As the All Progressives Congress (APC) holds its National Executive Committee meeting to ratify dates for nationwide primary elections, battle for control of Borno governorship is taking a dimension as former Governor of the state, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is alleged to have hired dozens of computer literate young men, camped in a hideout in Maiduguri and being trained by an expert to hijack a fresh online registration of members by the APC.
An impeccable source says the aim is to generate a list of registered members which Sheriff, with alleged backing of two Borno men close to the Presidency, intend to impose as voters for the direct primary election to produce governorship candidate of the APC in Borno State.
The source said the plot was the outcome of series of meetings between Sheriff and a group of persons who had vowed to ensure that direct primaries were imposed on the APC using their own list of registered party members.
The group is also allegedly trying to woo new Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole to ensure that direct primaries held.
The source however said that Sheriff’s group fears that APC Governors who are actual financiers of the APC, might come together to determine the nature of primary elections that produce candidates in their states since the party’s constitution does not make direct primaries compulsory but rather allows three ways: direct primaries, indirect primaries using delegates and consensus, through which candidates are produced.
“In their recent meeting, they agreed that President Buhari’s government doesn’t fund the APC rather state governments do. We all saw what happened at the APC congress. The Governors came together and determined every election. Even Adams Oshiomhole could not have become chairman without the governors, he knows it that governors fund all the APC activities, they control delegates. They can’t fund the APC and be dictated to, the chairman knows this and that reality is the only fear of SAS and his group. He was Governor and he knows the influence of governors coming together in any party,” the source said.
The source further alleged that Sheriff and his group had decided to take their chances by proceeding with means of taking control of APC’s new registration, adding that the computer operators recruited for the plot were working with some officials of the PDP in Borno state.
According to the source, one of the fellows allegedly invited to Maiduguri by Sheriff to help in the manipulation of the new membership register revealed that each operator had been promised two hundred thousand for the two weeks job, in addition to being fed, accommodated and given some allowances.
He disclosed that at their recent meeting, Sheriff requested for adequate funding to execute the plot.
“The two men were said to have reminded Sheriff that going by amount of funds reported by media as spent in Ekiti elections, it may be impossible for anyone to match the funds under the kitty of Borno state government and available to the Governor. Sheriff nevertheless insisted that the plot could be executed,” the source said.
However, an associate of Sheriff described the report as mischievous and aimed at tarnishing the image of Sheriff.
“SAS is ambitious and his greatest wish is to recover the control of Borno politics from Kashim Shettima but at the same time he will be foolish to overestimate himself. This same Kashim Shettima was underrated in 2015 and he came top. When we returned to the APC before the congresses we expected to have some control but at the end Kashim Shettima still remained in charge. When we tried to take control through Kashim Imam’s aspiration as national secretary, Kashim Shettima mobilized Governors against the move and again succeeded.
“The APC has 22 governors and these governors are young and intelligent. If anyone thinks they will allow any national chairman to impose a selection process for them that doesn’t favour them, then that person is a fool. The APC is doing direct primaries in Lagos governorship because Asiwaju and the governor are in the same page. In fact, in Lagos the primaries are just formality, they have already chosen candidates for all positions.
“Believe me, if Ambode is against Tinubu it would be impossible for anybody to introduce direct primaries. President Buhari doesn’t give any money to APC for anything. The governors finance the APC including the victories in Ondo, Ekiti, Bauchi and Katsina. How can they allow anyone undermine them? If you see the governors allow direct primaries then they know it favours them otherwise they will not allow it. In the case of Borno state, how many words can anyone access for direct primaries? Less than half of the 312 wards across the state are still within reach. More than 20 local government areas only have people in the headquarters except for one or two of them. Which ward will direct primaries take place? SAS is not stupid he knows all these things. He even said it last week. How can he now be the one doing anything for direct primaries? The story is total false. Some people are just chasing shadows,” the associate said.