment of salaries, so it is key to us, if it is not key to other states, it is key to us in Plateau that is why our governor has given it priority besides other infrastructural development.
The PDP said it will take over power from APC in 2019. Is your party preparing to pack?
When you say PDP is moving and making frantic effort, I have not seen that movement. Also if it were about charisma, I don’t know whether former governor, Jonah Jang is more charismatic that the young and dynamic Governor Simon Lalong. But I think all these opinions expressed by people cannot determine what will happen in 2019, I have no doubt in my mind that the APC has done its best to satisfy the yearning of the people of Plateau State and more is being done by the governor. It is true that 2019 is here but I don’t think PDP has the courage to even stand out and boast of winning election in Plateau because APC has already entrenched itself in Plateau to wining the governorship. And very soon, we are also hopeful of winning the Local Government Election in the state; I don’t know how PDP intends to come back to reckoning in Plateau State.
But political activities taking place in the PDP secretariat suggest that the party is more prepared for every election than the ruling APC?
Political activities are not done in the secretariat, we are working in the grass roots with the people, the secretariat is there for administration, if you go down to the people you will find the activities of the APC vibrantly well.
It is rumoured that President Muhammadu Buhari is coming on official visit to Plateau State; do you see any project that the President is coming to commission?
Well, governance is not all about projects. Yes, we are in a third world country that is in short supply of infrastructural development, but then you cannot entirely mortgage the wellbeing of the people for infrastructure. It is either they go side by side or you give priority on the side of the people, if the president is coming to Plateau State, notwithstanding the fact that I know for sure that there are a lots of projects that have been completed by this administration, it is a routine that the president goes round the country on a working visit to all the states and Plateau State cannot be an exception.
With what is on ground in Plateau State, are you confident that APC will win 2019 general elections in the state?
Without any iota of doubt, I am confident that APC will sweep all elections in Plateau State, though there is much more to be done but I believe the party is operating in the right direction, I don’t see any opposition. How and where is it going to come from? Is it the PDP or some other political parties? I told you that PDP is almost extinct in Plateau State; they have no basis of operation.
Will you confidently say that the Five Pillar Policy of Lalong has impacted positively on the people of Plateau State?
Why not, is peace not one of them? Without peace can you have any progress and development? His administrative policies have direct bearing on the people, the governor has been able to sustain peace relatively in the state, despites the skirmishes here and there once in a while, people are being killed but government moves in that direction to take action immediately to stem them and he has done well in that regard. I know it very well that even in an atmosphere of absolute peace, there will always be disagreement, family, community and from different dimensions, it is a known fact that this government has done absolutely well in sustaining relative peace in the state.
There has been a heated debate on whether President Muhammadu Buhari should seek re-election or not, based on health ground and some other issues…?
(Cuts in) Have you ever been sick? Are you sick today? You have been sick sometime but you are well today. When the president was sick, it was an issue at the time but when he returned from medical vacation has he portrayed any sign of illness? From all we can see, he is even moving from strength to strength, so that shouldn’t be an issue now and in any case, if you say you don’t want the president in 2019 what alternative do you have? To return PDP?
Most Nigerians believes that APC governors have endorsed President Buhari for a second term, are you also looking at it from that point of view?
No. It is your right; you can gather as group of Journalists to also endorse whoever you want, we can gather as a group of young people in APC to also say we have endorsed or we are denouncing such endorsement, it is your choice and matter of opinion. The governor has one vote just like any other person, though they are in position of authority that they can influence people but their influence has a limit. The governors did what they did because they believe in the programmes of the president for the enthronement of peace, justice and equity in the country.
But some eminent Nigerians don’t want him to re-contest because he has failed to perform?
He has not failed to perform. I disagree absolutely with that opinion; things may not be like the way Nigerians expected because the expectation on the APC and the Buhari’s government was too high, the PDP damage was so monumental that repairs cannot be expected in so short a time.
The APC appears to be sitting on a time bomb because it has deliberately refused to hold elective convention. What’s your take?
We will hold convention between now and June. The reason for postponing the non elective convention was because it is a mere ceremonial convention provided for by the constitution, it is not elective and there are no issues, it is just a get together and it was skipped not because of anything but because the president was ill and for the exigencies office, it cannot be fixed before now but we have our national convention which will be elective and it will hold.
Any regret over former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s exit from the APC?
I do not subscribe to reduction in strengthen, whether we like it or not, Atiku is a material for any political party any day but it is unfortunate that he has to leave APC at this point due to grievances with the party which is beyond me as a parson but I think leaving the party is regrettable.