Dispassionate look at SHERIFF’S Rejection of National Restructuring

Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff is the factional chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

From all indications the foundation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been so adequately eroded that the party’s relevance in Nigeria has continued to wane. The implication of this ugly development in future electoral contests can be quite worrisome for a party that once prided itself as Africa’s biggest political party. Things fell apart for the PDP not because it lost the 2015 presidential election to its rival party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) but more because of a bizarre tussle for leadership than soon became known as vicious battle for power in the PDP between a group in support of Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi as the National Chairman of a Caretaker Committee that was created as forced child of circumstance and another group in support of Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff as the National Chairman of PDP. Their very fierce war of wits has since passed from the High Court through the Appeal Court to the Supreme Court where it has lingered for some time now. And for all their skirmishes, PDP as a party has apparently lost its bearing which many argue they may not find before the 2019 elections.

One of the issues tabled by the supporters of the Makarfi group at the infancy of their disagreement was that Ali Modu Sheriff was an APC mole that infiltrated the PDP to destabilize the party. From the periphery people like me could not fathom what the Makarfi group was insinuating. This was more so when among Sheriff’s most ferocious assailants were some powerful state governors that actually insisted on Sheriff being the Chairman of the party. We could only watch to attempt to decipher what was gwan in PDP. The court action notwithstanding, there was a thin ray of hope that PDP will soon retrace their scary dance steps. This was as the key supporters of Makarfi , especially the heavyweight governors accepted the olive branch from the Sheriff group, promising to close ranks and regroup as formidable party irrespective of the outcome of the much expected ruling by the Supreme Court. Not a few party leaders, members and supporters applauded the willingness of the party leaders from both groups agreeing to team up again and pursue the common goal of the party.

However, just few days ago the news was reported that Makarfi and Sheriff have disagreed again; though this time not directly about the PDP but about the very controversial issue of restructuring of the Nigerian federation to enshrine fiscal federalism etc. It was reported that while Makarfi gives a nod to the issue of restructuring, Sheriff shook his head at it, waving it off as unnecessary. Now, the major agitators for restructuring have been the southeast and the south-south zones which is the homestead of the PDP in Nigeria as at today. This has made people like yours sincerely see Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi as a more realistic leader of the PDP than Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff. Sound political permutations place Makarfi’s support for restructuring in tandem with the majority view of the existing PDP leaders and members over the rejection by Sheriff. As I often argue, if you do not have anything reasonable to say on a controversial issue, then silence should become your finest portion. If I were Sheriff I would have reserved my comment on the issue of restructuring until an opportune moment in the future.

It is incredible that while some APC bigwigs are ebulliently supporting the restructuring of the country as the proper path to tow for the achievement of desired unity, peace and progress, Sheriff for all he stands for in the PDP is kicking against a national agenda whose time has come. Prominent leaders in the north, east, west and south have been adjusting themselves to adopt the restructuring option. Just few days ago former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) endorsed restructuring. Prior to that former vice president Atiku Abubakar has been at the forefront of support for restructuring. Ditto many leaders of the Afenifere and Yoruba Council of Elders. As hinted earlier, the quest for restructuring is synonymous with the entire southeast and south-south zone. It is therefore a terrible tactical blunder; indeed a huge faux pas, for Sheriff to have kicked against restructuring at this point in time in Nigeria. Some pundits have already seen the stance by Sheriff as a big loophole that his detractors will cash in on to wrestle the PDP off his grip.

Personally, I am more interested in whether by his decision to fight against restructuring Sheriff is not lending credence to the widely held view that he is a spy for the APC that would want the PDP to remain at loggerheads till the 2019 elections are over. This is because the hardest kicks that restructuring agenda has been receiving has been coming from the north which remarkably controls the APC. Is it then normal for a PDP leader to appear in a campaign in the regalia of the APC as Sheriff has probably done? Or is it being proved that in reality there is no true difference between the PDP and the APC? Is Sheriff indeed a mole for the APC? He may need more than “I swear to Allah” to prove his innocence over this matter. With these position I am presenting I may surprise or even disappoint some of my PDP friends that are lining up behind Sheriff. But as I declared right from the title of this essay, I am only looking at this issue very dispassionately. So I may not have any apology for what I say here. I have even said worse things when I demanded to know why the PDP leaders in the southeast and south-south should allow two suspicious northern members that could not deliver their polling units to hold the party to ransom! Do you think am crazy!

However, for some time now I have decided to as much as possible remain dispassionate once I open my laptop to adumbrate on certain sensitive issues of national significance. I found it unfortunate the taking of the disagreement between Makarfi and Sheriff to the turf of a very sensitive national issue of significance as the question of restructuring. This is because whether as leader or floor member both Makarfi and Sheriff need share similarity in ideology for the PDP to make good their effort at reconciliation. It does not augur well at all if with less than 24 months to the 2019 elections Makarfi and Sheriff can still afford to look national issues from two very different viewpoints. It reflects what Fela will describe as “No agreement today, no agreement tomorrow!” That means if Makarfi and Sheriff cannot agree today in 2017 their propensity to agree in 2019 is questionable. Of course, I may be wrong in these permutations because as they say things do not walk straight in politics. Hence, all I wish the PDP, Makarfi and Sheriff et al as 2019 fast approaches is speedy recovery!

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