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Published On: Tue, Jul 25th, 2017

Sheriff plots against PDP, promises to fight back

 

 OBINNA EZUGWU|

 

When a three-man Supreme Court panel led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, put an end to the lingering leadership crisis in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) by sacking former Borno State governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and recognising the Ahmed Makarfi led caretaker committee, it triggered ecstatic reactions from the party’s major stakeholders, including Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti; former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode among others.

It was a new beginning for a party that was not only the battered by loss of the presidential election in 2015, but had also in an attempt to find its bearing ran into even bigger trouble when it appointed Sheriff as chairman following the insistence of the North East, particularly Ahmed Gulak, that it was the turn of the zone to produce its chairman to complete the term of Adamu Muazu.

The former governor was approached to head the party by governors Wike, Fayose and others, but things quickly turned sour when he allegedly started pursuing an agenda different from that which the governors expected of him. This prompted the convening of the Port Harcourt convention where Makarfi was chosen to lead the party.

 

“It is unfortunate that Ali Modu Sheriff started doing certain things that made people not to trust him that much,” explained Makarfi.

“First of all, the agreement was that he was going to serve for three months, but immediately he got appointed by the National Executive Committee of the party, he used proxies to file a case in Lagos, to say that his tenure will extend to 2018. That’s why we are in this problem. That caused a lot of distrust. When you say one thing and end up doing the other, it makes it difficult for people to trust you.”

It was also alleged that Sheriff had presidential ambition and was looking to hijack the party structure for that purpose. He was at other times, accused of being sponsored by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to undermine the party. The Supreme Court judgment therefore came as a relief to his adversaries, but Sheriff is not a man who gives up easily. There are indications that he is poised to hurt the party, and for a man who knows how to create controversies, the celebration of his adversaries may have come too early.

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The apex court has decided, and as far as PDP chairmanship is concerned, it is over for the former Borno governor. But the PDP will not simply exist to have a chairman who is supported by former ministers and serving governors; a party exists to win elections, and this is where Sheriff will matter as he is now fighting from the outside.

After expressing his initial shock at the decision of the Supreme Court, he immediately went on the offensive. Last week, he declared his intention to collaborate with global anti corruption networks to bring all corrupt politicians in Nigeria to book, pointing out that all PDP members having criminal cases would also be brought to book.

“We will collaborate with global anti corruption networks to bring all corrupt politicians in Nigeria to book, including PDP members having criminal cases bothering on dishonesty and malfeasance,” a statement by the spokesperson of his group, Hon Bernard Mikko read.

“Never again will corrupt politicians use the platform of our major political institutions to stardom. The party is for all and no one’s enterprise as government is conceived as an administrative state where dishonest politicians bask in democratic corruption.”

If anything, Sheriff has proven that he is not ready to give up, and judging by his pedigree, he has to capacity to hurt the opposition party.

As the leader of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), one of the political parties that fused together to form the APC in 2013, Sheriff was one of the ruling party’s founding members. But once it became apparent that he was not going to get what he wanted, he switched allegiance and effectively, as alleged, became an informant to the PDP while still a chieftain of the APC.

The electioneering campaigns leading up to the 2015 polls witnessed high level betrayals and counter betrayals that between people in the then PDP government of Goodluck Jonathan and the APC, Sheriff was allegedly in the middle of it. It was not for nothing that he immediately bonded with Jonathan as soon as he joined PDP in 2014.

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As a chieftain of the APC, he was privy to information on the party’s plans and strategies, he attended meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari, then APC candidate where plots against the PDP were discussed, and by midnight or early morning, he was allegedly in Aso Rock detailing such plans to Jonathan. But he was unaware the APC had their own informants in Jonathan’s government.

“Sheriff’s defection to the PDP at the time was a huge relief,” an APC source said. I knew he was also going to have issues with the PDP because he can’t be trusted. He was revealing all our plans to the then president, Goodluck Jonathan, we got to know through some of Jonathan’s aides who were as well working for us at the time. We would have a meeting in the evening for instance, and by midnight, Sheriff and a couple of others like him would visit Jonathan to reveal all that we discussed,” he said.

It was not therefore, strange that he would later be accused of working for the APC government to undermine the PDP.

“He was meeting with APC governors, I’m very much aware of that,” said Mr Taofic Gani, spokesperson for the PDP in Lagos State. He was working with those interested in making sure that there is no viable opposition in the country.”

With this pedigree, it is obvious that the 61-year-old Ngala born politician who enthroned and dethroned his predecessor, the late Malla Kachalla in Borno state, knows how to play the politics of both the good and bad times. And while the PDP may be celebrating his ouster by the Supreme Court, the last may not have been heard of him.

In what appears to be a sign of things to come, a faction of the party loyal to him and Senator Buruji Kashamu last week defected to the newly formed Mega Party of Nigeria (MPN)

Among the defectors were Kashamu’s Senatorial Liaison Assistant (SLA), Otunba Adeleke Adekoya and Ebenezer Alabi who were running mate to Jimoh Ibrahim, factional PDP Ondo candidate backed by both Kashamu and Sheriff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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