Former Governor, Sani Yerima
Two former governors – Sani Yerima (Zamfara) and Ali Modu Sherriff (Borno) – are set to dump the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
THISDAY gathered that their bid to join PDP has received the backing of the presidency, which has mandated the party’s national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, to facilitate their defection.
It was also learnt that the duo is being encouraged to join the PDP so that they can assist President Goodluck Jonathan actualise his rumoured second term bid in 2015.
As part of the groundwork for the president’s undeclared intention to run again, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Canada, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, may have been recalled to help with the president’s second term bid.
THISDAY checks revealed that the former governors have commenced preliminary talks with Tukur, with the first meeting taking place at the Wuse II residence of the party chairman.
Sources close to the negotiations told THISDAY that Tukur has reported back to the presidency on the outcome of his discussion with Yerima and Sheriff.
“The aim of their joining the PDP is to enhance the chances of President Jonathan contesting for a second term on the platform of his party.
“As you can see, there is so much hostility from the North-west and North-east zones against the president seeking a second term.
“The Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, his counterpart from Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, the Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu Mu’azu are all nursing presidential ambitions.
“The entry of Yerima from Zamfara State will help alter the political calculations in the North-west. He single-handedly wrestled power from PDP for the ANPP.
“It is expected that if he accepts to join the PDP, that the Zamfara State governor will equally follow his godfather to PDP,” a source explained.
In addition, the party source said the same thing was expected of Sheriff, adding: “If the deal is sealed according to plans, then he will join the PDP and will be expected to bring with him the governor of Borno State. The Borno State governor is Modu Sherriff’s protégé.”
THISDAY learnt that Yerima and Sheriff are expected to work towards making Jonathan electable by rallying northern governors for his second term bid.
Sheriff is expected to shore up the declining popularity of the PDP in the North-east zone.
Of the six states in the zone, the PDP controls four states – Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba – but the popularity of the ruling party in the zone has been waning.
It was learnt that Yerima was billed to join the PDP in 2009, but his former deputy, Mahmud Shinkafi, who was elected on the ANPP platform before crossing over to the PDP, beat him to it.
However, in the 2011 governorship election in the state, the PDP lost Zamfara to ANPP when the incumbent, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, Yerima’s protégé, defeated Shinkafi to emerge governor.
THISDAY further learnt that Maduekwe, a former national secretary of the PDP, has been recalled and posted to the presidency to formulate a winning strategy for Jonathan’s second term bid.
He is expected to play a similar role as that of Nigeria’s High Commissioner to London, Senator Dalhatu Tafida, who had headed the Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation during the president’s first term bid in 2011.
Maduekwe, who had played a prominent role in the resolution of the crisis between the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and PDP governors, has assumed office at the presidency.
He also played an important role during the last meeting of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT). Since then, he has remained in Nigeria with an office at the presidency, as a key strategist for the party.
In the meantime, the PDP National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon, has written to the party’s legal consultant, Chief Joe Gadzama (SAN) to accept Tukur’s decision directing him to take over as the counsel in all the cases involving the PDP in the nomination crisis in the South-west geopolitical zone.