Prof Daku Shom was once a state chairman of the PDP and former speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the senatorial aspirant contended that state police would stem the tide of killings in the country and also spoke on some others issues.
Why do you want to go to the senate?
I realised how diverse we are in Nigeria. The eastern part, west, middle belt and the far north all have different concepts of what the country needs to be. I decided then that this country needs to be fixed. For example, in Plateau State, we have 17 Local governments while some states have more than that. You don’t know the real criteria that were used to get those LGs. All they tell you is that, it is population and population is not static. It grows and nobody has reviewed that. There is a big disparity as far as local government is concerned in Nigeria. Some were talking about going back to regional government while many others were thinking of sharing formula of our national wealth…
But is federalism working in Nigeria?
When you take the federation account for example, funds are supposed to be given to the local government directly but instead, it goes through the state governors who now decide where the money goes. But local governments are supposed to be autonomous because they are closer to the people. The first thing that I saw in that place is that, this country needs restructuring in order to carry everybody along. Nigeria is the only country left behind that Britain colonised and it is still standing. There is no reason the federal government should have anything to do with primary schools. Plateau can decide that our primary school should be nine years and other states too. It is supposed to be a local matter. But now, you will see that the FG is involved in primary, secondary and universities. This does not give room for property development. That is why you find that private institutions are much better run than federal universities. There was also the issue of state police, if we had it now, all these killings won’t be happening on the plateau. When I was with former governor Jang, we started operation rainbow when the boko haram was harassing us and it stopped the killings to an extent. So, each state can come up with its own security for its own protection. Even institutions do that abroad. One statistics that surprised me was the unemployment of the youth. We produce almost 3,000 students every semester and you multiply it by 38 universities and not up to five per cent of them get jobs after graduation. They are not motivated to go into private or personal business. It is worse in the north because the southern youths are mostly taught how to engage in business. Now, there is no home that doesn’t have a graduate where parents sold their farm crops to send them to school. The only place that these types of issues can be taken care of is the senate. So, I want to go there to participate so that I can also contribute my quota.
As a former state chairman of the PDP on the plateau, are you worried about the state of the party?
Some few months ago, I was worried especially about what was happening between Sheriff and Makarfi but since it was resolved, I have had peace. Ambition is the key problem in the PDP. You can see what is happening now, everybody wants to be a governor and there can only be one governor. It is the same at national level. Everybody wants to be president. But I am sure with what the party has gone through, they will do the right thing this time. I am sure the PDP will take the interest of the people to heart.
How true are reports that the PDP has been factionalised on the plateau?
The only faction I know was the one that took place at the national level during the Sheriff and Makarffi time. Now, more people are trooping into the PDP. The APC came with the slogan ‘change’ but what have they changed? Go to the rural areas and see how they are suffering. What was the cost of the bag of maize, rice and other foods before the APC came in? Our roads are still bad. The hospitals are still consultation clinics and here on the plateau, we have a culture that the moment you tamper with our culture, the people throw you out. Unfortunately, the government in the state does not learn its lesson. They said in the past that when Jang was there, that everywhere you go in government house, all you get is Berom-berom but the current statistics has shown that, the Gomai people are more in government house today. So, what have they learnt? Nothing. Benue was born from plateau, we have maintained a cordial relationship which means that, what touches Benue touches plateau .
Innocent Nigerians are being killed in some parts of the country including plateau, does this bother you?
Our respectable TY Danjuma said exactly what a true Nigeria feels. I am happy they said they would look into it. Anybody who said there is peace and security in this country, I will not believe. We grew up on the plateau knowing that the Fulani man only carries sticks. So, where is he now getting sophisticated weapons from? Why can’t they stop them at the borders? Benue has served and built this country but unfortunately in this age, they are being slaughtered like goats. We need to invite international bodies to help us. We used to mingle together and eat together, but the moment these hungry Nigerians started poisoning the minds of their people, things changed. I feel that the far north must recognise that, there is an entity called the middle belt. They need to respect them. We need like-minded people in leadership position who will take religion out of politics. The leader should come out and condemn it and follow it with action.
As a member of the Jang administration, do you agree with the allegation that the Jang government was corrupt?
No, former governor Jang didn’t even see the government cheque books when he was on the saddle of leadership. I am yet to find to find anybody who loves plateau like Jang. We are waiting to see who will break his record on the plateau. Plateau has been a hated state for many years. We saw the late JD Gomwalk, who was fighting to bring a university to our land, killed. We saw roads being made but on getting to the border of Plateau State, it stopped there. We have seen so much discrimination. It’s like some people deliberately want to frustrate the state. I don’t believe that the people that claimed to attack Jang did so because they don’t like him, they want to destroy the state.
So, will you support Jang presidential bid?
I think Jang deserves to be the president of this country. If you want to know his performance, go to Gongola, present day Adamawa and Benue. His record has not been broken. Secondly, I have not come across somebody that will see you face to face and tell you I don’t like you. For us in the middle belt, Jang is a big asset. This presidency is not a birth right of some people. It is for all of us. So, we will challenge it and stand by him.
Can you say that the PDP has learnt its lessons?
We have learnt that we should not take people for granted. We must remain united. We are the party that the people are looking up to. We should forgive and forget.
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