July 21, 2014
Presidency’s men have hatched a plot to oust Borno and Yobe state governors through Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who is defecting from the All Progressives Congress to the People’s Democratic Party, sources aware of the move told Daily Trust.
Sheriff, a former Borno State governor, is also said to have been given enormous powers, enough to enable him decide the course of political events in the two states, including who picks up what position in the primaries for the next elections, the sources said.
The former governor’s new powerful status was demonstrated last week when the Maiduguri airport, which use has been denied to Governor Kashim Shettima and pilgrims heading to Saudi Arabia, was opened for his private plane to land and take off.
A founding member of the opposition APC, Sheriff said last week the party is dead and that he will defect to the ruling PDP after the Ramadan fast and work towards President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid.
Sheriff’s brief from Abuja is to “capture” both Borno and Yobe states, one of the sources said, adding that he had been empowered with the resources he needs in order to accomplish the job in the coming weeks.
Part of the mandate, Daily Trust gathered, is to work with the Borno State House of Assembly to accuse Governor Shettima of “financial recklessness” and subsequently use that to impeach him. Sources said there are plans to also implicate the governor over some security issues in order to force him out of power.
At least 17 of the 28 members of the State Assembly have so far expressed their willingness to follow Sheriff to the PDP, Daily Trust learnt.
Majority Leader of the Borno State Assembly, Mr Idrissa Jidda, told Daily Trust yesterday that many lawmakers have agreed to defect from APC to PDP though he declined to say why they are defecting.
“Many members are willing to go, in fact I am one of those that are going to join the PDP very soon,” he said.
Another state lawmaker from southern Borno, who does not want his name mentioned, distanced himself from the defection move, saying the Assembly “is intact and absolutely loyal to the APC and the administration of Governor Kashim Shettima.”
In Yobe, it was gathered that Sheriff will use “carrot-and-stick style” in order to get at Governor Ibrahim Gaidam.
A source said while Borno Governor Shettima is expected “to be impeached outright,” Gaidam and members of the State House of Assembly “would be cajoled to join the PDP.”
“But if Gaidam resists the move, the Assembly members would be used to impeach him too,” the source added.
A spokesman for Sheriff, Alhaji Umar Duhu, could not be reached for comments yesterday as he was said to have travelled to Saudi Arabia for Lesser Hajj.
But another associate of Sheriff, Mr. Inuwa Bwala, when contacted, said though he was not authorised to speak for the former governor, he was not aware of any plan for Sheriff to spearhead Shettima’s impeachment.
He added that it was only natural, though, for Sheriff to work for the success of a party he belongs to.
“It is only natural for one to work for the success of a party he joins. But I don’t know about any impeachment move. Why don’t you ask the Presidency whether it has given him the mandate to impeach the governor? I think it is in the best position to answer that,” Bwala said.
Daily Trust could not get comments from the Presidency and the PDP national headquarters yesterday. President Jonathan’s political adviser Rufai Ahmed Alkali said he was out of Abuja and therefore could not make comments until he returned. The President’s spokesman Reuben Abati and senior special assistant on public affairs Doyin Okupe did not return calls. PDP spokesman Olisa Metuh could not be reached by telephone last night.
‘Evil plots will fail’
In his response, APC’s National Secretary Mai Mala Buni said any plan that is not democratic will fail.
“No evil machination of the PDP will triumph in Borno, Yobe and any other APC states. The people in Borno and Yobe states know the people that threw them into their present predicament and they know the efforts their current leaders are making to salvage them,” he said.
“They should stop escalating the precarious security situation by heating the polity; they must allow people to make their choices. The revolt going on in Nasarawa State should be an eye opener for the PDP.”
When contacted on the alleged plot against Governor Shettima, his spokesman Isa Gusau said, “I consider the whole issue as speculative for now but if it is true, then it will be ungodly and shameful if a Borno man can have the slightest thought, not to talk of working or leading a plot to destabilise Borno State at a time thousands of poor, innocent citizens in the state are continually being killed, sacked from their communities and forced to become refugees in their own land…
“It is simply unimaginable and it shows extreme immoral greed and lust for power that out of this human scope, the person that is being said to be in the vanguard of this destabilisation, if it is true that he is behind it, was the very person whose administration bequeathed this dehumanisation of Borno State to Kashim Shettima.”
He added: “Governor Shettima is not a desperate man; he is in power to help in addressing the problems in Borno as he is already doing. I also think it is an insult for anyone to think Borno lawmakers can just cheaply fall to the person because there is excellent executive-legislature relationship in Borno.”
In his response, Gaidam’s spokesman Abdullahi Bego said, “Governor Gaidam is surely concerned that some recent political events in the country could have implications on the capacity of our nation’s democracy to flower. But across our state, no one is worried that anyone would seek or attempt the desperate and anti-democratic tendencies seen elsewhere.
“In Yobe today, all 24 state assembly members are APC as are all three senators from the state. With the movement to the APC of the only PDP House of Representatives member in the state, all six Yobe House of Reps members are also APC. The 17 local government councils are also formed by the APC. Across these local government areas, almost everyone who participates in politics or could vote in an election is also with the party. In addition to the solid-state profile of the APC in Yobe State, there is also a unity of purpose across government and among politicians.”