By NBF News

Yobe Commissioner for Information, Mr. Bala Haladu, said in the state, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), is the only party the people want, declaring that 2011 was a foregone conclusion. Haladu also said that the administration of Governor Ibrahim Gidam has changed the face of the state from a rural state capital to an urban one.

He told Daily Sun in an interview that though he was part of the previous administration, no government has done as much as the incumbent governor especially in the area of infrastructural development. Excerpts:

The Supreme Court judgment
'It was landmark and I can tell you that the Supreme Court justices have immense knowledge and foresight. Mind you, anytime they give judgement, such ruling usually bring people together and end bickering among warring political factions while sanity is also restored in the system.

'For instance, Senator Albishir went to court seeking the court's pronouncement that he was erroneously substituted for the late Senator Mamman Ali. You know the case initially was supposed to be a pre-election matter and pre-election matters supposed to start from the regular courts. But he instituted the matter before the Federal High Court, Maiduguri. Somehow, the court said it did not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

The next option for Albishir was to appeal but since there was a tribunal on ground, he went to the election tribunal in Damaturu and abandoned the case before the Federal High Court. 'Unfortunately the tribunal in Damaturu pronounced that it only deals with election matters not pre-election matters and that he didn't have any stake to institute any case against the late governor since he was not a candidate during the election. The tribunal used Electoral Act 2006 as its practice legal document.

He did not agree with that. He headed for the Court of Appeal and the same pronouncement came out from the court. You know in an election matter, the Court of Appeal is the last bus stop for adjudication on maters from the tribunal. When he realized that he could not get his case remedied at the appeal, he decided to try his luck at the Federal High Court in Kaduna.

Interestingly, it is a court of coordinate jurisdiction like the one in Maiduguri or elsewhere in the country. There is no way you can get your case entertained when you take a matter that falls under the purview of a court to another court. So the Federal High Court in Kaduna erroneously gave him favourable judgment in all the reliefs he sought.

'The late governor was dissatisfied with the ruling, then appealed to the Federal High Court in Kaduna. The court said the judgment was erroneously given because even the court does not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter in the first instance since it was the Federal High Court in Maiduguri that ought to hear the case.

'The court nullified everything. Albirshir was dissatisfied again with the ruling and rushed to the Supreme Court. Then the apex court said the case was not supposed to go to Federal High Court in Kaduna initially but that of Maiduguri. That if he was dissatisfied with the rulings in Maiduguri, he should have gone to the Court of Appeal in Jos, instead of going to another court without jurisdiction.

'The Supreme Court described his action as 'forum shopping.' That he was running from court to court looking for the one that will give him favourable judgment. In a nutshell, the Supreme Court pronounced that it was a judgement being obtained by fault and there is no way it could be sustained, so the court threw away the matter in its entirely.

'He now came back to the Court of Appeal in Jos with the aim of reviving his appeal which is long overdue after all the sojourns he made in various courts. The Court of Appeal in Jos now said that though he has the right to file an appeal but he delayed. The court then allowed him to file the appeal and granted his application for extension of time.

'But the issue is that the Yobe State Government is not a party in the matter before the Court of Appeal in Jos. It is just that whatever judgment the court gives would indirectly affects us. The government is just an interested party. It is a matter between Albishir and INEC/ANPP. So ANPP and INEC appealed against the decision of the Court of Appeal and sought interpretation at the Supreme Court.

'The Supreme Court finally said this is a mater which has come before it for the first time and now the second time. The apex court said if it allows the case to go on, it would drag till 2011 and elections are fast approaching. The Supreme Court pronounced that what Albishir did was a litigation process that he was running from court to court. Now everything is over. We are now waiting for them to come back.'

Lesson from the legal battle
'The end of the case no doubt brought relief not only to the government but even to the petitioner, Albishir, because he wouldn't have got anything from the case even if the case was determined in his favour on merit, he cannot get anything from it. The truth is that the person he was challenging is deceased. He didn't start the election with Geidam. It is a great relief to all of us and I can say there was no winner or loser.

'We learnt a big lesson from the matter that ANPP ought to put its house in order next time such thing happens. I would not subscribe to the view that the former governo, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim caused the problem in the twilight of his tenure. We all knew why Albishir's name was dropped by the party leadership in the 2007 polls. The party leaders at the national level felt the party could lose the state to the opposition if it toyed with the idea of fielding Albishir as its gubernatorial candidate.'

Reconciliation efforts
'The tussle is over now and we are just trying to consolidate ourselves so that we can move into 2011 with one voice and as a united family. As far as I am concerned, Yobe is an ANPP state and as long as civilian administration continues and ANPP lives in the country, you cannot separate our state from the party. It is our party and there is no other party that will come to compete with the party here.

'We have started extending the hand of fellowship to the other groups. They are our brothers and we cannot deny that. It was only some small political misunderstandings between us in 2007 that caused the separation and it is normal. A committee has been set up to reconcile and discuss modalities of bringing those in the other group back to the family. I mean the ANPP fold so that we can work together to forge ahead to make sure that ANPP remains the dominant party in the state.'

Yobe now
'We are making progress. I'm sure you were here before and you can judge the progress so far. What this administration is doing is not hidden. It is something you notice few metres to the state capital or other towns in the state. Yobe is changing everyday from what it used to be.

'Though I participated in previous government, but I must say that the administration of Geidam has changed the face of Yobe drastically.

There is a measure of infrastructural development particularly road construction within the major towns. You can see well-laid access roads and drainages in Damaturu, the state capital. There are also intra-city roads, a new hospital has been built and old ones rehabilitated. Boarding primary schools are under construction among others.

Yobe is now a developing state.
'Politically, the awareness is more and government is addressing the challenges of political thuggery. You won't see thugs around as it used to be because the Geidam administration has addressed the problem of economic empowerment. For the 2011 polls, I have no doubt in my mind that it is a clear victory for the ANPP because it is the only party the people want here.'