Istifanus Caleb Mwansat speaks on his Aspiration and why plateau central senatorial seat
on ViewPointNigeria’s straight with Dakwom Longgul, Istifanus Caleb Mwansat. A former Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly speaks on his vision and the LIBERTY MANDATE to vie for the senatorial seat of plateau central come 2019. The interview covered broad topics of interest to his constituents, plateau people and other issues that connect role of the Legislator and National Development.
Below is the full text of the interview.
1. For the benefit of our reader, kindly introduce yourself sir.
My name is Istifanus Caleb Mwansat,born some 48 years ago in Jos.At one time I was a member of the state house of assembly,Part of the 6th,7th,and 8th assembly and by the grace of God I presided over the house in 6th assembly as speaker.
2. For the records are you vying for the senate of Plateau Central come 2019?
Oh, Very well, And emphatic yes
3. lets talk about what you are going to do differently if elected as the senator representing plateau central
By the special grace of God over time, i have been able to acquire reasonable level of experience in legislative work. From my introduction, I mentioned to you that, i was part of the fifth assembly until the early part of the Eight Assembly. Now when you put that together it gives you a cumulative of about Nine years and i think as far as legislative work is concerned, in the state assembly i remain the only person that have served in four different Assemblies and the experience acquired over time is an achievement.
Again, i have followed with very very keen Interest how our representatives have feared within the central zone particularly in the senate i want to say with all honesty that we have been represented by different people and every body has given his best and i think there is still room for improvement. That is why i have given my self up to vie for the seat. Because, i know from my wealth of experience i can inject new breath, new life ,new concept of representation. My wealth of experience will be brought to bear in the Senate. I also know, at the risk of blowing my trumpet, while i lasted in the state assembly, my voice was not a voice that could be waved away and i think with that experience i will serve differently in the senate if given the opportunity because while you go to represent your people you need to have the vision and understanding of what it takes to be a representative considering the statutory responsibilities of a legislator, I feel very strongly that if given the opportunity, if it is in terms of law making, i think i am in the position to contribute immensely, meaningfully to impacting the lives of our people by way of good legislation. What we have today unfortunately i think for those that are there, particularly our senator from the central zone I will want to say well, he has done his best and i think he has given the best he can give because you can not give what you do not have and as a result,i think we can improve greatly from what he has done or what he is doing
4. The central zone seem to have quite a number of graduates in different fields ,some with masters some even PHD holders but they are unemployed and it is said that the central zone has the highest number with similar cases ,so how do you intend to lobby as a legislator and see this set of youths been empowered ?
I think in many ways,
- you can address that by way of law making, because you need to provide good legislation to those that will create the ennoblement for our unemployed youths to be properly engaged.
- You can deliberately initiate programs that can develop the skills of our young people because not every educated person has to engage in a white collared job.we also have to look outside the box.you need to develop the capacity and skills of our young people ,some that can be self employed and of course themselves be employers of labor.This can be done by way of legislation.
- By way of representation, you will discover that the quarter that is supposed to be filled by plateau people are being filled by people outside of this state.Again, i have noticed that of the quarter that is meant for plateau state surprisingly gets a high domination from a particular part of this state at the detriment of others.I have challenged people,i have asked questions.What is happening? If there is a slot for ten people or for ten plateau indigents to be employed or engaged and you find one local government going with seven of those slots.one local government not one senatorial zone then i think something is wrong.By the special grace of God, while i was in house, i had gone out of my ways to go lobby,appeal,plead with employers to engage my people. It is on record i don’t talk about it but of course it is on record, it is an edible record.it is not a record that is contestable.
5. OK Sir , are you saying you are going to do the same thing?
I am going to do more because , now the responsibilities are higher and of course the area of coverage is high or is wider then, of cause, i cant do less, for to whom much is given,much is expected. And i can assure you, it is in my blood and that is what i know how to do best.
6. OK, lets talk about the recent happenings, first of all, lets talk about the youths and the quest to go for political positions.You have heard about the Not Too Young to Run Bill…are you a supporter of youths in politics?
Very well. I started politics at a very young age.maybe in my late 20s or early 30s. I became the speaker of the House at the age of 38 and i think i did well.however the age is not the only thing because what you have to put on the table is not your age, because the age for me is just a number depending on how you use your head, and how you use your head determines how far you go politically. Now the “not too young to run” bill,very perfect! but of cause, young people must come to terms with reality of the day. The society today is a highly competitive society.You see equity is not for the indolent the society is highly competitive now you have to bring your youthful age to bear,you have to take advantage of youthful age ,you are stronger, more vibrant, you are more current,you have contemporary intelligence, you understand the happenings of the 21st century so you are the people of the moment but you have to utilize this advantages positively. where you find the young people expressing themselves via the social media in a line that does not give people hope. You engage in all kinds of discussions on the social media. people use the social media to exhibit their level of disrespect to elders,even to their contemporaries.If you hear how young people are exchanging words among themselves you wonder what does the future holds for us?when you are supposed to be discussing issues, you abandon that and begin talking about personalities.I think the youths will now have to show a difference.I am a very strong supporter of the “Not to young to run Bill” because for me i see myself as a bridge, Today i am contesting for the senate, at one of my discussions with some older people,they say you this small boy,the Senate is not for young people when i attempt to go down,the younger ones say you this old people what are you doing here?so its like from top and bottom,people want to squeeze you and that is why we are now the bridge between the young and the older people and i think for us in my own generation,our future is today. For those that are younger than us, have faith in our own generation, and to have faith in their own generation together with them we can take this country to the next level, so, i sincerely will challenge the young people to be more responsible,There are very responsible young people,very industrious,very entrepreneur.There is this young man a friend of mine Hart Bankhart , he is example of a good young man of the younger generation.Their are a lot of younger people like him , look at what you are doing today, there are people like you who have graduated,but because the carry certificates in their boxes, they will tell you outside of a white collared job or office work, they will not do anything.Their certificates have now become an albatross to them, because, it is limiting their senses of reasoning so, until you project yourself,until you prove to the world that yes you have arrived,and you are prepared to take leadership.When we talk about the good old days in Nigeria look at the age bracket of our leaders then, it ranges between 29 and 40.And they gave perfect and wonderful leadership in this country but today you find somebody celebrating his 76th or 78th birthday and telling you he wants to be governor,this is ridiculous and i think this is something the youths must resist because if you don’t they say if you want a very good future you must build it today.What we are talking about is our elders,our parents while they are still alive,while they still available to correct us when we are derailing ,they must take their proper positions as parents and advisers and give us the opportunity to lead.
6. Lets get your thoughts on ranching /colony policy dichotomy and lets also get your view on the struggle of the middle Belt. You will agree with me that there is a struggle in the Middle Belt,many believe that the Middle Belt is a region divided against it self and it cannot stand… now you are about to go to the upper red chambers (the Senate),in your discuss what will be the position of central zone through you?
In terms of the ranching policy and the colony, visa-vi the middle belt struggle well i think there is just one way to go about addressing the issue .
The federal government through Audu Ogbe have been manipulating words and using all sort of words to manipulate peoples intelligence but of course Nigerians have consistently refused to be manipulated.There is no two ways to ranching, its a global world practice .This is the 21st century, we cannot continue to live like we are in the 15th century, where you share road with cows or cattle’s, when you are driving your car, you would have to park for them to pass before you continue moving!!! so the only way to go is Ranching.
What ever you called it colony or what ever for me does not make sense its just manipulative and its just the clear explanation of what the APC is all about because people are insisting on ranching. Today, you say open grazing, tomorrow you say colony, next tomorrow you say what,the ultimate is ranching and that is what i stand for and that is what i know a lot of people stand for.Now on the issue of middle belt struggle,when you talk about the middle belt, where is the middle belt? who is a middlebelter? Is it a geographical term?Is it a settlement that is carved for some class of people and what informed the agitation for the middle belt region long time ago? I think it is strictly as a result of strong serious marginalization of the Northern Minorities in this country and till today we still see that coming up,today , they call us the north central and i ask the question what is central about a North? Because we are the true Nigerians compared to any other person as far as the central Nigeria is concerned,we are not bounded by any country because their are people that share boundaries with other countries that we do not know whether they were carved from those countries and now are next to Nigeria but the real Nigerians are the central people in this country and we hold his country together but ironically we are the least developed because we have been used as people that will go,sacrifice their lives in other to keep this country together.During the Nigerian Civil war 80% of those that fought that war to keep Nigerians together are people from the middle belt but what have we got to show for it ? Nothing,why is that so?Greed and failure of leadership because by every standard, you can not say we have not been given the opportunity to govern this country.Babangida is a middlebelter he is from the North Central,Abdulsalam is from the North Central,Gowon is from the North Central so what have we got to show that we had produced this number of head of states from this part of the country,when you put the number of years they have spent together,it is enough for us to be in paradise today and that again goes back to be challenge that is before the youths of this region that we must begin to prepare to take our hands and provide leadership differently because their are a lot of people who once you remove the name of their parents from them they loose identity ,those are the class of people within the youths that are causing confusion here but i think people who have the heart and the interest and are patriotic to the Nigerians project,those are the kinds of youth that most come together and salvage this country.But of cause the agitation of the middle belt is a continuous thing.Now the two major political parties in this countries APC & PDP has zoned the position of the presidency for 2019 to the North but you find out that each time a middlebelter raise his head up ,some people tell you no you are not qualified Why? Because a middle belter or the man from the North Central is not seen as a Northerner and that is why i ask the question what is central about North? or what is North about a central?Do we have pigments bearing any name as Northerners?For me the answer is No because when issues come up for the North to discuss and in the table you have a cake to share in the North and they tell you you are not going to partake in the sharing of that cake,then what is your fate?so what is north about me?
7. On a final note, what is you message to your potential electorates outside?
Well, my message is for them is to have faith in the LIBERTY PROJECT,The word LIBERTY was deliberately used or i deliberately used it for a very long time and i am not prepared to drop it in the nearest future until our people are liberated from misrepresentation , Mal-administration, dominant and misrepresentation. our people must be LIBERATED from the shackles of Poverty,Lack of Education.my message is that given the opportunity i intend to represent my people in such a way that they will be liberated from all this negative vices because when i was given the opportunity to serve in the house of assembly i think i made my mark.
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