From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governor of Bauchi State and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Bala Mohammed, has said failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amendment to the Electoral Act 2022, is in favour of aspirants like him.
According to him, the process of amending the Act did not start on time and signing now might go against Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines for elections.
Mohammed said this while responding to questions from State House Correspondents after leading a delegation on a thank-you-visit to the president for inaugurating a N23.5 billion World Bank assisted upgraded Bauchi Township Water Supply Scheme.
Some political parties had, in recent times, pressured President Buhari to assent to the amendment to Section 84 (8) which provides that delegates to vote at the indirect primaries and national convention of political parties to elect candidates for elections shall be those democratically elected for that purpose only.
The implication is that statutory delegates such as elected political office holders, political appointees and executive officers of political parties are not eligible to vote at primaries to nominate candidates for the 2023 general election.
The new Section 84 has in effect drastically pruned the number of delegates for party indirect primaries and reduced the financial implications of delegate elections.
Asked how he felt that the president has not signed the Electoral Act, he said: “Well, I’m a realist. I believe the Electoral Act is a product of legislative process and that has been done and it was not done earlier and then we have a timeline and guideline of INEC, so we’ll have to manage it.
“I think the less the merrier as somebody who is in the race. Well, I have less delegates to go and woo, it is better for me than all these 4,000, 5,000 delegates. Anyway, that is my take.”
Asked what his chances are at the party’s convention he replied: “I wouldn’t want to be subjective and arbitrary in my answers on my chances, but you know my chances. I’m one of you, you are journalists, I was a reporter like you. You know my pedigree, you know my profile.
“I was like you from the level that you are to anywhere that I have become. And so, I signify hope, I know the diversity of this country, I was a civil servant, from level eight to level 17. I was a legislator, and I was here with you, as a member of the Federal Executive Council.
“So, I have garnered the experience and I’m presenting myself with humility. And I believe I have received a lot of good responses from across the country, because I have people all over and everywhere. And I understand how to manage and how to run government and governance. So, my chances are very high, as well as the chances of others.
“I’m a democrat, I don’t believe that I am the best I have always said it. Maybe, you are the best but you have not come on, but I am one of the best too. So, the choice is for Nigerians to make. And I don’t want to be pre-emptive or presumptuous about it. But certainly, I have a very good chance. And if I get the chance, I believe you should see it as your own chance because I represent you in this journey and leadership.”
Asked if he would yield to his former boss and close ally, former president Goodluck Jonathan, should his rumoured plan to dump the opposition party for the ruling party becomes a reality and runs for the presidency, the Bauchi governor said: “The system of apprenticeship that is being deepened by the Igbo is what we should learn. People should know that you have a boss who will set you free and give you the resources and the capacity.
“If he (Jonathan) had not fished me out from where I was, I wouldn’t have been in the national limelight. And that’s why I said if he was running I will not run, but certainly that time is over because he’s not running.”