General Jeremiah Useni (retd) is the former Military Governor of old Bendel State and ex-Minister of FCT. He is the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the March governorship election. He said he will spend one term to restore the deplorable security challenges in the state.
You have been governor and FCT Minister in the past, why are you contesting for the governorship of Plateau State?
It is because of the problem in the state that my colleagues, both the young and the old met me and said I should come and assist the state; it took me some time to agree to come and contest. I am running, not because I am looking for anything. Also, it is not the number of years that one will spend as governor that matter but how well you are able to contribute. I am going in strictly for one term.
The question people are asking is that, you have been a governor, minister and now a Senator, why are you going in for this office at this old age?
All these things you are saying happened during the military. I was a Military Governor for one year at the then Bendel State before I left to become Minister of Transport and Aviation, after then I became the minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) before I was retired. Since then, I have been in politics, sponsoring people into various positions but I later find out that most of the people I sponsored don’t do anything. What is happening in Plateau now is so frustrating and something urgent need to be done; and one way I can contribute properly is to go into the governorship race and win, that will give me the opportunity to work with the people, I am not going to work alone.
What I have noticed is that people try to work on their own, there is no way you can work on your own, and we will work collectively. The old people cannot work alone and the young people cannot work in isolation, we will need to work together as a team for us to be able to get some peace and without peace there will be no progress, without peace we cannot get people to come an invest. I have gone through some of these things before in Bendel because it was one of the areas that were most troublesome before, I believe if people will work and corporate with me, I will do same thing here if I win.
I will make contact, even when you are fighting a war, you don’t really go on fighting because you get arms, you should also have to be talking to people about peace and that is how you get peace. Not just fighting and shooting because you have more firing power, then you think you will get peace. You can win a war and still not have peace; there are a lot of things we can do to get peace in Plateau and North Central.
Are you not satisfied with the way Governor Simon Lalong is handling issues of peace in the state?
Are you? You are a journalists, are you satisfied? You used to write it for us, are you? The governor doesn’t stay here, with the problem with have; he is expected to stay here in Jos and get closer to people. See the way he was dealt with when he decided to go round and visit IDPs, they stoned him, there must be a reason why the people attacked him, and he must have done something to annoy the people.
Imagine when the president visited Plateau and spent the night here and he was telling the president that everything was smooth, that since his assumption of office here there has been peace. For three years now, we never had Local Government election, and he said there is peace. That night at the dinner, they were killing people in Bokkos, so why do you lie? Why not say the truth so that the president can help.
A lot of people think that you should have played a fatherly role, having occupied several prominent positions in the country in the past. What is your take?
Since I have been moving round canvassing for votes, I have visited all the local government areas now, none of those local government said I am old or they don’t want old people. They said I am the most experienced among them, and that the situation in Plateau does not need inexperienced person who will come and start looking for wealth. I told the people that if you look at the Bible, were Moses young before God made him leader, or was Joshua young?
In Malaysia, a 92 year old man was sworn in as Prime Minister, I don’t know why some people are bent on talking about age. If an old man is useless then he should be seen as useless but not me, it can happen to a young man too because there are some who are useless. There are things old people can do young ones cannot do and there are things young people can do, old people cannot do, there is need for us to work together as a team.