Hon Nyam Dareng represents Jos South constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly and in this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the lawmaker stated that the federal government must deal decisively with killer herdsmen to end the incessant killings in the country.
Are you worried about the spate of killings that is taken place on the plateau and Nigeria as a whole?
It is worrisome to everybody, not just to me. We have lost friends and relations to these incessant attacks. We have had this situation in Jos south, Barkin ladi, Mangu, Bokkoss and other places for years and nothing was done to stop it. The most recent one is the one that that took place in Dong, here in Jos city. This shows that it has come closer home. My concern is that the FG is not doing anything about it. It is making us feel that the herdsmen are being encouraged to kill people. There can be no development when the nation is not secure. Which investor will want to come and invest his money in a country that people are killed daily?
But does it mean that the FG is not doing enough concerning the killings?
From what I have seen, it’s like the herdsmen have more advantage over the innocent victims because anytime something happens, when the victims want to defend themselves or resist the attackers, they are arrested while the herdsmen go scot free. This trend must stop. The federal government must rise to the occasion and take the lives of Nigerians serious. How can herdsmen be working around with AK47 freely while the president is denying it to the world?
What has been the impact of this insecurity on the economy of a community?
Business has been hampered and social interaction has ceased completely. There is no trust between the different ethnic nationalists because you don’t know who will kill you next. You can see that even streets have been segregated. There are places a certain religion or tribe cannot live in because of this insecurity. It has affected our lives and daily activities. In the past, our farmers used to allow the herdsmen to bring their cattle to eat left overs on the farms but now, the herdsmen push their cattle into the farms to deliberately destroy people’s farms.
What can be done to end the killing?
The federal government must deal with the killers decisively. They know them. A governor from a northern state once said he paid the herdsmen in his state to stop the killing. This means they know the people and have even interacted with them. Besides, there is no way these killers can kill and go scot free without the knowledge of the security agencies. How do they move from one place to another? Where do they get their arms from and how come those apprehended have not been prosecuted or heard of again? There are so many questions that if you begin to answer them, you will see the hands of powerful people in the society behind the killings. We were in a conference in Kaduna where the leaders of Fulani were presented. I told them that we used to have cordial relationship with their forefathers but now, they import mercenaries from other countries to kill Nigerians in the name of jihad. Another major cause of the killing is lack of information. We have destroyed our traditional institution, which used to serve as the first port of call for strangers. In the past when a visitor enters a community, the head takes note and if he looks or behaves suspiciously, he reports it to the security who in turn send their agents to the community to investigate and thereby a criminal or terrorist is nipped in the bud before be becomes a danger. Visitors to communities used to visit the village head to introduce themselves and tell him how long they would be staying but we have destroyed all those things. Now, strangers come into a community without the village head knowing. Our grandfather used to welcome and accommodate herdsmen without any problems. Some people have mentioned desert encroachment as a reason for the Fulani invasion but what will happen to people that live in the desert? Israel was a desert before the government changed it to green land. Why won’t the government, at both state and federal levels irrigate the north and plan grasses for them? They can turn the north to be green. These herdsmen have no business coming to people’s lands to destroy them.
Coming back to the PDP, how is it faring on the plateau?
PDP is doing very well now since we resolved our issues and Sheriff has been removed as chairman of the party. We have now also been reaching out to our aggrieved members. You can see that this government has brought nothing but suffering to Nigerians. Look at the TSA, they didn’t know that it was supposed to be applied in phases. They just implemented it all at once. This led to the collapse of the economy. The government only uses propaganda to run its policies, nothing is on ground to prove that they have really done anything. They said they would come and repair the ‘damage’ the PDP has done but instead, they have created worse damage than the PDP did in 16 years. Nigerians are daily crying of hardship and poverty yet the government has refused to do something about it. It is not peculiarity on plateau state, go to places like Kastina, Sokoto and other northern states, the poverty and hardship is worse there because they have large families.
How is the PDP faring in the state house of assembly?
We would have been in charge except for some few that crossed over to the APC which reduce our number. But we are doing very well. Nobody is victimising us. Some left because of the leadership tussle that engulfed the party at the national level and they didn’t know that, the party would bounce back again. With the current situation in the country and even on the plateau, PDP is coming back to power because the people have seen through the propaganda of the APC at both the state and national levels.
How will you assess the Lalong-led administration on the plateau?
I am in the opposition so anything I say will be regarded as an opposition talking but I think the people can say that better than I can. We have not felt any impact of APC in plateau like when the PDP was in power. All the work they are commissioning was done by PDP. The only thing the Lalong administration does is pay salaries which is a right of every worker but certainly not an achievement.
The Lalong administration has consistently accused the Jang administration of corruption. As a member of that administration, do you share in the blame?
They have been taking my boss to the EFCC, disturbing him for nothing. There is nothing this government has not done to hang one false charge again him or the other but because Jang performed well and everything he did was according to the law, so they haven’t been able to find anything to pin on him. With all the propaganda, the Lalong administration has not been able to add anything he has done since coming in over three years ago. Meanwhile, the whole plateau is wearing a new face because of what Jang did. Even some APC members are criticising the Lalong administration for nonperformance. I remember when Jang was there, Jonathan once came and asked him where he was getting his own money to build roads when other governors were saying there was no fund. That is to tell you that we had a leader of vision and passion for development. Now, what we have is nothing but propaganda. I believe people have now seen through the propaganda of the APC and will act accordingly in 2019. We will be lucky if we ever have another government like the Jang administration. They did a lot for us. The work on ground is more than the money they are talking about. So, it is all politics.
People were surprised when the Lalong government postponed the local government elections. What do you think?
Local government chairman were illegally removed and we took the case to court. It was an illegal action but we understand that a new government would want their own there. Yet, they went ahead to fix a date for LG elections. So, they have postponed it citing insecurity. We don’t understand too what is happening. He was given an award for peace yet he is saying he can’t hold election because of peace. I think somebody is being economical with the truth.
Feelers we are getting is that, Sen Jang might be contesting for the presidency, do you think he has what it takes to lead Nigeria?
We want him there. It is not a rumour. Jang has ruled in some states as a military governor and became civilian governor of Plateau State. So, nobody needs to tell you anything. Jang has a good record and that is why they want to tarnish his image because they are afraid of his track record. He has said it is a mandate from God just like God did it for him in plateau. So, if it is God’s will, he will grant him success. But Jang is what Nigeria needs at this moment. He is a visionary leader.
Coming back to you, are you going to re-contest your position?
Yes, because I have come to understand that with legislature, you need to grow in it. The longer you remain as a legislature, the better you become at the work of legislating and your constituent benefit more.
But prominent members of the party have abandoned the PDP, even serving lawmakers?
Yes, but it is their loss. Anybody that left the party and yet the party is still standing means he wasn’t important and had no power. Have you heard the name of the lawmaker that defected again? So, once you reject the platform that brought you, the environment rejects you. I know that Jang tried to raise the youth to take over leadership by giving them position against the wish of older members of the party. So, if they betray the party today and the person that got the position for them, it is their problem. The land and people have rejected them too.
The federal government must rise to the occasion and take the lives of Nigerians serious. How can herdsmen be working around with AK47 freely while the president is denying it to the world?
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