Road to 2023; PDP, APC failure seals LP’s 2023 victory- Munlip, LP Guber candidate in Taraba
Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
Mr Philip Munlip is the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Taraba state. In this exclusive interview with The Sun, he talks on how to tackle insecurity in Taraba state, boost State’s IGR and other issues. He also says that the almost twenty four years of abysmal failure of the PDP and APC have made the victory for the Labour Party in 2023 non negotiable. Excerpts:
Why are you in the race for the number one seat in Taraba state?
It is true that Taraba state, created as far back as 1991 has enjoyed several leaders who all prioritized developments of the state in different ways. What you will agree with me is that, there is still so much to be done. I offer myself to serve in the first place to bring in new and more innovative ideas that will position the state on the path of rapid development in tune with contemporary realities.
Secondly, the Labour Party is already the new national tune and it is only fitting that Taraba State also key into this new normal. The youths and most of the people in the state are clamouring for a paradigm shift in the political calculations in the state. So I have offered myself to fill the vacuum to provide the alternative that the people crave for.
Coming from a relatively minority party, what are your chances of winning the governorship election?
You remember that in 2015, Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP was a seating president, but he was ousted by the Buhari led APC. That was because people were no longer satisfied with what the PDP was offering them and so they looked for an alternative and they found it in the then coalition that is the APC. Today, several people in this country will tell you that they are not satisfied with the current administration in so many ramifications. You have these major political parties. Yes, they are major, they are deeply rooted, yes, but have they been able to translate their firm grip on the system to good governance and provision of dividends of democracy to the people of Taraba and Nigeria at large? The answer is no.
Indeed, the people are now agitating for a new arrangement. They want something new. They want something they can trust. They want to be moved from the failures of the past to a future that is safe, secured, prosperous and a future that can prioritize their welfare. That is what I bring to the table by His grace. That is what defines my chances of victory. That is what guarantees my victory in 2023 by His grace. Through God’s help, the people will see competence, see integrity, see justice and equity. They will also see innovative ideas and a strong political will that will invariably drive development of our dear state to the desired height. I must confess that the gross failures of the major political parties are the reasons for the success the Labour Party will experience in 2023.
What are some lapses you have identified with past administrations in the state and how do you intend correcting these?
I will rather talk about what I intend to do than talk about their lapses because government is a continuously and progressive thing. Rome wasn’t built in a day and so you should understand that every government that comes in can only do the much it can within its ability. So long as you are not in the system , you can never understand their challenges.
What I can tell you now is that, when I come on board, I will bring about policies that will give the state a new outlook and take it to an enviable position in the committee of states by His grace. First of all, I will bring on board a servant leadership approach, knowing that the primary objective for my seeking leadership is to serve and not to be served. It will be established on the pillar of justice and doing things right. I will do my best to be fair, just, equitable, compassionate and all these will be in line with the constitution of the country. Taraba state is called the nature’s gift to the nation because of the enormous economic potentials that are inherent in the state. Unfortunately, these potentials have not been fully exploited and translated into what can be used for the development of the state. My priority will be to tap these resources to give the state unprecedented economic advantage.
Look at tourism for instance. Every local government area in this state has enormous potentials in tourism and once we are able to create the right atmosphere, get the right investors to come in, our tourism industry will become as viable as what we see across the world. There are many organizations around the world that are looking for the right places to invest in profitable ventures. Many too are looking for opportunity to engage in public private partnership, I.e, run it for a while and then hand it over to the government after recouping their money. Now tourism alone can create more that ten thousand direct and indirect jobs. These industry alone will make the state not just self sustaining but among the most economically viable states.
Let us talk about agriculture. Taraba state has all the necessary climatic conditions and topography to produce different variety of crops and species of animals. Taraba state has the capacity to produce all kinds of grains, roots and tubers, tea, coffee, cocoa, avocado, plantain bananas and sugar canes. Fruit plants like mangoes, oranges, pawpaw and all kinds of vegetables all of these can be produced in large quantity. We have one of the highest concentration of cattle and other livestocks in Taraba. All we need to do is set up the industries and encourage our farmers to be gainfully productive.
God helping us, we will embark on massive cottage industries. The state government does not need to do this alone. All we would need to do is to create the right atmosphere for investment and investors. You will have so many jobs for the youths and they will have no time thinking about crime. Look at the Baissa Timbre that is wasting away. All you need to do is set up a world class furniture industry in that area. From Lau right down to Dampa is a rice production zone.
How will you tackle insecurity which is a major threat to any meaningful developmental move?
All these people that are involved insecurity or generating security threats in our society live among the people. Which actually implies that the people within the community know who they are. But what we really need to find out is why are we having these security threats? Is it coming from unemployment? Is it from dissatisfaction of the people about the system? Is it from tribal inclinations or is it from religious differences? We must be able to establish the problem. When you’re able to identify the major source of security threats, it becomes easier to address them. That is why I am passionate about taking our youths off the streets and getting them to gainfully employ their mind to some economically viable venture. This will take their mind off from thinking about engaging in criminality.
We will also engage in robust dialogue among the various ethnic groups that are hostile to each other and are always clashing so as to address their grievances sincerely, justly, fairly and holistically. Once we are able to establish relative stability at the community levels, we would empower our traditional rulers constitutionally to tackle any security threat. Once that is taken care of, I can assure you that it will become easier to tackle any external security threat because the people at the various communities will be able to identify and report strange persons around them to the respective authorities. I must emphasize that our traditional rulers have a very key responsibility in dealing with security issues. But they need to be properly empowered and also properly educated to address security issues within their immediate environment.
So basically, we will deal with insecurity through dialogue, legislation and employing the necessary security apparatus in addressing these security problems. The security men themselves will also need to be properly empowered. I remember in the days of the late Governor Danbaba Suntai, you know he created and actually gave them the necessary empowerment to function and within that time frame, there was a drastic reduction of security issues in the state. There’s so much to be done in the issue of security.
Now talking about national outlook you’ll discover that the state, because of the issue of the monopoly of the police, sometimes the power of the state executives are limited that is why the agitation for state police has actually been very high. Even though I have my little reservation state police, I believe that with a proper framework in place, I think state policing will go a long way in reducing crime rates and security threats in the state and the country.
The presidential candidate of the APC has picked another Muslim as his running mate. What is your take on it?
I don’t want to talk about that because religious issues are very dicey but beyond that, Nigeria is country with multi religious and have several ethnic nationalities. The constitution provides for the right to association. I feel we’ve not been able to develop the culture of good governance which should be deeply rooted in the principles of our democracy. I think, the democracy in this country is still growing, we’ll come to a stage where this thing will no longer matter.
However in the processes of growth of democracy, these kind of things are bound to happen. Whichever way, American democracy today which we copy from is well over 200 years, still have problems. So we won’t expect a country like Nigeria to be free from some of these problems.
But be it as it is, if we look at the recent things that are happening in this country, especially the emergence of Peter Obi and his principle giving Nigeria good governance, it has created sharp divide between people who seek to see things being done right and then people who want to continue in the status quo, but you will agree with me that this is a new development in this country. Let me say Peter obi didn’t go for a Christian- Christian ticket. So if APC wants to go with Muslim-Muslim ticket, that’s their local problem.
However that’s their party, I’m not in APC so I will not speak for APC. So whatever were the reasons or wisdom behind their Muslim – Muslim ticket, I’m not in a position to talk about. All we are actually saying is that we need a better Nigeria and I think a better Nigeria is achievable through good governance. We need to preach the spirit of tolerance despite all things, we must continue to preach that we should tolerate each other. You can’t take away the fact that each organization has their ideological tenets but I think in this case, Nigeria is a country where the Christians and the Muslims should learn to live together and tolerate each other.
People say that the frenzy about the Labour Party is more a Social Media thing and may not reflect actual reality. What do you have to say about this?
As a matter of fact, those who use the social media are human beings right? Somebody trends the social media with information so you won’t run away from the fact that these are people who are expressing their views, the media does not operate itself, so if someone says it’s just a mere social media campaign, the people that are actually carrying out the campaign in the social media are physical human beings. Group them together, they have a physical outlook that can do something physical, that’s number one.
Two, most of these massive mobilization have not been only in the media, they were physical. You’ve heard about people moving from street to street, door to door soliciting and advocating for good governance. Promoting Mr Peter Obi who is an advocate of that cause. So those that think it’s a social media kind of thing, let them wait, they’ll be surprised but on that day, the social media crusaders will turn into physical human beings that will eventually go to the poll to vote. Now the movement is massive and I’ll also be glad if you ask this question why is the movement massive. It is because people are disenchanted with the two big parties that you’re talking about, either PDP or APC.
The APC came in promising wonderful heaven on earth, but see where we are today. PDP of course whatever it is. You know the two parties still need to convince us that they have translated and transformed the lives of Nigerians. When schools are closed, several students are out of the class, lecturers have not been paid, ASUU strike has been there for several months, their demands are yet to be attended to and a host of others.
Several youths have left schools, graduated from the University, finished their NYSC and some have been there on the job roll for about ten to fifteen years. Educationally too, because the government has not been able to pay attention to creating a productive educational base, I used the word deliberately and intentional. Our universities today are not producing employable youths, when I mean employable youths I’m not talking about in terms of the white collar jobs, in terms of coming out from school and becoming self reliant. We have oriented them over the years with the idea of a white collar job and that is strong in their minds, now you want them to go and create jobs.
Everything I hear people say, you see, they should look for a job to do, they talk about entrepreneur, somebody needs to intentionally create an avenue to translate these ideas into practicality and to give them the capacity to function and our educational institution is key. These parties that have occupied the space of governance for this period have not been able to create the right environment, thereby increasing the level of unemployment dramatically in our society and of course creating the security threats that we just discussed. Because a hungry is the devils workshop.
So what do you want these young people to do, they left school, they’re out there on the street, their parents cannot take care of all their needs, some of them have been patient all these while but not all of them will bear the hash economic in our society. This has led to some of them becoming a nuisance in the society. All these are products of lack of good governance which the Peter Obi movement intends to correct given the opportunity.
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