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Between Daggash, Sheriff and the ‘ghost’ successor

Sheriff has since launched a different brand of campaigns for the governorship. In February, 2010, he started a tour round the 27 local government areas…

Sheriff has since launched a different brand of campaigns for the governorship. In February, 2010, he started a tour round the 27 local government areas of the state during which he held talks with key politicians, groups and associations and also held political rallies as a way of testing grounds to ascertain public perceptions towards the ruling ANPP ahead of 2011. The state Secretary of the ANPP, Alhaji Yusuf Adamu, however said that the tour was not political but “a normal government routine” because “the governor is the Chief Executive of the State and has a responsibility to go everywhere inspecting finished or ongoing projects initiated by either the state or the various local government chairmen”.

But as events later showed, politics was the reason for the tour. Interestingly, while he addressed supporters, Sheriff regularly told them that he was going to leave the choice of candidates for all elective posts to the people without any interference, but then he told them that he was only going to be involved in the selection of the governorship candidate, his likely successor, for the ANPP. In some cases, he declared support for some aspirants who enjoy strong support for some positions but in every case, he explained the qualities that his successor must possess, and appealed to the people to trust whoever emerges.

GOV’S BROTHER MAY BE THE HIDDEN SUCCESSOR

From Sheriff’s utterances, it did appear that he already had someone he was selling. His strategy of asking supporters to decide candidates for other positions looked like trade by barter, in which case he decides his successor while the rest of the people decide other elective office seekers.

In recent times, there have been intense talks that the governor’s younger brother, Mala Modu Sheriff who was a commissioner under the late Mala Kachallah from 1999 to 2003, may be his brother’s ‘ghost successor’. The speculations were heightened by the alleged production of campaign posters and stickers bearing the younger Sheriff’s pictures. Sunday Trust however gathered that one Alhaji Murupza, a political godson of Mala Sheriff may have produced the campaign materials which many see as a common thing done by political associates and godsons in Borno politics.

There are however those who maintain that the Sheriff family is bent on having the senior Sheriff transfer power in 2011 to the younger Sheriff. The presence of the younger Sheriff throughout the recent tour of the local government areas, his increased sharing of gifts during festivities, a failed attempt to make him minister, and his ‘odd’ presence during one of the party’s stakeholders meeting in July 2009 where only those who occupied public offices from 2003 to the time of the meeting were invited, supported the alleged brother to brother plot.

There has as well been a tactical weeding off, by Governor Sheriff, of those perceived as top contenders for the Government House. In that July 2009 meeting, Sheriff, acting like a village primary school headmaster, had identified perceived aspirants and handed a microphone to them to either announce publicly that they had no political ambitions in 2011 or forfeit their offices in his cabinet. Summarily, every one of them took the microphone and denounced any such ambition.

The governor also declared in the same meeting that none of his brothers will contest the governorship, but there are those who insist that the plot is alive despite all the pretences. Many think that, indeed, Governor Sheriff may have nothing really standing in his way given his successful splitting of an emirate in the state and appointment of a new emir in spite of initial setbacks.

But that emir’s episode is making some people feel that the suspicion over his brother may just be a dummy to his opponents. For instance, while many people expected the governor to appoint his father, Galadima Modu Sheriff, as the emir of the newly created Dikwa Emirate, he appointed Alhaji Abba Tor, a son of a deceased emir who moved the old Dikwa Emir’s Palace from Dikwa town to Bama. By history and royal qualifications, Governor Sheriff’s appointee was qualified to be appointed emir of the new emirate although controversies trailed the emirate’s creation. It is therefore believed that the governor may be having someone in mind for the Borno State governorship position different from his brother.

Whoever Sheriff may have in mind, the successor tussle may face stiff challenges not from the PDP but from within the ANPP. Many key members of the ANPP, including appointees, are aggrieved. They complain bitterly behind the governor and loudly praise him when he is around. Their major complaint is that nothing gets to them. Many of these aggrieved persons may either remain in the party and sabotage it or pitch tent with other parties.

DAGGASH’S SURPRISE COMEBACK

As for the PDP, though the party has big shots, with most of them eying various positions ahead of 2011, the party has been divided and key actors appear to be operating from Abuja. Of all them, Ambassador Saidu Pindar appears to be about the only one carrying out visible political activities in Borno towards his governorship ambition. But he will be contending with a fierce battle from the Northern and Central Zone which may not want to concede power to the Southern Zone of the state where he comes from.

The appointment of Daggash may revive old rivalries amongst the state’s PDP key leaders. His nomination and subsequent appointment as Minister of Works took the hawks in the party, especially the party’s governorship candidate in 2003 and 2007, Alhaji Kashim Imam and others, by storm.

In 2007, Imam expected to be made minister after losing the Borno governorship to Sheriff but Daggash carried the day courtesy of his nomination said to have been masterminded by his friend and business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote. While Daggash served as Minister of Planning under Yar’adua, there was open bitterness between him and Imam; a situation that divided the Borno PDP sharply. Though under the PDP’s policy, a minister assumes the party’s leadership in a state where the party doesn’t control government, Imam and his supporters seemed not to have recognised Daggash up to when he was sacked in 2008.

Daggash’s recent comeback surprised those opposed to him because his name was neither forwarded by the party’s executive in the state nor any of its key actors. Instead, an official in the party, Sunday Trust learnt, a retired general close to Acting President Goodluck Jonathan had recommended a former top executive of NNDC for appointment as minister in Borno’s slot, but that Jonathan ignored the nominee. The acting President also dropped a former top executive of PPMC who was said to have been recommended by a female national executive of the PDP for the same slot. The official said that Jonathan equally ignored the names forwarded to him by the state’s PDP before settling for his close associate, Senator Sanusi Daggash who was minister of planning and vice chairman of the National Planning Commission until his sack in 2008 by Yar’adua. Daggash worked closely with the acting President who by virtue of his office as substantive Vice President is chairman of the commission.

Daggash’s return in this manner will hardly end the rivalry within the Borno PDP. He is likely to use his return as a lever to rekindle the dream he was said to be nurturing to contest for the governorship. This is likely to face stiff opposition from within. It could count in favour of the ANPP which enjoys the privilege of being the governing party. 

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