Before declaring his governorship aspiration, Sunday Garba Biggs was a Permanent Secretary in the service of Plateau State government. For 23 years, he served in different capacities. He is one of the aspirants jostling to secure the governorship ticket of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). Biggs, who spoke to Kolade Adeyemi, opens up on his aspiration to govern Plateau State. Excerpts;
THERE is this position that you lack the requisite political experience you need for the assignment ahead of you. How will you respond to this?
I have been within the corridor of government for the past 23 years. I served in different capacities. I believe I have gained the requisite experience to add value to governance and take Plateau to the next level. I have spent the better part of my life in the Government House and have worked closely with politicians. I know their behaviour and sentiment. I am a technocrat that has lived the larger part of his life within a political environment and that has impacted me as well.
While working in the Government House, I am not the kind of person that closes at an official closing hour like another civil servant. I am a technocrat but a technocrat with a difference. I lived all my life with politicians. From 1999 to date, I have been interacting with them, so I know the demand.
What will you do differently as governor if elected?
Because I am a different person with a different mentality, the people of Plateau State should expect something different things from me. I served three governments. From the beginning of this political dispensation that is from 1999 to date, I have worked closely with all the administrations. People have seen when we re-engineered Plateau, redeemed Plateau and now the rescue mission on the Plateau. We should have the capacity to serve within these programmes. Those that are good, we will continue with them and for those that cannot impact the people, we see how to polish them so our package is different.
You can see there is a youth renaissance in the polity of Plateau State. So for the big things coming as we said in our slogan, it is a movement that will galvanise all age groups, particularly the young generation. They have taken it as a point of duty to move and see that we come to the seat of government comes 2023. The youths occupy a special place in our agenda because without them, there will be no future. They need to be packaged to make them useful to the society. If they are given special attention and their deserved place in government, most of the social vices being experienced today will be a thing of the past.
What is your relationship with other aspirants and is there any possibility of coming together for a consensus?
We are very mindful that the seat is reserved for one person and in my party. APC contestant from my local government are seven at the moment, including His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, Professor Sonie Tyoden, but I call tell you that all of us are in talking terms. We are trying to see how we can build consensus among ourselves. We wouldn’t want this opportunity to pass us by as a people. It is not a ‘do or die’ affair. We are brothers and conscious of the fact that at the end of the day it is only one person that will pick the ticket and fly the flag of the party. We are trying to ensure that one of us is saddled with the responsibility of leadership in Government House comes 2023. APC, particularly in Plateau State, is a disciplined party. Those at the helm of its affairs have done a lot to reposition it and build internal democracy and party members are conscious of this, hence there is no internal bickering.
What your assessment about the zoning arrangement in place in Plateau State?
It is a perfect system and arrangement that has stabilised the polity. Right now, ninety nine percent of those contesting are from the Central zone. The other zones are conscious of this and no one is coming out. It is a political understanding among the three senatorial zones in the state and it has not been circumvented for any reason. We thank our leaders for this.
What fresh agenda do you have to complement the existing ones on ground?
We are living in a situation where there are global challenges, particularly, the global economic downturn. This has forced many to begin to think outside the box so that we can impact our people. If given the opportunity to govern the state, we have to address certain issues based on the circumstances we find ourselves in Plateau State. We pray that things improve but if it doesn’t, we need to think outside the box because of the lean resources available. The era of bogus programmes is long gone.
We have to streamline to see how we can prioritise what will benefit Plateau state in the short run and see what we do in both the medium and long run. We have to focus on peace and security. We know our recent history and we need to consolidate on the peace on the ground at the moment. This is very crucial to the progress and development of the State. The Peace Building Agency put in place by the incumbent governor, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria, has done a lot in terms of peace building. The agency will be strengthened and further encourage to do more. We shall build bridges across every divide and reinforce the existing unity among diverse ethnic and religious groups on the Plateau.
The youths form the bulk of your supporters, what plan do you have for them?
One of the problems facing all the states in Nigeria presently is unemployment among the youths. There are two issues here; those that are employable and those that are not employable. We shall bring up a programme that would address these two issues. It is not about white-collar jobs anymore but entrepreneurship. As I said early they cannot be neglected, they shall be given special attention.
Recently, your party was engulfed in crisis. Do you think APC is strong enough to win the 2023 governorship election in Plateau State?
When the party came on board in 2015, it was given all sorts of names just to discourage people from embracing it but today it has become a force to be reckoned with and the number one party on the Plateau. You can see how the fortune of the party has changed over the years. The present governor and other stalwarts have done a lot to entrench the party. Initially, some people thought the party will fizzle out after the first tenure of this administration in 2019 but it still went ahead to win with a wide margin for the second term.
When it comes to secondary elections, the party is good to go. The party came in with some states in power but today you can see that it has many more in its control at the moment. So the party must leverage on this success to ensure that it garners support for the 2023 election. The narrative now is not about the party itself but about presenting credible candidates that people are yearning for. So far so good, we have seen what the party is doing. The party leaders are doing their best to ensure that we present a common front at the polls so that popular candidates can emerge.