Photo Compilation: Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and Senator Grace Bent
My attention has been drawn to a press release authored by the chairman of the Adamawa State chapter of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Barr. A.T. Shehu, dated Wednesday, December 2, 2020, and purportedly responding to the germane issues I raised in an interview with the SUNDAY Sun Newspaper of November 29, 2020.
The said interview, which is the subject of A.T. Shehu's unwarranted tirade against my person, was titled: "ADAMAWA: HOW GOV. FINTIRI SABOTAGED MY RETURN TO SENATE - GRACE BENT" with a rider, "...SAYS IT'S UNFORTUNATE GOVERNORS SEE THEMSELVES AS DEMIGODS" and published on page 22 of the newspaper.
The reporter asked questions on the state of the nation, party politics and my engagements out of office, among others, to which I responded in good faith, which I believe is a clarion call to those concerned to make things right in Nigeria, Adamawa State and my party, the PDP.
I didn't make "spurious allegations" against Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and the person of A.T. Shehu as the state chairman of the PDP, neither did I misrepresent any fact in the said newspaper interview regarding happenings in Adamawa PDP pre-2019 elections and thereafter.
To his credit, he acknowledged that I am a political gladiator in Adamawa State - the state I have been married to for more than four decades. Secondly, he rightly said the people of Adamawa South senatorial district were magnanimous to me having "overwhelming" voted for me in 2007 against the choice of Senator Jonathan Silas Zwingina not minding that I was a "non-indigene".
For someone like A.T. Shehu, who claims to be a Lawyer by training, to refer to a bonafide Nigerian in Nigeria as a non-indigene (whatever the coinage means) is an exhibition of crass ignorance of the Nigeria's 1999 Constitution (as amended) - Section 42 sub-section 1. His ignorance is an embarrassment to the Bar and I hereby call on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to call A.T. Shehu to order if he is truly a member of the noble profession.
In this 21st Century of Universality, a Lawyer is still beclouded and myopically tribalistic to still see a woman that has lived with her Adamawa husband for 40 years as a non-indigene. What a shame to the Lawyer like A.T. Shehu, who has little or no knowledge of the Nigeria's Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) regarding qualifications for election.
Section 42 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) can be found under chapter 4 of the constitution which takes care of the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian citizens. The section deals specifically with right to freedom from discrimination of the Nigerian citizens, that is, the right to equality of citizens which is one of the cornerstones of human rights not only in Nigeria but also everywhere in the world.
Looking at the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, words like "equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family’’, "inherent dignity’’, and "equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small’’ are evidently what makes it tick. In article 1 of the same charter, it further provides: "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’’
The Banjul Charter also made clear Africa’s stance on discrimination as it provides in chapter 1 (Human and People’s Rights), Article 1: "Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.’’
Also, there is a subsisting order of a competent court of law in Nigeria that affirms the use of the coinage - "non-indigene" - on any public document as unconstitutional.
On November 2, 2020, the Presiding Judge, Owerri Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima, declared the purported disengagement of Njoku Fidelia Ada and 460 other workers from the Public Service on the basis that they are non-indigenes of Abia State as a violation of the 1999 constitution and against the Public Service Rules. Various pronouncements suffice.
On winning my election in 2007, If I was not loved by the teeming populace of Adamawa South senatorial district, I wouldn't have won overwhelmingly as attested to by A.T. Shehu. This is a clear testimony to my popularity and good works to my constituents.
If I was a "non-indigene" in Adamawa, was it only the Yorubas that overwhelmingly voted for me in 2007? This is a poser for A.T. Shehu and his ilks to ponder on and provide an answer.
After my first four-year stint in the Senate between 2007 and 2011, I was conspired against and was stopped from returning to the National Assembly, thereby denying the good people of Adamawa South the kind of represention they deserve.
My good works while I was representing the Adamawa South electorate still speak for me, contrary to the futile attempt my A.T. Shehu and his paymasters to poison their minds against me.
Talking about my "native state", I'm a Nigerian of Osun State extraction and now belongs to Adamawa State by marriage for four decades and counting. A.T. Shehu said voting me to represent Adamawa South at the level of the National Assembly couldn't have been possible in my "native state". This assertion means he must be a poor student of history or at the minimum, current affairs, for him not to know the ongoing national integration efforts by various States across the country in line with international best practices.
In the South-West, there are Nigerians, who are natives of other places, elected and appointed into positions to work for the good of the people. The same thing is happening in the States of the North-West, South-East, North-East, South-South and North-Central, so long they possess the competence needed for the tasks.
It is on record that A.T. Shehu, who is supposedly an indigene of Adamawa State has never won election in his unit in Ganye LGA for PDP, the party he chairs now. As we speak, Shehu's State Constituency of Ganye is being represented by APC in the State House of Assembly. While Grace Bent, who he claims is a "non-indigene" has consistently delivered her unit, ward and indeed Demsa local government area with landslide victory in the whole of Adamawa South senatorial district in all elections. The records are in the public domain for confirmation.
After my 2011 experience, I let go and returned to my businesses while I remain an active member of the PDP from my LGA to the national level as a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and in 2019 general elections, I took a shot at the Adamawa South senatorial seat again.
In the November 29, 2020 newspaper interview in question, I responded to a question thus inter alia: "...I happened to be the only female in PDP that contested the primary election in 2019 and won the election, but the political party withdrew the ticket and gave it to someone else." To be sure, the reporter asked a follow-up question as to who was actually responsible for my not coming back to the Senate and I answered without mincing words thus: "...My governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, played a key role in that regard. Perhaps, because of his personal interest."
This revelation based on available evidence is what A.T. Shehu called "spurious allegations" against Governor Fintiri and himself. Instead of him to counter my facts with superior facts, he resorted to pedestrian lies that I influenced the national leadership of our party to have my "blood brother" appointed as a member of the Electoral Committee for the Adamawa South primary election, and that the primary election was "transparent" and I lost out.
A.T. Shehu in his so-called rejoinder had said that Governor Fintiri and himself were not at Numan, the venue of the primary election, being the headquarters of Adamawa South, hence they couldn't have influenced the primaries against me. But strangely, both of them were able to know that the exercise was "transparent" via their collective remote sensing or remote control from Yola, the state capital. Well, he was only economical with the truth as shown below in the twisted 2019 primary election result he alluded to in the rejoinder:
1. Kobis Ari Thimnu - 189 votes
2. Grace Bent - 322 votes
3. Binos Dauda Yaroe - 408 votes
As a "non-indigene", A.T. Shehu-led Adamawa PDP claimed I scored 322 votes while the "winner" of the primary, Binos Dauda Yaroe, got 408 votes, with Kobis Ari Thimnu trailing far behind me with 109 votes. From the above, a discerning mind will easily detect the fraud in the figures because as a "non-indigene" who didn't perform well while in the Senate between 2007 and 2011 in the minds of A.T. Shehu and his cohorts only, will muster such votes as a runner-up.
The truth is I convincingly won the primary election with 408 votes only for Governor Fintiri, who was at the time the PDP governorship candidate, with the help of the DSS and Police, to twist the election result in favour of his preferred candidate, Binos.
For the avoidance of doubt, the original result as compiled by the electoral commmittee sent from Abuja is still domiciled at the PDP national headquarters for verification.
The allegation that I infleuenced the appointment of my "blood brother" (whatever that means) into the Adamawa South electoral panel is untrue. Only a tribalist like A.T. Shehu believes that people of same ethnic groups are related by blood, hence his coinage of "blood brother" like that of "non-indigene" - one against conventional English and the other against the law of the land respectively.
I am not a desperate politician and I'm not an ingrate as A.T. Shehu and his paymasters will want the good people of Adamawa South and the Nigerian public to believe, hence I let go of the injustice meted against me in 2011 and 2019 elections. The revelations of their lack of dynamism and not being team players in my recent newspaper interview are statements of fact and I stand by them. Of course, it rattled them otherwise how can one explain the contents of the rejoinder haphazardly put together and signed by a lawyer-chairman of a party, fraught with lies and grammatical errors of that magnitude?
Was it not the same "ungrateful" Senator Bent who fought assiduously to nominate Shehu as the state party chairman despite protests from some quarters about his suitability?
Could A.T. Shehu say with all honesty that I was not instrumental to his emergence as the PDP State chairman?
It's laughable today to hear A.T. Shehu ranting in his so-called rejoinder. Has he quickly forgotten the enormous role I played alongside a few major stakeholders in constituting the present State Working Committee (SWC) of the party that he is enjoying today with others?
My doggedness and determination alongside a few other stakeholders repositioned and stabilised the PDP in Adamawa State, which produced the Governor Fintiri-led administration today. But here we are, most of the stakeholders that repositioned the party for its success today have been alienated and marginalised. So, where is the dynamism and teamwork by A.T. Shehu and his paymasters, who are at the helm of affairs of governance and party in our State?
Or how would A.T. Shehu explain that under his watch, his deputy chairman defected to APC and few days ago, the Senator representing Adamawa North, Elisha Abbo, elected on the platform of the PDP in 2019, defected to the same APC?
I have been a very loyal member of the PDP from inception, never have I for once, cross-carpeted to any other political party.
Prior to my becoming a member of the PDP, I was the Deputy National Chairman of the then Progressive Liberation Party (PLP), which later merged with the PDP. I subsequently became the first female Political Adviser to the then National Chairman of the party.
By God’s divine providence, I went on to become the the first female Senator in Adamawa State, and also in the North-East geo-political zone.
My being a member of the BoT was earned and well merited, its most uncharitable of A.T. Shehu to adduce that he did me a favour by ‘making me' a member of the BoT.
Therefore, A.T. Shehu's latest tantrums against me can be best described as a defeatist stand of a treacherous person.
It's bizarre and incomprehensible that A.T. Shehu, whom I single handedly influenced his emergence as the Adamawa State PDP chairman against the wishes of the larger stakeholders, who knew him to be a betrayer, will turn around to betray me now just because of the crumbs he get from the table of his paymasters.
Finally, the hatchet job by A.T. Shehu, which he dubbed 'press release', as a purported rejoinder to the newspaper interview I granted was done in bad faith, and it exposed him as ignorant, ethnic jingoist and a betrayer that he is for the world to see and know him better.
Senator Grace Folashade Bent, CON