Makarfi, PDP governors and talking Sheriff out of his coup
It does not take a mighty narrative. Recent hitch-free Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primaries ought to bequeath national leaders of the party; that is, PDP state governors and board of trustees (BOT) with a little hope: something to latch on to, no matter how trifle, and forge ahead.
The primaries were held under the auspices of the Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi-led Interim Caretaker Committee – a booster for the new group and pointer to the need to work for strategies to run with, and not to seat and get mad over burdens of 2015 electoral humiliation.
Protesting Interim Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff reportedly threatened to conduct parallel primaries for his faction. He hasn’t done so. Last Saturday, he reportedly sacked the Edo PDP branch executives. Makarfi and Edo PDP executives under Chief Dan Orbih dismissed the action.
To move forward, the PDP should take practical steps to rally their fractious ranks towards the Edo election coming on September 10; and the very next governorship election in Ondo State coming in November.
Nigerian politics is about elections. Party crises or factional squabbling are solved over elections, one way or another. All the fights going both in PDP and its rival, ALL Progressives Congress (APC) are about the 2019 elections, still three years ahead.
While these are going on, talk with Ali Modu Sheriff. Right now, he (Sheriff) is being side-lined. A cognitive majority view of him is apparently now less favourable than that accorded Makarfi.
The PDP problem is of two different but related kinds; namely, loss of power at the centre and lack of ready cash to manage the party affairs: and this, created opportunistic circumstances for politicians to exploit.
Makarfi and Sheriff
Sheriff, a former governor of Borno State and one-time Senator was the APC BOT chairman before he lost out there and moved over to PDP before being drafted into leadership.
He would definitely like the idea of fighting in court, and insisting on his Chairmanship till 2018. The log-jam it creates is welcome to him; bull-in-China-shop set-up the PDP could ill-afford, but Sheriff, a defiant and obstinate politician, would enjoy.
He had played for the PDP a crucial role being drafted at the party’s most-distressing moments.Makarfi, is himself a former governor (Kaduna State), one-time Senator, and a PDP contemporary of Sheriff’s since 1999. His coming from the northwest might bequeath PDP with much more elbowroom in the north aside his being a level-headed, calculated and perceptive player.
Since 1999, Sheriff had cut the portrait of a colourful politician, pugnacious also. His sojourn in the Senate was an epic show of flamboyance. Fellow Senators hailed him SAS (Senator Ali Sheriff) wherever he went. In Abuja, his cars bore SAS number plates. He will use the courts to fight. He has rights, he would insist. But the PDP cannot afford the distractions of court cases. There are now plenty of incentives for the PDP to put its house in order. PDP leadership should get focused and worked with well thought-out plans and programmes. Their readiness to resort to imposition ought to give way.
Makarfi’s appointment, along his 6-man committee, including Secretary, Chief Ben Ndi Obi, at the PDP May 21 Port Harcourt (River State) Convention despite ending in disorder signal a shift especially in the ranks of PDP Governors.They should unite and go ahead with taking reformatory steps, while desisting from publicly engaging Sheriff who will not be placated.
To take care of Sheriff
In the past, PDP governors were among the main financiers of the party. This catapulted them to constitute a powerful and influential caucus that could make or mar. And Sheriff, as well as Makarfi is a beneficiary.
Along with the Presidency and political godfathers and sundry gladiators, state governors were chieftains of imposition. Especially in their states, they are the overlords, using purse power and deciding who got what or who did not.
Right now, given the anti-corruption drive of the Buhari administration, politicians have gone underground with respect to funding especially in the PDP currently the main focus and direct target of the drive.
Three PDP governors drafting Sheriff, believed, as was alleged and later confirmed by one of them, that he (Sheriff) would stabilize the party, using rumoured enormous resources at his disposal.
And Sheriff is said to plunge into the role to the hilt; for example, allegedly bringing order and stability to distressed Wadata House (PDP national office in Abuja) by paying staff salaries from his deep pocket.
To take care of him, therefore, seek peaceful means through discussions. Never tire of talking Sheriff through the stormy weather with the objective to wear out crises until it blows away while focusing on Makarfi ”rescue” efforts.
Since 1999, Sheriff had cut the portrait of a colourful politician, pugnacious also. His sojourn in the Senate was an epic show of flamboyance. Fellow Senators hailed him SAS (Senator Ali Sheriff) wherever he went. In Abuja, his cars bore SAS number plates.
He will use the courts to fight. He has rights, he would insist. But the PDP cannot afford the distractions of court cases. There are now plenty of incentives for the PDP to put its house in order. PDP leadership should get focused and worked with well thought-out plans and programmes. Their readiness to resort to imposition ought to give way.
Devilish sense of fun back home
Here is how APC Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, calling Sheriff “my boss” once aired in an interview his views on PDP’s future and impressions of Sheriff’s role in the party.
Kashim said: “My boss is a very consummate politician; he can survive in any political terrain. He will certainly find his way and will successfully destroy the PDP to the better glory of the APC. He is a very consummate politician who is presiding over a dead horse and I am absolutely certain that he will see to the total annihilation of the PDP.
He would definitely like the idea of fighting in court, and insisting on his Chairmanship till 2018. The log-jam it creates is welcome to him; bull-in-China-shop set-up the PDP could ill-afford, but Sheriff, a defiant and obstinate politician, would enjoy
He continued: “The PDP is an idea whose time has lapsed. The mind-disturbing revelations about how funds meant to acquire weapons to prevent Boko Haram insurgents from the scales of murder were siphoned are enough to erase the PDP from the minds of the party’s founding fathers – those who drafted the party’s Constitution and those who designed the party, if they have conscience.
“I don’t see majority of Nigerians ever accepting the PDP again, except perhaps, a different political affiliation, but certainly not PDP as it is known.”
Makarfi/PDP to the rescue
Here is how Makarfi in an interview last week visualized approach to saving PDP: “You cannot deny anybody coming to the PDP no matter their background … but, if it is somebody you don’t know much about and you give him authority, you may find it difficult to relate to such a person being new in the system because it may take him time to know who is who in the party and how it functions.
“But, of course the party also has a standard regulation that you need to be there for two years before you get elected or you are given a waiver. I think it was part of the mistake the PDP has been making.
“They rush to certain decisions without thinking it through, and it is really the price of not following our Constitution, rules and regulations….”No, PDP does not make mistakes! PDP Presidents, governors, party executives etc proceed by impunity! They impose! They impose candidates. They decide and impose their decisions on the rest of the party. When their party was defeated, it fell like a pack of cards.
Makarfi/PDP should work round Sheriff by talking with him while taking other steps to move forward. If Sheriff creates unacceptable conditions, then bawl him out by taking ideological steps first instead thinking of winning elections only.PDP must mollify fictionalization and vantage politicking from its ranks if it must get out of the woods.