John Shiklam interacts with Uba Sani, former aide to Governor Nasir el-Rufai, on the controversial “automatic ticket” granted the incumbent Senator Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone and how he (Sani) eventually emerged as the All Progressives Congress candidate for the zone
Before your emergence as the candidate of the APC in the Kaduna north senatorial election, there was controversy between you and the incumbent Senator Shehu Sani, who was initially given automatic ticket. What actually happened?
I am one of those who fought for the return of democracy in Nigeria. We fought to ensure that the tenets of democracy are respected. The controversy was over automatic ticket, we went through our constitution and we noticed that there was nothing like automatic ticket.
Even if you are contesting election alone, assuming nobody bought the nomination form, just like in Kaduna state, where Mallam Nasir el-Rufai was the only one who contested the governorship primary or President Buhari who was the only contestant in the presidential primary, there must be affirmation. The delegates must come and vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to your candidature. You can be the only candidate and the delegates may vote no. That is the constitution (of the party). I am not sure whether the party ever said that officially because I could not remember were the National Chairman of the party or any member of the National Working Committee spoke of giving anybody automatic ticket.
The whole idea of automatic ticket, I think, was a creation of some people to make them happy or to confuse members of the public.
You challenged this in court by obtaining a court order stopping Senator Shehu Sani as the sole candidate.
Delegates had arrived Kaduna for primary elections, only to be told that there was only one person cleared to contest the election. We realised that even if we insist on election, it will not be possible because we were not cleared. Myself and many others felt it was the height of injustice and we rushed to stop it and I got an order that very day from the court and the election was stopped.
Before going to the court, I called the leaders of the party in Abuja, they told me that the list they had showed that I was also cleared. But the list in Kaduna showed that I was not cleared. As a law abiding member of the party, I wrote two letters, appealing for clearance to participate in the primary. One letter was sent to the National chairman (Comrade Adams Oshiomhole) and the other to the Chairman, Primary Elections appeal committee, in the north West zone. I wrote these letters before going to court.
I wrote a second letter to the National Chairman of the party, telling him that, I met all the requirements for contesting election in APC and I requested to know the reason I was not cleared.
Therefter, I got in touch with the National Legal Adviser who was not even in the picture of what was happening.
Having exhausted all avenues within the party, I decided to go to court.
Two days after they went through my letter, I was cleared. Other aspirants were also cleared because of my appeal and they directed that we can go ahead and have an election.
The committee sent to conduct the election called all aspirants and announced that we should come and contest the election.
Some people that are now calling for justice, did not know that preventing us from contesting the election was the height of injustice.
When I was cleared to contest the primary, I went back to the court to vacate the order before the election.
The National Legal Adviser of the party wrote a letter commending me for following due process. The election took place the next day. That was what happened.
Some of us who believe in democracy and rule of law, want to win election through proper election, not through automatic ticket.
If today somebody tells me that he has disqualified other people and I am the only one to stand for election, I will reject it. I am a democrat. Some of us fought for this democracy, we were detained. Why did we have to go into detention, fighting for democracy? It is because we want it to be practiced. But when you are saying people should be disqualified for you, then you don’t believe in democracy and you don’t know the meaning of democracy. We believe in democracy and we want people to vote for us. When people vote for you, you will respect their wishes. You will listen to them beacuse they are the ones that made you win election.
I was talking to my journalist friend in Lagos who is always talking on the TV programme, “Journalists Hang Out” without coming to Kaduna or even a phone call to know the realities on the ground.
I know journalism, I was telling him that, 13 years ago, I was speaking for the president of Nigeria and I attended several media chats with the BBC, Voice of America, CNN…
When you refused to participate in an election and call it kangaroo, you cannot challenge it anywhere.
Senator Shehu Sani has left the party, what steps are you taking to unite the party?
With due respect, the party is very united. Don’t forget that five people bought the form. Among the five people, was a former senator. He and two others came out openly and supported what happened after the election. For me, they are the most important people because they put up a very strong fight. They have a lot of supporters in the senatorial zone and I am working with them. Some of them offered to donate their (campaign) offices to me. Sardaunan Badarawa has donated his office and campaign vehicles to me. Gen. Sani Sale, the immediate past senator has offered to campaign for me in all the seven local governments in the zone. Shamsudeen has told me that he would be part of my campaign team. All of us went into this election, believing that whoever wins, we will support the person. If any of them had won, I would have supported them also. It is not a do or die affair. I had contested elections in the past and I lost and I supported the person that won. That is democracy, you either win or loose.
These three other aspirants who lost came to me unsolicited, that is why I am happy.
I believe in our party and I will act in the best interest of our people. Upon all the speculations about our National Chairman, I have no doubt that he is a man of strong character. He believes in democracy, anybody can say anything about him, but I have so much respect for him and members of the National Working Committee. From day one, I believed they will take the best decision.
How did you feel when the acting spokesman of the APC Yekini Nabena was issuing statements, insisting that Shehu Sani was the candidate of the party?
Don’t forget that I was also a spokesman to the President of Nigeria.
When a statement is genuine, I know, that was why I didn’t comment on statements by the acting spokesman of the party. When you have that kind of experience (as spokesman to the president), you don’t panic. That was why I didn’t bother. From time to time I sent messages to my supporters and friends who were jittery, asking them to calm down.
What is your agenda for the people if you are elected in 2019 as their senator?
Of all the issues that happened in Kaduna central, the one that touches me more was the issue of €350 million (World Bank) loan. Without any fear of contradiction, the rejection of that loan (by the three senators from the state ) was very unfortunate.
Anybody who does not know what the rejection had caused our state, does not know why we requested for the loan.
The loan was approved to us by the World Bank to improve our hospitals, schools and infrastructure and create jobs. The money is about N110 billion. The World Bank is proud of what we do in Kaduna, they believe we need the money to do more.
Denying the state the loan, was a great disservice to the 9 million people of the state, not only Kaduna central zone. That is what really made me to contest for the senatorial race.
I feel our people need better representation. Whatever will bring about the improvement of the living condition of our people, we should put politics aside.
We are in politics to better the lives of our people. So for me, the loan is a major issue and I will try my best to get that (If elected).
Besides that, when you look at what happened in the last three years, many senators brought a lot of things to improve the lives of their people, but in Kaduna state, with due respect, our senators spent most of their time fighting the state government, criticising the federal government and fighting the party. This was unnecessary. My focus would be to improve the living condition of our people.