Paul Orude Bauchi
Ibrahim Zailani, a lawyer and former federal lawmaker, who represented Toro Federal constituency in the House of Representatives on the platform of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) from 1999 to 2003, lost his bid to regain his seat in 2003. He thereafter defected to the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was made a Commissioner for Information by Ahmad Adamu Mu’azu. He later returned to the APC.
The lawyer contested the 2018 primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Bauchi South Senatorial District. But the party declared the incumbent, Senator Lawal Yahaya Gumau as winner. He petitioned the Appeal Committee of the party after the primary election. Dissatisfied with the decision of the party, he approached the court and by last Tuesday, Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the candidature of Senator Gamau and replace him with Ibrahim Zailani.
He speaks on how he survived the landmines placed on his path by his party to thwart his ambition, just as he expressed confidence that he would win the election this Saturday.
Why did you take your party to court?
Before I do, I want to run you through the APC constitution and the process that even led us to court. After the primary elections, you know what transpired. I don’t want to go into that. I was completely flabbergasted and disenchanted with what happened in Bauchi. One of the disputes resolution mechanism as contained in the APC constitution is that after every primary election, the party constitutes an Appeal Petition Committee so that everyone who is dissatisfied can file his petition and the petitions are attended to, which I did. I appeared before the committee, I presented my facts and figures and data before it that Senator Gumau did not deserve to be declared the senatorial candidate for Bauchi South in the 2019 general election. After my presentation, the committee headed by Professor Osariemen Osunbor, upheld my petition and by the constitution of the APC once your petition is upheld, you automatically become the candidate. But when the report was presented to our national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, he didn’t act on it. So I considered that I have gone through the process and being denied the benefit of declaration by the appeal committee. After that I went to court. I sued the national party headquarter, I sued INEC and I sued the Senator representing Bauchi South. The process went on for a long time and on 8th February the presiding Judge announced that she was going to deliver judgement on the 11 of February. Unfortunately, on the 11th she fell sick and couldn’t deliver the judgment. We were disappointed. We had mobilised the press and everybody was there so that it would be carried unfortunately she didn’t come on the 11th. I was sitting in my house around 1:00 pm of 12 February when I received a call from my lawyer saying congratulations Ibrahim Zailani. I said what happened? He said judgment had just been delivered in your case and you are the authentic, verified candidate of the 2019 Bauchi South senatorial election. After that, on Wednesday the 18th of February, I went to collect the enrolled judgment and served INEC and also my party, the APC. I am pleased to tell you that by the process of law, I am the confirmed candidate of the APC for Bauchi South 2019 senatorial election.
Is your opponent not appealing the judgement?
That is his business. If he wants to appeal he can appeal. I don’t have to cajole him. I am battle ready, let us meet at the Appeal Court. I had campaigned. I have been doing my best. From what we are seeing, by the grace of God the people of Bauchi appear to be in support of my candidature and by extension all the candidates of the APC, so we are coasting home to success but unfortunately the election was postponed.
You sound optimistic. What makes you think the people of Bauchi South will root for you?
My political and legislative antecedents speak for me. I was a member of the House of Representatives from1999 to 2003. I represented Toro Federal Constituency. Within that time, I was Chairman of the House Committee on Justice and Human Rights. By virtue of my position any bill that was coming to the House of Representatives, my committee was engaged in processing that bill. I was an active participant and I was positive in my service to the National Assembly and based on that I think the people of Bauchi South Senatorial District remember what Zailani did in 1999 and they will support me.
What is foremost on your mind should you succeed?
The people don’t understand the role of the National Assembly. People mistakenly believe that you go to the National Assembly to buy motorcycles, buy textile materials. That is just courtesy of your seat. But the fundamental functions of you as a legislator is to ensure justice and fairness to your people. When we were in the National Assembly we found and got the recognition of the Bauchi Kari road. Bauchi Kari road is not in my constituency but it belonged to the people of Bauchi State so we stood our ground and made sure that the contract was awarded. That was how the Bauchi-Kari road was done. By extension, your position as a legislature shows that, first, you have responsibility to your constituency; two you have a national perspective. You must make sure that Nigeria is one and everything that must transpire in the National Assembly must be shared equitably. I want to assure the people of Bauchi South senatorial district and by extension the people of Bauchi State that they will have their son a committed, dedicated somebody who is ready to fight for his people., That is my mission and I want to also say that I know the problems of the educational sector in Bauchi, I know the problem of health, I know the problem of unemployment, I know the problem of drugs, I know the problem of infrastructure and I know what is bothering my people and I want them to give me the chance and after four years a different song will be sang for me.
Are you still bitter that the outcome of the primary election did not favour you until the judiciary stepped in?
It is a power game and I am used to power game. Nobody, not even the judge that presided over my case can alter anything now. The only process of altering the judgment is for you to go to the Court of Appeal. If Lawal Yahaya Gumau feels dissatisfied, let him go to Court. I am a senior lawyer with 35 years’ post call experience. I have acquired knowledge not only to fight for my rights but for others. I am not bothered. In a power game many things happen so I don’t even look at what the executive of the party in Bauchi State did. It amounts to nothing. It was alleged that I had been suspended from the party. When I read the letter, I saw it up till now I have not been served any letter. For you to undergo any disciplinary process one, you must be queried, and two the query will be reviewed, your answer will be reviewed and if they are satisfied now they can take disciplinary action against you. Nobody has issued me a query. Nobody has asked for my reply to any issue, if you look at the content of the letter, that I am being suspended for misconduct. It is amorphous. What is misconduct? You have to be specific. It is a power game and I am ready for it.