Gyang Bere, Jos
Member representing Jos South Constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Dalyop Fom, has has said that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would take over Plateau State in 2023. In this interview, he spoke on various issues.
There is an executive bill before the State House of Assembly on land administration which is generating tension in the state, can you give us an insight into what the bill entails?
The bill is full of issues but I will focus on issues that are controversial which people are kicking against. If you remember, there was an enactment in 1978 or thereabout on land use Act that gave powers to authorities over urban land and that Act gave the powers of the administration of land to the Local Government; that was what has been on ground for the past years. But surprisingly, the Executive bill that the governor sent to the House is trying to amend those fundamentals. Section 2 of the bill said the governor will have the right over both rural and urban land, and that is what has been generating tension among the people. It is the assumption of the people that if the bill is passed into law, the governor can decide to do whatever he feels like doing with any land in the state.
What do you think is the fear now?
The fear is that we have been having a lot of issues on grazing, Ruga and all other issues that has been agitating the minds of the people on livestock management; the fear of most Plateau people now is that assuming you have what it takes to own a land for instance in Quan’Pan, you have to go through the Local Government Chairman of Quan’Pan to do that and most of the Council Chairmen are with their own people. If they know that the purpose of the land is for Ruga or something that will not benefit the people, he will oppose it. The governor feels that by amending that law, he can sit in his office and take over land in Bokkos, Mangu or Barkin-Ladi and do whatever he wants to do with it; average people in Plateau see that the bill portends danger for the state; those are the controversies and the fear of the people.
What stage is the bill before the State House of Assembly?
It has passed through first and second reading; it is going to Committee level now in preparation for public hearing; we are waiting for them to go to public hearing, when it gets there, people have been anxious and calling to know when the Public hearing will be; people want to bring their views, opinion and thoughts over the bill, if it is open for public hearing, the public will get to know more about the bill.
Are you saying that Plateau people will likely reject the bill?
Of course, certainly yes, I know people from the PDP extraction, not just that there are people who are not partisan that frown at the bill but it portends serious threat to Plateau State. I have spoken to quite a number of my brothers in the APC, they are equally not comfortable with the bill and I can assure you by the grace and mercy of God, that bill will be killed.
There is another aspect of the bill that also empowers the governor to take over land that has been forcefully taken from the rightful owners back to them and we have a lot of those cases in Plateau, what will happen with lands that have been taken forcefully in the state?
You will agree with me that for every bill, there are two sides to it, but these aspects you have mentioned is a good part but if you look at the disadvantage of the other side, it overshadows the good side of it. What we intend to do during public hearing is that, we want to see how we can knock off those areas that are bad and detrimental to our people.
Some people are insinuating that the governor is trying to reintroduce Ruga which Plateau people have kicked against, do you view it from that perspective also?
That school of thought might be right or wrong but let me say that if over the past period of time, he has been an Apostle of Ruga and Plateau people have rejected it, for him to bring this bill now shows that he has some intention; so that school of thought might be very right. These are the reasons why people are afraid because of what has happened in the past, people know that he stood for Ruga and people have every reason to be afraid and skeptical.
The bill has passed through second reading in the floor of the House, what has been your efforts to ensure that those dangerous areas are knocked out?
We in the PDP don’t have the number, secondly, we have shown clearly at the course of the debate that the bill is detrimental to Plateau people and we have done what we can do. Remember we are only nine in the floor of the House and they are about 15. Legislature is all about number but I can assure you that when it comes to voting for the bill, they will not get the 2/3 majority because there are some APC members who are not comfortable with the bill.
You mean some APC members will vote against the interest of APC on the bill?
Yes, of course so many of them are not happy with the bill.
Are you saying that PDP lawmakers in the House stand with the people of Plateau State on the current bill?
Yes, we do, you can see from our action, we have been pro-people of Plateau State more than the APC. The APC has been pro-government, whatever the government says is what they do but if you look at PDP, all through the past nine months, we have been pro-Plateau people. Look at the issue of Local Government elections, we stood with Plateau people and I assure you that we will continue to stand with the people; we have no reason not to stand with the people because Plateau people entrusted their votes to us and we are also mindful of the fact that we will go back to the people and give account of what we will do.
How do you feel being the only lawmaker who was elected under PDP with more than 90,000 votes during the last election?
Let, me say this that by the grace and mercy of God, I am the only mortal that sits in any State House of Assembly in Nigeria with more than 90,000 votes; I am so grateful to my people, I am so grateful to God, I am so honored; even if I were to spend one day in the House of Assembly, I am fulfill because of the enormous support. There are Senators that sit in the National Assembly with 35,000 votes; there is a governor today with 142,000 votes but I am here in the State Assembly with over 90,000 votes. I feel very excited but I want to assure you that the responsibility upon me is so enormous and I am very mindful of that. I am working to ensure that I meet the yearning and aspirations of the people.
Your Constituency has alot of mining ponds that have been turned into death traps, what are you doing to address that problem?
We raised this issue few weeks ago because we had some youths who died recently in a mining pond in my constituency; our economy is down, things are not working as expected, that is why people are doing everything possible to survive. There is so much poverty in the country, people don’t have money to send their children to school, some can’t even feed their families. There is need to step up the economy; we need to take proactive measures to boost the economy so that those who want to go to school can still go. We have spoken to the Senator representing Plateau North and our members of House of Representatives, they have said they will take up the issue of ecological fund to see how they can assist the state. These ponds are death traps but there is a way we can turn them around for agriculture purposes, I want to look inward and see what I can do in some of these ponds. We will work towards getting fund for people to turn some of the ponds for irrigation where there are good location for them to farm.
People believed that the debt profile of Plateau is rising beyond measures,what do you think is responsible?
Mismanagement, we don’t have the best brains to manage the economy of Plateau State at the moment. I can assure you that this government is into taking of debt. Plateau State is indebted and for the next 25 years, we cannot pay that debt. So many things are happening that the day Plateau people know the truth, some people will run and leave this state.
Don’t you think people will hold the legislature responsible for all that has gone wrong?
I am talking against it, how will you hold me responsible when I am talking; what am I supposed to do? No, we are doing what we are supposed to do, ours is to talk and we are talking; we are in the opposition and we are talking, I have given you figure. That for the legacies project, this government has put Plateau into indebtedness for the next 25 years.
Are you saying that PDP will take over the state in 2023?
We won the last general election; Lalong never won the last election; can he take a Bible and swear that he won the election. He didn’t but 2023, we will be prepared, we will guard our votes, as we are going through our congresses, we will have the right people that will protect our votes.
What is your perception of the current PDP, is the party stable?
Stable yes, but let me tell you something, we had issues in the PDP because it is a beautiful bride, have you had issues in APGA on the Plateau? We have issues in PDP because people know that it is the party to beat. PDP is the only party on the Plateau; the party is marketable, you can achieve maximum result with PDP and people are back to the party. I am happy that we have been able to put aside our differences and move ahead. APC don’t have a stake in Plateau, why are they afraid of not conducting Local Government elections; they have been in power for five years, if they know they have done well, they should be able to conduct election.