Publish date: 2022-06-19 23:24:50 | Author: Taiwo Ojoye | Source: punchng.com
Bashir Machina, who emerged the winner of the Yobe North Senatorial primary of the All Progressives Congress but was eventually dropped for the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, in this interview with TOPE OMOGBOLAGUN, talks about the controversies surrounding his emergence and subsequent replacement with Lawan
You’ve insisted on not stepping down and giving your senatorial ticket to Lawan. Are you more qualified than he is?
As I said in the past, it is not about who is qualified or not, it is about our people who are yearning for change. Lawan would be 16 years in the Senate by the time he completes his fourth tenure so we are eager to give them the change they so desire.
For how long have you been in politics, especially in your state?
I have been in politics since 1992. I was elected a House of Representatives member in 1992. At that time, I was only 26 years. While serving in the House, I was appointed to serve as sub-committee chairman of the House Committee on Fertiliser Procurement and Distribution. I am Lawan’s senior in the National Assembly. I became a member in 1992 under the Social Democratic Party.
What have you been up to since then?
Since then I have been an active politician till today; I was a political adviser to the then Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. I later became the pioneer National Auditor of Action Congress and also served as Deputy National Auditor of the Peoples Democratic Party. My last appointment was Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
Before now, have you been begrudging each other?
We haven’t had any reason for an altercation. There is no friction or fight in the Yobe chapter of the All Progressives Congress.
How did you emerge as the senatorial candidate of the Yobe North senatorial district of the APC?
I was recently elected on the day of the election held in Gashua by our party in the presence of party delegates, national representatives of our party, security officials, representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission and numerous other non-governmental observers.
As we can recall, the election was held peacefully and harmoniously. I scored 289 votes. Ballots were cast transparently and openly going by the guidelines of the National Assembly elections as stipulated by the electoral commission. I emerged the winner with 289 votes and I was publicly declared the winner. Delegates representing the six local Government areas were the ones that participated in the voting with 50 delegates representing each local government area making it a total of 300 voters, out of which I got 289 votes.
How did you feel when you found out that your name was substituted with Senator Lawan’s name?
I must say I felt disappointed because I never thought that someone like Ahmed Lawan would allow himself to be used for such an unconstitutional action.
Also, I was surprised when I learnt that my name was not on the list but was rather replaced with Lawan’s. Removing my name from that list is very undemocratic, illegal and inhumane. I wasn’t even consulted before the decision was made. And it’s a known fact that Lawan did not contest a senatorial seat, he contested for the APC presidential primary elections and he lost.
The Electoral Act, according to Section 31, states that the only way somebody can be replaced in any form is through withdrawal by the individual or death. By the mercies of Allah, I am well and nothing will happen to me and I have not withdrawn from the race. So, substituting my name with that of another person is a great injustice.
What if the APC leadership urges you to step down for Lawan, would you?
The party will not ask me to step down because that is undemocratic as it amounts to imposition. The APC stands for justice and there won’t be justice if every member of the party is not given equal opportunity. The party’s motto is justice and peace and I know that we have very credible people at the helm of affairs of the party.
What about President Buhari asking you to do so?
Mr President whom I know is not that kind of person. You have seen what transpired during the presidential primary poll of the APC. The President, Muhammadu Buhari, refused to ask any of the aspirants to step down even though he had a preferred choice, but he kept the name to his chest. That is democracy. So how would you expect him to ask me to step down for Lawan?
On whose side is Governor Mai Mala Buni on this matter?
Governor Mai Mala Buni is a very gentle leader so I believe he is neutral on this matter. I wasn’t appointed or anointed by anyone. The people elected me. And I know him to be a morally upright person, so, it means that he would be on the side of what is true and right.
What would you offer to Lawan if you were to negotiate with him on the ticket?
I cannot offer anything apart from telling him to put the people’s interests ahead of his own. His people are yearning for a change. They are tired of him, so let him go and rest.
Who do you think Tinubu as President would have preferred to be in the Senate between you and Lawan?
I may not know his mind but don’t forget I worked closely with Asiwaju when I was the pioneer National Auditor of Action Congress. He knows me very well and he knows my capacity. I am the type of person that will never betray him.
Has Lawan approached you in person over this issue before?
No, he has been using his associates to reach out to me.
When you say associates, who do you mean?
I mean some people close to him but I won’t mention names.
You said you would seek redress in court. Do you think the party would support your action?
Is there anything wrong with seeking redress in a competent court of law? The party will support me as long as the means I am following to reclaim my mandate are lawful.
If you win the case in court would you remain in the party?
Oh Yes, I don’t have any reason that will warrant me to leave the party. After all, I am one of the foundational members of the party, so I am going to stay.
There have been reports of threats to your life. How true is this?
Yes, we received credible information that some people wanted to arrest me probably because I refused to relinquish my ticket. I had to go into hiding because of the fear of the unknown. But thank God I am still safe. We give glory to Almighty Allah.
At a press conference, you spoke about upholding the constitution and the rule of law. Do you think this is a reality in our country?
It is. What is required is for all our hands to be on the deck. Take for example now, Ahmad Lawan as Senate President heads the National Assembly that passed the new Electoral Act, less than four months now, he has been the first person to violate some of the sections of the Act. This makes me wonder and ask if Lawan himself believes in the law. How can he allow his name to be submitted to INEC when he knew that he didn’t participate in the senatorial primary? I think this is the height of lawlessness and greediness.
If Lawan secures the ticket, do you feel safe staying in the country?
Of course yes, where will I go? This is my country and I have no other place to go to than my country home.
How true is the rumour that Lawan purchased the nomination form for you?
This is laughable. Lawan has never been my political associate. I have no business with him and therefore it is mischievous information concocted by his camp to denigrate me. I purchased my form myself.