“Our people have been disenfranchised by not getting the value of governance and I expect the government to do something about that.”
Billy Graham-Abel, Adamawa
Kwamoti Laori, former acting Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, offers his candid view on the performance of All Progressives Congress (APC) government in the state, since coming into in 2015, power saying the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would definitely win the state back, in 2019.
2019 is near; you had a stint at the House of Representatives on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), what is your position now since you were withdrawn from the House through a court decision? Are you in SDP or PDP?
I am right now a member of the PDP and as you rightly pointed out about my leaving the party, it was largely because of what the party did to us at that time, we were not happy and I left the party and contested and I won on the platform of SDP. After the nullification of my election by the court of Appeal, I left the SDP to join the Kowa Party and challenged INEC in court to be included in the election. I got judgment only four days to the election and of course everyone knew the running battle we had with INEC for refusing to include my name in the ballot. But because I do not want to appear like a desperado, I left the scene completely and return to the party I originally belong to, that is the PDP, so I am a full member of the party now.
What are your plans for 2019?
I am not just planning; I have actually been recruited by my people to contest for election into the House of Representatives to represent them. They know my pedigree and they know what I can do and they have recruited me and asked me to run and I have answered the call and I will be contesting for the House of Representatives in the forthcoming elections.
You are running for Numan, Demsa and Lamurde federal constituency, this is one of the areas that have been in the eyes of the storm for quite some time now as a result of incessant herdsmen attacks and seeing that people from your area have lost a lot, their houses and properties burnt down and no provisions have been made for these people to be re-registered by INEC, would that not affect you?
Honestly, our people have gone through a traumatic period as a result of most of these attacks and the attacks have not stopped, the attacks are still on because recently, two people were killed in Bare, even the ward PDP chairman was among those that were killed and his head was cut off. Also, three young men were attacked on their way to Dong too by these same Fulani herdsmen and two of the young men were able to escape but one of them due to the severity of the machete cuts on him, died just three days after the attack. These pockets of attacks are still ongoing and it is quite unfortunate that we have a government that does not value lives. We have a government that has not taken its primary responsibility seriously in providing security for our lives and our properties.
There were several requests to INEC both official and unofficial requesting them to do the needful and visit these communities and recapture our people but this is a country where we have electoral body that willingly goes to various units to conduct elections but cannot take time to go to units and register eligible voters.
What is the essence of government if it can’t do that? This is ridiculous; I find that to be so ridiculous because in this time and age of computers and digitisation, they should be at the units, to do the needful. What is so difficult in going to wards and spending one week to register Nigerians? Everyone who is eligible to vote in this country should as a matter of duty, be registered. But we now have a situation where our government is asking Nigerians to move to the council headquarters from their villages.
But when it’s time for elections, they go and meet them in their units and wards and bring those materials, the question is that what has INEC been doing all these time? I believe they are doing this to disenfranchise us because our people have been disenfranchised by not getting the value of governance and I expect the government to do something about that.
And here in Numan, Demsa and Lamurde, it is not the fault of our people but the fault of the government that have failed to protect us from the attacks, they have allowed other people to come in to our land and kill us, destroy our property, our livelihood. And in destroying our properties, they destroyed our voters cards too and the power to vote. But the government has deliberately refused to move into these areas to assist our people to obtain their PVCs to exercise their franchise and I am calling and pleading on the conscience of the government to do the needful as soon as possible.
How would you assess the position of the representative of your people at the national assembly with regards to the insecurity bedevilling your community, especially your zone?
Well, as far as, I am concerned, I don’t want to join issues with anyone but what I will say is that, we have not gotten value in respect to what happen because this matter has not been presented and pursued with the vigour it deserves, we need more than what we got because our people have been so devastated and we need to have put our acts together to place this issues on the front burner of national discourse. Unfortunately that has not happened and personally, I will say I am not happy with the representation we had, we deserve better than what we are having now.
What do you make of the current political situation in the state and the country at large, in the last three years under the APC government?
I must say they have not performed as they ought to and I would say that they have failed, because naturally they have made a covenant with the people of Nigeria based on what they presented to the people that they can do and that they are going to do. But so far, up to this moment, they have not fulfilled those promises they made to Nigerians before they were elected and as such one can confidently say they have failed. Their performance is so abysmal and there is the need to change this change in Adamawa State and the country at large.
If you weigh the resources available to them and what they have done, you will know that they are really out of their wits, they are clueless as to how to give this country direction or answers.
Although, they have tried in terms of road construction, is that what governance is all about? Governance encompasses more than road construction and you see the road construction are just limited to the urban areas that is why I said there is nothing which they have done that is spectacular.
I think there is nothing spectacular in respect of that because when you look at it critically, how many kilometres of road has the state government built and most importantly at what cost? From the records the governor made available, Adamawa State has the highest per kilometres cost in road construction in the world and we are not in the riverine area, we are not Delta or Bayelsa, so why is the cost so high? These are little variables that people are not talking about.
Education has fallen far below standard, and that is reflected in our poor ratings in various exams. The teachers are not getting paid, they are owed months of salaries, teaching infrastructure are in total decay, now if we cannot spend on education then we cannot say we have a future for our state and children.
The United Nation’s required budgetary spending on education is just around 15 percent , take a look at our budget and you will be shocked at how much is being spent on education, you will cry if you compare it to what other countries are doing and if you compare Adamawa to some states in the country, you will find out we are lagging behind especially for a state that has been plagued by insurgency.
Do you think PDP will win Adamawa in 2019?
I have not seen any political party that will beat PDP in Adamawa State.
You have to know that traditionally, Adamawa State has been a PDP state and remain a PDP state. APC did not win elections as a party in 2015; it was PDP that won elections for APC because of the imposition that was done in the state, which made members of the party to be so disenchanted. The party’s primary was hijacked to Abuja, it led to massive revolt against what was done and many of us then said, ‘well if this is what the powers that be wanted to do, we will not agree,’ and that was how APC came in, not that APC was popular, it was not that APC had a strategy or that it had what it takes to win elections but it was PDP that won elections for APC. I am assuring you that PDP have learnt its lessons and knows that people cannot be taken for granted and that is why we have put our house in order and our acts together and agree that ‘yes we have done something wrong but it will not repeat itself again’ and I am assuring you PDP will take over what belongs to it in the state and in the country.