Governor Simon Bako Lalong was sworn in for a second term in office as the Executive Governor of Plateau State on the 29th May, 2019; and was elected chairman Northern Governors Forum. After over 100 days in office, he is yet to fully constitute his cabinet. In this interview with journalists in Jos, Lalong spoke about a wide range of issues as it concerns his second term in office; Our Correspondent AGABUS PWANAGBA was there. Excepts:
The first thing that would come to the mind of a lot of people is that over one hundred days now since you were sworn in for a second term, you are yet to constitute your Cabinet. Many are wondering how you have been able to function without your lieutenants.
Well, let me say that indeed it’s over a hundred days into our second tenure and we are almost concluding on the constitution of the Cabinet. People say there is a lot of delay but to me, we had an arrangement where we had to properly prepare for the next four years. And in the preparation for the next four years, we had to come up with a development plan. Now when people ask why we you delaying, my response is that it’s not about rushing and putting a cabinet, it is about the focus for what we want to do in the next four years. Now when I came in for my second tenure, I had to engage Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to develop a development Plan for the people of Plateau State and they done that. They just concluded in the last two weeks and so I was waiting for them to come up with their report so I can see from their recommendations what will be the focus and direction of Government this time around, especially in terms of economic empowerment. Now it’s on the basis of this direction that I would do my selection of Commissioners, I would now decide what kind of Ministry, what kind of arrangement and combination will best deliver for our people. I have already started because immediately I got the preliminary report, I set the ball rolling and I quickly appointed the Secretary to the Government and the Chief of Staff who are the engine room. So technically like I said during the swearing in of the Secretary to the Government and Chief of Staff, I have finished my cabinet. I am only waiting for Mr. Speaker who travelled out the Country, as soon as he is back, I will submit it to him, you know the Assembly is a powerful place, you don’t submit to any one, you submit it to Mr. Speaker. So very soon, you will hear the announcement and screening of Commissioners. Once they are screened and confirmed, we would now set the ball rolling and continue the implementation of the economic plan of the State. To these are some of the things that delayed the appointment of the Commissioners. You know for Politicians, some will say, I want to be there, I want to be here, this is not the issue of where you want to be, is the issue of what can we do for the people of Plateau State in the next four years. We have finished the first phase of our Rescue Agenda. In the next four years, we are moving to the last part of consolidating and leaving lasting legacies as we take the State to the next level.
In your first tenure you nominated commissioners, concerns were raised by some people that portfolios were not attached to the names of nominees you presented to the House of Assembly. What should we expect this time around?
Well, I was a Speaker for about 8 years. If you look at the laws, they didn’t say that you must put portfolios before you submit to the House of Assembly, usually you submit to the House of Assembly, sometimes we look at it also on performance. As a former Speaker, I know some instances where we screened Commissioners with the Governor having almost made up his mind on where to put them, but after following the screening, he changed his mind because based on the interaction with the House of Assembly members, the Governor came and said, this nominee should be in this or that place different from where he had thought. So when nominees for Commissioner appear before the house, let everyone be judged by his performance because in my administration, anybody can be put everywhere except of course certain professional departments like the Attorney General of the State which has exceptions. But then let them appear before the House, let them finish first step. At the end of it, you will come back and you now make your assessment. Although I would have also thought about portfolios but while they are doing the screening, I am always watching. One thing I like doing a lot is to listen to the people in places you will lest expect. That is the opportunity for me to gauge the opinion the opinion of people outside and know exactly how they feel and what they want. This kind of scenario will at the end of the day help me decide who to put into what ministry.
During your first term in office, you had a five pillar policy thrust, now why are you pruning them down from five to three?
Yes, from the beginning, you would understand that the first tenure was also part of taking over from another administration and so why we created five was partly to look at what we inherited and then examine some of the challenges that were on ground. Therefore, the 5 point Policy Thrust was to help us carry a wholistic approach of what we promised the people. You know when you are doing campaign, you will promise the people many things and by the time you get into the office, you see a different picture which you were not privy to. In that scenario, we had to come up with the 5 Pillar Thrust to help us settle down for governance.
Now after staying in office for 4 years and we are coming back for another tenure, we realized that we have taken care of some of the challenges we inherited. Having taken care of such things, you now have to remain focused for the remaining four years as you cannot do everything, but at least you must do about 60% to 70%. I always don’t want to say I am perfect but I must strive to do my best to hit within the level of a B, or an A. If I get a B, fine but if I get an A, that is excellent, and so that is what I am trying to do. Now we have reduced the 5 Pillar Thrust to 3 namely: Peace, security and good governance; Physical infrastructural development; and Sustainable economic rebirth.
Before your emergence as the Governor, this State was referred to as a Civil Service State. But since you came on board there has been a lot of attention on economic growth and internally generated revenue between 2015 and 2018 recorded 100% increase. You have also promised that yearly, we would see an increase. What are the strategies put in place that will make you achieve this?
We have put in a lot of strategies. First, I told you that we engaged the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to prepare a development plan which they have finished now. After the development plan, we are also planning an Economic Summit which I think it is going to be the first of its kind in Plateau State. Secondly in terms of Revenue, I have also engaged a consultant, the woman who did the magic for Kaduna State, Mrs. Ofueko Omoigui Okauru who was one time Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service. She is already in Plateau State to prepare and put in facilities for the improvement of our Revenue and that will take another 4 years so we are not joking when we say look, we are determined to take away Plateau from being a Civil Service State and that is why when we mention economic rebirth, we are talking about infrastructure and enabling environment. When you create this kind of environment for people, the private sector will invest. If you continue to say we are a civil service state and you go and sit down in your office and wait for 4 o clock and then you leave after eating lunch that does not make the state productive. We are thinking out of the Box. As a civil servant you must be able to get something doing outside that office that is why we are emphasizing on skill acquisition and a lot of other empowerment programmes. The Plateau State Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (PLASMEDA) is doing very well, engaging people and we have done a lot of sensitization saying to our people, don’t just be a civil servant. Be a civil servant with something extra that you are doing, we are emphasizing on Agriculture, we saying, look even as a civil servant, it doesn’t stop you from farming, it doesn’t stop you from getting a loan to do something outside the civil service and so a lot of it is coming through empowerment which we doing.
I have not been a civil servant in the past, I will say like my friend El-Rufai that I am also an accidental public servant because I have been in the private sector all the time. But when I came in, I realised that even if you are doing something, you must prepare for the rainy day, for either a rainy day or a bad day so that you know that either way, if there is no salary or something unusual happens, you have something to fall back on and embrace rather than always sitting down saying that we are not going to do this because we are civil servants. I have done my best in terms of salaries, compared to what is happening in most of the states. Like I told some people, even if you don’t say he has done his best, at least the lizard that has climbs the Iroko tree will say let somebody too go and climb and fall.
Do you think the mindset of people is changing in that regard?
I must say I am very happy because without the cooperation of the people, we would not achieve what we are doing. So, I thank them for the level of cooperation particularly in ensuring that there is peace in the State but I am emphasizing that we should do more just as I am also doing my best.
In the recent past, Plateau State witnessed crisis and violence, but by the grace of God, peace has substantially returned. How do you intend to rebrand Plateau, how do you intend to change Plateau people’s perception to the original Plateau as the Home of Peace and Tourism?
Yes, we have done a lot in terms of and addressing the causes of the problem and sustaining the peace. Sustaining peace goes along with dealing with poverty. I have noticed that when there is abject poverty. You see, stomach insecurity leads to physical insecurity and we have a lot of youths out there who are not working. So we have a special package, you can see that I am the only State that created the Peace Building Agency, the only state in the Federation. So we are developing that to sustain the peace and conflict management in the State. I have mentioned that you must always find ways of empowering people. Now when you empower people, you get them off the street, but the moment you leave them roaming about, they become very vulnerable, every time they can be used for a peanut. That is why you see youths engaging in several vices that will be detrimental to the society. As part of the scheme, we are talking we are also talking about industrialization. We must find Plateau to become an industrial State by creating the enabling environment and then people will come and invest in the State. I have always said that each time you sit down and you claim to be driving people away from your state, you lose. If Lagos was like that, Lagos will not be the way it is today. We should not drive people from our state. We are Plateau people but we need investors to come to the State, why are we calling investors to come, if we then turn around to create unviable environment? It is the responsibility of Government to sit down and fish out criminals within us whether they are indigenes or not, we must fish out criminals from within us. We are doing very well with the security apparatus and we are also empowering and also expanding our Operation Rainbow in case we wake up one day and the Federal Government says we are withdrawing Operation Safe Haven. That’s why I am preparing. Already, I have an advantage, when people talk about State Police, I say I have Operation Rainbow which functions in a similar fashion. All I need is to enhance the capacity of the Operation Rainbow which we are doing right now. I am very happy the federal Government is already talking about community policing, which has been an idea I support all along. We are engaging and employing people from each local government or each community to serve as informants and that way we will help in sustaining the peace we have in the State.
We are also addressing volatile areas. You can see that we have already established a Mobile Police Squadron in Shendam, we have established Air Force Search and Rescue Unit at Kerang, Mangu LGA, and I am already preparing to finish the establishment of another Mobile Police Squadron in Gashish, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area.
In as much as you are doing your best in terms of peace and security, we know that there are always elements within the society, called ‘Merchants of Conflicts or Sponsors of Conflict’ and they are the ones that no matter what you do, they try as much as possible to sabotage the process so to say. What are you doing in this regard especially since some people say they never see the arrest of any sponsor of conflict?
Well, it will be unfortunate if they say that because I know that several times the police, the army and other security agencies have been parading suspected people for various offences. Even recently, the Commissioner of Police told me that there are some notorious criminals that he caught and are in detention. As part of facilitating prosecution, we have passed the Law, we have amended our Penal Code and also amended our other relevant laws to facilitate quick and easy prosecution in the State. Our Administration of Criminal Justice Law is one of the best in the North now and because of that people have come to Plateau State to copy what we have amended it so it won’t take time for you to prosecute. Police are doing their best in Plateau State, so you don’t need to carry a criminal to Abuja again. You know in the past people complain that they see criminals here and when they are caught they say when they take them to Abuja, they will never see them again and they won’t know whether they are prosecuted or they are just released. But today they are in Plateau State, I know that they are here, they are undergoing prosecution. I am thinking of doing next is to also enhance the capacity of Ministry of Justice. You can see in the last few months, I have dwelled seriously on the Ministry of Justice, some of the things they wanted, they were complaining about, we have enhanced it and also the judiciary, I am building the High Court to make them comfortable. I am a lawyer, I cannot leave this place without a good judiciary, so together with the Chief Judge, we are collaborating, we are trying to enhance the capacity of the judiciary and also the Ministry of Justice in terms of prosecution and also about Operation Rainbow and of course the police. Recently, I bought four (4) Hilux Vans and I gave it to the Police apart from the 53 vehicles that we bought and gave the security in the last two years.
The vehicles we gave them just two weeks ago were specifically to tackle the problems of kidnapping. There has been influx of kidnappers into the state and we decided to ask the IGP to send us the Special IRT Group from Abuja led by DCP Abba Kyari. They are here and when they came and said, look, what we need vehicles, I said take vehicles and you can see every day, they are picking kidnappers from their hideouts. So if we address the issue of kidnappers, the issue of cattle rustling, armed robbery and the issue of banditry, our people will be safer than ever before.
Sir, you are also the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum and quite a lot is happening in the North, How are you tackling insecurity in the region?
That is another big challenge. When I was elected as the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, I said wow! I have a headache here in Plateau State and another headache added. However, I said by the grace of God, I would do best by applying the wisdom that He gave us to deal with the challenge here in Plateau State. We would extend to the other parts of the North. And if you recall, from the very day I was appointed the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, I set up a Committee on Security chaired by Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari. Since then, he has also had to contend with insecurity in his State. However, that committee is working very well, I have also prepared that we will soon have a meeting of the Northern Governors Forum which will be my first formal meeting formally to receive the report of the committee and decide the way forward. Right now we have the challenges of banditry, cattle rustling, and kidnapping which are very prevalent in the North. So we shall be receiving the report of the committee and also preparing for a Northern Security Summit. Aside from that I have always been in touch with the IGP. He is doing well because part of the recommendations we made so far, they are implementing it. I attended the meeting of the North West Security Council and it was very wonderful. In some cases you need dialogue to succeed, because it is not always responding with confrontation. I will ensure that the success of such engagement is extended to the North Central. The IG has gone to the South West where he did the same thing. We are preparing to have our own in the North Central just like the North East is already established even as it is taken care of by the Federal Government. One of the area too that we saw that is a problem and needs to be tackled is the Almajiri System. So we have set up a committee that will bring out how to address the Almajiri System because in a society where you leave a large population that is doing nothing but roaming the streets, that is another cause of insecurity not only in the North but in the nation at large. So we have also set up a committee to look at it, and once we conclude on the issue of the Almajiri which also goes with the issue of employment, we shall have some respite.
You have done a lot obviously in terms of sustaining peace to ensure Plateau to become an enabling environment not only for the indigenes but also investors who wish to come into Plateau to invest for the benefit of the people, recently you were in Japan and I know a lot of people were full of praises when you talked about accessing 300 billion dollars from Afri-Japan to finance some projects especially in the Rural Areas, can you expantiate on that.
Well, we went to Japan to attend the TICAD 7 Summit which is an investment summit for Africa spear headed by Japan. For me that was the first time I was attending. I realized that the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari attended the summit in Kenya in 2016. We are talking about the fact that Japan is putting 50 billion dollars for investments in Africa especially in rural development and so Plateau will also want to go in and see what we can get out of the 50 billion dollars. During the course of our attendance, we were able to interact with a lot of investors both African and Japanese Investors. I realize that instead of sitting here and talking through emails inviting people to come and invest, it is batter to go and meet them to discuss properly. Some people say you can sit down in one place and talk to investors. It is far different than when you meet them. Recently I had cause to address the Zumunta Association which is the body of Sons and daughters of Northern origin in the Americas, and they were asking questions that clearly showed that they are not in touch with the things we have been able to achieve in the last four years and the kind of opportunities that exist in the state. In fact when I heard some of their questions, I said look, it’s like you are out of this world because all these things you are talking about, we’ve gone pass them. They said but they don’t get such information as what they read on social media and the internet is different. This is the kind of problem we have and so when you go there and you explain to them direct, you give them complete facts and they look at it and they see, when I went there, I had cause to address some Japanese investors and I told them that is now the best in terms of SMEs in Nigeria, they said Ah!, how comes that Plateau is best on SMEs, technology, and skills acquisition. My young people are doing excellently well, every year we go to Abuja we are taking home all the prices, the best person in 2018 was from Plateau and second best in 2019 is still from Plateau. We will continue to produce the kinds of Jerry Mallo just like the Japanese. Why I have this passion for skills acquisition is to create a skilled generation that can solve problems. That is why I am reviving the Technical Schools in Kuru. I am going to expand and equip that school just as I am also putting the same in all the zones, there is going to be one in Shendam and the other one in Pankshin which will create opportunities not only for the Youth but even the Civil Servants because you can go there and do 2 or 3 or 6 months course, sometime, if your go there and do 6 months course in tailoring, that is an advantage to you, you come back and establish a tailoring shop, when you get out of work after 4pm, you are in your tailoring workshop. So this is what we are doing. We drew a lot of attention in Japan and I did not go alone I went with the MD Plateau Investment Chrysogunos Yilzak and the DG PLASMEDA, Haggai Gutap, who are now linking up with several companies that are likely to come and invest in Plateau State. This also applies to agriculture. We have a lot of potentials in agriculture and we are already working towards exporting potatoes as we improve our food value chain. We have already started working with the African Development Bank. If you go to Riyom, you will see one of the processing zones we have already built. We have done the tissue culture in Mangu which is almost completed and the next process is building dams which will start in the next few weeks. With these in place, people who want to engage in potato cultivation will not be doing potatoes once in a year but twice because. Each time Mr. President sees me, he will say look, you know I like potatoes very well and I don’t want to eat imported potatoes. I want to eat Plateau Potato and I have assured him that all year round, he will eat fresh potatoes from the Plateau because of what we are doing.
Your Excellency, in the cause of this discussion, you made a point that is also very critical, which is the image of Plateau State. Sometimes there is exaggeration of the reality. What deliberate steps are you taking in this renewed tenure to project the proper image of Plateau?
That is exactly why I have taken one of you Dr. Macham Makut as my Director of Press. He is from the media and he is already doing his best. I have given him matching orders and I said look, we have done a lot of things here but many people don’t hear about it because it is not being exposed outside. So I have said that from what we have done, try to expose it to people outside. Like I said earlier when I was addressing the Plateau diaspora in the USA, they were asking me things we have gone past long ago. I told them we have finished those ones. That is why I have appointed a diaspora liaison officer for Plateau State in the UK and one in the USA. I said look, we don’t need to be telling you just link up and find out what we are doing and sell it out there. Don’t wait until when you hear there is crisis, then you go on the social media. Try to give a positive image of your state and not wait for others to tell your story because they will only tell a negative perspective to the whole world. That way, more people will be willing to visit your state and also invest thereby creating job opportunities. So this is why it is the responsibility of notonly the Government but everybody. I have always said, Think Plateau and Act Plateau. That is my Slogan now.
Sir, one thing that appears dear to your heart for which you declared a state of emergency is Tourism. How far have you gone to ensure that this state of emergency declared on the tourism sector transforms the tourism sector to generate revenue for the State?
Your know tourism thrives when there is peaceful environment and we have all the potentials and I think Plateau State is endowed with a lot of potentials, the very beautiful weather, the scenic beauty, rich culture and friendly people. All these things attract people to come to Plateau State but what was driving people away was insecurity. That is why we are emphasizing and concentrating on creating an environment where there is peace in the State and if there is peace, people will start coming without any prompting. That is why we have done so much to bring peace back. A policy document has been done from the Ministry of Tourism and I accepted it. So right now we are moving towards developing some of those facilities in order to realize the objectives of the declaration of the state of emergency on tourism sector in Plateau State. You saw me pay a visit to the wild life Park established by our late Governor, J. D. Gomwalk of blessed memory and because of wild life in Jos, people where coming for holidays here. A friend of mine who came from Lagos to spend the Christmas here before I became Governor. After Christmas they decided to visit the zoo with his children who had heard the story about the popular zoo in Plateau State. The children said they must see Peter (a baboon) and give Banana him bananas. During the visit, Peter took banana from all except youngest child. That was trouble for them, because they had booked their flight to leave that day, the little boy started crying that at the Zoo and said he was not going to leave. They had to change their schedule to return with the boy the next day. When they boy came back the following day, Peter was jumping at him and he collected the Banana and that was when they left here for Lagos. When he went back, my friend told me that because of the experience of his family, there was need to go to the UK because Jos is our UK in Nigeria. So that is the spirit and that was the picture of Plateau State, it is possible return to that status. That’s what we are doing, we are doing our best to see that tomorrow, when we leave people will not be going to the UK for holidays, people will come from the UK for holiday in Jos. The management of the army at the met me to say that the symbol of the Rukuba Barracks, the 3rd Armoured Division is the Rhino and all over Nigeria, there is no Rhino. They said Mr. Governor if you can get us a Rhino, it will be an honour for the 3rd Division and we will provide all the Security to that place and salute it every day. I gave them money and said go and look for Rhino anywhere in the world and bring it to Jos Wild Life Park because Rukuba Barracks want a Rhino, that is their symbol they said. I understand they have found one. You see how tourism is emerging, many people will be moving for holiday to come and see the Rhino and other animals in Plateau State and so in our Budget, we’ve provided for places like Wase Rock, Pandam wild life park and so many of the side attractions that we have in the State. Our festival is also growing, the annual festival that we hold parades around the city is already attracting private sector investors that will invest in Tourism in collaboration with Government. Government will only create the environment and the private people will come and invest. So we have already advertised ourselves and so people are already putting the proposal to come and take over some of these outfits. With tourism, Agriculture, and solid mineral, will take Plateau away from being a civil service state.
Your Excellency, could you explain to us the issue of livestock management in Plateau State, because there seems to be a lot of misinformation about it?
You remember I am a member of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) which is headed by the Vice President’s. I am representing North Central, I cannot go and start doing something that is not in favour of Plateau State or Benue or Nasarawa or Kogi or any part of Central Zone. Now part of the document was not brought by President Buhari. It was initiated during President Goodluck Jonathan. So its that same document that was represented to the NEC (National Economic Council) because we were looking for solution to farmers-herdsmen crisis. A budget of N100bn was approved for that same scheme. So when I came on board, I saw open grazing, I said the choice was either open grazing or ranching. I said, no we cannot go for open grazing because when you are talking of open grazing you will also be concerned with the problem of cattle routes and the tendency for clashes with farmers.
So, on my own, I came back and set up a 12 man committee headed by Prof. Ochapa Onazi, traditional rulers were involved, religious leaders were involved, CAN and JNI, the Civil Society were involved as well as Representatives of Youths. They were the ones who developed the scheme, they went to Abuja, they came back and the recommendation was that Plateau should adopt ranching. When we finished the ranching we went to the local governments for sensitization apart from all the various stakeholders in Plateau State. At the end, the conclusion was for us to go with ranching. Now the first issue was to go and get the land. Because Federal Government is going to sponsor the pilot scheme, it does not mean that Federal Government is the one carrying it out. Now a budget for Pilot Scheme was announced for those states that wanted to do the entire livestock business according to their own peculiarities as a voluntary initiative. No coercion. So we also said any local government that wants to establish in her local government should provide land, some local governments agreed and provided land and that was when political manipulation started. Some said we are grabbing land, we are doing this, we have done that, at the end of the day, we suspended land from the local government but we have a grazing reserve in Wase, we have a grazing reserve in Kanam and from the archive they brought out to us, the number of grazing reserves that we have in Plateau, are eight (8). Out of the 8 grazing reserves we have in Plateau, six (6) were taken over. If I embark on recovering them it will create another problem because past leaders especially military shared all the land within themselves and the ones that are left are just Wase and Kanam. If we leave it today, another regime will come and we will not see it again and I said nobody should go to these areas, they are grazing reserves owned by Plateau State Government. If this is the case, we would make sure we use those grazing reserves not for real grazing reserves now but for investors to come and invest in ranching and diary. While we were doing, we started hearing the issue of RUGA, and people said Plateau is doing RUGA. I said, no there we are not doing RUGA on the Plateau. Here we stand on livestock production through ranching. I have continuously explained to people and said, look! Don’t put religion or ethnic sentiments into investment. Don’t! because it will scare away investors who want to bring in their money. My plea to people is if you here a concept, listen to it and understand it. As for RUGA, whatever it is, those who want it in their states, let them do it but for us, we are talking of livestock production which is not restricted to cows, is also sheep, is also piggery, is also poultry and everything, so if there are incentives or palliatives or subsidies for this item from Federal Government, I have keyed into it and we are waiting for this subsidies and to will help our people to empower our people on this so that people will not take it to the mosque and start preaching or take it to the church and start preaching. It’s business. Understand what you going through and don’t throw the baby with the bath water.
Sir, you were a Speaker of the house and have held various leadership positions. What’s your advice to young people who are aspiring to be leaders like you tomorrow?
Let me start with my encounter with my son who is 17 years and is about join the University now. He woke one day and that was the week that the not too young to run bill was passed. He said, look daddy, at what age did you go to the House of Assembly? I said Ah! Why are you asking me this question, he asked me the question three time. I said is that your concern, go and do your school, you have not finish school. I turned back and asked him, this law that we struggled to pass for you, you want to send your daddy out of politics? I said wait for your turn. My appeal to the younger ones is, yes we have opportunities, but don’t always be in a rush, put yourself together, you have the not too young to run bill and nothing can stop a young man from being a governor, or President tomorrow. I went to the House of Assembly as a young man but today I am not yet younger, I am in my fifties, getting to Sixty (60), but sometimes what people do is that they don’t want to learn the experiences. The youth will graduate from secondary school and say that I want to go to the House of Assembly. He thinks that his first employment should be politics am not saying that it is bad to see politics as your first employment, but also learn to go and get some experience, so that when you get there you will not be falling back always. I have seen a group of youth and I try to mentor them. Even in my last campaign, 80% of them were youths everywhere but what I do when they come back and say they want to be appointed Commissioners, I said no, must you always be appointed Commissioner, beside, how many commissioners am I going to appoint out of the million, how many people am I going to employ, but instead of using that ambition always, we have established the Plateau State Small and Medium Entreprises Development Agency (PLASMEDA). It is for the purpose of Youth Empowerment, so if you want to be a politician, you may get something doing, establish your business, you are doing that, you are into politics tomorrow with your business, with you everything, you are into politics, you are also engaging in politics. So I started from private sector, I didn’t work as a civil servant, from private background, I went to House of Assembly, from the House of Assembly, today I am a Governor, I also want that kind of thing, so that our Youth will also be patient to learn something, to engage in productive activities, to engage instead of running round and serving as thugs to politicians, should look for things that will help them at the end of the day so that when they are leaders, they will be seen as leaders with credibility.
Your Excellency, you mentioned quite a number of things you are going to do. Do you have enough money? Is your pocket deep?
First of all what you need to achieve anything is confidence and also the will. When I was campaigning for my first tenure, the NLC, Plateau Chapter came to me and said we have challenges about the arrears of salaries, I told them, I said look if I am elected Governor, I will pay you all. Somebody drew me aside and said no you don’t say that because it is when you get there that you will know because if you make this kind of commitment, and you can’t do it then they will hold you for it, I said with God’s grace on my side, I will do it I said. I still stand by it, today it is history. Now some of this things we put once you make it and you activate, you keep the determination to realize than, I have said yes, I have put projects everywhere, people ask me how do you extend to finish these project, that’s why I have engaged a consultant to ensure we boost our revenue base. So we have a target and by God’s grace in the next one year, you will see a difference because we have a N30,000 minimum wage to pay. I have told labour, I am going to pay. I am waiting for the final decision from the Governors Forum. I am a law abiding citizen and as a Principal Officer in the Governors Forum, I will not default. We have put in place machinery to even prepare, we are always ahead to prepare that we would continue to pay salaries as and when due even with the 30,000 minimum wage. The civil servants will also help us to be able to pay. I don’t want a lazy civil service because as I am going to prepare to start paying they too should be willing to do their part. Remember that I did advertise to employ some new workers but when the minimum wage issue arose, I said let’s wait for the minimum wage so as to know the capacity we are going to engage. I cannot come here and spend eight years and say I didn’t give opportunity for employment of people. I will definitely employ people and will definitely engage some people.