Chinan Mclean of ViewPointNigeria was again opportune to catch-up with Dr Ponyah Ibrahim (Governorship aspirant, PDP) for the second phase of the interview at his office in FCDA Abuja. The interview covered broad topics including his plans for the youth, women and education in Plateau state.
Below is the full text of the interview.
- If elected governor in 2019, what will be your plans for the youths and women of Plateau
Both the youth and women will be the fulcrums and engine rooms of my agenda (should I be elected governor in 2019). I will work-with them to harness their intellectual capacities and energies in the actualisation of my dream for Plateau.
To illustrate my point:
Youths: These are the powerhouse, the engine room of every society. My plan is to empower the youth in a manner that we harness their creative potentials to power the Plateau economy.
What I am speaking about is not the typical “political” empowerment, where politicians purchase and distribute wheel barrows, grinding machines or dole-out money for the benefit of press coverage. It is an empowerment which is different from what we have witnessed on the Plateau –one that is at a conscious level –going over and beyond physical empowerment to a level that sparks and activates the creative energies of our young people. That is the kind of energy I wish to resurrect in Plateau youths.
Still on the topic of the youths; there is need for succession planning, to ensure that a vibrant, capable and visionary youth succeeds me post 2023. I wouldn’t want to come to the end of my tenure in 2023 and then start scratching my head with regards who will continue with the vision.
I am cognitive of the fact that the southern zone only has 4 years (i.e., Gov. Lalong having done the first 4 years). So essentially if elected, I will have to compress my 8 year plan into 4 years to ensure that I deliver on my promises of re-positioning Plateau, but also to mentor and groom a young, keen and vibrant mind to carry-on from where I leave.
Women: I will tap their strengths and developmental passion to bring advancements to the very fabric of our societies.
To underscore the importance of women to society, let me outline this anecdote. When I was going to the University of Benin to start my degree, my mother requested to speak to me early in the morning and the words she said, remains fresh in my memory.
She said, “when you go to Benin, remember that you are the son of a poor farmer (not a rich man). When you get there, you only have one assignment –bring back that certificate (Bachelors of Engineering). If you are asked to clean the toilet do it, if you are asked to sweep the floor –do it”. If you are to have a big future, you must invest in it.
Those words of advice became my guiding principles throughout my time in Benin. I remember entering a Petrol tanker on several occasions to get to Benin because as a family we couldn’t afford money for transportation.
Essentially, the point I am trying to make is that women are massively interested in the progress of their family and humanity than anything else.
If elected governor in 2019, 40% of my cabinet positions will go to women. That’s a promise!
I will make women not only participants in my administration; they will form the bed-rock of my agenda.
Elders: the role of elders in our society cannot be overstated. They serve in an advisory and oversight capacity to ensure that the captain of the “Plateau ship” is navigating the ship accordingly and that it is still scheduled to deliver as promised.
In my last interview I spoke about the “River Ibi” project which I will be looking to bring to life. That’s a typical project where we will require the wisdom and steer of our elders. We will require them to go to Taraba State, sit down with their elders and work-out modalities for jointly exploiting the opportunities in the Ibi Trough. Imagine, if we have elders in the capacity of Jonah Jang, Fidelis Tapgun, Damishi Sango, Dakum Shown etc to go and sit down with T Y Danjuma –you can be assured that a productive discussion will be had.
- In the Education sector, Plateau state has fallen behind its peers. As governor, what will you do to remedy this situation?
The education sector is un-arguably the most important sector (only second to security) –as such I will give it the highest of priorities.
I will remedy the current desperate situation in the following ways:
- Educational Infrastructure: By infrastructure, I mean the buildings, playgrounds, learning aids and tools that are required for effective learning. If I am elected Governor, I will ensure that the standard of our education infrastructure is raised to levels that pupils feel excited and happy to go to school and study. I will ensure that learning is not simply theoretical, like we currently have it, but practical and fun with all learning aids.
What I am saying is that subjects like mathematics, physics, chemistry, further maths, and economics etc –should not be taught like literature, philosophy or arts but must have all the requisite laboratories, gadgets, machines and computers that are necessary for proper assimilation.
In this regard, in my first 100 days in office, I intend to build model secondary schools (1 per zone) –to give Plateau people a “fore-taste” of what I am aiming for.
2. Teachers: Probably the most important of all! We will re-train and re-tool our teachers. I will develop a reward system which ties excellence of students to the reward of the teachers. So for instance, if a teacher has 20 students in his class and all the students excel in their GCSE and pass with a minimum of C6 –then such a teacher will be entitled to a reward by Government. That reward could be say a multiple of his salary or a set amount of money.
I shall also find a way of tying the teacher’s promotion to the performance of his students. If every teacher knows that his promotion and career progression depends on the success of his students, then they will take the business of educating the students personally. As such, each teacher becomes invested in the success of his/her students and will do any and everything possible to ensure that they succeed. That in my opinion is a win-win scenario.
- If elected Governor and you finish your term in 2023, what would you want to be remembered for?
- Physical infrastructure: I want to be remembered for raising the bar of excellence in capital & developmental projects in Plateau. I will want to be remembered for bringing roads that are at par, if not better than Abuja.
I shall not allow the building of roads like we currently see in Plateau –where only the barest minimum is done, No! All roads under my watch will be designed to standard, built futuristically with high structural integrity. And I say this confidently, because having been in the business of civil engineering works and construction for approximately 3 decades, and being responsible for many of the large projects in the FCT –there will be no cutting corners under my watch.
2. Agriculture: I will want to be remembered as the person who set down the blue-print for Plateau’s economic revolution and independence. As the man, who changed the game from Plateau’s dependence on the federation account to sole dependence of Plateau’s agricultural sector.
With Potato from the Central and Northern zones, Yam from the Southern zone, Corn from the Central and Southern zones, Rice from the Southern zone –I am confident that Plateau can be self-sufficient, without depending on Abuja.
3. Mining: I believe that mining has the potential of giving Plateau more than it is currently receiving as monthly subvention.
For instance, general opinion is that the mineral deposits in Langtang South are second to none. If that’s the case, then the logical step will be to quickly undertake a mineral mapping of the area to determine the quantity, purity and quality of the mineral etc. Once this is done, then Plateau needs to ensure that the raw material is not mined and ferried away to China or other parts of the world as is currently the case, but that the resource is processed in Jos in order to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
To do this, Plateau may need to go into partnership with a foreign company (which is willing to set-up a plant in Jos) and then the resource can be jointly exploited. To make this happen, legislation will be key –so Plateau state can pass laws that allow the domestication of the processing of our resources and not simply their mining.
4. Integrity: Lastly, I will want to be remembered as a man who makes promises and keeps them. As a man who restored Plateau people’s trust in governance and politics.
I had posited earlier that the Southern Senatorial zone only has a 4 year term remaining after Governor Lalong’s first term. I will stick to that if elected!
I shall undertake all that I can in the remaining 4 years slot and whilst I do so; I shall be mentoring and grooming a young successor to take over from where I leave. Governance is not about an individual but about the citizens –as such I am confident that wherever I stop, someone capable can take-up and advance.
See ViewPointNigeria’s first phase of the interview with Dr Ponyah Ibrahim at: https://viewpointnigeria.com/want-governor-plateau-state-dr-ponyah-ibrahim-speaks-viewpointnigeria/
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