Adamawa 2023: As Waziri’s chase for PDP’s ticket forecloses…

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It was Tihar who cautioned that ‘don’t go chasing shadows. You’ll get something of it which will break you’. Interestingly, chasing shadows is becoming the mainstay of many Nigerian politicians.

Their penchant for lost causes borders on inspirational and insanity -always clinging to the cliffhanger and riding blind luck to the end of nowhere. Ambassador Abubakar Waziri seems to fit this description.

To be clear, I have always been a supporter of people seeking redress. It is my belief that testing the legal standing of some realities can only help our democracy by opening new vistas of clarity and closure. But, there’s an extent to which we can go, especially on some issues that appear as clear as a crystal ball. The entire development of the case leading to the Supreme Court does not inspire confidence on Abubakar Waziri’s decision making process wherein lies governance.

First, Abubakar Waziri dragged the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa state to court to challenge what he referred to as his “purported disqualification”. He insisted that it was done in breach of the Electoral Act and the party guidelines after both the Yola South local government and the steering committee cleared him for fulfilling all the requirements to participate in the primary election billed for May 23, 2022. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case, dismissing it as a party affair, especially since Waziri didn’t participate in the exercise.

Unsatisfied, Waziri approached the Appeal Court tabling the same prayers as was brought before the high court. The Appeal Court upheld the judgement of the lower court on grounds that he lacked the locus standi seeing he was not an aspirant in the Adamawa state PDP governorship primaries which held on 23rd May 2022 in the state.

In dismissing the suit, the Court of Appeal relied on Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act which states, inter alia, “that only an aspirant can challenge the outcome of any primaries’. It also held that the primary election was conducted and a winner emerged and as such the court cannot set aside the primaries, which is in line with section 15 of the Electoral Act.

Even to a layman, this is clear enough. It therefore borders on the frivolous and downright insane (relying on Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity) to continue to pursue something as dead-end-ish as this, yet expecting a different result. This absolute transaction on hope, especially since the facts are stacked very highly against your position is worrisome. Could it be the failure of legal advise?

I have long held the view that many Nigerian lawyers do not understand the full ramifications of the term Legal Counsel to the extent that it begins first by explaining the legal merits or demerits of a client’s prospective claims (counselling). It is unfortunately dismaying, that virtually every case, but more specifically, many political cases which will never fit into the category of merit, are flagrantly brought before Nigeria’s overstretched courts more in hope than anything else. It could also be that the learned silk, Alozie SAN, Counsel to Abubakar Waziri did in fact expose Waziri to the merits of the case, but he chose to transact on hope rather facts. If this is the case, then we can’t blame his legal representation. In any case, the case was a dead-rubber encounter from the word go and one would have expected it to be buried at the Appeal Court, at least.

Unfortunately, it was dragged all the way to the Supreme Court. Well, the Supreme Court took one look and has now finally laid the case to rest even though others have been known to demand that the Supreme Court reviews itself. By withholding the judgement of the Appeal Court, the Supreme Court has just confirmed what everyone but Abubakar Waziri and his legal counsel have always known. As it stands, it will be in the interest of Abubakar Waziri to allow his ambition to return home to roost. This is now time for him to close ranks with the gubernatorial flagbearer of the PDP and work to deliver the party at the polls.

In truth, this will help rescue his political capital and repair his political standing in the party, especially in the Nigerian political arena with a penchant for burying overzealous and self-righteous politicians. It will also be in the best interest of PDP to reintegrate Waziri to the family, and Governor Fintiri to be magnanimous in victory. This will help all parties involved to settle down to the business of winning elections, especially since the APC and her candidate have re-emerged from the courts.

Ibrahim writes from Yola, Adamawa state

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