For joining Borno elders in casting aspersions at the presidency, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman in Borno, Baba Basharu, may lose his seat. Multiple sources say President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered his removal.
During the President's recent visit to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, some Borno elders led by Shettima Monguno and Professor Nur Alkali punched holes in Mr. Basharu's leadership style and faulted President Jonathan's no-amnesty stance for Boko Haram.
The party chairman publicly, at the event, told Mr. Jonathan that he aligned himself with the elders' statements; he also asked the president to order the removal of all the military bunkers from the streets of Maiduguri.
President Jonathan did not, however, hide his displeasure with his party's chairman as he told him that he doesn’t fear losing an election in Borno State if he must frankly tell Mr. Basharu and the other elders the truth.
"The state chairman of PDP said there are many bunkers in Borno State and we should remove them. Why should there be bunkers in the state in the first place? You said there are too many Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), and I ask, who wants APCs in Borno in the first place?
"Some of you are even saying the JTF should be removed; and I ask who wants to be spending tax payers' money in paying the soldiers' allowances in Borno State? We need that money for development. It is high time we started telling each other the truth. I don't care if one will lose an election doing that," the president said.
Mr. Jonathan also rejected the call for amnesty for Boko Haram saying he could not offer amnesty to 'ghosts' who had no known representative or clear demands.
Mr. Basharu's other sins, according to party sources, was his inability to mobilise a 25 per cent poll aggregate for Mr. Jonathan during the 2011 presidential elections in which the Congress for Progressive Change candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, polled over 80 per cent of the total presidential votes in the state.
A highly placed party source also said that the PDP National chairman, Bamanga Tukur, was directly instructed to quickly facilitate Mr. Basharu's exit and search for a better replacement.
Mr. Tukur is from the neighbouring Adamawa State, which has also been besieged by insurgents recently.
The embattled Chairman of Borno PDP could not be reached for comment as PREMIUM TIMES gathered that he has been running around Abuja begging to retain his seat.
When contacted, a top PDP stalwart in Borno, Saina Buba, said Mr. Basharu's impending sack was long overdue.
"I think Alhaji Baba Basharu is the main problem of the PDP in our state. He has to a greater extent factionalise the party. Nothing is moving for the PDP. Our supporters are decamping to the ruling All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the state. I think this is the worst Chairman the PDP has ever produces in recent times.
"Basharu's poor leadership quality contributed immensely to reasons why President Jonathan could not secure 25% votes during the last presidential polls. Why won't the Present be angry with him. And if the Basharu led PDP executive in Borno State is not dissolved immediately, the party cannot win the 2015 elections," he said.
PDP denies removal plans
The PDP national spokesman, Olisa Metuh, however, denied there was any plan to remove the party chairman.
Mr. Metuh said the party chairman did no wrong by aligning with the Borno elders against the view of the president.
"The Party can never take action against the chairman for aligning with the wishes of his people. The statements he made are in line with the position taken by his people and he cannot simply because he is the chairman of the PDP in the state take a different position from the one taken by the generality of his people," Mr. Metuh said.
"In any case democracy is about the people and what they desire, the position taken by our chairman in Borno shows that he is a good leader and a team player, he shows he can be trusted and has shown that the PDP is a people's party," he added.