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Retired General Jeremiah Useni yesterday said Governor Jonah Jang is the real problem of Plateau State, which has been plagued by internicine communal violence that led to the death of a senator on Sunday.
Useni, who is chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum’s board of trustees, said instead of Jang to be a unifying leader as governor, he has been playing divisive politics among the tribes in the state thereby fuelling the cycle of bloodshed.
“The state governor, Jonah Jang, is not doing anything to allay the fears of every citizens in the state. Some feel marginalised; some are called all sorts of names. He says he will not like to deal with some people; he doesn’t take advice even from elders,” said Useni, who is a former FCT minister and now a leader of opposition Democratic Poeples Party (DPP).
He spoke in separate interviews with Daily Trust and the BBC in Abuja yesterday.
“The problem is the Constitution giving all the powers to one man who refuses to cooperate; there is nothing we can do. He is not relating to people, the Berom themselves are divided—we have the Du versus other Beroms. Then you have the non-Beroms including Hausa-Fulani and ourselves, we are not Beroms,” Useni said.
“One expects that as a governor of a state, everyone should be yours irrespective of tribe and other affiliations because everyone voted for you. So you cannot be a Berom governor or Hausa governor, everybody must be treated equally, failure to do that is inviting anarchy.”
Useni said Jang does not cooperate with the Federal Government in trying to solve the crises in the state.
“He is not cooperating with the Federal government. The Federal Government is helping to secure the state and you are saying that the state of emergency in two local governments be lifted. He said that and two days later the latest violence happened,” he said.
“Like what former Benue Governor Akume said, whether Jang likes it or not he is the governor and must wake up and assume his responsibility as the chief security officer of the state and not to sit down and be passing the buck.
“He should therefore have a rethink and work with everybody, listen and work with elders whether old or young. Younger ones may even give better advice and put his house in order and treat everybody equally as the governor of the state. For now, that is lacking.”
But Jang’s spokesman James Mannok dismissed Useni’s allegations, saying: “By Jeremiah Useni’s assertions, is he implying that leadership has failed in every state that there is crisis?”
He said although the Federal Government is actually in charge of security in the state, the governor was doing everything he needed to do in cooperation with all security agencies.
On allegation that Jang does not heed to advice, Mannok said Useni himself has consistently refused to use opportunities given to him to contribute his part to the administration of the state by shunning invitations for him to attend stakeholders’ meetings that the governor convenes.
Useni yesterday also spoke on the general administration of state matters, saying Jang has failed to discharge his responsibilities. “Civil servants have not been paid, even in local governments some are being owed four months and when they are paid, they are paid half salary as if they are doing half works,” he said.
He said another unfortunate thing is that a state government that is not paying workers salary is building a new government house with N4 billion while borrowing money to finance agriculture and water.
Useni said Jang is not capable of running the state “unless he changes his heart. Don’t forget that there was a time the state was in turmoil for eight days. He was in India, sitting down there. He didn’t rush down and there have been many cases like that.
“When you advice him, he doesn’t listen to advice and when he was asked why he doesn’t take advice, he said he doesn’t have to take advice from anybody. How do you expect a governor to say that? Who doesn’t take advice, no matter how wise or clever you are? Even (the Biblical) King Solomon used to take advice.”
Useni said the State House of Assembly is incapable of doing anything about Jang “since they did not win elections and cannot be accountable to people.”
He added: “We are praying that one day he would listen.”
Asked to comment on calls for withdrawal of the military from Plateau State, Useni said, “I know some people are saying it and Jang is one of them. You are handling the security before and there is problem, then the government deployed troops. He needs to cooperate with the Federal Government.”
In his BBC Hausa interview, Useni responded to the calls for troops withdrawal from Plateau thus: “This is nonsense! How can they handle these crises without the presence of military?”
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