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New political map for Borno APC, as SAS rejoins party

The recent defection of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the erstwhile governor of Borno State and National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),  to the…

The recent defection of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the erstwhile governor of Borno State and National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),  to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has provided another dimension to scheming in the North Eastern state ahead of 2019 general elections.

 

It is natural in partisan politics that notable movements of bigwigs in the class of Sheriff, popularly known as SAS, and the timing of the defection generate an expansive assortment of opinions, comments and analyses.

SAS’ ‘homecoming’ to the APC from his excursion in the PDP is already eliciting debate within his camp and that of Governor Kashim Shettima.

Some perceive it as too consequential to be ignored, suggesting that it would definitely portend an imminent overhaul of political moves and electoral contests in the state; while others, who, for various reasons that emerged between 2011 and now at both the state and national levels, now regard SAS as a political ‘spent force,’ perceive it as inconsequential and, therefore, lacking the potency to make any meaningful impact in the political calculus of the state.

Among the generality of politicians in both APC and PDP, the prevailing view of SAS is that he carved a significant niche as a politician of convenience, rather than of conviction, which, according to such views, explains why he changes platforms whenever he feels doing so in the pursuit of what he sees as convenient for him. 

But others believe SAS’ political conviction is ‘exceptionally’ static and unshakeable, which is why he seems in the permanent pursuit of any convenience he can grab under whatever suitable platform to sustain his conviction. Such views hold that whatever partisan platform he goes under, he is there strictly on a ‘business trip’ in a fair weather atmosphere.

Whichever of these views realistically obtains, therefore, there doesn’t seem anything striking about the Borno political juggernaut changing partisan platforms at this time of the countdown to 2019. His political pedigree is dazzlingly expressive of the potency to, not just generate so many hullabaloos, but actually cause notable changes in the political calculus of the state, in terms of the consequentiality or otherwise of his defection on the scale of the implementation of the 2019 template.

At a meeting of the Borno State stakeholders of the APC at the Government House, Maiduguri on Friday, 4th May, 2018, Sheriff made some significant statements which saliently expressed not just his pedigree but threw up a lot of views and suggestions on the focus of politics in the state towards 2019.

“I rejoined this great party, APC, following the misunderstanding we had in PDP when I was leading the party (at the national level); I have to come back home and rejoin the APC, which is the party that I assisted to form,” he declared, hastening to explain, “I am joining this party as an ordinary member, and I want to call on all and sundry to support the leadership of Governor Kashim Shettima and the party in the state. 

“This party will continue to unite its members so that it sweeps all elective positions at local, state and national levels,” he said.

A statement in the response of his ‘political son’, Governor Kashim Shettima at that meeting is also noteworthy.

“I don’t have any particular candidate at heart,” he stated at the meeting attended by the federal parliamentarians from the state and other major stakeholders of the party, saying rather that he was in fervent prayer for God to make it possible for a credible and selfless leader to take over from him.

But other sources said some forces in the presidency led by Ambassador Baba Kingibe and Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, who are all from Borno State, were instrumental to SAS’s defection to APC.

This was evident in the manner those who defected with Sheriff were received by notable personalities at the APC national secretariat, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr Babachir David Lawan among others.

It was gathered that while Babagana Kingibe and Abba Kyari want to have a say in who becomes what in Borno by 2019, they nonetheless needed somebody with ‘significant’ following to do the hatchet job and they found a window in Sheriff.

Another source said, “Sheriff’s defection to APC is dually significant. First, in his typical fashion of a political businessman, he has come to take the state from Kashim and give it to whoever will be revealed in due course as his anointed candidate so that he in turn aid the re-election bid of President Buhari in possible ways according to his political clout, economic wherewithal and a few other significant contributions in the give and take arrangement, which I cannot disclose to you.

But sources close to Governor Shettima said they were not perturbed by the ‘gang up,’ saying the governor had established himself very well and empowered many politicians who would help him execute glorious transition next year.

Another source said Sheriff went back to APC in order to actualize a pre-2011 election arrangement leading to the electoral victory of Kashim Shettima.

The arrangement, it was gathered, was that after completing his second term as governor, Shettima would allow Sheriff to spearhead the search for the next governor.

“I think that hypothesis is a misnomer,” another source close to the governor, said. “Have you ever seen something like that? After all many things have been overtaken by events, but most importantly, the circumstance that led to the emergence of Shettima as governor is different,” he said.

He said this could be attested to with the way Governor Shettima won his second term in 2011 and supported all the members of the national and state assembly to navigate to victory; despite the efforts by Sheriff to have his men in those positions.

There is also the growing view that, intoxicated by the power of incumbency and, therefore, driven by this power to resist dictations by whoever, not even SAS, on who becomes what in the electoral contests, as well as lured by the temptation to enthrone his anointed candidate, Governor Shettima may have in reserve, numerous other options not anticipated by SAS, in his plan to grow his own political niche.

On account of his strength and capacity in the politics of both Borno and the country, the growing situation daily reveals that, with some ‘Machiavellian mind’, should Kashim ‘breach trust and promise’, should there be any arrangement that required that he keeps any trust and promise between them, SAS’ decampment to APC will redraw the political roadmap of the state, just in case the roadmap has not been drawn long before this point of politicking towards 2019.

Different views, however, flow from the mainstream opposition, the PDP.

“Sheriff’s decampment from PDP to APC will never change anything in Borno politics,” Alhaji Usman Mahdi Badeiri, a PDP stalwart in the state maintained, stressing, “he will never influence anything here; you can recall that even when he was in PDP and the 2015 elections were held, he could not determine the outcome of the elections at whatever level in Borno state.

“Although I am in PDP, I can tell you that Sheriff is not a force to be reckoned with in the Borno APC; he was only received at the national level; if he had been received first at home in his ward or at the state level, he would have been adjudged possessing the popularity and potency to influence what happens in Borno politics.

“He is only ridiculing himself,” he concluded.

“He will influence nothing,” another PDP stalwart, Umar Sanda said.

According to Sanda, “the people of Borno have deeply understood Sheriff now; he is not a politician of conviction, but off convenience; he does not have the interest of Borno at heart; that is why he goes about changing parties; he is in a political party only he wants a particular candidate to be elected to what political post; he decamped to APC now to field a candidate because he has heard that Shettima may not be having any anointed candidate,” querying: “who will repose any confidence in such a politician?”

There are various views with regard to the consequentiality or otherwise of his decampment to APC with regard to redrawing the political roadmap of Borno, but the prevailing view is that by his immense experience on the basis of whatever political conviction he developed over the years, his style of pursuing that conviction and his resources, he possesses the potency to pursue his political goals to their logical conclusions.

Such goals may include redrawing the political roadmap of Borno towards 2019.   

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