Jos North/Bassa House of Representatives aspirant and former Special Assistant to Governor Jonah Jang on Intergovernmental Relations, Mr David Jang Zoyong sat down with Dr. Chinan Mclean in Jos for an interview which touched on key aspects of the 2019 elections, including his ambition, plans for Jos North/Bassa constituency etc.
Below is the full text of the interview.
1 Could you introduce yourself to our readers please?
I am David Jang Zoyong –an Anaguta native from Jos North LGA.
I am a two time House of Reps aspirant (for the Jos North/Bassa seat), a past transition committee secretary of the Jos North Local Government Council and a former Special Assistant to Governor Jonah Jang on Inter-Governmental Relations.
My professional background (i.e., prior to politics) is varied and eclectic, with stints in the Department of Security Services (DSS – for 9 years), the Security Printing and Minting Company (for 4 years) and then running my private firm (providing security consulting services and inter-connections for 5 years).
In my role as special adviser on Intergovernmental Relations, I was opportune to have met-with and parleyed-with world leaders and global citizens, who managed some of the most difficult conflicts but yet were able to find solutions which quelled them. The insights and knowledge gained from these parleys are desperately needed in our raging challenges on the Plateau. Particularly the insights gleaned from Former British Prime Minister – John Major, Mrs Naomi King – Head of the A D King Foundation, Baron Alan John Watson of Richmond etc.
On the community front, I am a social advocate whose primary motivation is the betterment of the plight of my community and state. And this is especially poignant and personal to me, because of the myriad of attacks, killings that continues to ravage our constituency of Jos North/Bassa. Of note are the recent attacks on our Irigwe brothers in Jebu-Miango, Rafiki, Hukke, Nkiedonwhro, Ancha, Dong etc.
Above: Mr. David Jang Zoyong with ex-Prime Minister of Britain, Mr. John Major at a meeting in London.
A bit about my formative years:
I attended EKAN primary school Nasarawa Gwong (in the heart of the Jos city). At that time, it was perhaps the most ethnically diverse and socially inclusive school of any on the Plateau. Children from virtually every community attended the school –Beroms, Jarawas, Anagutas, Hausas, Igbos, Yorubas and the Urhobos were all in my class. As such, I grew up with an ethnically-neutral and open mindset to communities that domicile in Jos and call it their home. This early experience shaped my view of what peaceful co-existence ought to be.
By the time I went to secondary school (Government College Pankshin) and then subsequently to SPS Keffi and ABU Zaria, my outlook of inclusiveness and mutual co-existence was already consolidated. I found it easy to strike-out and form strong friendships and partnerships with Nigerians from all creeds, ethnicities and social orders/classes etc. To today, many of my good friends come from all parts of Nigeria.
With regards politics, it was never really an interest of mine. I was domiciled in Abuja –running my own business, when in 2007 my community beckoned that I come and serve. I obediently heeded their call, returned to Jos and plugged myself into the political space.
Above: Mr. David Jang Zoyong with Mrs Naomi D King (Head of the A. D. King Foundation) at a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia – USA
- For the record, will you be contesting the Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency Seat in 2019?
Being an obedient son of the Anaguta community, I never take important decisions alone.
I always defer such to my community, allowing them to internalise, consider all factors & circumstances and then give me their position. That has been my precedence and guiding principle since I joined politics.
To elucidate on that point, in 2007, my community requested that I return to Jos to serve them –a call I humbly heeded. Again in 2011 and 2014 they had an extensive parley (meeting) and decided that I be mandated to contest the Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency seat –which I obliged, albeit unsuccessfully because of internal party politics.
Above: Mr. David Jang Zoyong with Baron Alan John Watson of Richmond at the commonwealth observance service with the Queen of England at Westminster Abbey, London
- You intend to represent one of the most volatile constituencies in Nigeria –tell us what advantage being a Security Services Technocrat gives you?
My experience in the Security Services sector undoubtedly puts me in pole position in understanding the fundamental issues that underlie the conflicts/attacks in Jos North & Bassa.
But in addition to that, my local knowledge of the customs, norms, composition, ethnic make-up, and sensitivities etc in Jos North and Bassa, gives me an advantage which is second to none. This is especially so because I spent most of my formative years in the epi-centre and the very “eye” of the troubles –as such I am confident that I have first-hand experience and knowledge of what the issues are and God’s willing –together with the good people of Jos North and Bassa, we shall surmount them.
My role at the DSS has taught me to look at security issues beyond their superficial symptoms (the symptoms are things like a full blown crisis, killings, tension etc –these are usually very obvious and unmissable to everyone). But to focus on the deeper causative factors (or the root-causes –which are the real factors that drive the troubles). These root-causes are typical not as obvious as the “symptoms” and are only apparent to trained security personnel and discerning minds (these may include things like unhealthy competition for resources, mutual suspicion, religious bigotry, political disharmony etc).
Taking the example of Jos North, for several years, the main problem of the different communities in inner Jos township, where I grew up, was that of “mutual suspicion”. This often times, led to tensions and ultimately a full blow crisis like we saw in 2001 and the following years. As a security professional, one is trained in the art of dealing with the issues at the first stage i.e., “mutual suspicion” (before it leads to tension and ultimately a crisis), as such that will be my focus.
With regards the persistent attacks on villages in Bassa and parts of Jos North (Dong etc), I have crafted a blue-print of how we shall mobilise and move colleagues in the National Assembly (if elected) to promulgate laws which will save-our-people. Bear in mind, Bassa appears to have become the new “Riyom” and “Barkin Ladi” –which were the past hotbeds of the attacks. In other words the “epi-centre” of the attacks appears to have moved from the traditional hotbeds like Jol, Sho, Atakar, Bachit, Foron, Shonong in Riyom and Barkin Ladi etc to Dong, Jebu-Miango, Nkiedonwhro, Rafiki, Hukke etc in Bassa and Jos North LGA.
- If elected, what will you do differently?
Without being cliché and contrived, if I am elected I intend to flip the business of legislation (as we know it) on its head. I will make the people my bosses and I their servant. I will listen to them, reason with them, understand their niggling issues and then promulgate and push for bill/laws that will serve to ameliorate their plight.
One of the fundamental mistakes we have seen with lawmakers is that once elected –they almost have instantaneous amnesia about the people who elected them, and it becomes about them personally. They move to Abuja, choice areas, enjoying the spoils of life without much thought of the plight of the people being killed in our communities. As such, when they return to Jos –it is almost as though they are representing Abuja to the people of Jos and not the other way round (i.e., representing Jos in Abuja).
To summarise, if elected –my style of leadership will be different. It will be inclusive, collaborative, servant-wise and adequate. My constituents will be my bosses and I their servant.
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