Latep Dabang is the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Plateau State. He is also Chairman of Forum of APC Chairmen in the North. He said President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Simon Lalong will win Plateau in 2019 with more votes than they had in 2015.
How prepared is your party, APC, for the 2019 general election in Plateau State?
We are very prepared, coincidentally we have unveiled our campaign office and activities have kicked off, so we are prepared for the election.
Security is key for the people of Plateau State. PDP said it brought retired General Jeremiah Useni as its candidate so that he can tackle the security challenges in the state. With this, do you think the Lalong will return?
Well, we have had this kind of situation before when Jang was going to be the governor of Plateau State and one of the arguments was that as a retired General, there was going to be peace during his tenure but it turned out to be worse in terms of security. As far as we are concerned, managing security has nothing to do with the background of an individual, whether you have been in the military or not. If it were so, all over the world they would have been looking for people with military background to become leaders.
As far as I am concerned, these arguments are baseless when administration and governance are brought to bear. What is required is good governance, no matter who is in position, once there is good governance people will always have reason to smile and Lalong has been providing good governance to the people of Plateau State.
APC has been providing good governance for the country and the governor has not deviated from his 5-point agenda.
The first thing in his agenda is security and good governance, and since he came on board the sporadic attacks in the state has reduced, it is not as regular and deadly as it used to be in the past, so Lalong deserves our credit. It was during his tenure that the Federal Government became very responsive to the plights of the people of Plateau State.
Today, we have three barracks; one in Shendam LGA for the southern zone, with the Air Force Barracks in Mangu for the Plateau Central and the Police Barracks in Gashish for Plateau North. What else are you expecting than been very proactive to be able to take care of the flash points and provide security in the state. As far as I am concerned, if they are hanging on security issues as issue for them, it means they have already failed even before the election. Governor Lalong will return to Government House Rayfield on smooth ground.
It is believed that the governor came on board in 2015 due to protest votes, today, it is believed that he has fallen out with most of those who worked for him then, what magic is he going to perform in March?
I am not aware if he has actually fallen out with anybody. It is true that Plateau people were dissatisfied with the last regime, and it is true that quite a number of people voted in protest due to injustice that was meted on the people of Plateau State and APC promised that change, and we promised that we are going to administer justice and I think Lalong has done that.
In this government, virtually every sector in the state has been taken into consideration either in terms of appointment or in terms of projects; every local government and senatorial districts are fairly treated. These are some of the major lapses of the last administration which has been addressed by the APC government. So for me, he is going to enjoy more support than it was in the past.
In the past, there was a lot of suppression in the system, people were removed from government, there was what they called biometrics, it was a trick to remove the supposed enemies from the civil service, thousands of people were laid off their jobs in the name of biometrics, some had their appointments letters withdrawn and sacked from the service, almost 3,000 people were sacked.
Apart from that, if you are conversant with what is happening on the Plateau, even traditional institutions were not spared by the last regime, we have new chiefdoms created, some were lifted from lower classes to higher classes, the past regime came and reverse everything to square one and we have done a lot of change in that direction. As far as we are concerned, the change that we promised the people of Plateau State is being implemented.
We don’t have aggrieved persons apart from one or two individuals; you should expect that after primary election. It is not everybody that is disciplined enough to accept defeat, as far as I am concerned the APC primaries on the Plateau were very free, fair and credible, that is why we have very few cases of aggrieved persons.
You are the chairman of Forum of APC Chairmen in the Northern states, what are the chances of APC in the North following the gang up by retired Generals against President Muhammadu Buhari?
The people will speak, these are retired Generals, there are so many people that do not have uniform, that is me and you; we will speak on that day. Generals don’t operate without soldiers and there are people down the ladder who will carry instructions, in politics, instruments flow from down up and not from up down, it is the will of the people that matters not the will of the people at the top, so whatever their wishes may be, I believe that the wishes of Nigerians will prevail. If you know Buhari very well, this
is not the first time he has been having this kind of gang up, he has always won quite a number of states in the North even when he was nobody, but now that he is the president and with what he has done, people are very happy with him.
Looking at the school feeding programme, war against anti-corruption, fight against insecurity and so many others, I can assure you that people that are picking up arms against the president are people who are becoming worried that they will soon be victims of the anti-corruption war but as far as I am concerned, they cannot stop APC from winning election landslide in the North.
People think that with the coming of Atiku Abubakar from the North, he will break APC in that region, are you not thinking in this direction?
That is not true but I don’t know what may be happing in some other states but on the Plateau, I will invite you soon to see the people that will be defecting from PDP to APC, and if you watch the television and see what happened in Jigawa, you will know that a lot of things are happening in favour of APC, so many people are coming back to the APC.