The governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, has described the Supreme Court’s sack of former governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, as a “very sad development”.
He noted that himself or any other governor, who succeeded at the apex court, could have suffered a similar fate.
Mr. Mohammed, who was speaking on his recent victory at the Supreme Court in a petition filed by the former governor, Mohammed Abubakar, challenging his election as Bauchi State governor, also took time to comment on the misfortune of his “friend”, the ousted governor of Imo State.
“The Imo incident is one of such incidences that is the manifestation of the judicial process.
“I know it was a very painful outcome for me – as a PDP member, for me – as a friend of the former governor, who was affected, for me – who knows how Emeka stands for democracy and the beautiful road map he has established in terms of trying to rescue Imo.
“It was very painful and it was something really unexpected, and definitely, my state of mind was such that anything can happen,” he said.
The governor, who was answering journalists’ questions after a post-victory dinner, said the grievance of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is justified because the’ judgment that Imo suffered was never expected’– hence the protest.
“I knew what happened to him could happen to anybody because, as our people say in Hausa, the judgment of any court is normally diametrical opposed to our rational thinking. So it is not about rationality, but, it is about an outcome that affected us, which is diametrically opposed to what we expected or what we want.
“When the Supreme Court gave us Zamfara, we were very happy. And when it went against us we were very unhappy; that’s why you saw us demonstrating. That is democracy.”
The governor admitted that he thought he too was going to lose his seat too, after hearing the fate of Mr. Ihedioha.
“Certainly it (gave) me some hiccups, some fears… But, I still had faith in God.”
The governor who had in an earlier victory speech called on his defeated predecessor to join hands and work together for the development of the state, however, frowned at how the “needless” court case had slowed him down.
“The court processes are definitely big distractions. To me, they were uncalled for,” he said.
“I came from the opposition and nobody gave me the chance of winning, and former governor, MA, knew I didn’t rig the election. I know he knew I won this election. I wouldn’t have manufactured any resources to come and dislodge him, it was because of the will of God and the mandate given to me by the people. I didn’t even have the wherewithal to do that.
“That was why I considered it very painful to be dragged through all this. But, painful as it was, I am ready to forgive. That is the expression of democracy, and he’s right as a human being to go to court, and we have gone the whole hog. We wasted so much time; we have no time to plan very well.”
Mr. Mohammed said now that he has obtained the infallible confirmation of the Supreme Court, he does not have the intention of probing the man who served before him unless it became absolutely necessary.
He said investigating the former governor, “is not what I have come to do.”
“I have always drawn a line, but in the cause of governance, if I find anywhere the people and government of Bauchi are shortchanged, I am not going to let it go, because nobody spared me when I left the FCT.
“I was the most investigated person in Nigeria. And I dared anybody to tell me any account where I kept that money, which warranted that investigation.
“I don’t think MA should be afraid of the investigation if he thinks he has no skeleton in his cupboard. For now, it is not my priority to investigate him, but, if in the cause of what my ministries and departments are doing they find the need for an investigation, definitely, we are going to do that. We are not going to spare him, because doing that will shortchange the people of Bauchi and will make them unhappy.”
“I am continuing with some of his projects and programs,” he said.
“The onus is on me to say that I am ready to work with him, and it is left for him to accept. Definitely, we are not dependent on him, but certainly, we know we recognise his position as a former governor, because I too, I hope, if I live long, I will become a former governor and somebody will look for my opinion.
The governor had last week while on a medical trip to London sent out a special message ahead of the Supreme court ruling threatening to deal with those he said are plotting to sabotage his government. But upon his arrival, the governor seemed to have taken a softer approach to handle the situation.
“Leadership is about accommodating all the differences; not all things will be palatable to you, you must accommodate them. At the same time, if somebody is going to pull the carpet under your feet, you will not just look on until the whole state fails and then you take the blame.
“There are many areas you can be sabotaged in governance – I have been an admin officer from level eight to level 17 at the federal level, and I know administration.
“If you think your loyalty is still with the last administration, we are not going to tolerate it. (If) you caught leaking official secrets out, we are not going to tolerate you – we will punish you. If you deliberately sabotage us in doing things that are inimical to the state, we are not going to keep quiet.”