Alhaji Shettima Yuguda Dibal was the deputy governor to Ali Modu Sheriff from 2003 to 2011 when the latter was governor of Borno State. The Wazirin Biu, in this interview with journalists in Abuja, bared mind on recent political developments in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in his home state.
Former governor Ali Modu Sheriff, whom you served as deputy for eight years returned to the APC recently. First of all, why didn’t you follow him to the PDP ahead of the 2015 elections?
The worst thing that can happen to any reasonable politician is to forget what works in his own base. From 1999 to date, Borno and Yobe are the only two states in the whole of northern Nigeria where the PDP has never been in control of government whether by election or defection of a sitting governor. If you look at all the 19 states in northern Nigeria, you will discover that the PDP has at one time or the other, been in control of state government, whether through election of a governor or his defection from another party. But in the case of Borno and Yobe, we have never had anything to do with PDP at the state government level. Borno and Yobe have always been under the APP that later became the ANPP and now the APC. If you recall, in the build up to the 2003 election, then governor of Borno State, late Mala Kachallah, defected from the APP to the AD and that was the soul of AD which is part of APC today. One would have expected Mala to join the PDP to seek re-election in 2003. But going to PDP in Borno and Yobe is suicide.
Why then do you think Sheriff joined the PDP; didn’t he also try to persuade you and other associates?
Sheriff went into the PDP because he is always afraid of being in the opposite political direction with every sitting president. He usually tries to manoeuvre his way to the heart of every sitting head of state or president. When he is in the opposition, many people accuse him of working for the sitting president in another party. However, for the 2015 election, he lost influence in the APC. He was not in position to influence anything for Jonathan and the PDP, that is why he left APC; he did so because he never believed it was possible for a sitting president to lose elections in Nigeria.
He did everything to drag Governor Kashim Shettima and all of us in the APC to follow him to the PDP for us to work against the victory of Buhari. At some point, Kashim Shettima was seriously harassed, intimidated, blackmailed and even threatened to make him leave the APC and go to the PDP but the governor was very strong. I will tell you that I was surprised by his strength. He stood firm in APC and he mobilized everyone in Borno and across the North-east for Buhari’s victory. He did so much behind the scenes.
What do you make of Sheriff’s return to the APC?
Sheriff’s return to the APC was about his survival. He returned because he didn’t have any option and like I said, he always wants to manoeuvre his way to the presidency.
But Sheriff is now promising high number of votes for Buhari in Borno State come 2019?
Making bogus promises to presidents is not new to Sheriff. After the 2007 election, when late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua came to Maiduguri for a state visit, Sheriff said publicly, without any prompting, that he was going to work for Yar’adua’s re-election. At that time, Sheriff was in the ANPP and Buhari was ANPP’s presidential candidate and he was still in court challenging Yar’adua’s election. Sheriff didn’t care about Buhari’s interest, he was trying to find a way to get Yar’adua. Don’t also forget that when Buhari lost election to Yar’adua in 2007, the ANPP national leaders came to Maiduguri and held a closed door meeting at the Government House which was hosted by Sheriff.
One of the outcomes of that meeting was that the ANPP decided not to go to court to challenge Yar’adua’s victory under the PDP. The ANPP took the decision without consulting Buhari who was our candidate. The party decided to abandon Buhari to his fate and he went to court without the ANPP’s support. I believe it was part of that reason and more that Buhari left ANPP to form CPC.
After the 2007 election, Sheriff was one of the major beneficiaries of the Yar’adua/Jonathan government. He was a governor in ANPP but his sister-in-law was appointed a minister by President Jonathan under the PDP. When Atiku Abubakar recently came for presidential campaign, he met delegates in a hall belonging to Sheriff’s wife in Maiduguri. Sule Lamido was in Maiduguri this week and the same Sheriff provided him vehicles. He is trying to spread his legs in case Buhari loses to PDP. That’s his tactics.
His argument is that in 2003, 2007 and 2011, Buhari got around one million votes in Borno. But in 2015, he got around 600,000 votes. Isn’t that correct?
The most annoying political analysis is to compare Borno’s 2015 election with the results of 2003, 2007, 2011 or with the upcoming 2019. It is the height of insult to people’s intelligence. Look, in 2015, about 20 local government areas held their elections in IDP camps in Maiduguri. Initially, many people thought election was not going to take place in Borno because the Sheriff’s faction of the PDP kept on spreading fake information that election was not going to take place and because of that voters didn’t turn out for the presidential and National Assembly elections as high as they did for the governorship and the State Assembly.
In the first election of the president and National Assembly in IDP camps, some local government areas in northern Borno did not produce more than 2,000 votes in total per local government. There is a member of the House of Representatives in the APC that won his election with less than 7,000 votes as the total votes from four local government areas and the elections took place in the IDP camps. Almost two million of our citizens from 20 local government areas were scattered around neighbouring countries like Niger, Cameroon and Chad and states like Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Abuja and some went to Lagos. They all ran for their lives due to killings. After Buhari won, some of these people became energized and they came to Borno to take part in the governorship and state Assembly elections.
So, 2015 was a different thing entirely. But for 2019, the governor and all of us have been mobilizing people to come out for their voter’s cards. I remember last year, he released funds to stakeholders to go to their communities and mobilize citizens to get PVCs. A lot of women in Borno whenever they see the governor driving past, would show him their PVCs and he will stop and give them some help.
Borno today has more than two million registered voters and this happened when Sheriff was still fighting for his chair in PDP. He came only three months ago. Now, he wants to steal the show with a fake promise that is typical of him. His aim is to manipulate and deceive President Muhammadu Buhari, the new national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and the entire Presidency.
What Sheriff wants is for the Presidency and the APC headquarters to make him the arrowhead of Buhari’s campaign in Borno State. By that, he will get access to using security details and Federal Government resources principally for him to intimidate people and try to impose on us the next governor of Borno State. He is angry with those who didn’t follow him to PDP before the 2015 election and he wants the next governor to fight them.
The same Sheriff said on 24th of January, 2015 during the PDP presidential campaign in Maiduguri that he was going to ensure Buhari’s defeat in Borno State. He said Jonathan should hold him personally responsible if the PDP doesn’t win Borno State. Of course, the PDP lost woefully. I think if we are to even look at Buhari’s election record in Borno State from 2003 to date, I will say his best was in 2015.
Why will you say so?
In all previous elections that Buhari took part, whether it was 2003, 2007 or 2011, results in Borno showed that Buhari’s opponents in PDP from Obasanjo, Yar’adua and Jonathan all got the component of 25% of votes needed to defeat Buhari. And you know, sometimes the only thing the PDP presidential candidates need from opposition states is to get 25% votes. PDP candidates always got more than 25% in Borno except in 2015 under Governor Kashim Shettima as leader of the APC.
So whereas Buhari recorded higher votes in previous elections, his opponents got what they wanted from Borno under Sheriff. The greatest mistake PMB or Oshiomhole will make is to ignore those who remained with the APC under intense atmosphere of intimidation to embrace someone who joined the party only three months ago. And mind you, he joined not because of conviction and interest in the president but for losing grip in PDP.
Culled from DailyTrust