|Ali Modu Sheriff|
The newly appointed PDP Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff during a recent interview with the THISDAY answered questions bothering on any association with Boko Haram, saying they killed some people around him and would still kill him if they had the opportunity. He said he moved against the sect when it started in his state, culminating in them being outlawed and their leaders were arrested and taken to Abuja more than five times but that they were all freed.
How did you emerge as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in these turbulent times?
Well, it is an act of God. I truly believe that whatever God decides is what happens. I did not plan to be the Chairman of PDP; it was the collective decision of owners and leaders of the party that felt that I could offer a leadership that is needed at this moment in time. Any party that is in opposition needs someone that would unite the people to confront the challenges ahead of that party. For me I have been in opposition politics all my life. I was a minority leader in the Senate which is an opposition; in the APP and ANPP, I was in the Senate as an NRC Senator which was also then an opposition party because the SDP had a larger number of members even though it was truncated by the military. It was also an opposition party. I was a governor in Borno State. You know that when I was a governor, we were in opposition for the eight years; so today my emergence as the Chairman of the PDP is to build a party that has lost election after nearly two decades as the party in government.
More importantly, most of the people today that are in APC were PDP members. I am ready for the job and I am going to build all the bridges so that we can bring the party together once again. That was how I became the Chairman, it was not planned, but when God wants to change something He makes people to make the right decision.
In this country today, whether rightly or wrongly, you are seen as the progenitor of Boko Haram, so many were surprised by your emergence?
Well, you see, Nigeria is a country of laws. Nigeria is a country that has the largest black population in the world and nobody today in this country is above the law. It was fiction and imagination of the writers. Let me ask you, I was the governor of Borno State for eight years and, when I was a governor, there was no local government that was under Boko Haram. The issue of Boko Haram came when the government at that time, under President Umaru Yar’Adua, destroyed their mosque and, that was it. They succeeded in killing three people when I was the governor and, do you know who those three people are? One of them was my blood brother, same father and same mother; second one that they killed was the gubernatorial candidate of my political party; third one was Chairman of my party who was also my first cousin. I have never seen anybody in my life that was connected to Boko Haram apart from their leader who was arrested by the military then. The military invited me to see him for the first time in their barracks. If for any reason I had any connection with Boko Haram, I would have been arrested. I am not above the law but you know media is a very strong institution; if your enemy or the people who are afraid of you go to the media and put a false report, the author will write based on information that was given to them by people who believe that unless they dent your image, they will not get what they want politically. Otherwise, there is no way I could be linked to Boko Haram because by my disposition, my background and where I come from, I have nothing to do with Boko Haram.
Boko Haram wanted to kill me all the time because they believed that I was the one that reported them to President Musa Yar’Adua to destroy their enclave when it was destroyed that time. It was after I left government that they moved to their different camps and bushes. Why should they kill my brother? Why should they kill my family if I am a sponsor of Boko Haram? Is there anywhere in the world that you sponsor something to kill you? But unfortunately, the wrong information was circulated to the media by our enemies and, unfortunately, I am not the talking type, so along the line, they kept on fabricating the same lies until it stuck. Let me give you a typical example. Just a week ago, all the social media planted my picture, showing me with the card of APC purporting that I was joining the party. At that time nobody wrote that I was Boko Haram, only that Sheriff is going back to APC. When we registered with APC we went to our villages to do it, that village they are showing on the social media was a village that was taken over by Boko Haram for the past three years, so how could I have gone there to register? Few days after I became the Chairman of the PDP, Ali Sheriff is now Boko Haram; so if you are in APC you are not a Boko Haram.
Throughout my period in APC nobody said I was Boko Haram. Immediately I left the APC, I was termed Boko Haram, therefore you could understand that Nigeria is a very interesting country and the fact that today you cannot do without the media and whosoever has the machinery of the media, unless by chance like the way you have talked to me, they would still be disseminating every kind of stories but nobody will ask why is it that when Ali Modu Sheriff went back to APC, nobody said he is Boko Haram but today that he is PDP Chairman, he is Boko Haram. To cut the story short, I have nothing to do with Boko Haram in my entire life. Nobody in my family or relation is Boko Haram or close to any Boko Haram member. These people that wanted to kill me? Up till today, if they have the chance they will kill me because they think I reported them to Yar’Adua who leveled their places of worship and, along the line their leader was killed. And that is my crime and why they want to kill me but people that are afraid of me changed the story and they keep on doing it. Every day they write different things, but you and I know that nobody is above the laws of Nigeria. I believe today that President Buhari, even if it is his son or blood brother that is Boko Haram member, he will arrest and prosecute him. So the allegation is the figment of the imagination of the writers.