Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State speaking not long after Senator Ali Modu Sheriff was invited to take over as chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was right on point when he said: “my boss Sheriff will destroy PDP.” The governor’s sense of clairvoyance some claimed, was not exceptional given the spectacular or controversial background of the former governor.
That background was given more accent this week by Chief Femi Fani-Kayode when he disclosed that Sheriff, even as a chieftain of the All Nigeria Peoples Congress, ANPP was regularly in cahoots with the PDP in ensuring that the opposition never got a proper footing in the political terrain.
Given Chief Fani-Kayode’s confession, some would be tempted to describe the present fate of the PDP as a just or fitting comeuppance for the former ruling party. Remarkably, the way the crisis in the PDP unfolded has again opened the divisive role of many PDP governors in the problems of the party.
Sheriff was the singular project of two of the governors who railroaded him across the party organs to the high office of national chairman.
At that time there were many insinuations as to the reason why the governors embarked on the Sheriff project with the most popular logic being the claim that the very wealthy Sheriff was the only one willing to fund the party. Another reason that has been propounded was that the governors needed someone that they could manipulate.
Whatever it was that Sheriff offered the party, would have more than been eroded by the humiliation the PDP has suffered since he surfaced, a humiliation that climaxed in Port-Harcourt last Wednesday.
But how the governors thought that they could have outmanoeuvred Sheriff in the game of political chicanery should puzzle anyone. The governors who tried to railroad Sheriff to play their game apparently may have forgotten that by the time he became governor in 2003 that a sizeable proportion of them were yet to get their bearing. Sheriff’s glistening but controversial political journey was, however, not without its pitfalls which should have opened the eyes of the governors.
Despite having served as a two-term governor of Borno State between 2003 and 2011, Sheriff was unable to win the Senate seat for Borno Central in 2011, and in 2015, despite all the support from President Goodluck Jonathan was unable to return a single person to any state or federal office on the ticket of the PDP.
Even as his electoral value plummeted, Sheriff’s capacity for political mischief was not in any way diminished as was aptly demonstrated last Wednesday. Remarkably, the kind of impunity that drove the party to its present situation seems not to have been erased from the party as the governors showed in the hours just before the convention was disrupted by the police.
Against the argument for a level playing ground for the election of a new national chairman, the party’s governors had allegedly connived to throw up Mr. Jimi Agbaje for the position of national chairman. Agbaje’s was to stand against Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, Chief Bode George, and Prof. Tunde Adeniran.
Associates of Dokpesi revealed that in his bid for the job that the Edo born media mogul visited 34 of the country’s 36 states to solicit the support of delegates with the notable exceptions of Borno and Yobe States. Chief George who interestingly was instrumental to the emergence of Agbaje as the governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State last year also made his consultations but not as far as Dokpesi.
However, for the governors after their consultations to want to impose Agbaje, a man just new in the party as their national chairman was reflective of the arrogance or impunity that for long stymied the party’s quest to transform into a vehicle for democratic growth.