The first stakeholders meeting of the ANPP was held in July last year, during which Sheriff threatened to deal decisively with any one nursing the ambition to succeed him. Before the meeting, some members of his cabinet perceived to be interested in becoming the next governor of the state were alleged to have started mobilizing to clinch the ANPP’s gubernatorial ticket. The threat therefore, Governor Sheriff said was predicated on the belief that none of those nursing the ambition to succeed him within the ANPP possess the resources to challenge the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the Governorship.
Two weeks ago, a second stakeholders meeting took place. The meeting was called after Sheriff had dissolved his cabinet and sacked majority of his aides.. At that meeting, the governor directed ANPP chairman in the 27 local government areas in consultation with their respective council chairmen and legislators to nominate persons considered to have no political ambitions in 2011 for the post of commissioners and special advisers.
Analysts interpreted the move as the governor’s scheme of weeding out persons perceived as governorship contenders. Intense lobbying and politicking was the attendant result as stalwarts of the ANPP in the state struggled to be nominated as commissioners or special advisers and special assistants from their respective local government areas. Surprisingly, the cadres of people that Sheriff wanted excluded from the nomination process were the same people who were handpicked.
Miffed by the result of the nomination process, Sheriff summoned last Monday’s meeting. He spared no one including his family members when he declared that neither his younger brother, Mala Sheriff who has being widely touted as his successor nor any other member of his family would succeed him in 2011. The governor said he was aware of speculations even among his close aides that he was going to hand over to his brother. He informed everyone at the meeting that none of his brothers will take part in the 2011 governorship race. Thereafter, Sheriff was said to have asked all those in his cabinet to declare their interest in the governorship race, threatening to sack anyone with governorship ambitions from his administration.
The outcome of Monday’s stakeholders meeting has changed the political equation in Borno State as to the likely successor to Sheriff from the ANPP will be, as all those serving in his administration have pledged that they harbour such ambitions. While the development has created a lot of suspense over who takes over from Sheriff in 2011, the picture is getting clearer about his likely successors in the three senatorial zones; Borno central, north and south.
From the central zone, the race has been narrowed down to Senator Kaka Malam Yale, with speculations rife that the senator and Sheriff may do a trade off that will Sheriff returning to the Senate in 2011. Senator Yale, is a former council chairman Konduga local government area and commissioner. The only minus against his likely emergence is his independent mindedness which will make it difficult for Sheriff to control him.
In the southern senatorial zone, the minority leader in the House of Representatives, Muhammad Ali Ndume is a major contender even though he is said to be interested in vying for a senatorial seat because going by the ANPP zoning formula, the senatorial slot rotates among the three major areas of Chibok, Damboa and Gwoza; Ndume’s town of origin. Other contenders from the southern senatorial zone are Asabe Vilita who has instead chosen to remain a member of Sheriff’s cabinet and Senator Hambagda. Ndume is the most popular National Assembly member from Borno State He is adjudged the most visible National Assembly member and has been constant trips to his constituency, perhaps in pursuit of his 2001 project. He is said to enjoy the support of Gov. Sheriff’s wife.
The choice of a candidate from northern senatorial zone has been narrowed down to the Senate minority leader, Senator Maina Ma’aji, a former governor of the state. His main challenger would have been the secretary to the Borno State government, Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda. He, however, renounced his ambition at the last stakeholders meeting of the ANPP convened by Sheriff. In 2007, Jidda had concluded all preparations to contest the northern senatorial seat before Sheriff appealed to him to step down for Ma’aji and he was rewarded with his current post.