Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who was recently removed as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
Sheriff, a former governor of Borno State, arrived the Villa at about 3:30pm and went into the closed-door meeting with Osinbajo, who just presided over a meeting of the National Economic Management Team.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun, arrived the Presidential Villa at exactly 4.15pm, but was at the Villa but it was not clear whether he was part of the meeting.
He however visited the Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari.
Sheriff left the Villa at 5:10pm without speaking to State House correspondents who had laid siege to the office of the vice president to know his mission.
Yesterday’s sudden appearance at the Villa marked Sheriff’s major outing since his ouster by the apex court ruling.
In the past few days, insinuations were rife that Sheriff was planning to return to the APC amidst disquiet in his home state of Borno.
The news gathered more steam following the defection of many of his loyalists in both the North East and other parts of the country to the ruling APC.
We won’t react to speculations – APC
When contacted, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, said he would not react to speculations.
Abdullahi, however, voiced his willingness to respond to such news when the concerned person speaks on the issue.
When asked about how he would receive the news of Sheriff’s possible return to the APC, he said, “Has he said he wants to join the APC? I saw a story saying that the people of Borno said that if he wants to join, he should come and join from the ward. That is the story I read.
“If you told me what the man said, then, I can respond. Otherwise, you would just invite me to respond to speculations. If he hasn’t said anything, how can someone of my status be responding to speculations?”
He’s free to join any party- Makarfi
Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, in a text message, said “We are all free to join any political party of our choice.”
Similarly, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said in a telephone interview last night that Sheriff had the right to determine his political direction.
”We cannot stop anybody from moving to another political party. We have not done anything wrong to him; we were engaged in a prolonged legal battle, we became victorious by the grace of God and extended an olive branch to him.
“We are ready to work with him but if he decides to leave the party, many others will join the PDP. So we don’t have any problems with that,” he said.
Frosty relationship with Shettima
Already, analysts are discussing how the purported plan to defect to the APC would work out considering the frosty relationship between Sheriff and his successor Governor Kashim Shettima.
Sheriff, who had wanted to go back to Senate during the 2015 general election to represent Borno Central, had parted ways with Shettima less than two years after his exit from government. His defection to the APC would also be dicey because he does not see eye-to-eye with notable leaders like Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, among others.
‘Sheriff was APC’s mole in PDP’
The PDP Youth Leader in Borno State, Umar Sanda, said it was gratifying that Sheriff was finally leaving.
“He was a disaster who led to the fall of PDP fortune in Borno. He has forced many promising politicians such as Senator Ali Ndume and late Senator Ahmed Zannah out of the PDP; his departure is a new dawn for us because it signifies the death of APC in Borno.
“You see, we have been saying he is a mole in PDP sent by the APC to destabilize us which he did; but no one believed us… We are now vindicated,” he said.
‘We don’t want crisis in Borno APC’
A group, the Great Nigeria Group (GNG), a socio-political movement comprising members of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), had earlier on Wednesday urged Sheriff to return to APC.
However, the Borno APC Coalition, in a statement jointly signed by Maina Bashir (Chairman) and Abdullahi Mala (Secretary), said the Borno state chapter of the APC was currently at peace, with no crisis whatsoever.
“This is because of the excellent leadership provided by the governor of the state, Kashim Shettima, which has allowed the party to bloom. We are wary of anyone joining the party who is likely to change this situation for the worse,” the statement said.
Sheriff’s days in PDP
The Borno ex-governor’s movement to the PDP and his subsequent emergence as its national chairman was full of controversy. He was appointed chairman in February, 2016 to complete the tenure of Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu who threw in the towel on May 20, 2015, ahead of the change of baton between the then ruling PDP and APC. Sheriff was also expected to serve for only three months.
However, the ex-governor later refused to leave, a development that plunged the party into legal quagmire.
Since the judgement of the Supreme Court which sacked him on July 12, 2017 and recognised the Senator Makarfi-led caretaker committee, Sheriff disappeared from the radar.
He spent the majority of his time abroad since he was ousted and didn’t make any public comment as to whether he had accepted the judgement or was willing to remain in the PDP.
Sheriff, who has the privilege of being a NEC and BoT member as ex-PDP chairman, was conspicuously absent at all the meetings in the build up to the party’s non-elective convention of August 12, 2017, and had remained detached from the party.
‘Allies to dump PDP for APC’
Key players in Sheriff’s camp during his embattled days as PDP boos have constituted committees to negotiate with the APC to enable them jump ship. Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, who was Sheriff’s deputy at the height of the PDP crisis, said they were still negotiating with leaders of the APC to arrive at a proper pact before collapsing into the ruling party.
He said a 6-member negotiation committee had been constituted in Delta State comprising 3 members each from the APC and the PDP for that purpose, adding that other states would follow suit.
Dr. Ojougboh described the national convention of the PDP likely to hold in December, as a funeral ceremony, stressing that “after the funeral service, there would be nothing to write home about the party.”
“In the PDP, there are two blocks; the progressives and the conservatives. The conservatives are corrupt and useless. They are the bourgeoisie, oppressors and emperors while the progressives are the people who are now leaving the PDP to join their fellow like-minds in the APC,” he added.
Hamza Idris, Isiaka Wakili, Muideen Olaniyi Saawua Terzungwe