Why Govs Owe Sheriff An Apology- Bwala

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Inuwa Bwala is one of the closest allies of embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. He has been speaking on the
crisis in the party, and insists that anything short of an apology to Sheriff by the Governors who are plotting his removal may not be acceptable to the former Borno State
Governor. Excerpts

At a time Nigerians are expecting the PDP to put its acts together and
stage a come bqck in 2019, the party seems to be facing implosion.
What do you think are the problems with the PDP? To me, intra party
squabbles are normal in a fragile democracy, as we have in Nigeria. It is
not happening for the first time and it is not in the PDP alone that we have been experiencing
some sour moments. But essentially, when a party has been in Government
for a very long time, and suddenly loses an election it ought not to have lost, and finds
itself as an opposition, as has been the case of the PDP, one can
appreciate why the party has been convulsing. The problems of the past
may not have threatened
the cohesion of the
party like what we are
currently facing, but I
am confident that it will
survive it and even come
out stronger. Be that as it
may, I think the present
hiccups was borne out
of the falling apart of
two contending forces,
both very powerful and
essential in the drive for a
better PDP. On one hand
are those who plundered
the goodwill the PDP
has been enjoying over
the years, through acts
of impunity, disregard
for the wishes of the
party, and mismanaging
its resources. These
people have recycled
themselves around the
party for too long, and
have entrenched their
interests across all the
states.
They had their hands
into every pie, and insist
on becoming people
for every season. They
virtually schemed people
with contrary ideas out of
the party, and canonized
the government into
doing their bids. After
losing the 2015 elections,
this group of people
abandoned the PDP for
dead, while keeping in
the shadows to protect
what they may have
looted through the party
over the years. Some had
their sources of money
blocked, others are broke
having either squandered
what they had or hidden
them beyond their reach.
At the risk of sounding
immodest, most PDP
stalwarts were at the
verge of total exit from
politics. Others have
been hibernating and
waiting for somebody
to bell the cat. On the
other hand are those who
still nurse the hopes of
reviving the PDP, against
the background of the
seeming failures of the
APC led government.
Those still in elected
positions in particular
needed somebody to take
the lead, as most of them
have been thoroughly
intimidated by the ruling
party. It was I think at
this period of dire need
that Ali Modu Sheriff
came on the scene. And
even those who did not
like Sheriff ’s face for
whatever reasons have
to give to him that he
galvanized the PDP back
into reckoning. Those
who had either kept
distance from the party,
or gave it up for dead
suddenly showed up,
claiming to have better
ways of managing the
party more than Sheriff.
There has been serious
interplay of forces since
sheriff came on board,
and as perhaps you know
the rest is now history.
Is it history because
Sheriff is out or that the
party is dead?
Far from that, rather
Sheriff is still in control
of the situation. All that
you hear, read or see on
television are tissues
of propaganda, which
sheriff ’s opponents
unfortunately have
greater advantage. Some
of them own the media
houses, and others have
been using the huge
resources available to
them to spread all forms
of disparaging items,
intended to poison the
minds of the public
against the national
Chairman. . But I assure
you we are giving them
the run for their money.
Common sense tells you
that Sheriff has the upper
hand and it is a matter
of time before that fact
dawns on them.
Being somebody close
to him, what do you
think Sheriff may have
done wrong to warrant
the last minute betrayal
by the PDP Governors
in particular who were
reported to have drafted
him into the race?
You may have listened
to or read comments
credited to either
Governor Ayo Fayose
of Ekiti or Nyeson Wike
of Rivers on why they
turned against him. I
have also listened to the
obscenities they churn
out, which from every
sense of them were too
pedestrian and lacking
substances. I heard
one of them mention
issues bordering on
the presidential race in
2019 and the slot of the
vice president which
each of them seem to be
struggling to corner. I
heard others talk about
how Sheriff took control
of the structures of the
party ahead of possible
future elections, and yet
others insinuate about a
N40 Billion deal and jets,
he promised to make
available. All these were
lame excuses. Politics is
about interest, and when
these people approached
Ali Sheriff to come
and be the National
Chairman, they told him
their interests were how
to bring the party back
to live, and Sheriff has
the capacity to deliver
on that. No strings were
attached to his choice
as far as I know/ But I
also know that, having
demonstrated the
capacity to reposition the
PDP, and having noticed
in Sheriff the capacity
to put them in check,
these Governors decided
to go for a lily livered
alternative which they
can control. They have
approached two or three
people before narrowing
down on Senator
Makarfi, as their fall guy, because of his perceived
presidential ambition in
2019. What they may not
have known is also the
fact that Makarfi may not
play the Man Friday they
expect of him, even if
they succeed in imposing
him on the party at the
end of the day.
They said one of the
reasons was that he was
not qualified and has a
moral burden. What can
you say to that?
I don’t want to sound
combative as before that
is why I will make my
response lighter. But I
am sure you know that
the office of the national
Chairman of the PDP is
a political assignment.
Permit me to lay
before you a resume
of Senator Sheriff, and
allow you to judge
whether he is qualified.
Ali Sheriff started his
politics by getting
elected to the House of
Representatives, before
he got elected three times
as senator of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria. He
remains the first to get
elected two times as
Governor of Borno State,
He was Acting National
Chairman of the now
defunct ANPP, he was
Chairman of the Board
of Trustees of the same
party. Ali Sheiriff was one
of the founding fathers
of the ruling APC, and
contributed immensely
to its formation before
he left. It could not have
been by accident that he
got into all these offices.
And all those who say
he is not qualified may
never be privileged
to attain this political
height. I appreciate their
fears, because Sheriff ’s
credentials and pedigree
in politics are enough to
intimidate any politician,
including those who
talk about qualification.
Political sagacity is never
learnt in the four corners
of a classroom, it is gained
on the field and in the
ballot box. On this issue
of morality, I challenge
anybody, including the
Government of the day
to come up with any iota
of proof of any of the lies
and fabrications being
recycled. They should
learn from the lessons
of such loud mouths like
Femi Fani Kayode, who
is standing trial for acts
of immorality, at a time
he was accusing others
of misconduct. I rest
my case. I think when
political colossus like
Ali Sheriff bestrides the space of any political
party; it is only natural
for Lilliputians to quiver.
What is the situation
now as it stands?
The situation in the
crisis had given rise to a
plethora of legal suits, and
the courts will determine
who did what rightly and
wrongly, and let us wait
and see if any can act
in disobedience to any
court pronouncement
on the matter. But even
as a non lawyer, I know as
a matter of fact that, Ali
Modu Sheriff was elected
by the NEC of the PDP to
serve out the four- year
tenure of Adamu Muazu
who resigned as National
Chairman of the PDP,
following the party’s loss
of the 2015 Presidential
election. And as the
National Chairman I
know that he convenes
and presides over the
national Convention of
the party in accordance
with Article 33(2)A of
the PDP constitution. I
am also aware that, any
gathering or assemblage
of any sort, no matter
how neatly organized
which flaunts the orders
of a court of competent
jurisdiction, is a nullity.
It is an open secret that
two courts from Lagos
first and later from
Abuja had forbade the
conduct of elections into
virtually all the national
offices of the PDP, with
the rider that the status
quo must remain. The
Independent National
Electoral Commission,
INEC, which supervises
the conduct of elections
into any office of the
party had written to
the national Chairman,
Senator Ali Modu
Sheriff, reminding him
of the orders of the court
and informing him that
it will not supervise any
election into the office of
the National Chairman,
National Secretary and
the National Auditor.
I attended the Press
Conference at which
the National Chairman
put off the National
Convention, citing the
various processes as
reasons for his action. To
this effect, I can assure
you that, the gathering
in Port Harcourt, just
like the one in Abuja on
that fateful May 21st lack
any form of legitimacy
in the eyes of the law.
Even more scandalous is
the fact that there is no
window for a Caretaker
Committee for the PDP
in her constitution, at the
national level. The NEC
of the party for cogent
reasons may dissolve the
leadership at the state
levels and put in place
caretaker committees,
but not at the national
level. As it stands, the
matter is in court, and
having demonstrated
his willingness to obey
court orders, Ali Modu
Sheriff is pursuing the
matter to its lawful
ending. Perhaps after
that, we may still seek a
political solution to the
logjam. I am aware that
the national Chairman
has been reaching out
to key stakeholders and
wed may still be a united
house at the end of it, no
matter what the courts
will say.
Supposing the
Courts uphold the
Port Harcourt Meeting
as a valid national
Convention and agrees
that even though not
provided for by your
laws, the Caretaker
Committee stands, what
will be Sheriff ’s next line
of action. Will he leave
the party?
We have infinite
confidence in our
courts and that was
why we chose to obey
their orders from the
beginning. We trust that
our judges will interpret
the laws correctly as they
affect the matter. But
even if the unexpected
happens, as law abiding
citizen, I know Sheriff
will always tow the path
of lawful conduct. As
for leaving the PDP, that
matter has never been
contemplated, If he has to
slug it out with anybody,
he will do it from within
as a member of the party.
What becomes of the
order by the BOT and
the enlarged caucus
which called on Sheriff
to withdraw the suit?
No decision by anybody
or group of persons,
including the BOT and
the enlarged caucus can
supersede the order of
the court, It may interest
you to know that, Sheriff
was virtually begged to
come on board. It is most
uncharitable for whoever
is the brain behind the
whole plot to try the man
for no particular offence
and to try subjecting him
to ridicule. His integrity
is at stake and he has to
do everything possible to
safeguard it.
No gathering of any
group, however powerful
they may be can compel
Sheriff to back out, except
they beg him. What he
has done for the party
so far speaks volumes
of his love for the party,
and none of those talking
can claim to have done as
much for the PDP. Rather
than issue ineffective
orders, they should
apologize to the man,
and revert to the path
of law. Let me also tell
you, that some of these
governors making noise
have never contributed
one naira to the party
since Ali Sheriff came
on board, and the party
was not run on empty
promises, somebody
spent resources to
re-engineer the party,
we cannot allow a few
people to hijack it and
use for their selfish gains.