Mr. Jerry Kumdisi is the Chief Whip of the Adamawa State House of Assembly.In this interview, the onetime aide on Legal and Constitutional Matters to former Governor Boni Haruna provides insights on why the House removed the state’s immediate past governor, Rear Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd). He also spoke on his governorship ambition and why APC members in the House defected to PDP.
By Okey Ndiribe
The House has been accused of being used to do a dirty job against Nyako and being paid for it. How true is this?
Reward from who? What favour or rewards were we looking for? As far as I know we didn’t do it because we wanted a favour from anybody. We impeached Nyako because he was not doing well for the state.
Secondly as people who were supposed to be working together, he didn’t think that we mattered in the administration of the state. As our governor, we had the right to ask for certain things from him. One of such things was our constituency projects. We expected that every member ought to get it so that he or she can execute some projects in his or her constituency and remain relevant.
Since Nyako came to power a little more than seven years ago, he awarded contracts for constituency projects only once. I was part of it. I have been in the House since 2003. I know the governors that were there. I can tell you what they did and what they didn’t do.
You are mentioned among those interested in running for governor. Did your interest develop before Nyako’s impeachment ?
Yes I have been nursing the ambition. I had expressed my interest in the position long before the impeachment. I was doing my campaigns, although it was not in the open.
I have won election three times and I have gone round the state and I know what the problem of Adamawa is .
The people of Adamawa also know the kind of person I am. They know how I have represented them at the House of Assembly. I also know that I will give Adamawa a new direction, totally away from what used to be the case. My chances are really good.
What do you mean by what the situation used to be ?
You know that we impeached our governor recently. You don’t impeach someone who is doing well. If you do that, the people of the state would chase you out of your house. He was out of tune with the people.
But you gave Nyako a vote of confidence some months ago?
I agree that there was a vote of confidence but we all know how that confidence vote came about. It may be of no value to begin to dissociate myself from the action because if the House takes a decision, whether you voted for or against such decision it is binding on you. You are bound to be part of it.
Some of us didn’t agree with the confidence vote but we were in the minority. We didn’t have the voice to say that this vote of confidence cannot stand. The way our democracy operates is that sometimes when some members want to get favours from the executive, they engage in praise singing. It happens in all the states.
Why did it take the House more than seven years to realise that they needed to fight Nyako over his administration?
Everything has its time. When things like that were going on, the Governor had his own men. But gradually, those members fell out with him and joined some of us that had not been with him from the beginning.
How do you disprove claims that the presidency influenced and induced the House with money to remove Nyako?
I don’t know what you mean by being induced or influenced. Nobody asked us to do so. I am not aware of any inducement from anywhere.
If you talk of those that worked with Nyako in his early years I was one of them. But we fell out because he didn’t do what we expected he would do. Even before his ouster, there had been previous moves to impeach Nyako.
I was part of those who wanted to impeach him when President Yar’Adua was still in power. We served him impeachment notice then but because he was still in PDP and the party was one family, we were called to a meeting in Abuja and told to stop the impeachment move. We told them what the governor was doing and yet he was not being called to order by the party.
We tried to resist the intervention but the late President Umar Yar’Adua asked the then Vice- President, Goodluck Jonathan to sit with us because he was traveling abroad. We agreed on certain things with the governor. He was asked to implement the agreement while we were asked to drop the impeachment moves. We did as agreed.
When I was coming for the third term , the same Nyako denied me ticket in PDP. I went to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and won my election. I returned to PDP after our inauguration. It was the same Nyako that begged me because he knew that if I was not there in my local government he would not have won my council during his bid for a second term in office.
He told me that he did everything he could to ensure that I was defeated in the election. He told me he was sorry for doing all that and pleaded with me to return to PDP for all of us to work together. Election was coming and he needed everybody around at that time to help him to win. That was how I returned to PDP.
You have named one mistake that Nyako made, are there other mistakes he made that you will avoid if elected ?
One of the major mistakes Nyako made was to involve his family in government and governance. His wives were in government fully.
Family and friends
His first son left the navy where he was a commander to come and become a de facto deputy governor to his father. His children were playing one role or the other in government.
Our MDGs unit was headed by his younger brother’s son. So it was a government for the family. The government was popularly referred to in Adamawa as ‘Family and Friends’. If you tell any Adamawa person family and friends he or she will tell you that is Nyako.
When you involve your family in governance you cannot change anything because they will dip their hands in so many things and places . And because you didn’t stop them, you may not have the moral fibre to prevent others from dipping their hands in places that you don’t like.