The recent gail of defections from the All Progressives Congress (APC) into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by the former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe has changed the equation ahead of the 2019 polls. OSA OKHOMINA examines the issues
The political space in Bayelsa State is presently wrapped in anxiety as various chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State are moving in numbers into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The recent defection of former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, triggered the defections from APC. But it also sent the warning signals to the fold of APC in the state.
The APC has also recorded a fair share of defections with the movement of the youngest state commissioner, Mr. Ibarakumo Iyobo and some unknown politicians.
But among those who defected alongside Alaibe, are the former director general (Media and Publicity) for the 2016 Governorship ambition of the APC, Chief Nathan Egba, the former secetary to the State Government and the state agent to Chief Timipre Sylva during the 2016 Governorship election, Chief Gideon Ekowe and one-time State Chairman of PDP, Chief Rufus Abadi popularly known as Barbaru.
Others are the one time state chairman of the Conference of the Nigerian Political Parties and APC State chairmanship candidate, Hon. Sunday Frank Okputu, ex-commissioner for Youths and Sports, Chief Keme Prefa, ex-chairman of Sagbama Local Government Council, Hon Barnabas Edure, former executive secretary, SUBEB, Barr. Rhodesia Whyte and former state lawmakers including, Hon Nelson Belief.
Alaibe’s defection with an alleged over 6,200 supporters was truly a home coming for the PDP in Bayelsa State.
Receiving Chief Alaibe in Government House Yenagoa, Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson noted that the defection of the former NDDC MD and his teeming followers did not only give credence to the supremacy of PDP but also signified the end of the APC in the state.
He further said the defection had justified his earlier claim that the APC lacked capacity to win any election in the state as its leadership had brazenly demonstrated lack of interest in the welfare and development of the state.
According to the governor, Bayelsa remains the only PDP state that has re-elected its governor defeating federal might since 2015 when it became an opposition party in the country.
While reiterating the need for people of the state and the Ijaw nation to embrace the PDP, Dickson stressed that no well meaning and decent person would identify with the other party because of the high level of criminality and falsehood associated with it.
“ PDP has the majority of the good and decent patriotic people. I used to say there are few APC members in Bayelsa that are good and patriotic. Now, you can imagine the few good ones have now left.
“When we come to campaign we will wait for them to tell us the roads and bridges from Abuja that they have brought to this state, to show us the major appointments, benefits and patronage that they deceived this good and decent people to go to their dry party that doesn’t mean well for our people. The APC clearly is being folded up in Bayelsa with all of you leaving.”
Dickson who congratulated Alaibe and other defectors for their decision to dump the APC assured them of their full integration to the PDP.
He said that a rally would soon be organised to formally receive them into the PDP.
“We are here to formally receive and welcome you back home to your party and I have told the chairman and the political desk working with your team that we will organise a formal reception to receive you because you are a big fish. You cannot come into the PDP and people will not know you have come. So what is happening today is a prelude to your formal reception.
“We were pained when you left at a time we needed you most but all of that is history. What is important is what is ahead of us and I want to assure you that you are all valued leaders in the party once again.” He added
In his remarks, Alaibe described PDP as the party of the Ijaw people.
He stated that all the political positions he held were facilitated by the PDP which informed his decision to leave the “wilderness” to return to the PDP to support Dickson in the interest of the state.
“PDP for me as an individual is home. My political life was defined by the PDP. My political public service, work and all the political positions that I have held were facilitated by the PDP and for a lot of us here, it was the PDP. So for us, PDP is home. It is a good-come-back home.”
“I want to thank you for some of the fantastic projects and programmes you have implemented in Bayelsa including this state of the art office for the people of Bayelsa State. I want to thank you for the continuous commitment to the Ijaw Nation. The commitment that has inspired some of us to continue to remain as a people in the space called Nigeria.
“We want to assure you that at some point in the course of our political life, just like a child will not know the richness of his mother’s soup until he tastes his neighbour’s soup, we have gone out there and we have tasted our neighbour’s soup, and we have made comparison and our own soup, the soup you pilot is sweeter. And that’s why we are here.”
Chairman of the PDP in the state, Mr. Moses Cleopas, described Alaibe’s return as a show of patriotism and love for Bayelsa State.
He assured Alaibe and others who returned to the party that they would be given a sense of belonging to enable them contribute effectively to the success of the PDP.
“We are receiving you with our spirit, soul and body. It is our belief that you are coming to add value to this party and not with any fear that you shall by any way make the party less of what it is today.You are coming into a reformed PDP where everyone is on the same side.”
Many political observers in the state aver that the movement Alaibe was only a matter of time in light of the manner he was treated by the APC and its leader and former govenor, Chief Timipre Sylva during the party governorship primaries in 2016.
Other analysts infer that Alaibe’s defection was because of the emergence of his perceived political godfather, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, as presidential candidate of the PDP.
Still there are projections that his movement into PDP may give room for him to take another shot at the governorship seat come 2019. He is expected to become a major contender in the race to replace Dickson come 2020.
The spate of defection has since sparked apprehension within the APC. This was evident in a rumour that emanated shortly after that the leader of the party in the state, Sylva was also planning to move to the PDP. But this speculation was quickly dismissed by his media Aide, Julius Bokoru.
According to the statement issued on the rumoured plan by Chief Timipre Sylva to defect to PDP, his media Aide declared that his principal is firmly with the APC.
The statement read in part, “Let it be established that Chief Timipre Sylva is firmly “of the APC and nurses no plan to leave the party to any other party, least of all the PDP which is floundering and churning in the throes of its last days. Chief Sylva cannot leave the APC, a party he has joined in building, in both state and national, to the very top of political and governmental efficiency.
“This latest rumour confirms that Dickson and his faltering government are barren of ideas, even in perpetrating their evil. That is why the purported defection of Sylva which they announced through their Facebook hirelings in August had to be recycled in October, just like the ridiculously untrue story of the 48 houses they keep recycling every year.
“The fact is not lost to Chief Sylva that this latest defection story coincides with the so called defection of a certain Nathan Egba who was neither a member of the APC nor a man with any bit of political relevance. It is sad that while Dickson should be focused on the task of governance before him, he has instead formed an army of criminals and serial fraudsters with the goal of devaluing our dear state, unleashing violence and attacking characters he finds superior to himself, spurning a good chance of improving Bayelsa state. “
But ex-state chairman of the Conference of the Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and former APC chairmanship aspirant, Hon. Sunday Frank Okputu, declared that the defection and lack of internal politics in the APC, the Party is dead in the state.
The defection of Okputu, who was a member of the closed circle of Timipre Sylva political group, came as a surprise to many observers in the state.
He blamed Sylva’s poor handling of the party for the current state of APC in Bayelsa, alleging that it was being run like a military administration that lacked leadership direction.
“Sylva started the party with a two man show. He expelled Party Chairman, Tiwei Orunimigha and killed the party before 2016 Governorship election. And now, he is running the APC with David Lion. There was no-one in the party that can counter Timipre Sylva on the party matter. “
“Sylva refuses to hand over the party to Bayelsa people. APC should be above individual but Sylva never wanted to hear such.”
Okputu who hailed Alaibe as a grounded politician, boasted that their return to PDP will add value to the state.
“We are going to make sure Timipre Sylva does not win even in his own ward and unit. If APC claim they have 40,000,we are going to win 39,000. Sylva is always smiling but deceitful. He is not a politician, but acting on impulse.”
Sensing that the APC was troubled by the recent defections, the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson while mocking it’s leadership in the state predicted that the APC in Bayelsa will soon wind up.
Speaking with the press over the recent defection of APC chieftains, Dickson said the situation in the opposition party was part of the mandate he gave to the political machinery of the PDP to ensure that the APC is shut down in the state before the 2019 general elections.
“We are going to wind up the other party (APC). That other party whose leaders are not interested in the development of our people and the State. That other party that does not respect and regard for those that have worked hard for them.
“That other party that makes appointment based on Man-Know-Man and percentage of votes. That other party that has never worked for the common good of the people of Bayelsa. We are going to wind it upon the State.”
Sylva while dismissing Dickson’s claim that the state belongs to PDP, countered that the disposition of the people of Bayelsa State is towards President Muhammadu Buhari.
Sylva, said though the votes cast for President Muhammadu Buhari was stolen during the 2015 Presidential elections, the love for President Buhari has not waned due to the ongoing road infrastructure to Otuoke, the Former President’s community.
Sylva said “the last time, they colluded and did not allow some party members vote and feel secure, we are ready and we resist them. We will show them that Bayelsa is an APC State.”
Sylva also accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the various security agencies deployed to the State during the 2015 Presidential election of allegedly colluding with the PDP to rob President Muhammadu Buhari of his votes handed him by the people of the State.
He however called on APC members in the state to be mindful of an alleged stock piling of arms and ammunition by agents of the PDP in the state.
“In the next elections, nobody can rob us of election victories again. We will show Bayelsa and Nigerians at large that Bayelsa is for APC. Buhari has done well for the people of Bayelsa State in the area of roads, agriculture and many others. Buhari loves Bayelsa people and the Bayelsa people love him.”
Apparently, the spate of defections has caused for realignments in the state ahead of the 2019 general election. Although the state will not be having it’s governorship election next year, the outcome of the election, particularly with regards to the presidential and federal and state legislative elections will be crucial to both parties in the build up to the governorship election in the state which holds barely months later.
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