You must be aware of the current travails of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the former governor of Borno State and immediate past Acting Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose lot we no longer envy. At first, this politician was seen by a section of the PDP Governors Forum as a messiah who would help recoup the glory of the party having lost out in the intricate power calculus that was the 2015 general election. Indeed, he had a cult following in these matters. The followership comprised awed admirers of this controversial politician as well as those decidedly unfamiliar with the man but adored him for his proven intrepidity, his loquaciousness and his heroic willingness to speak truth to power no matter whose ox was gored.
Everybody knows how Sheriff, a master in the art of political defection or what one humourist called “jumpology” (the art of jumping from one political party to another) emerged as chairman of the party. Despite the disdain with which many party faithful held him, some thought that, given his enormous financial energy and his ethnic affiliation, he would help stabilize the party within an interim period of three months during which his committee would superintend a national convention. That was not to be! Due to his legendary loudness and implacable capacity to advertise his ego coupled with his incredible personal ambition and intellectual assumptions, party stakeholders especially the Board of Trustees members, former governors, National Assembly caucuses, state chapters and youth councils started suspecting his subterranean moves as he was incapable of uniting the diverse forces towards one direction. The fear was that Sheriff had planned to maintain a vice grip of the party till 2018 and then turn himself to a phony presidential candidate.
This resulted in the stern opposition Sheriff encountered by party members who did all they could to redeem their party’s image by invoking its constitution to organize a fresh national convention in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital last May at the expiration of Sheriff’s interim tenure. The convention attracted all the notable members of the party including Sheriff who agreed to the convocation of the convention in tandem with the party’s constitution. He was to bolt out of the convention venue when he sensed that all his permutations would not hold water. As a party determined to redeem its battered image and forge a united front towards providing alternative platform for Nigerians to effect lasting changes in all ramifications, there was an amazing bout of consensus. The outcome was the emergence of Senators Ahmed Makarfi and Ben Obi as Chairman and secretary, respectively, of a new Caretaker Committee that would pilot the affairs of the party and conduct another convention after ninety day. Having lost his interim National Working Committee chairmanship, Sheriff returned to the drawing board to plot some divisive means of throwing spanners into the works of the party.
Whereas the Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee’s effort at reaching out to stakeholders was gathering momentum, Sheriff emerged from his cocoon, broke into the party’s national headquarters and declared himself the national chairman. Even erstwhile protégés and fanatical admirers of this Borno-born politician began to shudder. Outraged, the massed punditry of the vibrant and ever-crusading Nigerian press came out in full cry. A spectacle, this: the “Chairman” at bay! And since the new caretaker committee chairman, Makarfi and his secretary, Ben Obi have the sympathy of the Press, having been accorded full mandate by all stakeholders in the party according to its constitution, the world now knows that Sheriff is a spoiler. On Wednesday June 15, all the papers in the country circulated Makarfi’s revelation that Sheriff is a pimp who has made himself a willing tool in the hands of the ruling All Progressives Congress to destabilize the PDP. This development coupled with the bull-dog tenacity of Sheriff and his cohorts shows that the Borno-born politician is acting a script.
It is an established fact that certain PDP governors unknowingly played into the hands of Sheriff and his sponsors when they foisted him on the party. If they had not entered into an unholy covenant with Sheriff, the nation would have been spared this avoidable trauma. He who brings home ants-infested faggots should expect the visit of lizards. Sadly, it is not that the party lacks honest and sincere leaders. But trust the embattled Sheriff, sticking to his guns that he is a messiah while he is not. How can you allow your skin to be flayed for a pot of peppersoup while at the same time parading yourself as the one elected to salvage your party? Who elected you? Edmund Burke, the English political philosopher said many years ago that a politician’s platoon is his support base. If the party’s BoT, National Assembly caucuses, state governors, elders, youths, state executive councils including those who worked in your erstwhile National Working Committee, are now in one camp against you, who are you working with? Where is your support base? Sheriff should give Nigerians a breather. We are so familiar with these shenanigans to be coned time and time again. You allegedly had a nocturnal meeting with a North West APC governor who promised you security and other perquisites in order to disorganize your party and you are truly manifesting all forms of primordial tendencies before our very eyes. Where is your toga of statesmanship? After the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court judgements, respectively, on the Ondo governorship election dismissing Sheriff as leader of the PDP, why is he still parading himself as what he is not?
What the APC has shown clearly is that it has an unparalleled disdain for the rule of law. The danger in its action is that it would promote impunity and imperil not just individual safety but the safety and freedom of our nascent democracy. No doubt, the moves and pronouncements of its officers since the inception of this administration can only validate the claim of the PDP that the APC is not comfortable with a strong opposition. It hints at a ploy to conclude with some cloak of formality that we are yet headed for a one-party dictatorship. On its part, the PDP should, however, continue to wear its victim’s robe with subdued ostentation and close ranks and work with the Makarfi team for victory will smile on them some day. It is no tea party to act as an opposition party in a season of high profile inanities.