Executive governor of Plateau state, Barrister Simon spoke with newsmen in Abuja at the weekend on the security situation in his state, where he accused the terrorist group, Boko Haram of plotting to cause religious war. He also spoke on plans by the Progressives Governors Gorum (PGF) to design policies for APC states among others. EZEOCHA NZEH was there for The AUTHORITY Newspapers Excerpts.
Tell us about the plans by the APC governors to roll out policies for the states?
Ours is to design policies for implementation for good governance in APC states. Here we are not talking about Amotekun, we are talking about general insecurity and so once we laid the foundation for the APC states and it is approved then we will begin to talk about implementation, may at the level of approval people will bring up Amotekun, people will bring different issues. I always try not to talk about what the south is talking because I am not from that zone, I am the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum who have different opinion from what is obtained there.
What we are laying down now in the framework is general insecurity because we are not unmindful of the situation in the country that is for every year we make a framework and tell them these are things that are current and these are things that APC governors should adopt in terms of preparing their budget and also in governance in their states.
Are you not worried that despite the much talk about fighting corruption the international organisations still rate Nigeria as one of the very corrupt countries. The recent rate says the scourge is rising?
Fighting corruption I am not sure we will say it is rising because sometimes they bring out reports and Nigerians also questioned the statistics so I don’t want to dwell much on that. On some of the index, the corruption is coming down, in some it is going up, so you have to look at the index. When you say corruption everybody looks at government. There is corruption in the market place. We have to have clear understanding on the indices where we win and where we lose. You will also agree with me that APC government has done so well in bringing up so many cases and prosecutions. APC government as a government is not doing badly on corruption.
What’s the thinking of APC governors on the Amotekun by the South-west?
On Amotekun I believe the federal government and the regions are finding some solutions and I think they will resolve the issues on how they will do it and also I think security is peculiar to each state, it depends for each state what they believe will work for them, some will want Amotekun, some will want dialogue, like in Jigawa they don’t need any. We can not say it’s a policy that all APC states will take – depends on your peculiarities, what will work for you to protect lives and properties.
Insecurity seems to be getting worse in the country, is PGF also proposing anything to urgently address this?
On security situation I believe there is a standing Committee that is looking at security that involves not only APC governors but all governors in the federation. The President is so worried about the security situation and he is working tirelessly to see how this menace will really come down but I am sure you will believe with me that around Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto it has dropped. Kaduna not so much as it used to be and when you go to the North-east we are able to reduce it significantly.
If you remember clearly, coming from Kano to Abuja before now, you are not sure if you will arrive without somebody bombing your car or you are afraid of been kidnapped. The government is looking at social intervention to see how we can create jobs, create wealth and we believe that will help in strengthening the economy and that will help in reducing the security challenges
Health sector is also key, what is the thinking of your forum, especially on primary health care?
Apart from the general policies from the federal government and the states, we also rely on donor agencies and from time to time we move states, we do assessment. The forum, we issue bulletins to all the states so that the states will know their ratings in terms of performance. Primary health is very important to us. Just yesterday we had a presentation by the Emir of Kano on issue of nutrition and before now some governors do not understand the importance of nutrition but after the lecture we saw the need to incorporate nutrition into our next phase of the programme. That is to tell you that we concentrate so much on that and we do assessment at every period to know if there are states that are living up to expectation.
On general term all of us appear to be talking about community policing. That one we are all agreed on so we don’t want situation where you start doing something and the federal government will say you are doing outside the law just like what they said about Amotekun. It is now that they are going to dialogue. Even if they are doing that it has to be within the law. So, what is within the law as far as Governors are concerned is the issue of community policing. We are all agreed on that. Like my co-,chairman said, when you go I to implementation, you use different kinds of methods. I made a briefing in Lafia and I told them I have been using community policing for a very long time. In Jos I have about three organizations. Three security outfits. I have the Headquarters of a Division; I have Operation Safe Haven established by the Federal government for only few states at that time, and I have what is called Operation Rainbow. For us, Operation Rainbow is like community policing because while Operation Safe Haven and Police are answerable t the Federal Government, Operation Rainbow is answerable to the Governor and it is a combination of different security organizations. So, what they do is intelligence gathering and we find that every effective because if you do not understand the intelligence, you will not understand how to even nip the security situation in the bud. So, because of this intelligence, before anything happens, we know because we have an early warning system.
How would you react to the killing of a student by Boko Haram recently, incidentally the young man is from your state?
I take it as part of what propaganda because when they are getting to that level, they can use any means to propagate and incite people to go into killings. We heard what happened in Adamawa where they killed a pastor and then they went to Plateau state and killed a student. I have been telling the people, trying to caution them because the intention is done for people to start fighting on religious grounds. By the time you fall into it, they will come back again. When you are fighting, they will come back and start mingling with the people. So, it is very unfortunate when they start killing students and religious leaders. We have to keep appealing to the people. We have made strong appeal to the security agencies to go back to those places because we do not expect Boko Haram to be more superior than our security agencies.