“My prayer is that they will decide positively, they should know whoever to hand over the state to for maximum security and peace.”
Gyang Bere, Jos
Brigadier General Jonathan Temlong (retd) is the governorship candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP) in Plateau State. He believes that he will beat the incumbent Governor Simon Lalong and PDP candidate, General Jeremiah Useni (retd) in the March governorship election.
Looking at your rich background, some people will prefer you to contest the presidential election in view of the current security challenges in the country. Why are you contesting for the governorship of Plateau State?
It is true that there are prominent people who have approached me and asked me to contest for the presidency and some called after I had indicated interest to run for the governorship and were perplexed that I was contesting for the governorship, that I should have ran for the presidency. I told them that in as much that I would have loved to contest for the presidency, looking at the strategic calculation and the way things went, the popular opinion was for a candidate that will come from either the North West or the North East to contest with Buhari, so for me being from the Middle Belt or North Central, I will have no chance. That is why you see the likes of Senator Jonah Jang and Senator David Mark could not make headway during the PDP primaries.
Be that as it may, I see my people in a very serious dilemma, the security situation is quite alarming, and we are between the devil and the deep blue sea where life has no value again. We wake up every morning and hear that people have been killed in different villages; all the marginal communities are living in fear. Yes, I can go and solve the national problem but what about my local problem? So I thought I should relax at home and give it a shot and if I perform very well, I am sure that people will yearn for me to go to the national level. For now, I want to see how the problem on the Plateau can be solved because Plateau is a mini-Nigeria where you have every tribe in this country; this is the melting point of the country.
In the political history of this country, you will recall that it was here that Shehu Shagari picked his ticket to run for the presidency of this country, it was here that M.K. O. Abiola picked his ticket to run for the presidency of this country, it was here in Jos again that Olusegun Obasanjo picked his ticket to run for the presidency of this country, so what has happened now that Jos has become a shadow of itself. Even zonal rallies of political parties don’t even hold here again because they are scared of insecurity. The political history of Jos that has played prominent roles in the political evolution of this country has suddenly been eclipsed by crisis.
The crisis in Jos started with Dane guns, machete, AK 47 and bombings, today we have herdsmen killings. Do you think the Federal Government has responded adequately to the menace?
It is not just the Federal Government, I will tell you from experience and I have said it in all fora that I was called to attend, part of the reasons that Boko Haram strives in the North East is because of bad governance and in some cases, absent of governance at all. When we started putting everything on Federal Government, we miss the point. We have sub national governments which is state governments and at the state level there are certain thing you should do, there are authorities too at the local level, have you seen the local government operating in Plateau? It is either one form of imposition or an election that is best rigged; people that lack legitimacy are all over the place. At the local level, there are certain things that are supposed to be done to enhance security, if you can’t have good governance at the state and local level, there is nothing the Federal Government can do, coming into the state with the federal might and dominate the state won’t work, Special Task Force have been here for several years. If governance is righteous, is just and there is equity, there won’t be problem. I say so because 80 percent of the security problem that we face is as a result of bad governance, let no man deceive you.
If you go to Abuja now you will see 80 percent of the governors of this country, hanging there now. They spend more of their time governing their states from Abuja; we talk about ICT age but is that what governance is all about. Since this administration came in place how many time has it gone on Local Government tour? It took the governor five months to visit Gashish where people were killed in hundreds, is that leadership?
Your campaign is anchored on three point agenda: Security and peace; Good governance and Development, how do you intend to bring this into fruition if given the mandate?
I will lay them out in details as time goes on but let me give some synopsis. I want to run a citizen’s centre government; my security architecture will be unique. I did something like that in Adamawa. The security architecture that I am going to propose will be citizen based, citizen centred. I was one of those who wrote the current Defence Policy that was promulgated by President Buhari in November 2017, I am part of it, there are differences in that because it was a citizen driven Defence Policy. The document explained explicitly the role of citizens in National Defence.
Many people believed that you are joining the governorship race very late and that you might not have the time to go round and sell your ideas to Plateau people. What do you think?
If the time for a plane to fly to Lagos from Jos is 12 O’clock and if you go to the Airport by 6am and I go to the Airport by 11am, we will fly the same plane. You will not have any added advantage that you were there early in the morning. Put your antenna out within the polity on the Plateau and find out what is happening, you will know whether my entrance is late or I am coming at the right time. Time and space is determined by God.
Are you confident that you will beat the incumbent?
Is he confident that he can beat me? Ask him. He knew how he got into that seat.
Are people expected to put in place another Plateau project that will bring you on board?
Well, it is left to the people of Plateau to decide what they want. It is left to them to take a decision whether they want change that is positive, that is good and a capable leadership, or they want to continue with the status quo. The choice is for the people to make but I have thrown myself into the race, I have opened the space for people to make a wider choice, I have opened the space for the people to decide. My prayer is that they will decide positively, they should know whoever to hand over the state to for maximum security and peace. You can have security without peace and you can have peace without security we must cultivate peaceful co-existence with our neighbours, man was made for companionship.