By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA—Confusion yesterday marred the planned defection of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, erstwhile chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, as stakeholders from his native Borno State blocked him.
Ali Modu Sheriff
Nevertheless, some of Sheriff’s associates in the PDP from other states were welcomed into the APC at the national secretariat of the party yesterday.
Among those who were welcomed were Senator Hope Uzodinma from Imo State and Senator Gbemi Saraki, younger sister of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senator Teslim Folarin, Ahmed Gulak, who served as political adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan among other allies of Sheriff were welcomed to the APC.
Sheriff was, however, not seen around the national secretariat to be welcomed into the APC as had been planned for yesterday.
His absence Vanguard gathered followed strenuous efforts made by APC members in Borno State who had protested his bid to re-enter the party from the national level. Sheriff who was a pioneer member of the APC had left the party shortly after formation for the PDP and eventually became the national chairman of the opposition party.
His exit from the APC followed irreconcilable differences with his onetime political protéstopgée, Governor Kashim Shettima who he had vowed to stop from returning to power in 2015.
Giving fillip to the move from the Borno APC stakeholders, APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abudullahi, in a statement, yesterday, said; “Our attention has been drawn to reports in some sections of the media that the former factional chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff plans to defect to the All Progressives Congress APC today (Thursday) at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja.
“While we are aware of such intentions, we wish to restate our earlier position that anyone who wants to join the Party should do so at the ward level. We are happy to welcome new members to our party, but membership cards are not issued at the Party National Secretariat,” the statement stated.
Sheriff, a founding member of APC had reportedly left the party due to what he described as ill-treatment at the party’s national convention in 2014.
Reacting to the development in a statement in Abuja, Borno state APC chairman, Hon. Ali Bukar Dolori, said Sheriff was only trying to fly a kite by announcing his intention to join te party.
“We have read news on the Social Media yesterday evening and in some National dailies this morning, that the former Governor of our State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff will be received by our National Chairman today at the Headquarters of our great Party.
“I want to assure you that the news remains rumour because somebody is only trying to fly a kite, that is capable of causing dangerous confusion during the State Congresses in Borno State.”
The defectors were welcomed by the national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha and other senior officials of the party.
Welcoming them yesterday, Odigie-Oyegun said they had come at the appropriate time as he said the party was about to commence congresses saying that they were free to join the process.
He nevertheless asked them to go to their respective wards to formally join the party.
Senator Gada who spoke on behalf of the defectors said: “We have joined the party to make it a formidable fighting force not only in Nigeria, but in Africa.”
Mr. Mustapha on his part said the defection had defined the course of the 2019 elections to the favour of the ruling party.
“From tonight, the narrative and trajectory of what will happen in 2019 has been defined. I once said that any party that does not grow, it is just a matter of time before it fizzle out.”
Governor Ganduje on his part said: “Today is a historic day because we have received a great faction. Infact the biggest faction of the PDP and I can say it is our luck that we are taking a better part of the PDP today.”