Isa Gusau is Governor Kashim Shettima’s spokesman. Until his appointment by Governor Shettima, he covers Borno State for Daily Trust newspaper. His effective coverage of the area attracted the then commissioner of Finance, incumbent Governor Shettima who after becoming the Borno State governor appointed Isa a citizen of Zamfara State as his SA Media Affairs. In this interview with a group of journalists, Gusau speaks on the chances of Governor Shettima in view of recent political development that saw Shettima’s ex-boss, Sen. Ali Sheriff, decamping to the main opposition PDP. Excerpts:
Last week Borno State lawmakers were reported to have purchased re-election form for Governor Shettima. Is it not out of place that Borno stakeholders should be politicking when insurgency is ravaging the state?
I think if there is one state whose citizens should be actively involved in the 2015 elections, it should be the good people of Borno State so that they can determine their future, determine if they are satisfied with the way things are going at the federal and state levels so they can either change or sustain what is on ground with a view to addressing the problems through governance. Secondly, we are practicing constitutional democracy in Nigeria, elections are part of our constitutional processes to determine leaders, and we all know that the goal of insurgents everywhere in the world is to suspend constitutional democracies and replace them with violence based systems they alone understand. So if you say you should ignore electoral practices, you simply encourage insurgents to target more parts of Nigeria, occupy territories and have constitutional democracy suspended. What is important is that authorities concerned must take firm measures to ensure that a single innocent life is not lost to any electoral procedure whether in Borno or any part of Nigeria and this can be achieved with the right attitude, human security and related material resources.
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff has moved to the PDP and said it is in order to help Borno State, why won’t Governor Shettima join him?
The President of the country is the national leader of the PDP and he is based in Abuja, the PDP national headquarters is in Abuja and virtually all leaders of the PDP are either based in Abuja or mostly operate there, but all of that didn’t stop insurgents from attacking some parts of Abuja. Sheriff was chieftain of the APC, why did he remain in the APC until the national convention of the APC was held and he had disagreements with the outcome before moving to the PDP? The whole thing is deceptive. Borno has never been his consideration. So in your estimation, defection is not necessary to get federal government’s attention? The difference between Governor Shettima and his boss Sheriff is that the governor is honest and selfless. If Governor Shettima for instance is assured of a re-election ticket in PDP, he will be concerned about the future of his followers, those aspiring to go the national and state assemblies, those that are executives at the levels of state, local government and wards under the APC, those aspiring to be chairmen and councilors of local government areas. Shettima is not the type of governor that is concerned about his personal interest and others can go to hell so long as he is okay and this is why he has won the hearts of majority of APC stakeholders and members. The Shettima I know will prefer that he gets nothing than to abandon his followers. APC supporters have spotted the difference. Initially, there was this misconception that the former governor was going with what his loyalists called the soul of the APC but he ended up going to PDP with fingernails. His supporters said he was going with entire members in the national and state assemblies, the state, council and ward executives of the APC, former and serving chairmen, councillors and what have you but as everyone has come to see, he went with virtually nobody. APC had one senator as at 2011, today, Shettima has two senators from the PDP that are fully behind him openly in the APC, the APC had eight members of House of Reps, today Shettima has five of them fully with him and Sheriff has three. Interestingly, out of the three Reps with Sheriff, only one of them has some grassroots support, the other two are minuses while the five with Shettima are very strong political heavy weights, journalists can go and find out. Shettima has the APC structure intact; majority of PDP executives in councils that were strongholds of PDP like Gubio, Hawul etc have moved to APC, Shettima has the people, so what does he lack? Nothing! When Sheriff was defecting to PDP, his supporters nicknamed him hurricane, but instead of being hurricane, he proved to be less than dry season. As we speak, there are allegations for instance now that Mala Sheriff, a younger brother of Ali Modu Sheriff has picked a PDP nomination form for the governorship ticket and there are fears by some of Sheriff’s loyalists that want to spend the billions he has and use his connection at the presidency to make his younger brother the governorship flag bearer of the PDP, and if that attempt is made it will be clearer to all of them that the whole idea is about how to use some of them who failed to use their eyes in daylight. Look at how he was resisted from entering the PDP when others like Bafarawa and Shekarau were being courted. The PDP in Borno had to issue a letter accepting him and that showed there must have been resistance otherwise, was there any letter like that issued in the case of other defectors to PDP like Tom Ikimi, Bafarawa and Shekarau? I have been covering political activities in Borno for over 10 years. I understand the politics there and I can tell you that anyone challenging Governor Shettima ahead of 2015 is not banking on the support of the electorate, he or she is banking on using forces to hijack the will of the people but the way I understand Borno, all of these won’t work. Sheriff should know that if forces were mightier than the will of the people of Borno, he wouldn’t have survived the massive plot waged against his re-election in 2007.
During the defection of Sheriff into the PDP, the Minister of State for Power, Wakil, described Shettima as an apprentice of Sheriff and Kashim Imam, both of who have now joined the PDP. So what is the fate of Shettima now?
Wakil only became an executive less than a year ago, he is less than an apprentice also in relation to an executive governor of today’s Nigeria’s most troubled state. Then, Governor Shettima has never been the kind of person that claims to know all. He is an extremely intelligent yet an extremely humble person that always asks, always wants to learn. Wakil may think he knows all but what I can tell you is that these people he mentioned may end up consuming him and getting him out of the position he enjoys rather than being a problem to Shettima. In case he doesn’t understand the handwriting on the wall, the two men didn’t join PDP to follow him as their leader, they joined PDP to replace him and this may come to pass.
You haven’t mentioned Kashim Imam, he is also in the PDP with SAS; isn’t he an obstacle?
I personally respect Kashim Imam so much because he is an intellectual but the problem with his recent defection is that of identity crisis management. What Kashim Imam will never admit is to be regarded as a boy to SAS or that he followed SAS to PDP and SAS would want to claim he dragged Imam back to PDP. SAS went to PDP with three members of House of Reps even though like I said, two are minuses. He also went with 10 loyalists or so and by that he would remind Imam the deputy to Shettima, that is Alhaji Zannah Umar Mustapha, and most key loyalists of Imam didn’t follow Imam back to PDP and based on that, SAS would want to assume leadership whereas Imam has a stronger hold on the party he funded for years in Borno and I foresee serious confusion managing that crisis. As it is, the Borno PDP is like a missing child that has been found by a hungry lion, you can guess whether the child is now safe or better in the wilderness.