Gyang Bere, Jos
A founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Second Republic Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly, Prof. Dakum Shown, has revealed that the Middle Belt is shopping for a credible candidate to contest presidential election against President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
He said it is time for Nigerians to pay back the region which has contributed immensely to the development and unity of the country particularly during the civil war.
Shown who is a former PDP Chairman in Plateau State in this interview spoke on other issues.
In your view, how do you think the herdsmen’s killings can be tackled once and for all in the Middle Belt?
Well, I was at the National Conference organised by President Goodluck Jonathan, and I said it there that Nigeria is not the first country that has people keeping cows, there are people that are not even Fulani that keep cows, I can keep cows. People who keep cows should make a ranch for their animals; nobody will do it for them. Most of us have animals in our homes, do we allow them to go out and destroy people’s property? The Fulani must learn the scientific way of keeping animals. The Fulani that I go to school with are very intelligent people who know how to keep their animals but these ones that wander along the roads and destroyed people’s farms are still living the primitive way of life.
How can somebody say if the anti-grazing law is not rescind in Benue State they will come back again, a responsible government should grab that person for prosecution. If somebody in Plateau wakes up and declare Plateau a different country, will he not be arrested? What is the difference with what the Miyetti Allah leadership said?
The Middle Belt seems not to have political focus; don’t you think the region has lost focus ahead of 2019 election?
Well, I am glad that most of the political parties are saying that they have zoned the presidential slot to the north and the Middle Belt is in the north and by the grace of God, we will come out with somebody who will contest the presidential position in 2019. We have been keeping quiet and we have discovered that our keeping quite will not be useful to our youths in the future, it will not be useful to the region and I am assuring you that we are gearing up towards bringing one of us this time to come out and contest the presidential election and any political party that rejects a Middle Belter, we will mobilise our people against that political party.
But are you not aware of certain groups in the Middle Belt that have endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for 2019?
Well, we are not saying that all Middle Belters will go for one party but any Middle Belter that endorses Buhari for 2019 is making a greatest mistake of his life. We want those people to come home and do that, they should not do that in Abuja. The endorsement are just political gimmicks, I have noticed that such declarations are done in Abuja to please Buhari, if they are truthful, let them go to their respective Middle Belt states and endorsed him. I want somebody from the Middle Belt in the All Progressives Congress (APC) to come out and challenge Buhari, we are not second hand citizens in this country, we have served this country, we have defended the country from disintegration, so why should we now begin to fear, fear who? This is a signal to our people in the APC, we are not saying we must all be in the PDP, we want a chap in the APC who can challenge Buhari, the presidency belong to all of us.
Do you think the Middle Belt has a credible candidate that can contest the presidency against Buhari?
What do you think Buhari has done that nobody can beat him? What has he done, is it the suffering and hardship that Nigerians are going through or what? Buhari is the easiest person to beat in 2019. The APC should think twice, before presenting him. I am a PDP man; I will be the happiest person if they present Buhari because there are a lot of things that we can sell to Nigerians that will make them not buy Buhari for a Kobo. Just look at the fuel hardship. Buhari came into government with a loud voice of fighting insecurity and corruption, has he done that? Corruption is more sophisticated now than before, what was the value of naira when he came and what is it now? I can go on and on. I must be frank with you, the PDP is jubilating that the APC will present Buhari and we are ready for him, he will see it himself.
The Middle Belt has produced has produced political leaders that have shaped the politics of this country, where did the region got it wrong that it has been relegated backward?
The problem is that any Middle Belter that are speaking, make sense but there was lack of coordination. You don’t need to be meeting all the time, restructuring was first echoed by a Middle Belter long time ago and today we are agitating for it. We kept this country together during the civil war, yet they don’t listen to us, we have so many retired military men than the serving ones today, you know Military Generals don’t retire, we have more Generals than any region and I think the Middle Belt has served this country enough, if the presidency is coming to the north, people should think and support a Middle Belter, we are tired of just following the far north, they should also show that they are grateful and begin to talk about the good of the Middle Belt.
Are you happy over the number of appointments given to the Middle Belt by President Muhammadu Buhari so far?
We have told our people right from the ward go, you know your enemies right from the way he smiles at you, even by smiling we know they don’t like us. The North Central has the least number of political appointments based on the recent list released by the presidency. I know that they are taking us for granted and time has come for us to work together. If you look at the main appointment made by the president, how many Middle Belters are there? Yet, all the state in the North Central are APC states, what have they got to come and show us? If we do not work hard in the Middle Belt now, we will be finished, our youths are jobless; nothing good is coming our way in the Middle Belt.
You mean the Buhari’s government is taking the Middle Belt for granted?
Yes, he is. He is definitely taking the Middle Belt for granted. Look at the arrangement of the Railways. Is there any that you have heard that will come and stop in Jos? Only Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and other states in the far north. To make the situation worst, the herdsmen are coming to attack us, as poor as we are, they are attacking us, for what?
Do you see the governors in the Middle Belt working together towards tackling the herdsmen’s killings in the region?
The unfortunate thing for us is that we have what we call accidental governors. Look at all the governors, they are not mature enough to be governors, and they are taken over by the excitement of the power. We are not surprised by their actions and I want to assure you that the next set of governors that the Middle Belt will come up with from all political parties will be mature and responsible young men that know their right from their left and would be ready to die and defend the Middle Belt.
INEC has released 2019 election timetable and all political parties are expected to field candidates in August 2018, with the crop of governors we have in the region, do you see it producing a candidate that can match Buhari?
I have foreseen that there will be so many presidential aspirants from the far north and there will be only one from the Middle Belt, we will face them in all the political parties and if the APC insist that it must be Buhari, we leave it for them, the Middle Belt will face him in the final election and we will see who will win.
Will you advise Buhari to contest the election?
I am very sympathetic with Buhari, as somebody who has been in government, as somebody who has been in the academia, I don’t think it is Buhari who is running the country. I am very sympathetic with him. The Buhari that I know during the Military era is not the Buhari of today. If he were still what he was, who are the herdsmen that will face Buhari? I remember there was an issue called ‘The Metasine.’ Buhari was the GOC here and I was Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly and I know how he crushed it, they were more sophisticated than Fulani herdsmen. I was excited when he came because I thought he will stop this corruption, Buhari may not be corrupt, but he is unaware of the corruption going on in his government which is very unfortunate. If I were Buhari, I will find time to go and rest, pray to God to restore all my strength but I am very sympathetic with him.
What is your take on those asking him to seek a reelection?
They are hypocrites, all of them. It is El-Rufai who is looking for the man to go for him to take over? All of them are ambitious people. Look at the six of them including the governor of Kano State; they are not serious and sincere to Buhari. Why are they not carrying the other governors with them? We know what is happening in the APC, there are lots of hypocrites, I am in power and you want my position and you came and say ‘you want me to stay,’ Buhari should not take them serious.
There are power brokers in Nigeria and some of them are from the Middle Belt, do you think a Christian candidate from the Middle Belt will get the blessing of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar?
Truly speaking, my concept is not that the person must be a Christian but you must be a Middle Belter. Look at what IBB did, look at what Abdulsalami did. That is why I said Gen. Gowon, IBB, Abdulsalami and even Gen. T.Y Danjuma, are all credible persons. I am not saying that the person must be a Christian; people like Gen. Babangida, Abdulsalami, T. Y Danjuma can all come out, why do we shy away and leave the presidency to them.
There is Sen. David Mark, there is Jonah David Jang, there is Prof. Jerry Gana, and these are also politicians that can stand for the unity of Nigeria. If for any reason Nigerians does not want an ex-military man, any of these reputable politicians can be President and they are much better than what we have now. As far as I am concerned, the North Central and the North East are tired of the North West zone, they have monopolised the presidency for too long.