“For everything” under the planet, “there is time,” says the holy book – Time to be appointed and time to be disappointed, Time to be accepted and time to be rejected, time for birth and time for death (emphasis mine). As for Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, former Governor, Senator and Chairman, People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria, it is both a time to be disappointed, rejected and dejected by a political Party that once treasured and prized him. It is time to go and go for good.
Ali Modu Sheriff was shown adoration beyond measures. He was toasted like a birthday wine. And then crisped like a wedding cake. He was celebrated like the messiah the PDP had long longed for. The fanfare trailing his appointment by his political Party was to say the least ‘unequal’. Then they built a hedge and shielded Sheriff from the opprobrium and skirmishes accompanying his elevation as chairman of the PDP by the Nigerian people. Indeed, ‘the lure of office seems stronger than the love of once self.’
Prior to his appointment, Sheriff was alleged among other assertions to have founded and groomed Boko Haram, the deadly monster, ravaging and terrorizing the nation. But the PDP stood their ground the accusation was merely coming from their boss’ traducers. Then came the insinuation, ‘Sheriff was alleged to have misappropriated a mouthwatering amount of money while serving as a Governor of Borno State, and was suspected to be under investigation by the anti-graft body (EFCC)’, but the PDP again, shook it off while saying ‘it could only be sheriff or nobody else.’ And then they went ahead and decorated Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff as the Party’s national chairman.
To this effect, they bandied all manner of reasons on why Sen. Sheriff was the best shot for the job he was appointed to do. They said the former Borno State Governor had the financial muscle to bully the once largest Political Party in Africa in line with its 2019 agenda. They held he had the political clout and demeanor to outwit any opposition any day, any time. They also believed Sheriff had the grass root endorsement needed by any political party in this part of the world to intimidate and win any rival. And then the chairman himself, Sheriff roared “we will sack the APC from Aso rock come 2019.”
But Sheriff had barely settled down for the work he was favored to do when his party came calling: “Sheriff has a hidden agenda – he wants to be president in 2019. He had even promised the vice president’s slot to some Governors, if they would help him actualize his mission come 2019.” That was all. And the war raged, taking every clandestine method, until Sheriff was ousted in a Port Harcourt convention. And a new chairman was born in Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi.
Following this development, a barrage of protests followed suit – the pro and anti-protestesters of both Sheriff and Makarfi thronged the Wadata plaza, PDP national office. And the plaza itself became a dramatic scene as each group tried to dramatize its position. While Sheriff insisted he was the authentic chair, the Makarfi led group laughed him out as a lone-ranger and clown. But that is the prize of throwing the public feelings in the wind anyway.
Nigeria is a theater of sort. Ours is a clime where public opinion is treated with levity and outright annihilation. We are in a geographical entity where the voice of the people is relegated and greeted with open discontentment by the leaders. In our world, where democracy is touted and flouted at every now and then, the saner minds only discern here to mean ‘an enclave where a few caucus determine what we like and accept.’ Otherwise, how can a Political Party, with its cardinal objective of winning Nigerians to its side treat same people and their opinion with disdain?
Everybody else but the PDP shouted himself hoarse as to why Sheriff, a PDP new entrant should be crowned the Party Supremo. Nigerians in their numbers foresaw and foretold this imbroglio but the PDP refuted and defied every anti Sheriff claims and appointed him chairman. This singular decision has therefore, launched the PDP as the architect of its own contemporary leadership snags. They shot themselves in the foot when they were supposed to be uniting against the ruling Party as to ensure proper checks and virile opposition-role in our governance.
But all things being equal (ceteric paribus), having alienated and isolated Sheriff from his Party affairs following his ousting, having lost the grip of his Party’s NEC, BOT and what have you, Sen. Ali Modu Sherif should understand one thing – the power of a political Party’s chairman is not vested in a building like ‘Wadata Plaza’. No. It is vested in an individual figure. The power he once wriggled has long been transferred to the new PDP leadership, Ahmed Makarfi and co. Chief Makarfi carries the Party’s power and authority around. And He goes to wherever he chooses with it. Sen. Sheriff should understand that even though he moves his personal belongings to the Party house, this will only amount to a mere façade and can never give him-back what he had lost.
He should rather take solace in the fact that same people who cajoled and persuaded him to accept the Party’s plum job, are the same egg-heads spearheading and plotting his removal. Sheriff should as a matter of discretion, know where his choice as a chairman went berserk and then, please let go. He should not therefore, nock the same boat he believes conveyed him to the Party’s secretariat, where he reigned supreme, as the nation sees the PDP as the only virile opposition Party, capable of marching the ruling APC head for head and toe for toe come 2019.
The PDP too, must have learnt from its mistakes. They must have learnt the risk of ignoring public opinion. They must have realized how costly and dearly they were made to pay for simply ignoring a joint opinion as expressed and demonstrated by the Nigerian people. They must have drawn a lesson from the long standing adage attributed to Ndigbo: “it is not giving a monkey water with a cup, but retrieving the cup from the monkey after it must have finished drinking, is the problem”.
Gwiyi Solomon writes from Abuja.