Two prominent members of the Peoples Democratic Party, Femi Fani-Kayode and Doyin Okupe, have lambasted the party’s leaders for installing a former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, as its national chairman.
Mr. Sheriff was picked as the PDP national chairman on Tuesday at the party’s national executive committee meeting in Abuja.
Apart from his alleged ties with the dreaded Boko Haram, Mr. Sheriff was until 2014 a member of the All Progressives Congress, the product of the 2013 merger talks between his former party, All Nigeria Peoples Congress, and two other opposition parties.
He also served as a two-time ANPP governor of Borno State, a former ANPP senator, and former Chairman of the APC Board of Trustees.
Mr. Fani-Kayode, who was the spokesperson of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation in the 2015 elections, in an opinion article, lamented that the quality of the party had worsened by Mr. Sheriff’s appointment.
He said, “What on earth has happened to us? As the Book of Galatians in the Holy Bible asks, “who has bewitched us”? Over the course of the last 17 years, in terms of the quality of party leadership, the PDP has gradually descended into the unceremonious cesspit of mediocrity.
“Worst still, with the recent appointment of Ali Modu Sheriff as our Acting National Chairman, we have chosen to spit in the wind, sleep with the dogs, dance on the graves of our fallen heroes, piss on the blood and bones of the slaughtered innocents and wallow in the filthy pool of compromise, deceit, doublespeak and shame.”
Mr. Fani-Kayode, who described Mr. Sheriff as the “indisputable founder of Boko Haram,” said the new PDP chairman “is also the erstwhile godfather and sponsor of Governor Shettima Ali, the present APC Governor of Borno State (until they fell out); he is a man that has a very deep and profound relationship and association with Idris Deby, the President of Chad and he is a man whose son is married to the daughter of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
According to him, many had argued that Mr. Sheriff’s allegiance was more to the Republic of Chad than it was to Nigeria and that he was an agent of the Chadian intelligence agencies and even a Chadian citizen who often flaunts his Chadian passport.
“I cannot confirm the veracity of these assertions but one thing that I know is that most of Modu Sheriff’s funding and stupendous wealth emanates primarily from the Republic of Chad, and that that country is as much a home to him as is Nigeria,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.
“Yet, it is not his connection with Chad that gives me cause for concern. Rather it is his role in the establishment of Boko Haram. The truth is that appointing him as our Acting National Chairman is like appointing Jack the Ripper as the leader of the Conservative party in Victorian England.”
The former PDP campaign spokesperson praised the elders in the PDP Board of Trustees, a number of state party chairmen and a number of key individuals in the PDP Ministers Forum for taking a courageous and noble stand by rejecting and resisting the imposition of the “abominable monstrosity”.
He stated further, “What Ali Modu Sheriff stands for and represents is utterly repugnant to every fiber of my being. Yet I have no objection to his being a member of the PDP simply because politics is a game of numbers. It is a game in which everyone, no matter how big or small, counts. If you want your party to grow and make progress you must accept the good, the bad and the ugly.
“To this end when he left the APC and joined the PDP sometime back, I was one of those who gladly welcomed him into our ranks and defended him in the public realm. This was at a time when others criticised the party for accepting him.
“There is however a world of difference between accepting him as one of the many leaders of the PDP and appointing him as the Acting National Chairman. Others may seek to justify such a course of action but I cannot, in good conscience, do so. To me it is a matter of principle.
“If we accept this, then on what moral grounds did we condemn or oppose the APC or the APC-led Federal Government during the course of the last presidential election?”
“On what basis can we accept as our National Chairman a man who helped to create an organisation that wishes to establish sharia as the norm in our country, repeal all our criminal and civil laws, ban all our civil liberties and human rights, proscribe the teaching of western education in our schools, turn our women into sixth century sex slaves and abrogate the secularity of our state?”
Mr. Fani-Kayode argued that if PDP members were comfortable with Mr. Sheriff’s leadership of the party, they had no reason criticising and opposing President Muhammadu Buhari for appearing to support Boko Haram when he (president) said “an attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the north”.
He also argued that if the PDP was comfortable with the Mr. Sheriff as chairman of the party, it should as well go and apologise to the APC for all past criticisms and condemnations and join them.
He demanded to know the basis on which Mr. Sheriff as a man who encouraged the establishment of Boko Haram and supported a group that wished to suspend Nigerian constitution, wipe out the Christian faith and the practice of moderate Islam in Nigeria and create an evil ISIL-type empire in the country should be supported as the national chairman of the PDP.
He said, “I really do wonder whether those that made this decision have lost all sense of rationality. I wonder whether they have lost their ability to see reason properly and to exercise their discretion in a logical, responsible and lucid manner.
“I wonder whether they have lost their fear of God. I wonder whether they have forgotten the evil that was visited on our people, and is still being visited on them, over the last seven years by Boko Haram?
“I wonder whether they know at whose instance it was that Mohammed Yusuf, the erstwhile leader of Boko Haram, was killed by our security forces whilst in police custody in 2009 just so that he wouldn’t live to tell the whole world who gave him the funds to set up his murderous cult?
“I wonder whether they have forgotten the terrible havoc that Boko Haram unleashed on our citizens. I wonder whether they have forgotten the tears, wailing and suffering of the bereaved. I wonder whether they have forgotten the slaughter of the innocents. I wonder whether they have forgotten those that were beheaded, those that were chopped to pieces and thrown down wells like dog meat and those that were burnt alive.
“Simply put has the leadership of the PDP gone completely mad or are they working for elements outside the PDP? Are they suggesting that you need a godless Haramite to run the affairs of the party before we can ever win power at the centre again? Where is the patience and fortitude that is required from true leaders? Where is their faith in God? Where is their sincerity of purpose?”
Mr. Fani-Kayode said there were so many other people that could have chosen to lead the PDP from the North-East zone where Mr. Sheriff comes from.
He listed some to include Mohammed Wakil, Nuhu Ribadu, Bala Mohammed, Wilberforce Juta, Aliyu Modibbo, Ahmed Gulak, noting “these are all committed people with impeccable records of public service, high moral standing and good character”.
He also wondered if the PDP was still the party once led by successive groups of seasoned and formidable intellectuals and great men of power, vision, courage and good character.
He said, “This is what the party that was founded and once led by giants like President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Tony Anenih, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliyu Gusau, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, General T.Y. Danjuma, Vice President Abubakar Atiku, President Umaru Yar’adua, President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Bode George, Col. Ahmadu Alli, Chief E.K. Clark, Professor Jerry Gana, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Chief Ken Nnamani and so many others has degenerated to? What a pity! What a monumental tragedy!”
He stressed, “Imposing Ali Modu-Sheriff is an insult to all those that have fought for, led, served, defended, supported and risked everything for the party, at every level, over the last 17 years. Only the deeply malevolent can be comfortable with such an arrangement.”
Also, Mr. Okupe, who was the special assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on public affairs, in a statement on Friday, said though the capability of the PDP and its leadership to make grave errors of judgement was legendary, what is intriguing was that even out of power that tendency seemed unabated.
Stating that though Mr. Sheriff was his longstanding political associate, his choice as PDP national chairman was wrong.
“Alhadji Ali Sheriff is a longstanding political associate of mine and a very adroit and astute politician of perhaps a sublime class,” he said.
“But for the post of the national chairman of the PDP, he is a wrong candidate and also coming in at a wrong time.”
Mr. Okupe, who initially backed Mr. Gulak for the position, said he recalled that many of the proponents of the former Borno governor had said his (Sheriff) strong point was his wealth with which he could use to fund the activities of the party.
“But the antagonists believe that he is bringing along with his wealth a crushing weight of burden capable of fatally destroying the few strands of moral fibres on which rejuvenation will depend on,” he said.
“For a morosed and severely prostrate political party, thanks to the overwhelming and effective propaganda machinery of the (opposition) party in power, this may yet be the mortal wound that may cause the eventual haemorrhage of its long perplexed followership.”
The former presidential aide noted that the present crop of the leadership of the PDP had not fared well, stating that “impunity, presumptive reasoning, highly stratified and restrictive consultative processes, absolute lack of inclusiveness, mercantilism, group conceit with a resultant total disconnect with the main stake holders and the followership are some of the florid signs and symptoms of the terminal disease that is killing this erstwhile great party.”
Mr. Okupe vowed not to leave the PDP, stating that in spite of the present situation of things “we will continue to engage all who care to listen and deepen consultation across the country seeking help from everyone ready to help to revive this severely challenged sickened giant.”
He added, “But if it is the divine will of God that our present masters must kill PDP, then by the Grace of God we shall yet tarry at the graveside to bid it farewell.”