By Omeiza Ajayi
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, former governor of Borno State and a chieftain of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has declared that for the party to retain power at the centre for the next 50 years, it needed a rugged captain capable of navigating its ship through Nigeria’s murky water of politics.
Sheriff, who spoke at an interactive session with some journalists in Abuja weekend, said with the expected exit of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, the APC needed to reposition itself to remain relevant.
He said: “You all know that today as a political party, we are about six and half years. It is a combination of different political parties that became APC and we also know that our President Muhammadu Buhari even before coming into APC had already made 12 million votes from the ANPP and CPC days.
‘’He brought that to the table and what are we going to face after the exit of His Excellency, the President?
“It is we the APC members that will tell the world that we are capable of getting their trust even when he finished his tenure.
‘’Doing that, you need everybody. You need people who know the history of the party, where we are coming from, who know the history of this country, someone who has been in different aspects of life and we need to work together, we need to build bridges across the country.
“Today, as a party we are only six years in government, our aspiration is for the APC to be in government in the next 30 to 40, 50 years. Doing that doesn’t come on a platter of gold, we need to put in hard work.
‘’Therefore, I believe it is important for me to reach out to all leaders of our party; the youths, the women, different organizations to tell them that we must come together to get our party to run for the next 30, 40, 50 years by the grace of God.
“Doing that you need a rugged captain, you don’t need a captain that will capsize. A ship has to be navigated by a knowledgeable person who knows the waters and I believe I can do that for our party if given the opportunity by party men and women who are the decision-makers.
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‘’There are so many people in the field but you can look at everybody and see where you can put your deposit. We don’t want a bank that will collapse after a short period. So, I have been going around the country.”
“I have been away, traveling from one state to the other and I will continue doing that until everybody in our party is consulted. I meet them in their homes to say that, yes I want to run for the National Chairmanship of this party and I believe I can lead us well because party politics is different.’’
Sheriff also said he had consulted widely with critical stakeholders of the party in his state, adding that they were on the same page with him.
“Everybody in Borno State today without any kind of contradiction is, apart from Zulum who is not my product because he was in the academia, he was not a politician, everybody in any position today in Borno in one way or the other, I am instrumental to what he or she is today and I have no problem with any one of them.
‘’Maybe, it is just a perception. Everybody in Borno, including Sen. Shettima that you are talking about, I discussed with all of them about my ambition. I talk to them one on one. The governor is the leader of the state, I have gone and discussed with His Excellency, Prof. Zulum about my ambition and aspiration.
‘’So, you don’t go out without talking to your home-base. In that respect, I have been talking to all of them. I am carrying all of them along in my aspirations. Saying that we are not in talking terms is just perception, it is not correct. I have no problem with any of them.
“You don’t for whatever reason, help people or create people and start fighting them. We have nothing to grind. I was a Governor for eight years, I have been in the Senate several times. I am not looking for any of these positions again because I have already gone past them. I am not looking for anything that someone from Borno is looking for.
‘’Therefore, all of them, we will work together to achieve this position for all of us, Nigeria and Borno state in particular,’’ he said.
Asked to speak on his unique selling point and what he was bringing to the table, Sen. Sheriff said: “See, I am bringing my experience as somebody who knows the terrain of Nigeria. I am bringing my experience as a two-term governor of a state.
‘’I will be bringing my experience as a leader of the National Assembly. Who are the politicians? House of Assembly members, chairmen of local governments, National Assembly members, governors. These are the leaders of the party. I have been all.
“So, I am coming to the table as someone who understands the terrain. I am coming as someone who has ran political parties in different aspects. I am not a newcomer. I am not a novice.
‘’I told you I was the chairman of the Board of Trustees of ANPP that formed the APC today. I am bringing to the table my knowledge of who and who worked hard to make sure that we succeeded and who and who left because they were angry.
‘’I will go to their houses and bring them back. So, I am bringing a package that will meet the aspirations of every man and woman of this party.”