By Ndahi Marama
GOING by history, Borno State Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff and his Deputy, Alhaji Adamu Shettima Yuguda Dibal (Sardaunan Biu), are the only politicians to break the jinx of second term in office. Both contested in 2003 and won on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. They re-contested on the same platform in 2007 and won with an unprecedented victory.
The duo have recorded modest achievements in the provision of democracy dividends via construction of roads, drainage, housing, hospitals, carrying out poverty alleviation and youth empowerment projects among others.
When the going was good, especially in 2003, Governor Sheriff said at a political gathering that based on the good relations and loyalty he enjoyed from Dibal, he had no option than to hand over to his deputy after he might have concluded his second tenure, specifically in 2011.
Sheriff was also quoted to have said that the issue of reserving the governorship slot for majority Kanuri would no longer be tolerated and promised that his administration would ensure power shifts to southern Borno, where Dibal hails from.
The declaration drew support for Sheriff, particularly those from southern Borno, which constitute about 47% of the state population with about nine local government areas of Biu, Gwoza, Askira_Uba, Hawul, Shani, Damboa, Kwaya_Kusar and Bayo.
Sheriff, deputy fall apart
That was the understanding until the alleged plan by the governor to back another candidate, soured the relations between Sheri and his deputy. The governor was alleged to have sidelined Dibal in the running of the government.
Dibal was relocated from his office to one of the Lodges in the Government House, where he stayed for almost a year as the state government renovated the deputy governor’s office. To the dismay of the deputy governor’s supporters, the renovated office was later handed over to the wife of the governor (the first Lady, Mrs. Fatima Ali sheriff). Although, new office was built at the entrance of the gate for the Deputy Governor, but up to now, the office is not properly powered by a serviceable generator.
The last stroke that broke the camel’s back was the recent statement from the National Chairman of the ANPP Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu at their NEC Meeting in Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital, that nobody would be allowed to impose a candidate on the party, without going through primaries as enshrined in the constitution of the party.
Gingered by Onu’s statement, Dibal’s posters are now spread all over the state. He has also got the support of Borno Elders, Traditional rulers and religious leaders among others to run.
Groups urge Dibal to run
Although Dibal is yet to declare his intention, one of the groups calling on Dibal to declare his intention include a group called Southern Borno Development Association (SBDA). The group has called on the people of Borno State to support Southern Borno gubernatorial candidature come 2011 general elections for equity, justice, fair play and unity.
Chairman of the association Mallam Yahaya Hassan Gaya, at a press briefing at the NUJ press centre in Maiduguri, specifically said: “Southern Borno Development Association wishes to remind the entire citizens of the state, that the practice of modern democracy has no doubt recognized the right of the minorities in all facets, in terms of fairness, equity in participation and social justice”.
Mallam Gaya also appealed to all political parties in the state to pick their gubernatorial candidates from southern Borno, so as to balance the political equation in the state, adding that the area boasts of competent and credible candidates that could produce good results and enhance the fortunes of the people of the state, pointing out that, Dibal was more qualified and competent to govern the state come 2011.
He also noted that Borno North senatorial district in the past had produced three governors namely, Alh. Mohammed Goni, Alh Asheik Jarma and Sen Maina Ma aji, while Borno Central has Alh Mala Kachalla and the incumbent Governor Ali Sheriff, but unfortunately that the southern Borno is yet to produce a governor.
Another Group known as 2011 Dibal for Governorship Organization has called on the Governor to hand over to his Deputy Alhaji Adamu Shettima Yuguda Dibal who has been loyal and fully committed to the administration for almost eight years.
Chairman of the group, who is also a renowned Islamic Scholar, Mallam Ibrahim Gomari stated this in an interview with newsmen in Maiduguri. He said that, the purported move by the incumbent to hand over to his younger brother, Alhaji Mala Sheriff was totally uncalled for because the governance of Borno was not a game of family inheritance.
Former Head of Civil Service in the state, Engr Mali Gubio (mni) also picked holes in the governor’s alleged moves to instal his younger.
Gubio pointed out that, even though he belongs to the Congress for Political Change (CPC), he has no option than to support the candidature of Dibal under the platform of the ruling ANPP because he was qualified for the job.
In his own contribution, a business mogul Alhaji Mohammed Rijiya who is also the president of the Borno Chambers of Commerce and Industry (BOCCIMA) described Dibal as a de_tribalised, religious, humble, patient, dedicated and above all, a person who has respect for the cultural diversity of the state.
Sheriff’s brother absolves governor
However, Mala Sheriff has dismissed reports that he was being imposed on the party.
a Group known as The Vanguard for Mala Sheriff 2011 at a press briefing dismissed the reports going round that Governor Sheriff had mapped out strategies to impose his younger brother Alh Mala Sheriff as his successor come 2011 elections.
Chairman of the group, Comrade Abubakar Bukar Alhaji said that the group is an umbrella organization and conglomeration of Youths Sports Associations from all of the state irrespective of political or religious affiliations.
Alhaji said that Senator Sheriff was a democratic person and urged those spreading rumours that Governor Sheriff was planning to impose his younger brother as his successor under the platform of ANPP to desist from such act. He noted that constitutionally, Mala Sheriff had the qualification to contest any position as a bonafide citizen and a card carrying member of the ruling ANPP in the state.
He added that Sheriff had never enforced a candidate on his people at any level let alone the governorship of the state, stressing that the peoples’ choice had always been the governor’s choice.
Alhaji stated that it was the people of the state that were asking for Mala Sheriff to take over from his elder brother through numerous organizations such as Borno Youth Ask For Mala Sheriff (BOYAMAS), Borno Intellectual Youth for Mala Sheriff 2011 (BOINYOMS) among others.
As it were, Mala Sheriff and Dibal are the leading aspirants on the platform of the ANPP. Their posters are more prominent in the state.
There are speculations that Dibal, who promised absolute loyalty to Sheriff even after the end of their tenure, might opt for the CPC to realise his governorship ambition if he is unjustly denied the ANPP ticket.
The PDP obstacle
Whoever, emerges from the ANPP, will have the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP hurdle to scale. There are a number of strong contenders on the PDP platform
Alh. Kashim Imam
He was a two-time PDP Gubernatorial candidate in Borno State but lost to the incumbent Sheriff in 2003 and 2007. Imam was initially considered as the financier of PDP in the state. Kashim has been visiting some local governments in southern Borno to solicit support for his 2011 ambition.
Amb. Saidu Pindar
Pindar was Nigerian Ambassador to Saotome and Principe during the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration.
He is currently the Executive Director Joint Development Administration on Saotome, Principe and Nigeria. An indigene of Biu local government area of Borno State, he is well recognized for his philantrophic gesture to the people of Borno.
He has a Foundation known as “Pindar Foundation” that has sponsored about 3000 Borno indigenes studying in various tertiary institutions across the world. He is said to enjoy support from both southern and Northern Borno.
Sen. Mohammed Abba Aji
Abba Aji is the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters. He was a senator in 2003 under the platform of the ANPP, representing Borno Central, but later decamped to the PDP due to misunderstanding that erupted between him and governor Sheriff. Abba Aji is very close to President Goodluck Jonathan. He is one of the vocal and powerful politicians who don’t see anything good in Sheriff’s administration. Recently when contacted in an interview as to whether he has interest to contest for the 2011 guber race, he said, he would not mind “if God will choose somebody who can restore back the aspirations and yearnings of the people of the state, which had long been neglected by the present administration of governor Sheriff.”