Intrigues, Denials Over Sheriff’s Romance With APC

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The allegation that negotiations are ongoing for the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to return to the ruling APC has cause a lot of noise which rented the political space….

Indication emerged last week that former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, is set to return to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The APC Great Nigeria Group, a group within the APC had recently made moves to persuade the former governor of Borno State, back to the party.

National coordinator of the group, Dr. Orikeze Vitalis noted that Sheriff who was one of the founding fathers of the APC had left to become the national chairman of the PDP.

“Before the consummating of the APC merger, Senator Sheriff was the greatest sponsor of the defunct ANPP and chairman of the Board of Trustees.”

“As chairman of the ANPP Board of Trustees, his roles in the actualization of the merger to form the APC cannot be over emphasised. Sen Sheriff was committed to the effective take off of the APC coupled with his track records in party building, the entire APC were miffed and completely demoralised when Sen Sheriff left the APC due to what happened at the APC National Convention in 2014,” Vitalis said.

According to him, when Sheriff left the APC based on principles, the PDP took advantage of the situation having realised his potentials and expertise.

Although there have been denials upon denials  over themove. Happenings during the week served as pointers in that direction as the former PDP leader held a closed door meeting with vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Aso Rock presidential villa.

Sheriff last Thursday held a closed door meeting with Osinbajo and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun behind closed doors for more than two hours at the presidential villa, Abuja.

At the end of the meeting, the former Borno State Governor left the villa without offering any comments on his mission to waiting journalists.

Also, many of Sheriff’s loyalists have since indicated their desire to decamp from the PDP to other political parties.

Over 14,000 PDP members and supporters of  Ali Modu Sheriff, have defected to the APC in the South South geo political zone.

This is even as APC announced that it would commence reconciliation visits to the state chapters of the party in the South-South geopolitical zones on Sunday, towards strengthening the party for victory in the 2019 general elections in the region.

The defecting Sheriff’s loyalists led by a former National Vice Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, said they were suffocated out of the party through deliberate act of impunity which led to the defeat of the party in 2015.

The former PDP members were received by top members of the APC led by National Vice Chairman of APC, Mr. Hilliard Eta; Delta State leader of the party, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor; Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu; and the state chairman of the party, Prophet Jones Erue, among others in Agbor.

Speaking during the ceremony, former factional  National Vice Chairman (South-South), Ojougboh, said since the Supreme Court judgment which ousted the Sheriff faction, the Ahmed Markafi national leadership had refused to reach out to them, hence their resolve to leave.

Ojougboh said, “We asked the national body to open up the party after the unfortunate court judgment, the next thing we heard was that they were going to grant us amnesty, as if we are criminals.

According to him, “When Raymond Dokpesi was nominated as member of the committee for the non-elective convention, his nomination was rejected because they said they spent money on the court judgment.”

He stated further that: “As if that was not enough, during the Anambra State governorship primary election, Jerry Gana was made chairman of a three-man committee to midwife a transparent election, but governors Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State and Nyesom Wike of Rivers State rejected it and came up with another committee that went to Anambra and handed everything to Peter Obi.

“Back here in Delta, we asked the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to remove impunity, but what we continue to see here is a family government. We now said it is time to look for people of like minds, people of progressive ideology to meet with, because I know most of you have ambitions to pursue. If we do not make a decision to belong to the progressives, most of you will miss out,” he stated.

However, it was not immediately clear whether Sheriff was at the presidential villa to discuss his possible return to the ruling APC from where he initially joined the PDP. But reports suggested that his Borno state home chapter of the APC has rejected his attempt to rejoin the party.

While addressing newsmen in Abuja, Chairman and Secretary, of the Borno APC Coalition, Maina Bashir and Abdullahi Mala, dismissed the speculation, describing it as unfounded.

Bashir said the coalition with party members from the 27 local councils in the state, was not aware of any effort to encourage Sheriff to come back.

The APC Coalition accused the former Borno State governor of abandoning the party for the PDP when he was needed to galvanise support for it before the 2015 general elections.

“The crux of the story is that some unknown and unidentified members of our great Party seek the return of Sheriff, who until recently was the factional chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Firstly, we wish to state that we are not aware of any call or move by any person or group for the return of Sheriff to the APC. As committed members and stakeholders of the APC in all the 27 Local Governments of Borno State, we would have been aware of any sincere move or effort for the return of Sheriff to our Party, which he defected from at its greatest moment of need – just before the 2015 general elections.”

Bashir added that the APC in Borno is peaceful and wary of any leader who would jeopardise the peace currently enjoyed by the party.

“Secondly, the Borno State chapter of the APC is currently at peace, with no crisis whatsoever. This is because of the excellent leadership provided by the Governor of the State, His Excellency Kashim Shettima, which has allowed the party to bloom. We are wary of anyone joining the party, who is likely change this situation for the worse.

“Thirdly, while we may have no objection to Sheriff or any other person for that matter joining our party, we wish to state clearly that every returnee or potential new member must join from his or her ward. We do not want ‘Abuja politicians’ with no substance at home in our Party.”

“Finally, if the speculation is true that Sheriff has indeed eaten the humble pie and with his tail between his legs, wants to return to the APC, he should go to his Ngala, his town and register with his ward chairman. If Sheriff does not have the details Ward Chairman, we will gladly supply him,” he stated.

In the same vein, the National Publicity Secretary, of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, has said that the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun did not meet with Vice President Osinbajo and Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff.

Abdullahi in a statement issued on Friday in Abuja urged party members, stakeholders to disregard the speculation, describing it as “falsehood”.

‘’Following Thursday’s visit of the national chairman of the APC to the Villa, the attention of the party has been drawn to surprising speculations in some sections of the media on the visit.For the records, the APC national chairman only met with the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari. He was not aware, neither was he part of the reported meeting between the Vice President and the former PDP national chairman,’’ the statement by APC,” Abdullahi said.

The statement added that Odigie-Oyegun did not visit the Vice President on the day in question and had equally not met Sheriff in over two years.

He therefore said that linking the chairman’s visit to the villa to media reports of Sheriff’s plans to join the APC was an effort to cause confusion and disaffection in the party’s Borno chapter.

Abdullahi explained that the party’s membership was negotiated at the ward level of intending entrants, irrespective of status.

But the South-west coordinator of Great NigerianGroup, a bloc under the APC, Rasaq Folorunso, has said nothing will stop Sheriff from returning to APC.

The leaders of the group said “The appeal to woo our leader, His excellency, Sen Ali Modu Sheriff, to return to APC is indeed patriotic and should be welcomed by all those who love the APC. Other political parties have been wooing its members to come back to their fold. If the PDP could be making frantic moves to woo their former members like former VP Atiku and the Nyako’s, Kwankwaso’s, Wammako’s, Saraki’s, Fatai’s and Tambuwal’s, what is wrong with us wooing our former leaders like Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and others back to the party they are founding fathers of?”

Meanwhile, the then National Publicity Secretary of PDP under Sheriff’s Chairmanship Hon. Bernard Mikko denied that the former chairman was planning to move to APC.

Mikko in a statement claimed that Sheriff’s meeting with the Vice President was purely on salient national issues and has nothing to do with defection.

“Our attention has been drawn to reports in some sections of the media that Senator (Dr.) Ali Modu Sheriff had a meeting with the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief John Oyegun. This report is not true as such meeting never took place.”

“Senator Sheriff’s meeting  with His Excellency; Professor Yemi Osinbajo,  Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was purely on national state matters and had nothing to do with partisan politics. The media is hereby urged to always cross check their facts before going public.”

LEADERSHIP.

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