Brigadier-General John Sunday Sura (retd) from Mangu / Bokos Federal Constituency of Plateau State is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview, he blames communal strifes, killings and general insecurity in Plateau on its helmsman Solomon Lalong whom he called an ‘absentee governor’ who is far from realities on ground in the state.
As a retired military officer, he gives his blueprint on security to secure the state while promising to redefine governance in Plateau. He also justifies the state pardon granted former governor Joshua Dariye and others. Politics Editor, TUNDE JOSHUA brings excerpts. Why are you in the race for the 2023 Plateau State governorship election? . Very simple, I am contesting because I have a passion to serve the people.
I also have seen the needs to have leaders who have character, people who have capacity, those that also have the ability to stand for the people at all times. I’ve also seen what is happening today. Therefore, I think I have all it requires to be able to lead people of Plateau State.
And the end of it is that we are looking at the economic side of it. And secondly, the empowerment of our people and particularly infrastructural decay in Plateau State. Of course as a retired General, it is expected of me to talk about the insecurity in the land.
That is one of the things that every concerned Nigerian and every aspirant wants to talk about. I have the remedy, I also have the architectural thinking of what I’m going to put in place to secure the people of Plateau State. And therefore, looking forward to making sure that all Plateaunians will sleep with their eyes closed. They will go to their farm lands and still return back to their ancestral homes to do their their traditional farming and other things. What do you think Jonah Jang failed to do?
What will you do differently? As at the last time, when he was living in 2015, May 29, 2015, Jang did all he could and we had a very peaceful state.
By the providence of the Federal Government then, because of the insecurity as at that time, Plateau State was granted the opportunity to have a private security outfit, which is codenamed ‘Operation Rainbow’.
He maintained and also equipped that outfit and they also contributed their own defence in conjunction with the security forces in the land. Thereafter, when he left, today, that outfit is no longer operational. The equipment are no longer there, the personnel are no longer being taken care of.
It is one of the things that today, other states are copying. And that’s the only state that the Federal Government granted when we had an insecurity on the Plateau. We have that and so coming back home as a person who is also having that legislative authority from the Federal Government we will reenact it and also look at the inadequacies and also see how we can structurally deploy them to assist the security forces of the Federal Government. What exactly is the present governor doing or failed to do that escalated insecurity?
You see at all times, human being need to be talked to, most often than not when there are crises like this. We always have an absent governor who is always in Abuja, rather than being in the state.
Therefore, as a leader, you must always be around with your people whether in thick and thin, in times of sorrows and in happiness, not only when they are happy, that is when you can speak to them. I will be there with my people to speak to them when they are sorrowing, and I will sorrow, mourn with them, The Trumpet gathered.
And when it is time to rejoice, we will also rejoice. And in terms of what he has not done, apart from not talking to the people, that outfit that was given to us by the Federal Government, I think the present government has abandoned them. The equipment were given out to the security agencies and these sets of people were just abandoned and left in a skeletal form.
I’m looking at the deployment of those people and how to retrain them or redeploy them into the hinterlands and also early warning signals of information gathering will also be used alongside.
I will also look at it and we will also deploy a lot of additional security equipment to be able to also complement what they will be doing at the manual side of it. Is the presidential pardon given to past Plateau State Governor Joshua Dariye a blow to the Nigerian justice system? Actually, the law is meant to punish, and at the same time to reprimand.
When you have already punished somebody , you do not need to take a sledgehammer to kill the person. For posterity sake, I think the punishment has gone that far. And again, it has served as a deterrent to those who are in government who also intend to come in because firstly, if not for the punishments, the name is already dented.
And even after the pardon, again, there could be some lacuna here and there. I will also want to look at it from the point that nobody’s perfect on earth. Most of the day, most of the activities of government ends on the table of the governor. It could be the governor that may have committed it.
It could be his staff. It could be in a different means that those things could have been committed. But because every bulk ends on the chief executive’s table, therefore, he carries the burdens of public service. I want to agree with you that well, we must then therefore, begin to train people to understand and also be forensic in dealing with the things to do with finances of the states.
We must also begin to look at real technocrats who also understand what it is to put somebody into trouble, to head departments where the chief executives are not accountant and are not technically sound in those things. I also want to encourage, yes, the EFCC can continue to do their job and they are doing it very well.
And for us that we’re coming in as by the grace of God by 2023, we’ve learned and we’ve seen, so the pitfalls are there and the banana peels are everywhere. So we must be careful the kind of stuffs we have must also be careful of the kind of contracts that will be given and also the dealing with the public and also make sure that what belongs to the people is given to the people.
When you become governor, will you be probing previous administrations ? I once said to somebody that while in the service I’ve handed over offices and also I’ve taken other offices.
And there is no office that you entered that there wouldn’t be any problem. But at least within this circumstance, probably that person may have taken some risk or feel that is the best decision at that time.
And when I come in being an accountant, a chartered accountant, a fellow of the Certified National Accountant and a Fellow of Certified Institute of Taxation and so many other fellowships. I will not, well when we get to the bridge, we will cross it. I will not be talking about probing or anything.
But we will only demand explanation and if it is good we’ll also follow it. And where it is not, we’ll also not jettison it. What is your take on the provision in the Electoral Act that INEC should use electronic means to transmit election results? We’ve seen the BIVAS deployed in Edo states. We’ve also seen it deployed in some states like Anambra and also recently in Plateau State we had two constituencies that we have the elections in that area.
And quite differently from what we’ve seen it is possible to do a lot of things, we strive to make the elections very transparent. I want to encourage the INEC to do more and what they have done is okay. There may be some commas here and there. I believe the chairman will be looking out for where they need to cross the t’s and dot the i’s to perfect the system. In that manner I want to really appreciate it.
It is something that is so cheering that we know that definitely if it is done perfectly, we will have a better election come 2023. What are the chances of PDP winning Plateau? I want to assure you that the chance is as as high as 95 per cent. Why did I decide to say so? Firstly, to Nigerians from the national level.
We’ve all been demarcated. We’ve all been impoverished, we also have suffered so many untold hardship in the country. So the replication of it is what is happening on the Plateau. So if we have gotten a governor that is under-developing the state, certainly you should be rest assured that Plateaunians will not be ready to have infrastructural decay again.
So today on the Plateau, the PDP is the bride of every son and daughters of Plateau State. APC, yes in government but absolutely nothing to write home about. Well, I wouldn’t want to say more than that.
When we get to the debates and also to the run the scorecards of the present administration, it will be true to Nigerians and Plateaunians that we’ve not had what we desire from the present government.