By Abubakar M. Bata
As speculated long before it happened, the rumored defection of some notable stalwarts of the All Peoples Congress (APC), including some Governors and members of the National Assembly had come and gone, leaving the APC family as intact as it can be, in contrast to the implosion that was envisaged to follow and the apparent loss of its strategic mass appeal that would eventually give opposition parties a leeway to make capital out of it. All the forecast of an imminent end to the party’s hold on to power came to naught. Despite this seeming all-clear signal, there are pockets of issues in a few states that may appear, from a distance, as incapable of causing the party any discomfort in the forthcoming general elections. The resurgence of desperate moves by some elements within the PDP fold has made it imperative for the APC leadership to quickly deal with these pockets of raging fires in order to amalgamate the collective strength and face the enemy with the full complement of the entire arsenal of political power at the disposal of the party.
Borno is one of the states where the APC can, if wisely managed, secure strategic greater vote advantage to ameliorate any likely loses that would obviously arise out of the defection of people like Saraki, Tambuwal, Ortom and some members of the National Assembly. The popularity of the APC and Buhari in Borno state in particular has soared higher due to two obvious reasons. The first is the deliberate strategy of containment of the Boko Haram insurgency of the Buhari administration. The other is the ability of Governor Kashim Shettima’s politics of inclusion; unprecedented infrastructural development particularly in the education, roads and housing sectors; deliberate policies of pursuing religious, ethnic and political harmony and the governor’s successful management of Nigeria’s most blood-spattering terrorist interloping, excellent management of internally displaced persons as well as keeping the state intact in the face of daunting socio-economic challenges brought about by years of freeze and halt to economic pursuits by all and sundry. It is therefore right to suggest that given these issues, the APC cannot afford to teddy bear with the criticality of Borno to its overall advantage as we approach general elections. This piece was spurred by the revelations of a former deputy governor of Borno state Shettima Yuguda Dibal of the diabolical intentions of a former governor of Borno state to manipulate both President Muhammadu Buhari and APC Chairman Adams Oshiomhole in order to, as is usual with the self serving antics of the former governor, rise from the ashes of self-inflicted political leprosy and loss of face in the estimation of right thinking Nigerians. The revelations by Yuguda Dibal were contained in an exclusive interview he granted the Daily Trust of August 29, 2018 captioned ‘’Borno 2019: Sheriff wants to manipulate Buhari, Oshiomhole.’’ Incidentally, Dibal was, between 2003 and 2011, deputy governor to Sheriff and this close affinity and association made the revelations very authoritative and compelling.
it is unbelievable that despite his ‘’any government in power (AGIP)’’ antecedents and hobnobbing with even a devil as long as doing so will confer on him some semblance of relevance, this man, who only defected to the APC when the hawks within the PDP outwitted him in their game of treachery and betrayal, can still attempt to pull a fast one on the national leadership of the APC at this time when he has lost all relevance and had been consigned to the dustbin of history and at this critical period of general elections. Borno and Yobe to a large extent are about the most secured states for Buhari and the Governors there have shown, going by the decisive nature of the victory in 2015, that neither the President, nor the party leadership should muddle up issues in the two states in the name of kowtowing to the shenanigans, tissues of lies and double dealings of any former governor who had established a reputation as a career political jobber and undertaker. To begin with, President Buhari is, more than anyone else a serial victim of this man’s politics of perfidy and double standards. Even when they were in the same party up to the time Buhari lost to the late Yar’Adua in 2007 and to Jonathan in 2011, Ali Sheriff had been in the forefront of successfully sabotaging and undermining all efforts by Buhari to either seek redress in courts or to mobilize citizenry solidarity around his genuine grievances.
We must put pressure on the President and the leadership of the party to be, not just wary of, but circumspect with any attempt to give rehabilitation or even entrust critical election assignments to this man so as not to be foolish to his antics several times over. During the Ali Sheriff era as Governor, even Goodluck Jonathan, with his lackadaisical approach to matters of dealing with the Boko Haram insurgency, was able to secure 25% of the total votes and this was achieved in cohorts and under the strategic planning of the former governor. In 2015 when Kashim Shettima was fully in charge, the results in Borno were far less that the planned 25%. Another advantage as we approach 2019 is that with a record 2 million registered voters in Borno, achieved through Shettima’s prodding, a harvest of votes for the President are realistically envisaged. If we go by the revelations in the Dibal’s interview, the choices before the President is between an Ali Sheriff that is a serial betrayer who is planning a come back onto the scene through political subterfuge to position himself for political revival and a Kashim Shettima that has successfully sent the lepers and betrayers on a sabbatical and made Borno not just 90% pro-Buhari and pro-APC, but strategic to 2019 permutations.
Bata wrote this piece from Biu, Borno State