NIGERIA – A former presidential aspirant in the 2019 general elections under the platform of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),
The former governor of Plateau State Jonah Jang, on Tuesday, said Nigeria is not progressing, because power has not been given to the right areas where it should be exercised for the good of the citizenry.
The presidential aspirant also called for the restructuring of the country by amending the nation’s constitution, saying “even if it means starting from article one to the end, let it be done, so that we can have a truly federal constitution”.
He also advised the military authorities in the country to train units of the Nigeria Armed Forces on how to fight insurgency to win the war against “insurgency and banditry”.
The former lawmaker said he does not believe in rotational presidency, but if it is what Nigerians want, political parties must review their constitutions to accommodate it.
Jang disclosed this in Jos the Plateau State Capital during an interaction with journalists on national issues.
He said, “I have been in government in this country for eleven years, three in the military era, eight years as a democratically elected governor; even during the military, when we get to that office, you know that time we are under orders, you cannot talk much, but now with democratic setup; what is Federal Ministry of Agriculture? When Agriculture is in the States and Local Governments.
“Education should be for the state and the private sector, What is the Federal Ministry of Education?
“We should take the constitution and start looking at the powers that are given to the centre; vis-à-vis powers to the States and Local Governments.
According to him, “I don’t know of any nation that runs this kind of constitution, even in Africa, the way Nigeria is.
“All we are saying is that we are awakening Nigerians to look at the reasons why we are not progressing.
“We are not progressing, because power has not been given to the right areas where it should be an exercise for the good of the people at the grassroots.
He, however, said, “I’m beginning to hate using that word grassroots because it is becoming a very insulting word to Nigerians, everything, grassroots and they are being treated like the grass itself”, he decried.
Jang maintained that “I believe that Nigerians should be allowed to debate our coexistence so that we can become a nation, and not just remain a country, a collection of nationalities that cannot really decide properly.
The former lawmaker who served in the 8th Senate added that “For instance, what Plateau people want, is not what Kano people want; but when you ask our representatives to go and push a case for Plateau it is overruled.
“And let me tell you one area that I still feel angry that we were overruled; crisis started here on the Plateau before anybody ever knew there will be a crisis like we are having today in the North-East, North-West, and other places; but they brought a bill to create the North-East Development Commission, and we said the Middlebelt can also be given the same thing, they voted us out, we said okay, include us in the North-East Development Commission, they overruled us.
“Our people are here today, not in their homes, refugees within their own state; nobody is talking about them. What is our future? He asked.
“Because they have the numbers, they take what they want and overrule what they don’t want”, he decried.
“What kind of constitution is this that allows such injustice?
“We have set the tone for the debate and I hope the federal government of today will allow Nigerians to debate restructuring, the imbalance in the constitution has to be corrected so that whatever legal way we can get this constitution amended, even if it means starting from article one to the end, let it be done so that we can have a truly federal constitution”, he stressed.
Speaking on the issue of the rotational presidency, the former governor said that he does not believe in that.
According to him, “If the presidency is to be zoned, it should not just be between the north and south. It should be between north, the middle belt and south”.
Jang who spoke on many other issues said the counter-insurgency fight was different from a conventional war and there was an urgent need for special training.
“I read from newspapers and social media that the service chiefs have run out of ideas and that is why the problems of insurgency and general insecurity is persisting.
“I want to say that the problem of insurgency, to start with, the Nigeria Armed Forces are trained to fight wars, normal conventional wars, not insurgency.
“I believe that what has not been done in the training of personnel on how to fight counterinsurgency wars.
“Soldiers just come out of the training depot and they are sent to face the unconventional warriors and they have no idea of how to fight them,’’ he said.
The former governor said the appointment of service chiefs was the prerogative of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said when people who are due for retirement are not retired, it becomes difficult for the younger ones to move up.
“If the service chiefs move out vacancies are created, promotions are done and adjustments are made, “he said.
The former senator calls for a change in the terms and conditions of service of the Nigeria Armed Forces to end the untimely retirement of well-trained personnel.
“Unfortunately, our terms and conditions of service in the Nigeria Armed Forces are still such that people are trained and sometimes retired or sent out prematurely and they leave with the fantastic ideas that could be useful to the military.
“In the developed world, authorities consult such people and tap from their wealth of experience,’’ he added.