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ERA OF SECTARIAN VIOLENCE OVER IN PLATEAU – COMMISSIONER

By NBF News
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To say that Governor Jonah Jang has a formidable opposition to contend with, even from within his own party, as he prepares for re-election next year is to put it mildly. But the spokesman for his administration, the state Commissioner for  Information, Chief Greg Yelong, said  those who are opposed to the governor are afraid because he has over-performed.

'Yes many people don't want him to get a second term, and that is the whole point. But it is not because he has under-performed. The reason they do not want him to get a second term is because he has over-performed. Even the high benchmark they gave him, he has exceeded it. And they know it. So they are afraid. It is fear, raw fear,' he said.

He also told journalists that the era of sectarian crises was gone for good.

Excerpts:
What is the state of affairs in Plateau state today?

Plateau is fine, we are fine. You know, the average Plateau man is a peaceful, decent and progress-minded person. So we are looking ahead.

Would you say there is peace now?
It's not what I will say. That is the reality, that is the fact. The undeniable fact is that there is peace in Plateau state. Everybody knows - I am surprised you are asking.

The governor  has returned his Nomination and Expression of  Interest Forms to the PDP national headquarters. Can you assess his re-election chances?

Well, that is easy and simple. Straight away, I will say very bright. And go and check it. On the day he submitted his form, he was accompanied by 14 of the 17 council chairmen, two of the three senators from the state and seven of the eight representatives from the state, party leaders, youths, . It was like a carnival. And when you see that kind of crowd behind somebody, you know it is an adumbration of victory.

But the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, also picked the form; is  the governor worried?

I don't get your point. Worried? Why? About what? Because of who? If being governor is easy, why are they just waking up or just discovering it? My brother, Jang has no rival in the 2011 race in Plateau. Of course, this is democracy, so anybody can aspire for anything. Some of these people have been aspiring for governor all their lives. The more Plateau people reject them, the more they aspire. They do no get discouraged, they do not give up, they do not surrender. What is driving them? Plateau people do not know. But this time, Jang will retire them for good. Some of them who are still active, they may join us in the cabinet as commissioners, advisers.

But they are against Jang.
United? What do you know that I don't? If they are united, how come they can't agree on one thing or one person? Why is everybody buying form? Mark my words: that thing will crumble. They will soon scatter.

It is a tower of Babel. This is why I find baseless speculations that the governor has become isolated. When he submitted his nomination forms, he was accompanied by every viable politician in Plateau state, including two senators from the state, seven of the eight members of the House of  Representatives as well as 14 of the 17 council chairmen. That does not sound like isolation to me.

But how would rate his performance?
I do not want to rate him. How can I rate my boss without people accusing me of subjectivity? No, I won't. If you want any rating, go round and ask the people - the indigenes, the residents. Or better still, see things for yourself. But if you insist, I will tell you simply that Plateau, under Governor David Jonah Jang, is working. He has a 10-point agenda, and each is working at full throttle.

May be so, but security-wise…
(Interrupts) Even security-wise, in fact, especially security-wise. I knew you would bring that up, but even security-wise, the governor is on top of the situation. Of course, some things happened, unfortunately, but that is human society. There is no perfect situation or society anywhere. So let's leave it at that. But bear in mind that Jang is in control, and he is bearing his wealth of experience, his strength of character, his moral stature and administrative acumen on the business of state-craft - ably, effectively and superlatively.

Which is strange, really, because if he has done so well as you paint him, how come there is so much opposition against him? Many people do not think he should get a second term.

You are right. And permit me to start with the last part of your question. Yes, many people do not want him to get a second term. And that is the whole point.

But it is not because he has under-performed. The reason they do not want him to get a second term is because he has over-performed. Even the high benchmark they gave him, he has exceeded it. And they know it. So they are afraid. It is fear, raw fear. Before him, there have been many governors in Plateau, but no one has seen this type of thing. A few people, who recall this revolutionary exploits in old Gongola state (i.e. Taraba and Adamawa of today), they say: well, we told you. Also, some who remember that he was governor of old Benue state (i.e. present Benue and part of Kogi today), and how he left enduring development imprints there; they say: that is Jang for you.

But on the whole, the majority did not remember; they thought Jang came into office like the others: no blueprint, no plan, no vision and no mission. So seeing his developmental strides, in education, health, agriculture, rural development, urban renewal, accountability, focused governance, the elite are like, ''whao, this man means business! We had better stop him before he raises the performance far too high for us'.

So this is it. The plot is to restrict Jang to one term, to make him a one-term governor, but it is strange because of his over-achievement. Elsewhere, people would have joined hands to support him, to take Plateau to the place of her fullest potential, but here, they are joining hands quite all right, but it is to tear him down.

But not to worry; Jang will thrash them like wheat.

If I were the commissioner of some governors in some states, where governance is a lethargic, locomotive affair, yes, I would reel out my govenor's achievements, and why not. But not as a Commissioner for Information under Jang. He is simply a workaholic. No, a machine. That is the word. May be it is because of his military training, may be it is his deep concern for the suffering of the Plateau man.

So I cannot begin to count his projects. Where will I start? Is it with roads or schools? Or youth/women empowerment. Or is it his agricultural revolution? Let me tell you this: some other governors are afraid of the president visiting their states, but Mr. Governor went and asked the president to come on a three-day visit to Plateau.

The president was like: Ah, three days! Our governor said: Sir, even a whole month, I won't mind, because there are too many projects to commission. In fact, very soon, we will be unveiling 'Project 1200 days, 1200 projects.'