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INTERVIEW: All parties in Plateau Assembly have a cymbiotic relationship– Speaker Gabriel Dewan

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Rt Hon Gabriel Dewan is the Speaker of Plateau State Assembly, in this interview with the Regional Editor, North of NaijaOnPoint.com.ng, Emman Ovuakporie and other Editors, he spoke extensively on various knotty issues.

Hear him:

Let’s begin with the relative peace in Plateau State. Before now, Plateau used to be in the news for the wrong reasons, especially from the State House of Assembly but the House is enjoying relative peace, what is responsible for this?

First, I want to appreciate God Almighty for His guidance and protection of us as citizens of Plateau State. There is nothing strange about the peace we are enjoying in the State apart from the fact that all of us, the Honourable members in the House have placed the interest of Plateau above personal, individual Party interest.

We have come to realize that the interest and survival of Plateau supersede any political Party or personal interest which is why we are having the relative peace that we are enjoying in the Assembly. The welfare of the State is paramount.

Sometimes, the Assembly goes into crisis when there is interference from the Executive or other external forces but what we are experiencing in the Plateau State Assembly today is that we have an independent Assembly where the Executive does not interfere and, on our part, as Members of the Assembly, we have agreed to work for the people of Plateau, not individual parties.

There are still seven lawmakers yet to be inaugurated to the House, I hope this will not cause any storm in the future.

The seven members yet to be inaugurated, there is no cause for alarm.

At the appropriate time, when the appropriate things are done, the rest will be inaugurated, the interest of Plateau is above all as such everything will come into play at the right time.

You are from the opposition political party, as the Speaker, what is the relationship among Members in the House?

There is something out there that some people don’t understand. In the Assembly, there are laws guiding our conduct. Once you are elected and you cross over to the Complex, your Political Party interest is out there, everything we do is in the interest of the Assembly and the State.

There is nothing like political parties in the Assembly. When you leave there, you fall back to your Party and discuss your Party affairs. We don’t discuss political parties in the Assembly during our plenary or legislative sessions so the relationship is cordial. Remember that before we were elected, we were first sons and daughters of Plateau State so there are relationships that exist among us as colleagues.

Political Parties may divide us but we are one. I am from the YPP, I have a brother in the Labour Party and other members in APC. That doesn’t make us enemies or opposition, it is just we have pre-election and post-election interests.

When it’s time for election everybody struggles to get power or get himself into political office and that is why you get divided but when the election is over, it is about service to the people; discharging your responsibilities that you were voted for so we must bury the differences that we encountered during pre-election and adopt ...-election interest for the good of citizens.

Some of us are relations of other Members. There is a law in the House that any member of the House can be the Speaker. Before I became the Speaker there were others and after me, there will be others so it is about reaching out for everybody to realize that it is time for governance not politicking if you want politics, wait for 2027, for now. It is time for governance. Our relationship is very cordial.

 

Let’s talk about the Executive and Legislative relationship. The Governor congratulated you as the Speaker, since you are talking about the interest of Plateau, is the relationship between you and the Executive arm cordial that it can drive development?

Our relationship is very wonderful. I can tell you without mincing words that if there is any Assembly in this country that is enjoying a cordial relationship with the Executive, Plateau will be one. The day we inaugurated the nine members, the first port of call was to visit the governor and inform him of the development.

You saw how he embraced us, ordinarily, it is the duty of the House to embark on a retreat to induct the new Members, but the Governor out of his magnanimity said he would partner with us.

As we have the retreat, the Governor will be to one to declare that event open. This justifies the cordial working relationship that we have unlike other Assemblies.

Some months back, the Assembly erupted in crisis because of political party interest but the Governor did not walk into the Complex to shut it down or decide to stop the Assembly from carrying out its duties as we have seen elsewhere. He can only advise us when he hears of anything, he will call and ask what is happening and he will advise without interfering.

There is a clear separation of powers in the State but there is a cooperation, a partnership for the interest of the Plateau. To understand that things are moving well, you can see that the members attend the Governor’s functions to give him support. In some Assemblies, if the governor is having a function, you barely see members attending. That is a signal that all is not well but ours is not the case. Plateau State has four political parties in government, the Governor is from the PDP, I am from the YPP, some of my Members are from the APC, we also have the Labour Party, and we have no rancour because we have all agreed that the interest of Plateau supersedes all other interests. Before political parties came, there was Plateau and we shall protect the heritage of Plateau and hand it over to the generations coming after us.

Before us there were members, after us there will be members so there is no need to bring down the roof because of political Party differences that will last for about four years. The relationship between the State Assembly in Plateau and the Executive is very cordial and wonderful and I must give it to the Governor for his maturity, his understanding, we need to be proud of him.

What will you say to the people of Plateau State, we know that insecurity has been a major issue in some parts of the State. What are the plans for stable security in the State?

 

A few days ago, the Speakers of the 36 States in Nigeria made a statement that we back the State Police, this is a major request and Plateau is one of the States that need this.

The Governor and the Security agencies have been up and doing to checkmate insecurity, all they need is support. We urge citizens to be vigilant and watch their neighbourhoods, especially during this farming season. Our enemies always target the period to deprive us of farming and bring hunger to the land, we will continue to enact laws that have a direct bearing on people, especially on issues of security and protection of lives and property, and support the Governor’s agenda towards securing the lives of people.

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