Trouble appears to be brewing in the All Progressives Congress, APC, as strong indications emerged that former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff along with other aggrieved leaders of the party, including Chief Tom Ikimi, are set to dump the party in protest over the outcome of its maiden national convention on Friday.
John Odigie-Oyegun, a running mate to Malam Ibrahim Shekarau in the 2011 presidential elections, emerged national chairman of the APC while Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, emerged national secretary. The duo’s emergence did not go down well with Sheriff, who reportedly sponsored the candidature of former foreign affairs minister Ikimi and Kashim Ibrahim Imam for the two prime positions in the party.
Sheriff or SAS as he is fondly called, who confirmed his displeasure about the convention to a Daily Trust correspondent, described the results of the convention as a sham and is contemplating joining another party.
Speaking through his close associate, Dr. Umar Duhu, a former interim national vice chairman (North-East) of the APC, Sheriff said he was not only victimized, but that his associates including Tom Ikimi whose house was used to actualize the merger of APC, were schemed out of positions in the party despite his initial endorsement.
“Sherriff views the outcome of the congresses as a witch-hunt. All his associates including Kashim Imam, Umar Duhu and Tom Ikimi were not considered at the convention despite endorsement. Even though there is appeals committee, Sheriff is angry with the APC but has not decided whether to join another party”, Duhu said last night.
“What happened is a charade that is orchestrated by Buhari and Tinubu’s men who want to actualize their Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket and I can tell you that it is not realizable in the present Nigeria”, he added.
Sheriff and his associates are particularly irked by the process that produced Odigie-Oyegun as chairman of the party while nothing has been done to compensate him with other key party positions.
He is also angry that he has failed to get any of his associates to prominent positions within the party and is feeling short-changed at the outcome of the convention.
The former influential governor is said to have thrown his weight behind Ikimi as national chairman of the party but failed to get the very important endorsement of party leaders led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, whose camp rooted for John Odigie-Oyegun.
At the convention proper last Friday, the picture began to unfold that Odigie-Oyegun, who was the first executive governor of Edo State was the preferred candidate for APC’s top position, when another candidate for the position, ex-Bayelsa State governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, was prevailed upon to step down.
It was learnt that Ikimi refused to step down for Oyegun initially even after the party’s leaders made their choice known before the convention. He had to later on following the political horse-trading that saw Sylva withdraw from the race, thereby, foreclosing the chances of an open contest.
Sheriff, sources say, had another card up his sleeves that would enable him pick the national secretary of the party.
But his plan ‘B’ did not see the light of day as the party governors had their way when they moved against Kashim Ibrahim Imam (Sheriff’s choice for party scribe) and instead backed Mai Mala Buni, the Yobe APC chairman, who joined the race at the last minute following the withdrawal of Alhaji Tijjani Tumsah from the race.
This is said to have angered Sheriff and his group, more so as the former governor has been reportedly engaged in a cold war with Tinubu over the control of the party.
National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, when contacted, said the party will respond to the grievances raised by Ikimi and the others in due course.
Meanwhile, how the APC navigates through this gathering storm remains to be seen as the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is on standby, ready to snap up those who are purportedly displeased with the outcome of the National Convention.