Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: 2015 - Presidency Woos Senators Ahmed and Modu Sherriff

AHEAD of 2015 Presidential election and the planned merger of opposition political parties to wrestle power from the ruling People's Democratic Party, PDP, the Presidency has set in motion ways of wooing two former governors of Zamfara and Borno states, Senators Ahmad Sani Yerima and Modu Sheriff respectively into the PDP.

The move to have Sani Yerima and Sheriff in the PDP was aimed at diluting the influence of Governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina and Muazu Aliyu Babangida of Niger States as they are rumoured to be nursing presidential ambitions.

Senator Modu Sheriff, the sources at the party said, would help in improving the declining influence of the party in the North East, as PDP controls four out of the six states in the region, including Adamawa, Bauchi; Gombe; and Taraba, leaving Borno and Yobe states for the opposition ANPP.

Apart from this, it was also learnt that the move was designed to weaken the opposition and frustrate the merger plans.

President Goodluck Jonathan was said to have been worried by the dwindling influence of his party, hence the plans to strengthen it in the core north.

Senator Sani, the Senate Deputy Minority Leader and the Yerima Bakura was governor of Zamfara State on the platform of the All Nigeria People's Party, ANPP, from 1999-2007 before coming to the Senate in 2007 just like Senator Modu Sheriff who was governor of Borno State under the same ANPP after serving as a senator.

Yerima singlehandedly removed his former Deputy, Mahmoud Aliyu Shinkafi of the PDP as governor of the state and brought in Abdul'aziz Abubakar Yari of the ANPP.

Former Governor Sani was to join the PDP in 2009, but his former deputy, Mahmoud Aliyu Shinkafi, who later became the governor, dumped the ANPP and joined the PDP before his former boss. It was learnt that already, the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, has held discussions with the two opposition bigwigs at his Wuse 2, Abuja private residence in a bid to convince them to dump their parties and join his party.

"Tukur talked to them like a father and tried to convince them on the need for the former governors to dump the ANPP for the PDP as well as work for Jonathan's presidential ambition come 2015," the sources said.

The PDP national chairman who was given the assignment to bring the politicians into the party by the Presidency was said to have reported the outcome of his meeting to his principal. Meanwhile, the former Minister Foreign Affairs and Nigeria's High Commissioner to Canada, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, has been asked by President Goodluck Jonathan to stay back in the country for now to help the party re-strategise for 2015.

It was gathered that Maduekwe was expected to play the same role as deputy to Senator Sarki Tafida in 2011 at the Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2015 because of his political experience and pedigree in such matters. To begin his work as a strategist for the PDP ahead of 2015, the former Minister of Transport briefed reporters at the end of the meeting of Board of Trustees, BoT, which ended in a stalemate over the election of its chairman last week.

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