The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has dropped former Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff after initially adopting him as its candidate for Borno Central senatorial zone ahead of February general election.
Sheriff's name was conspicuously absent from the final list of senatorial candidates released by INEC on its website. In place of Sheriff, the INEC list contains the name of Muhammad Baba Kachalla, 49, for Borno Central senatorial district.
The PDP didn't give reasons for dropping Sheriff but it is believed that it may not be unconnected with scandals surrounding the Ex-Governor with respect to allegations made by an Australian negotiator, Stephen Davis, alleging Sheriff was a sponsor of the Boko Haram sect. Sheriff has since denied the allegation while the Department of State Security also gave him a preliminary clearance after it paraded some seven men the DSS alleged conspired with Davies to tarnish Sheriff's image. The DSS had however said that it was still investigating Sheriff.
The PDP had soon after the DSS clearance of Sheriff adopted the Ex-Governor as the party's Senatorial candidate for Borno central which Sheriff had represented from 1999 to 2003 under the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) that later became All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) before merger with other parties to become the All Progressives Congress (APC). Sheriff contested Borno Governorship as an incumbent Senator in 2003 and won the elections. He was Governor from 2003 to 2011. He defected to PDP in 2014 after failing to take control of the APC that was formed months before his defection.
The Borno PDP had adopted Sheriff as a consensus candidate, following consultations among stakeholders in a trade off between old members of the party and new entrants that made up Sheriff's group. The old members produced the Governorship candidate, one Senatorial, four House of representatives and 9 State Assembly candidates and conceded 2 Senatorial, 6 Reps and 18 State Assembly candidates to Sheriff's group in addition to the Deputy Governorship. However after the party settled for Gambo Lawan as Governorship candidate from the old PDP group, Ex-Governor Sheriff allegedly worked with the Presidency to replace Lawan with a loyalist of Sheriff, making the new entrants to take over the PDP from the old members they met in the party, made of over five former Ministers, two former Governors and former Senators.
The old PDP's Gambo Lawan has since filed a suit at a Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging his substitution with Mohammed Imam from Sheriff's group. The case is yet to be decided. Meanwhile, majority of the old PDP members have shunned all campaign activities being organized by the Sheriff group ahead of the elections, a situation that indicates a deepened crisis within the Borno PDP.
Facts emerged that the PDP's decision to drop Sheriff was because the party was fed up with controversies surrounding him. It would be recalled that last year, the Presidency was under serious heat when the photograph of Sheriff with President Goodluck Jonathan and Chadian President Idriss Derby in D’Jamena, the Chadian capital, appeared in the social media.
The pictures provoked debate and condemnation by critics and opposition political parties. The Presidency explained that Sheriff was not part of Dr. Jonathan’s entourage, adding that he received the visiting President like other Nigerians resident in Chad.