17 August 2012

Speculation that Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, is at war with his predecessor, Ali Modu Sheriff, was summarily dismissed this week. Borno State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture, Mr.Inuwa Bwala, poured a bucket of cold water on the speculation claiming that any differences between the current Governor and former governor is merely imaginary.alt

When Sherrif saw the end of his governorship approaching he anointed All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) Chairman Alhaji Ali Awana Ngala as his candidate to assume the governorship. On 6th October 2010, two days before his formal declaration for the governorship at the ANPP State Congress, Alhaji Ali Awana Ngala was assassinated. Sherrif’s Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Modu Fannami Gubio, became the ANPP’s new gubernatorial candidate. He too was a Sherrif man.

On 28 January 2011 the assassination of Alhaji Modu Fannami Gubio together with the elder brother of the governor, Alhaji Goni Modu Ngala and several security agents at the hands of Boko Haram unexpectedly threw Shettima into the spotlight. Until that point Shettima had been an obscure Commissioner for Health. Suddenly, with just three months to the elections, Shettima became Sherrif’s nominee to follow him as Governor of Borno State.

One must wonder why Sherrif chose Shettima. The simple answer is that with Shettima in the governor’ seat Sherrif believed he could still manipulate and control the government of Borno State. Having his boy in the job also meant Sherrif’s questionable deeds during his term as governor would not be exposed.

His Excellency, Governor Kashim Shettima, is clear in affirming he is in control of the Borno state government and not former governor Sherrif. Shettima was not one of the key players in Sherrif’s corrupt kleptocracy and therein may not be tainted to the same degree as Sherrif’s inner circle. But there is no denying that Secretary to State Government, Alhaji Baba Ahmed Jidda, is Sherrif’s man with a mandate to protect Sherrif’s interests. The mere fact that Sherrif’s man is Secretary to the State Government demonstrates the power that Sherrif still exercises.

Boko Haram would love to get their hands on Sherrif whom they hold responsible for ordering the extrajudicial killing of their leader, Yusuf and his father-in-law, Baa Fugu in July 2009. Sherrif was a great supporter of Yusuf and Boko Haram but, as has been the sad story in the Niger Delta, felt that when his position as governor was secure at the 2007 election he no longer needed Yusuf’s support and cut Yusuf and Boko Haram loose. It was at this point that the relationship between Yusuf and Sherrif went sour and Boko Haram’s lethal activities escalated.

Sherrif has no interest in seeing a peaceful solution to the northern conflict. Rather, his interests are better served by continued conflict which, Sherrif hopes, serves to show that a Jonathan government cannot control national security. In this regard Boko Haram’s activities serve the purposes of Sherrif, although the Boko Haram leadership may not intend that.

Sherrif’s administration is widely known for its profuse corruption and plundering of Borno State. But Sherrif’s agents will make it hard for any effective EFCC investigation.

There is no doubt that Sherrif is worried that he will be arrested by the EFCC unless he is assassinated by Boko Haram first. When Sherrif’s access to money runs out so will his friends and his ability to provide for his own security.

Governor Shettima started his governorship on the right foot. He pledged state funds to underwrite a peace plan for Borno State beginning with a ceasefire and peace dialogue. That well intentioned initiative was derailed in June 2011 by the security forces that refused Shettima’s overture. Rather, Shettima found the state funds for a peace plan diverted to provide security services which has enriched arms contractors and senior security personnel.

Former governor Sherrif fled Nigeria, fearing he would either be assassinated by Boko Haram or arrested by the EFCC. As the heat has died down Sherrif has once again become emboldened and made a show of his return by being elected Chairman of the ANPP Board of Trustees on 17 July 2012.

ANPP Governor Shettima stands little chance of shaking off the shackles of Sherrif and therein Borno State remains firmly in Sherrif’s hands. This is a shameful state of affairs for the ANPP.

Sherrif, despite his despicable deeds, remains immune from the law, the EFCC and even Boko Haram. Arguably Sherrif now wields more power than ever before. While Rome burns the Emperor fiddles … and so it is with Borno state and Sherrif.


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