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Much Ado About Bayelsa PDP Governorship Primaries

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Bayelsa PDP Governorship primaries, like every other ones,is threatened as ward and Local Government ad-hoc delegate elections are hijacked, delegates camped in hotels against their will and gladiators squabble over the process. OSA OKHOMINA examines the issues

Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has left none in doubt about his intention to ensure that a worthy successor emerges from his Restoration camp against all protest by other camps within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

Already, his insistence on having a voice in the emergence of who succeeds him has thrown a seemingly united party in the state into turmoil with threats of violence, protests and petitions trailing the conduct of ad-hoc delegate elections in the state.

Many political observers claimed that Dickson’s political group known as ‘Restoration’ caucus, has become a contending factor with PDP.

Even, there are indications that  former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is reportedly angry with the way and manner the delegate elections of the party has been handled and allegedly manipulated by the Restoration administration.

While some party faithful claimed the avalange of protests against the controversial conduct of the Delegate congress election has provoked anger in Goodluck Jonathan and threatened to denounce the PDP public if the right things are not done by the party, others claimed that the controversy is already dividing the fold of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP.

The alleged complaints against Dickson is said to have been considered carefully in order not to make room for any failure during the November 16 Governorship election in the state.

The Eboyin State Governor, David Umahi, who presided over a seemingly controversial and one sided ad-hoc delegate election, also condemned the issue of groupings within the Bayelsa PDP.

Protesters led by some PDP members loyal to the Timi Alaibe Campaign Organisation and led by Chief Tiwei Orunimighe, Hon. Bananas Endure and a former member of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Vivian Ere, who had barricaded the PDP Secretariat demanding for the cancellation of the process over alleged fictitious list of Electoral officers presented to the Governor David Umahi-led National Committee by the State Party.

Chief Tiwei Orunimighe, while addressing the  Umahi led National Committee members at the party Secretariat expressed displeasure at the processes leading to the conduct of the Congress.

According to Orunimighe, ‘there are processes the conduct of the PDP Congress used to take. The party will agree with them and we go to our communities and bring results. But to our dismay yesterday, the committee has not addressed us. But people are commending the exercise and process that have not taken place as first of its kind. They were claiming that it was good that someone has won. When the process has not even started.’

‘We are members of the PDP and not Restoration caucus. There are other organisations like the Restoration on the State PDP. What we are asking is what are the modalities agreed upon by the committee and the aspirants, and who are the returning officers agreed to and where are they coming from? We are very aware that it was the Restoration group that gave you the list.’

‘Because, we noticed that when we were about to talk at the stakeholders’ meeting, the Restoration group brought out a list that they have compiled. The question is that who are they? And where did they come from? Secondly, you told us that by 7:00 am today, materials would be distributed. But we have not seen the materials.’

Also speaking, a former Chairman of Sagbama local Governor, Banarbas Edure, accused the party executives of presenting a fictitious list of electoral officers to the Electoral Committee and asked the committee to stop the process.

He said’ the list is characterised by names of some aspirants. The process is defective and already faulty. We thought the names of the electoral officers will be suggested and collated by the governorship aspirants. If they don’t do it, we will conduct a parallel congress. We call for the rescheduling of the Congress.’

But the Ad-hoc delegate election results were announced by Governor Umahi at the unholy hour of the night.

A Chieftain of the PDP and former State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Rufus Abadi described the process as defective and said the other governorship aspirants Alaibe are being cheated out of the process by Dickson and his Restoration boys.

Abadi, who is also known as Babaru, said ‘the  governor is segregating some of us by saying his Restoration team and PDP team. PDP is PDP, there is nothing like Restoration team in PDP. So, if some aspirants are said to be Restoration and some aspirants are said to be PDP, already there is a bias and that bias played out in this ad-hoc election.’

‘It was only the Restoration team that made input on the names of the returning officers, so since the government is bias and PDP has no role to play about the returning officers names that were sent there, we feel it was just a hoax that’s why we disagree with the system’.

‘On September 3rd, if this same Restoration team and PDP team still get away, it’s going to be disastrous because as you know the governor is supposed to be the father of the party and a leader and he should not be bias, he should treat everybody as same whoever that takes is his own person but whereby he has drawn a line and say these people are not for me and thess are for me. Then I don’t think it is going to be easy.’

On those qualified to vote on September 3rd, Abadi said ‘Well, by the party constitution, they (newly elected Local Government Chairmen and councillors) were supposed to be voted into office 90 days to the primary election. That’s what the constitution stipulates but since you know it has gone beyond that, then automatically that thing becomes null and void, you don’t have any criteria to be part of the delegates because he (Gov. Dickson) feels that in Nigeria, anything goes, but if we are following the constitution it shouldn’t be so but I think it is because he knows in Nigeria anything goes that’s why he is saying that’.

Abadi, who is also a Director in the campaign organisation of Alaibe, noted that even the delegate process, which should have been open to all aspirants, were restricted to a preffered aspirant by Dickson.

He said ‘Well the thing is that normally a delegate is allowed to be free with all aspirants and if any delegates wish to follow any aspirants to go and stay in his house or to be count  that’s depend on him but it is not where the governor will now force aspirants to be craft delegates that is not done and is something which the national have to do more about it and they are aware it is not the duty of the government that is why  you are seeing around Restoration and PDP. You cannot force delegates. You allow aspirants to do their thing the way they wish to and if they agree fine but you don’t need to force people. So, the national is aware. That’s what we are saying that with this kind of attitude , the primary of back then, the national should look into it properly.’

Also speaking, Comrade Kemei Egozi, a chieftain of the PDP from Southern ijaw constituency, considered the ongoing process of delegate election as unfair to Governorship aspirants.

According to him, ‘I think the process was not fair to all the aspirants, we have 21 aspirants, out of the 21 aspirants ,set of them are one team that’s the restoration team, that’s the way they have made us to believe but because we are all Bayelsans especially Timi himself was the first caucus chairman of the restoration,’

‘So, if there is Restoration, I do not think after the Governor any other person is more restoration than  Timi Alaibe himself but at it is with the way we are meant to understand restoration is for only those who are either aides of the governor or per say preferred people of the governor. Which is not too good for the rest of Bayelsa. Bayelsa is a small state and we all know each other.  We know each other villages, if you go to any villages and call a meeting of Bayelsa people a million times you will see the same faces . What is needed is a proper primary where maybe  the electoral offices or the  Congress  should be taken from others aspirants so that subsequent and it should be only those who bought form’.

‘We are sure that most of the people who bought form didn’t even know where some of the congresses were done especially those that were conducted by the committee sent from Abuja. So, I think that the party should do away with congresses and work with the known delegates to conduct the primary thats my take.’

‘Well delegates are the key to the Congress of cos they are the ones who have the right to vote , their right or wrong choice determines the good and the bad of our future because if they make the right choice we would be where we are supposed to be , if they make the wrong choice we can’t be where we are supposed to be, so delegates should choose wisely not because somebody say so but they should be able to look at all the antecedents of all candidates contesting the Election irrespective of anybody that is coming from your community,. Be anyone from your family because 21 aspirants, especially my own local government, where we have only 5 or 6 aspirants. So, there is lot of controversy of who to vote and who shoukd not to vote.’

‘But the issue is whether the people are from your LGA or not, look at the character antedents  of the people who are contesting the election and then you vote wisely that is my take’.

Already, many PDP faithful in the state are of the view that Dickson’s position on the selection of delegates for the September 3 governorship primaries are targeted at stopping the Governorship aspiration of the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe.

Many however, do not know the reasons for Dickson’s action towards Alaibe.

But Alaibe is not leaving any stone unturned. In his message to his massive supporters, he urged them to be calm and remain focussed because victory is sure.

Alaibe, the frontline contestant for the PDP ticket in the Bayelsa State governorship race asked his supporters to maintain peace as issues arising from the list of returning and electoral officials for the ad-hoc delegate elections are being addressed by the party leadership at the national level

Alaibe is objecting to unilateral inclusion of certain names on the list contrary to the party constitution and guidelines for the conduct of a peaceful primary. The names have been inserted to put certain aspirants, especially those of the Restoration Group, at advantage.

The former Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs sees this as a deliberate calculation to create confusion and frustration in their futile desire to destabilise his aspiration to lead Bayelsa State. But this is a mere imagination.

He declared, “They have failed this time around because no degree of intrigues, no amount of manipulation and propaganda can push me out of this race. Nothing will change my decision to lift the lot of our people through purposeful leadership. I am here to stay and together we will win.”

He said the method that is making the primary in Kogi State a smooth and rancour-free exercise is being thwarted in Bayelsa State for very narrow and selfish reasons.

The irreducible minimum, according to him, is to provide a level-playing field for all aspirants to test their acceptability among the delegates to the primary election. He pleads with the party leadership to avoid decisions that could imperil the chances of the PDP in the main election.

“While winning to us is not a do or die affair, the process of choosing the party flag bearer should be made unquestionably transparent such that in the end, the outcome would be acceptable to all so that we could stand as one to face the real opponent”, Alaibe said.

Alaibe wants all his supporters to note that appropriate steps have been taken to notify the party leadership of the on-going attempts to compromise the primary election processes and expressed confidence in the capacity of the party’s national leadership to right every wrong.

“Our supporters and friends should, therefore, remain calm and stand firm believing that the national leadership of our great party would intervene and do the right thing,” he advised.

Also speaking, Comrade Kime Engozu, said he does not understand why Gov.Dickson is showing lots of animosity towards Alaibe emergence as PDP flag bearer.

According to him, ‘Timi Alaibe is an ijaw man like me  the only difference is that he is from opukuma man I am from ogbuie man we are all ijaw people, for me I look at all the aspirants we are looking at those who have the capacity to take Bayelsa to .’

‘Let me digress a little, I was only 24 year old when I join the elders in this land to look for Bayelsa state, some of this people who are parading themselves am more Bayelsan than this or that we didn’t even see them, some of us were working with the like of senator Amba Ambaowei, Senator Tari Zuonfar , late king Opigo, Chief M.S.Spiff, Dumo spiff, these are the big caliber of people we worked with while we were looking for this state , I was barely 24 years when I started with the likes of Elder T.K. Ogoriba  these are people that are 30,40 years older than me , some of these people who are parading themselves as the old Bayelsa that they are this and that , they weren’t there.’

‘We had a mission. We had reasons spending our time and energy and everything to look for a state . We need development if you look at Bayelsa, Bayelsa would be 23 years old by October. And if you look at it 23 years ago, this place was a virgin forest and the development we are seeing today is individual development but is not a collective government development.’

‘And we now have a man from opokuma to come and take us to another level of development and that’s why some of us are seemingly supporting him. If I have the opportunity to be a deligate, I will vote him a million times over because we have looked at his antecedents on a few places he has occupied over the period and then as a private man.  Have not seen one ijaw man who left office for over 10 years and still survive in this country. A number of them after 10 years, they go to their houses and you can hardly see a good ride in their garage. But this a man that i have been to his house in Lagos and he is doing well.’

‘So, he is coming into this race is to really help us as a people is not coming to this race to have anything he has grown up children graduated from the best schools in the world so there is nothing to take from in Bayelsa, he is here to help us because Bayelsa is the longest coastal state the whole of Nigeria and today Lagos state survive from the coast,  today Bayelsa through theYenagoa water side. we are pursuing from Mbiama to go to port Harcourt but we are not interested in the Atlantic. We want to access the Atlantic and develop ourselves if you look at the world the most beautiful city in the world are in the coast even Nigeria , ikoyi and lekki are the most beautiful places and they are also in the coast’

‘We want a Governor that will take us to that level , so I look at the man and I think he is the best among them , I will want to advice a number of my friends that are aspiring to queue behind him and let us take this state out of where we are. Because, people come here and insult us every day that look at Bayelsa, with all the billions coming in, no development. no road, In fact,it is an eyesore when you travel around to other places and come back to Bayelsa,. Today in raining season, some of our roads are not even passable and we want to come out of this that is what I see and that is the reason why am in support of him ‘

‘For me those are idle talks , the only thing they are saying is that Alaibe left PDP for APC and he fought the restoration they have short memories not to remember that Alaibe was the first caucus chairman, secondly including the governor he started with Ad from Ad to APP before he came to PDP today. He is the governor people made him the governor , he didn’t have a structure and say this is my structure, people use their structures and bring him as governor he has done by ruling for 8 years  which is a history for him.’

‘He should allow the people to make a choice. Don’t muzzle the will of Bayelsa people and the will of PDP. PDP is not anybody personal  party. There are lot of people today who started PDP but have not received anything from PDP. There were some that came from somewhere else and made a lot of case. So, if the governor have rule for 8 years , allow Bayelsans to put who they desire. For me that’s the only way we can go forward.’

‘So, the issue of some people saying they are more PDP than the rest, is not tenable. if you are not a PDP man, you are not a PDP man. If you are a PDP man, you are a PDP man. Nobody is more PDP than anybody , those who are PDP members are PDP members. Those who are APC members are APC members and other parties. So, the issue of I hold PDP and the others don’t havethe right. If you check, a number of people who have political appointments, even in present Government, they have gone to other parties and then the issue of Alaibe went to APC therefore he is not qualified to contest Governor. When you look at the national, the presidential election, out of all the aspirants the first four , second position , third position, fourth position, if not even fifth, they all are people who left PDP for APC and came back to PDP and contested  for the president of Nigeria under PDP and they won first , second , third  fourth. The issue is about popularity  than politics.’

‘If you present a candidate that is not popular , he will lose alot of people just jump to somewhere that I want to lead , a lot of people don’t even know who is this man , we should not present a candidate that Bayelsans will be asking where is this one from , we should present a candidate that can contest Election, that even my mother in the village when you call his name , is aware that this man is a bayelsan and he is from this town , my mother is 88 years old  and am sure without me mentioning Alaibe to her  she knows that Alaibe exist in Bayelsa , she comes from Amasoma, Aliabe comes from Opukuma those are some of the issues .

Also reviwing the candidature of Chief Timi Alaibe, the Former Chairman of the PDP, Chief Rufus Abadi, said ‘On why Well Timi Alaibe has been tested, tried and trusted , when he worked with the NDDC, he was able to construct a lot of roads. A lot of schools were built, bridges were built  as NDDC he was incharge of nine states  and Bayelsa benefited alot from him.’

‘’ So, not to talk about a man who controlled Nine states and will now control a bigger state like Bayelsa with 8 local government, only it will be like a child’s play for him. For Timi Alaibe to be the governor of this state, he will do things , it will be like a child’s play , it will not take him anything, if a man that has controlled nine states and did very well , now you are talking about one state with just Eight local government,so you can imagine it , you can imagine what that man can do.’

‘ The ogbia- nembe road was constructed by him even the Toru – Orua road was done by him before the Governor took over , the bridge to Toru- Orua was constructed by him and so many more that was done by him , so you can see that the man is development oriented, he is trusting  and he has empowered the people.He empowered the youths. Women and men were empowered during his time. And he was the one that worked with President Yar Adua to call off the youths from the creeks  and  Amnesty was granted’

‘He did all that and had scholarships which was given to these people to go and study and some of them  came back very well and did very well , so with all this bunch of experiences we feel that this man is the best which everyone knows because most of the people that are contesting with him are not governly experience as Timi Alaibe has , they don’t have the experience, most of them if you check their credentials they just finished from school and they were appointed to be commissioner or advisers they don’t have anything to show , they don’t have any background to show that they have worked in the primary sector or public sector and they have attain this , except only few of them very few.’

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