The searchlight beamed on the activities of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff when he became the governor of Borno state in 2003 . There were so many sides to the story of this man called the political godfather of Borno state and the lion of tribe of kanuri .A man who emerged from nowhere with little or nothing known previously about him to get the constitutional conference and then to senate . with little or no education to his background and political pedigree, but suddenly became politically prominent and relevant overnight with overwhelming influence .All of this stirred-up political analysts’ quest and curiosity to want to know him.
When eventually a story was published in the Daily sun Monday , January 24, 2005 about him, the editors played up one sentence out of the many issues the then Governor raised: “ I had 76 jeeps before I became Governor. “since that publication , Nigerians have reacted with new sense of outrage calling for prompt investigation about his past and since then the man has never seized to make hot sensational headline news. The mention anywhere of his name radiates and exude political power , controversy and even envy among those who hate and love him . In reactions, at least in one of the letters to the editor in the punch, one Nigerian made bold enough to query the source of Modu Sheriff’s wealth asking such pertinent and provocative questions as: where did he get all that money from? What was he doing before he became Governor ? why should anybody have 76 jeeps? His conversation here and there and probably with the advice of some of his friends who must have been more reasonable, rational more sensitive people, Ali Modu Sheriff was to withdraw that statement a month later in a weekend Sun Newspaper. He told Saturday Sun that the story which was then drawing so much fire from critics was a distortion of the truth. According to the then Governor of Borno state , it is not true that he had 76 jeeps for his personal driving , but rather the vehicles were acquired for his gubernatorial campaign in the vast and rugged terrain of Borno state spanning 27 local government areas.
Speaking then to Saturday Sun in Maiduguri ,Senator Sheriff lamented that people , especially political opponents, had deliberately twisted the issue to portray him as a car freak who’s delighted in collecting luxury vehicles that he might never use .He also quoted and agreed with somebody who had written that “only mad man would have 76 jeeps to drive. Then I must be a mad man to gather so many vehicles, especially jeeps, when I only ride one car at any given time, he replied.
Surely the events of later days, weeks, months and indeed years corroborated this. For the period of eight years he held sway as the governor of Borno state, he brought in new fleet of cars every quota of the year, most bullet proof state-of-the-art cars numbering over one hundred.
He is quick to forget that he had previously spoken off records when he once took journalist on excursion of his estate, where he showed them his numerous cars which were obviously more than so then . In the first week after he was sworn in as Executive Governor of Borno state, Senator Modu Sheriff had invited some Journalists to the site of his uncompleted country home just behind the Government house, and less than five minutes drive to the Government house.
He was yet to complete and pack into the multi – billion naira edifice , whose fence was made of plated gold. From the mansion , the group visited another part of Maiduguri close to lake Chad Research Institute , along Gamboru Road, ,Maiduguri where the then newly elected governor had his warehouse . There also, Sheriff showed the journalists all the materials and gadget needed to complete whatever was left of the country home building . Even the entire kitchen sets and furniture had been imported from Europe. He let them took photographs. Asked why he undertook the excursion , SAS said it was it make his guest his witness whenever the issue would arise later on that he used Borno State’s money to build mansion for him self .’ I did that for posterity’ , he had explain .
Ironically ,Governor Sheriff never moved into any of these mansions until he left office. He only made use of the main one behind the Government house during his first daughter’s wedding on the 10th-12th March , 2011. Governor Sheriff preferred and operated from his old house built by his father for the four first sons – Ali, Malla, Goni and Mammanur within the same piece of land. He confessed then that neither he nor his wife was excited about the new house . “Like me, my wife prefers something smaller. But in this part of the country, when people want to insult your children , they say “show me your father’s house.”He explained. Similarly , he had also said it was culturally proper that he had a befitting “home in his place especially since he already has in Lagos and Abuja.
When our correspondent visited Sherrif’s warehouse at Gamboru Road, for the benefit of record keeping, he counted 16 cars, mostly SUV and finally few days later when he accompanied a politician to his residence at Gambole Road near Giwa Barracks, he also counted 26 exotic and luxury cars neatly packed in the ports and even behind the house next to the generator house.
National WAVES gathered that all through his years as governor, he made sure that he attended the yearly AUTO-EXIBITION(car exhibition) in Dubai where the latest cars are first shown to the whole world before the release to the market . Each time, he would buy up to four six cars.
Senator Sheriff definitely enjoys driving and get excited about new powerful and exotic cars like young child would get about new toys. In fact he likes driving himself most of the time , even as Executives Governor of Borno State, just to have the real feel of these machines. If there is anything to call his hobby, it would be buying and driving new cars. His Maitama Abuja home is parked filled with the latest models Mercedes Benz products, from G.wagon , E series, M series, BMW of various series for 2014 with many more branded ones parked in another house behind his house
There are those who believe that Senator Sheriff is losing grip of Borno on Account of his use of human being without commensurate rewards which is what culminated to the issue of Boko Haram . Sources informed National WAVES that Sheriff is fond of using and dumping his boys “He may be bragging that he is self made and made it big through his father’s connection with the previous military governments or even through the importation of baby food in the past, but Ali Modu Sheriff could be rightly said to have made it through the effective use of other human beings at appropriate times to achieve his aims without adequately rewarding them . Even his political ascendance to the various political offices were through the manipulations and use of other human beings without proper remuneration and compensation . A labourer they say is worthy of his wages but it is not so with Sheriff. This is the main reason why most of his business and political allies are rebelling against him today. They want to take their pound of flesh from him. They want to give him bad name for the government to hang him”. “In Borno , the fear of Sheriff’s political prowess is the beginning of political wisdom. As far back as 2003 when he ousted Mala Kachalla to emerge as the first elected governor outside the Borno emirate, his political profile had since been on the ascendance , punctuated only by one scandal or the other of his involvement in Boko Haram sponsorship and attack from opposition party. He has maintained that until recently when a combination of factors bordering on indiscretion and poor image management made his influence to plummet. But today in Borno , the easiest way to lose political patronage and followership is to be supported or backed by SAS. Ali has lost political power clout and relevance to the level where the lightest feather weight politicians could even challenge and defeat him in political power bout , anytime any day. Not because of his political prowess and connection , but because of his reneged on promises made to the people . He is alleged to be insincere to people, especially on finances not because of he doesn’t have but because he enjoy being worshipped for money”. Hinted our source.
The former governor’s influence did not just shoot out from blues. Sheriff remains the only politician in the state that was elected thrice to the upper chambers of National Assembly. He also prides himself as the first to break the jinx of not being elected governor for two consecutive terms. Pundits are now of the opinion that 2014 will be a time test Sheriff ‘s political strength for many reasons. He may not be interested in contesting any elective position any longer but he surely needs his people to be in those strategic places to prove his political relevance in the state’s and even in the national’s politics.
The internal dissension , which Sheriff is facing today , comes in the mould of dissatisfied allies , who want to save their part and state from the eminent doom and perpetuate domination by SAS and his cronies are already fielding and canvassing support for any opposition force as an alternative.
The move which presents Sheriff with stiff opposition within the rank and caused serious headache for him on how to satisfy his numerous aides and are now disenchanted and ready to abandon him in the cold for his opponents since working for him does not put food on his table anymore. Sheriff does not reward anyone for good work, it was alleged.
Stories have been told about Sheriff’s generosity of dashing huge sum of money to people and even giving away cars. But those close to him punctured this, adding that “all of those things are myth and false as Sheriff would not give his kobo out without gaining from you something much more valuable”. Sheriff it was alleged could go to any length to get whatever he wants as long as money could buy it, but after that, no more .
There are long roll calls of strained relationship with people who have seen him through to places of life even among his childhood friends and political allies whom he has today abandoned. He has strong character trait which he exhibits all time in his dealing with every human being which many see as betrayal of trust . He does not keep promises neither does he pay off completely for business deals. Most people who are close to him and have had one thing or the other to do with him said that the best time to get Ali is when he is in desperate need of one service.” He could pay anything “ sources stressed.
Many have lost their lives, business, dear ones for the sake of making sacrifices in having relationships with SAS. Only others make sacrifices , he doesn’t, rather he would even like to take from you what you already have or make you waste the little you have” offered an insider. He does not pay balance of payments in deals “
What we see today as insurmountable may have all started as political rivalry and displacement when Mala Kachalla was financed by the wealthy Ali Modu Sheriff, to become an elected governor of Borno of state in the April 1999 election on the platform of All People’s party (APP) before becoming All Nigerian people’s party(ANPP) as a result of fractionalization. To survive the dangerous mine field of Borno politics , Kachalla in February 2001 established a sharia implementation committee in the state with 70% Muslims and 30% Christians . And because there was no clear demarcation between Borno , Chad , Niger and Northern Cameroun, a region plagued by armed rebels and trafficking in illicit arms and children as kachalla himself once observed , his financier and Godfather ; a son of his own friend Ali Modu Sheriff in 2006, decided to become a king himself , Kachalla decamped from ANPP and sought refuge in Alliance for Democracy(AD). Following his defeat by his godfather, he joined forces with PDP to wage war and since then Borno state has been ungovernable. Ali capitalized on this , mobilized unemployment and idle youths in the hands of Boko Haram who were themselves disgruntled and disenchanted by Ali Modu Sheriff ‘ abandonment .
Mala died in the process in April 2007 . Ali allegedly successfully used his father’s mate and friend, Mala Kachalla to test the trouble water of Borno politics and pave political way for himself and afterwards dumped him.
Kashim Ibrahim Imam a privileged son of another illustration father , Ibrahim Imam and childhood friend of SAS had almost the same issue with him and had fallen out severally with and made up for political reasons and benefits .As birds of same feather , they have been busy playing the ostrich for one another .
Recalling some of their experiences recently with one of our reporters, were his former political allies like Baba Ahmed Jidda, the present secretary to the government of Borno state (SSG) . Hon. Mohammed kumalia , Maina Maji Lawal , Baba Basharu , Sen. Abba Aji, Sen. Ali Ndume and Fati Bulama who contested 2003 senatorial election with Daggash. Sen. Daggash himself and so many others who have long parted ways with him for good they each recounted their bitter experiences and how they were able wriggle themselves out of his particular purpose , were used and dumped by SAS. Ali would always want to lord it over everybody around him” confirmed one of his close allies.
Then the second group of people whom Sen. Sheriff had allegedly dealt with are his close friends with business and political interest . The likes of Alhaji Mala Atuman ,,the former chairman of state ANPP, Adam,Mallam Baba, Alhaji Abiso and late Alhaji Mustapha flawama.. Each of these people have one bitter experience or the other with Senator Sheriff. Alhaji Mustapha Flawama a very successful baking flour distributor in Maiduguri, a trade which informed his name FLAWAMA. He had abandoned his business to lazy around SAS as a governor’s friend but was not that lucky as he was summarily killed by Boko Haram sect in 2012 in the heat of man- hunt for Senator Sheriff after he had left office . Another closer- than – the- skin – friend of his, Alhaji Abiso , a successful shuwa Arab petroleum merchant in Maiduguri before meeting sheriff who had also been promised so many things without fulfilling even one after lazing around the governor for over 12 years was sensible enough to later abandon SAS in 2014 to follow the present Governor Kashim Shettima. He currently supplies a minimum of four trucks of diesel to government house and lodge monthly.
The most painful part of those he had abandoned is the man who had always allegedly stood besides him. He pradctically did everything for him but was later abandoned. He is simly known as ADAM.. He was alleged to be SAS’s friend right from secondary school and travelled all over the world for him. But today the same Adam is alleged to have outlived his usefulness and now dumped. He is said to be lying sick with diabetes and asthma in Maiduguri. “The last time I saw Adam in Maiduguri, I almost wept” squealed our source. The only man who survived the oppression of Ali is his bosom friend and co-in-law, Bakari , who himself has illustrious and rich family background . Bakari ‘s wife is eldest sister to SAS’s wife and one time minister of state for finance. All of these people have their own fair shares of bitter treatment by godfather of Borno politics.
Even his siblings were allegedly not left out this; Mohammed Modu Sheriff is younger brother from different mother from Ali; well schooled and lived abroad with his higher degree in Information Technology had to abandon the comfort of his business and his white wife and in-in-laws abroad to return to Nigeria to help his elder brother win his election in 2003. Mamman Nur as he was popularly called was treated with disdain and dejection but had to speak out and rebelled against his brother by decamping from ANPP in 2007 to PDP. Alh. Mai Modu Sheriff another younger brother from different mother who had obediently severed Ali from childhood, was made a commissioner for finance under his name sake Gov. Mala Kachalla never got along with him because he had served a political opponent. Then lastly , Goni his late younger brother who served him faithfully for years but got a local Government care-taker Chairman for only a short while but ended up being shot dead by Boko Haram sect for Ali’s sake.