Former President Goodluck Jonathan may be silent and seemingly distant from the politics of Bayelsa State but his silence over plot to punish his ‘boys’ over alleged anti-party activities seems to be unsettling major players in the state. OSA OKHOMINA examines the allegation against the Jonathan loyalists
When a relatively unknown group, which claimed to be working for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State accused loyalists of former President Goodluck Jonathan of anti-party activities and allegedly sponsoring aggrieved members to another party ahead of 2019 elections, many were shocked at Jonathan’s usual calm and silent disposition.
More shocking to political observers was Jonathan’s silence at the party leaders’ decision to set up a seven-man committee to investigate the allegation and suggest punitive measures including expulsion from the PDP.
A political pressure group in Bayelsa, the Ogbia PDP Renaissance accused some leaders of Ogbia local government area of working against the interest of the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The group specifically accused a prominent traditional ruler, King A.J Turner and the lawmaker representing Ogbia constituency 1 in the state House of Assembly, Mietama Obodor of anti-party activities.
The organisation in a statement issued in Yenagoa, the state capital and signed by its chairman, Obhioru Mitanoni, said that they had it on good authority that Turner and Obodor were sponsoring candidates in other political parties to challenge PDP candidates in the forthcoming general elections.
The group alleged that having sensed that their preferred aspirants were not going to emerge victorious in the just- concluded PDP primaries, the duo went ahead to buy nomination forms in other political parties for their associates.
The group disclosed that also guilty of anti-party activities is the chairman of the state Environmental Sanitation Authority, Chief Robert Enogha and former special adviser to the managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC George Turnah.
It claimed that Turnah who lost his bid to clinch the PDP ticket for Ogbia Federal Constituency is backing one Cleric Awudum for the Ogbia constituency 11 seat of the State Assembly.
The statement reads: “We are raising this alarm because of the emerging political development in Ogbia kingdom which is very disturbing. We want everyone to know that some people who call themselves leaders are working against our collective interest as a party.
“We want our people to know that the likes of King A.J Turner, Hon. Mieteme Obodo, Chief Robert Enogha Ayalla and Barr. George Turnah are all guilty of anti-party activities. These men bought forms for those who lost the PDP primaries to go to other parties to contest against our candidates.
“We are aware that Turnah is sponsoring Cleric Awudum in Accord Party and he has not even resigned his appointment in the Niger Delta University. Everything is being done to ensure he wins the Ogbia constituency 11 seat. But we are ready for them.”
The Ogbia PDP Renaissance also took a swipe at Jonathan for failing to call some of the leaders who are his allies to order, adding that the ex-president is also guilty of the political infractions in Ogbia.
The group alleged that Jonathan encouraged Chief Nimi Barigha-Amange to contest the Bayelsa East senatorial seat on the plattform of the ADC, having lost the PDP ticket to Blessing Ipigansin.
It wondered why the former president who is seen as an arrow head and a political figure could conspire against a party he has benefited so much from as deputy governor to being the nation’s number one man.
The group stated that they decided to make a public statement and put the leadership of the party on notice to prevail on the errant leaders to retrace their steps otherwise they will be forced to expose more of their hidden agenda.
While maintaining that the allegations levelled against them are not hearsay but verifiable facts, the group stated that the leaders are responsible for the gross underdevelopment of Ogbia.
Though the alleged Jonathan ‘boys’ denied the accusation, stakeholders of the PDP led by Governor Seriake Dickson met to review the charges and warned that any member of the PDP who engages in anti-party activities stands the risk of being expelled from the party.
To this end, a seven-man PDP Disciplinary Committee has been set up by the State Executive Committee, in line with the party’s constitution to check acts of indiscipline among members.
At a meeting with the State Executive Committee and other leaders of the PDP at the party’s secretariat in Yenagoa, Governor Dickson emphasised that any member whose intention is to sow seeds of discord and create instability within the party would be shown the way out, no matter how highly placed.
Governor Dickson commended the PDP State Working Committee and other stakeholders for the ongoing reconciliatory efforts, noting that, a meeting would be held with all aspirants and other contestants.
While expressing gratitude to members and other stakeholders for their support and loyalty over the years, he particularly lauded them for demonstrating maturity and the peaceful, free and fair manner they conducted the party’s primaries.
The governor also noted that, formal PDP campaigns would commence on the 18th of next month and urged candidates to engage in wide consultations ahead of the elections.
His words: “This party will not condone any indiscipline; any politics that you think that it is not yet your turn or it is not your preferred candidate that has become the flag bearer of the party and that you will get involved in anti party activities and still remain a member of our party, that will not happen under my watch.
“Now the primaries have come and they have gone. No matter how highly placed, anyone, in government or out of government, once this party have evidence showing that you are using your privileged position, because your preferred candidate did not win, you now go and play hide and seek, you now pick and choose which candidate to work for, we will send you out of this party in no time at all.
“Anyone coming to this party with the intention to sow seeds of discord, create factions, promote instability, under my leadership, we will tell you to go to the party you are coming from, so that you can stay there and do proper opposition.
“From now onwards, the keyword is loyalty, discipline and order in the party. In case people have forgotten, let me refresh their memories. Even when this party had a president, in this state under my leadership, this party expelled all those who were doing anti party activities and we didn’t care a hoot. And if we could do it that time, we will do it ten times more now. And just as we did the other time, we will set up a disciplinary committee to deal with such issues.
“We want a strong party for all. I want to use this opportunity to tell INEC and security agencies in this state should not to allow themselves to be used as co-conspirators to terrorize any community because it is only PDP that can win elections in this state.
“I also want to commend the party and my political desk and elders and caucus chairmen who have been working tirelessly to broker peace and understanding because in this game, we talk about persuasion, give and take and showing concern for the general. I thank them all for the reconciliation that is going on. Very soon I will meet with all aspirants and other stakeholders of the party. I want to receive them and assure them, that the party will be there for them,” he said.
In his remarks, the State PDP Chairman, Mr. Moses Cleopas described the recent party primaries as the freest and most transparent exercise, urging members to close ranks and work towards achieving victory for the party in all the forthcoming elections, to enable the present administration hand over to another PDP government.
Cleopas also assured that members of the party from the wards to the state level were all united, reminding them that, there is a lot of work to be done towards ensuring total support for all PDP aspirants to win next year’s general elections.
The member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Counstituency, Hon. Fred Agbedi, the Chief Whip of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Tonye Isenah, member of the Elders Committee, Chief Thompson Okorotie, Member PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Remi Kuku and Special Adviser to the governor on Political Matters also spoke at the meeting.
But many party faithful including political analysts are hoping and waiting for the intervention of Jonathan at saving his boys from being expelled from the PDP.
While many political observers remained confused about Jonathan’s disposition to State PDP affairs, the emergence of candidates for the State and National Assembly elections and, the now disciplinary sanctions against his boys, others claimed the purported grip by Dickson camp on the reign of the party, the choice of state and National Assembly candidates in the last primaries and the proposed action against Jonathan’s boys, both political gladiators are part of a political act being played between him and Jonathan.
The silent pact, according to political analysts, include the decision of Jonathan not to interfere in the state party affair and primaries. Dickson in turn will allow him the power to produce the governorship candidate that will succeed him in 2020.
Some claimed that occasional interferences were noticed from Jonathan, but they were done to call the governor’s attention to the pact. One of such cases was the national primaries that produced the former Commissioner for Transport, Mrs. Marie Ebikake.
Ebikake, according to party sources, emerged as the PDP House of Representative candidate for Nembe/Brass Federal Constituency, due to the last minute intervention of Jonathan.
It was gathered that Dickson had written off Mrs. Ebikake with allegations of abandoning his camp when she was needed and allegedly embarrassed her in his hometown in Toru-Orua with a vow not to give her the ticket. A ticket he was said to have promised,a one time Brass local government chairperson and special adviser in his administration, Mrs. Helen Bob.
LEADERSHIP gathered that though an embarrassed Ebikake had typed her letter of withdrawal from the primaries, but went to Otuoke country home of Jonathan to report what happened in Dickson’s country home.
That was when Jonathan wielded the big stick . He was reported to have called the governor and reminded him of the role Ebikake played in his emergence as governor of Bayelsa and her role in the coining of the “Restoration” campaign name for Dickson political group.
Dickson was reported to have a rethink and handed her the ticket of the PDP with a special apology tendered to her.
Many are hoping that the planned expulsion of Jonathan’s ‘boys’ from the PDP will be checked and stopped at the last minute.
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