On the 16th of February 2016, the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) adopted Senator Ali Modu Sheriff (aka SAS), a two-time ANPP Governor of Borno state, a former ANPP senator, the former Chairman of the All Peoples Congress (APC) Board of Trustees and the indisputable founder of Boko Haram as its Acting National Chairman.
Modu-Sheriff is also the erstwhile godfather and sponsor of Governor Shettima Ali, the present APC Governor of Borno State (until they fell out), he is a man that has a very deep and profound relationship and association with Idris Deby, the President of Chad and he is a man whose son is married to the daughter of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Many have argued that his allegiance is more to the Republic of Chad than it is to Nigeria, that he is an agent of the Chadian intelligence agencies and that he is a Chadian citizen who often flaunts his Chadian passport. I cannot confirm the veracity of these assertions but one thing that I know is that most of Modu Sheriff’s funding and stupendous wealth emanates primarily from the Republic of Chad and that that country is as much a home to him as is Nigeria.
Yet it is not his connection with Chad that give me cause for concern. Rather it is his role in the establishment of Boko Haram. The truth is that appointing him as our National Chairman is like appointing Jack the Ripper as the leader of the Conservative party in Victorian England.
Kudos must go to the elders in the PDP Board of Trustees, a number of State Party Chairmen and a number of key individuals in the PDP Ministers Forum for taking a courageous and noble stand by rejecting and resisting the imposition of this abominable monstrosity.
What Ali Modu Sheriff stands for and represents is utterly repugnant to every fiber of my being. Yet I have no objection to his being a member of the PDP simply because politics is a game of numbers. It is a game in which everyone, no matter how big or small, counts. If you want your party to grow and make progress you must accept the good, the bad and the ugly.
To this end when he left the APC and joined the PDP sometime back, I was one of those that gladly welcomed him into our ranks and defended him in the public realm. This was at a time when others criticized the party for accepting him.
There is however a world of difference between accepting him as one of the many leaders of the PDP and appointing him as the National Chairman. Others may seek to justify such a course of action but I cannot, in good conscience, do so. To me it is a matter of principle. If we accept this then on what moral grounds did we condemn or oppose the APC or the APC-led Federal Government during the course of the last Presidential election?
If we are comfortable with the likes of Ali Modu Sheriff leading us then on what basis did we criticize and oppose President Muhammadu Buhari for appearing to support Boko Haram when he said ”an attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the north”? If we insist on Ali Modu Sheriff being our National Chairman then we may as well go and apologize to the APC for all our past criticisms and condemnations and join them.
On what basis can we accept as our National Chairman a man who established, encouraged, supported and nurtured an organisation that later metamorphosised into Boko Haram? This is a terrorist organisation whose ultimate objective is to turn Nigeria into an Islamic fundamentalist state by the use of terror and the force of arms?
On what basis can we accept a man to lead us whose Commissioner of Religious Affairs when he was Governor of Borno state, one Alhaji Buji Foi, was the de facto operational commander of Boko Haram. The man was later murdered by those closest to him after investigations into who and how Boko Haram was founded commenced.
On what basis can we accept as our National Chairman a man who helped to create an organisation that wishes to establish sharia as the norm in our country, repeal all our criminal and civil laws, ban all our civil liberties and human rights, proscribe the teaching of western education in our schools, turn our women into 6th century sex slaves and abrogate the secularity of our state.
On what basis can we accept as our leader a man who supported a group that wishes to suspend our constitution, wipe out the Christian faith and the practice of moderate Islam in our country and create an evil ISIL-type empire in our nation?
I really do wonder whether those that made this decision have lost all sense of rationality? I wonder whether they have lost their ability to see reason properly and to exercise their discretion in a logical, responsible and lucid manner?
I wonder whether they have lost their fear of God? I wonder whether they have forgotten the evil that was visited on our people, and is still being visited on them, over the last seven years by Boko Haram? I wonder whether they know at whose instance it was that Mohammed Yusuf, the erstwhile leader of Boko Haram, was killed by our security forces whilst in police custody in 2009 just so that he wouldn’t live to tell the whole world who gave him the funds to set up his murderous cult?
I wonder whether they have forgotten the terrible havoc that Boko Haram unleashed on our citizens? I wonder whether they have forgotten the tears, wailing and suffering of the bereaved. I wonder whether they have forgotten the slaughter of the innocents. I wonder whether they have forgotten those that were beheaded, those that were chopped to pieces and thrown down wells like dog meat and those that were burnt alive?
I wonder whether they have forgotten the savage and bestial rape, murder and abduction of the Chibok girls and all the other little girls that suffered a similar fate in recent times? I wonder whether they have forgotten that our nation is still at war with the bloodthirsty barbarians that committed these atrocities?
Since when did we, as a political party, lose our memories and jettison our moral compass in this way? Since when did we become so callous, shameless and insensitive? Since when did greed and the lust for power and money determine and motivate our every course of action? Since when did we throw away caution, decency and principle? Since when did we become so barbarous and uncivilized?
Since when did so few make a decision that will affect the lives and fortunes of so many in a profoundly negative way? Have we forgotten about the priests and servants of the Living God that were crucified by Boko Haram at their own church alters? Have we forgotten those that had their homes, schools, churches, mosques and properties pillaged, robbed and burnt to the ground by this group of godless Phillistines? Have we forgotten that the international community, through the International Terror Index, has rightly described Boko Haram as the ”most deadly terrorist organization in the world”?
Have we forgotten those gallant young military officers that were killed at the war front whilst fighting this evil plague, all in their quest to keep us safe, to secure our borders and to protect our property and people? Does all that count for nothing? Is this the way to pay them back for their great sacrifice and their noble courage? Are we prepared to throw away all decency and morality just to seek favor with a handful of misguided mortals and in a futile attempt to win political power?
Simply put has the leadership of the PDP gone completely mad or are they working for elements outside the PDP? Are they suggesting that you need a godless Haramite to run the affairs of the party before we can ever win power at the center again? Where is the patience and fortitude that is required from true leaders? Where is their faith in God? Where is their sincerity of purpose? Does the leadership of the PDP really believe that it has kept faith with the founding fathers of the party, those that trusted them with power and those that bestowed them with leadership?
There were so many other people that they could have chosen to lead our party from the north-east. There were people like Mohammed Wakil, Nuhu Ribadu, Bala Mohammed, Wilberforce Juta, Aliyu Modibbo, Ahmed Gulak and so many others that could have been appointed. These are all committed people with impeccable records of public service, high moral standing and good character.
Instead of doing so the leadership of the party chose to impose the most controversial, intellectually-challenged, morally-depraved and despicable character that they possibly could to lead us and when asked why they did so we were told that it was because ”he has plenty of money to spend on the party” and no less than ”5 private jets” to lend out to those who needed a free plane ride. Evidently we have sold our birthright and heritage, not just for a mess of pottage like Esau, but rather for a free ride on a private jet.
This is what a party that was once led by successive groups of seasoned and formidable intellectuals and great men of power, vision, courage and good character has been reduced to. This is what the party that was founded and once led by giants like President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Tony Anenih, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliyu Gusau, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, General T.Y. Danjuma, Vice President Abubakar Atiku, President Umaru Yar’adua, President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Bode George, Col. Ahmadu Alli, Chief E.K. Clark, Professor Jerry Gana, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Chief Ken Nnamani and so many others has degenerated to? What a pity! What a monumental tragedy!
This is a party that once boasted of having in its ranks many promising and dynamic bright young stars that were collectively capable of shaking the very foundation of the civilized world and creating new frontiers and greater hope for the future of our people and our beleaguered nation. How are the mighty fallen.
What on earth has happened to us? As the Book of Galatians in the Holy Bible asks, ”who has bewitched us”? Over the the course of the last 17 years, in terms of the quality of party leadership, the PDP has gradually descended into the unceremonious cesspit of mediocrity. Worst still, with the recent appointment of Ali Modu Sheriff as our National Chairman, we have chosen to spit in the wind, sleep with the dogs, dance on the graves of our fallen heroes, piss on the blood and bones of the slaughtered innocents and wallow in the filthy pool of compromise, deceit, doublespeak and shame.
As a consequence of this calamitous decision we have, literally overnight, become a shell, nay a shadow, of what we used to be. Unfolding events will prove my assertion true. I have no doubt that time will eventually prove me right and vindicate me.
The bitter truth is that this arrangement is an affront against the Living God and it cannot stand. Yet if it does stand the party will pay a heavy price for it because it will inevitably lead to the end of the PDP as we know it.
Imposing Ali Modu-Sheriff is an insult to all those that have fought for, led, served, defended, supported and risked everything for the party, at every level, over the last 17 years. Only the deeply malevolent can be comfortable with such an arrangement.
It is evil. It is godless. It is indefensible. It is shameful and as long as it stands the PDP does not have the moral standing or authority to criticize or condemn others. Those that made this decision behind closed doors and without proper or wide consultations have murdered sleep.
They have not only betrayed the confidence that the rest of us bestowed upon them but they have also prepared the coffin for our great party and dug its grave. It is a tragedy of monumental proportions and I have little doubt that God will judge them for what they have done.
Ali Modu-Sheriffs long-term plan to hijack the leadership of the party for as long as possible, remain as National Chairman indefinitely and emerge as the Party’s presidential candidate in 2019 will fail because it does not have the blessing of God. Time will prove me right.
Femi-Fani Kayode is a lawyer, a Nigerian politician, an evangelical christian, an essayist, a poet and he was the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2003 until June 2006. He was the minister of culture and tourism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from June 22nd to Nov 7th 2006 and as the minister of Aviation from Nov 7th 2006 to May 29th 2007. He tweets from @realFFK.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.