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Bayelsa Guber And PDP’s Peace Initiative Without True Reconciliation

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Sequel to the dissatisfaction which greeted the overall outcome of it’s rancorous governorship primaries in Bayelsa State, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has commenced processes aimed at reconciling aggrieved members,  who are already defecting in droves. OSA OKHOMINA examines the peace initiative that has not gone beyond lip service.

The adage that “ it is the house rat that invites the bush rat to a feast in the house” applies and today, this is what most aptly describes  the state of affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State.

The party for the second time since 1999 is  faced with a very real and present risk of losing its firm grip of the state to an internal implosion rather than to opposition strategies.

The outcome of the September 3, primaries had sparked disagreement within the ranks of aspirants and their supporters in the state, thus, threatening the unity and cohesion of the party ahead of the November 16 elections.

Well, as expected of a political party like the People’s Democratic Party (PDP),  Bayelsa State chapter of the Party in a bid to appease and reconcile aggrieved members  constituted a nine-member committee to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the parry face the  election as a family

The reconciliation panel, which is coming on the heels of the recent outburst which lined Senator Douye Diri’s  emergence as the preferred candidate of the party for the November 16, 2019 guber election in the state, is however considered a belated one.

THE FALLOUT:

The agitation and struggle to become the standard bearer of the PDP was expectedly contentious. It couldn’t have been different when 21 aspirants jostled for a sole ticket. The situation got to a head, following the controversy surrounding the delegates’ election, a process which threw up a collection of party electors, who chose the candidate last week at the primaries.

From the outset, governor Seriake Dickson had made it abundantly clear that he would prefer his successor coming from the Restoration Team, the caucus, which had been in charge of his previous elections and had formed the core of the government he headed in the two terms he has been at the saddle at the Creek Haven.

His convictions were based on the need for continuity, requiring a dedicated hand that could possibly maintain and build on his legacy and one, who understands the governing philosophy enshrined by the Restoration Government in the state. He also listed other qualifications to include capacity, focus, fear of God and compassion and ability to protect the collective interests of the Ijaw nation

Ahead of the primaries, three names, Kemela Okara, Douye Diri and Dr. Nimbofa Ayawei were leading aspirants for contention, who are all members of the Restoration Team and favoured by the zoning formula. They are all from the Central Senatorial District where the APC had also picked its candidate.

But in the end, Diri triumphed on account of some strategic reasons, mainly on suitability in the reckoning of the leadership to pace with the challenge of continuity and all appurtenances of its values. It was striking that in spite of their pre-election rating, Okara and Ayawei recorded poor results, garnering a pittance of 4 and 7 votes, respectively.

Outside the Restoration caucus, it was only the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Timi Alaibe, who was vocal and posturing to be reckoned with even as the calculation in the party did not favour his aspiration.

Although Alaibe and some other aspirants had complained that the process of the delegates’ election was skewed in favour of the Restoration camp, alleging,  that they were not involved in choosing the electoral officers and that the entire process should be cancelled, this position was, however, not taken by the governor Dave Umahi-led committee that supervised the election.

In response to the protest, Umahi, on behalf of his committee, thanked the complainants for registering  their grievances. He said, “PDP is one family and what you have done is the right thing to do. Members of this committee are men and women of integrity and nothing will manipulate the process in favour of anybody.”

Chairman of the party, Mr. Cleopas Moses, said in a statement that the committee will be inaugurated by governor Henry Seriake Dickson.

Moses noted that there was need to carry all members of the party along and ensure its unity ahead of the governorship election.The committee will be chaired by Senator Inatimi Rufus-Spiff with a former Secretary to the State Government, Chief Gideon Ekeuwei, as secretary.

Other members are Senator Emmanuel Diffa, Chief Bright Erewari-Igbeta, Hon. Darius Obiene, Chief George Okirien, Chief Israel Igbori, Hon. Solomon Agwanagha and Millionaire Asangba.

Sadly, the PDP , so loved by party supporters and loyalists in the past, is  fast loosing its glory and membership to the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the State.

Already there are signs of wider crack within the fold of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State following the defection of the party’s grass root mobiliser and pioneer member Southern-Ijaw Constituency 2, Hon. Target Segibo and Prince Gabriel Jonah, the immediate Junior Brother to the State Deputy governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah to the All Progressive Congress (APC).

LEADERSHIP Friday also gathered that more chieftains of the PDP may follow suit.

It was gathered that while some of the PDP Chieftains are reportedly angered by the way and manner the processes that led to the emergence of Senator Douye Diri were handled by the Party National Leadership and governor Seriake Dickson, others claimed their decision to dump the Party was based on the gov. Dickson’s unilateral hand pick of candidates for the party without respect to the opinion of stakeholders.

The defection of Prince Gabriel Jonah, according to close party sources, was long overdue due to the political struggle between the Restoration Caucus team led by the Education Commissioner, Hon. Jonathan Obuebite and the State deputy governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah in Nembe Local governmentovernment area of the State.

It was gathered that despite the loyalty of the State deputy governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah, he was not allowed to choose the candidate for the last State Assembly election. Hon. Ben Ololo was returned despite his disposition.

The rivalry,  however, recently degenerated to an alleged open confrontation between loyalists of the State deputy governor and the Hon. Commissioner of Education, Jonathan Obuebite, where threats were reportedly issued ahead of the governorship polls.

Another source claimed the attempts by the loyalists of governor Seriake Dickson to allegedly abort and snatch the Oil pipeline surveillance contracts from Prince Gabriel Jonah and the decision of the APC Chieftains of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and others to intervene and stop it made him admire the APC in the state.

Prince Gbariel Jonah, who is popularly known among Nembe people as the leader of the Otita Transformation Movement, in an official letter notifying the PDP of his withdrawal from the party, did not state reason for his decision.

In the letter, personally signed by him, and addressed to the PDP Ward III Chairman, Nembe LGA, Jonah expressed gratitude to the leadership of the PDP for allowing him the opportunity to serve the party as a former active member.

Clearly the exit of Prince Gabriel Jonah from the PDP is believed to pave wayfot a mass exodus of his teeming followers who see a direction in his path.

The DG of the  New Wave, Comr. Ebikpoemi Bobby Ugo, thanked God for a day like this and was glad on the fast audience the stakeholder gave to the group and assured that  the group is in readiness to work with the Otita force to ensure David Lyon’s creek Haven’s journey is a success.

In a concluding statement, Hon. Kenneth Jonah also promised to give the group his fatherly support and advice.

He also prayed and wished the group well on the mobilisation and peaceful campaigns to achieve its goals  and objectives. Finally, he promised to be part and parcel of the New Wave Movement.

The bou-owei1 of Amassoma, Chief. Ifie Ereboh Oyinkuro divorced the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to marry the opposition party in the state, the All progressive Congress (APC).

Oyinkuro pledged his total support for the APC guber candidate , Chief David Lyon in the forth coming gubernatorial election slated for November 16

When identifying with the fabulous characters and teeming supporters in Amassoma, Hon. Ani John, a patron of “Lyon Youth Network”, urged them to support and vote for Chief David Lyon as the next governor of bayelsa state base on his goodwill towards humanity and the development of the state .

Contrary to speculations, the former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe has disowned claims that he has defected from the People’s Democratic Party (,PDP) ,vto the Alliance for Democracy (AD) over alleged poor outcome of the last governorship primaries of the party.

According to Alaibe, he has not joined any political party as being bandied in the media as he is a loyal member of the PDP, despite being bombarded by requests and pleads as well as opportunities by other political parties.

Chief Timi Alaibe, in a statement issued by his campaign organisation and signed by the Administrative Secretary, Professor Seiyefa Brisibe, said, “ no decision have been taken on his next move. Any speculation to the contrary remains what it is—mere speculation’

According to the statement entitled ‘HOPE IS ON THE WAY’, the ‘Timi Alaibe Campaign Organisation observed that since the declaration of the results of the Peoples Democratic Party primary election for the governorship of Bayelsa State, our teeming supporters have been left without clear and precise information as to the next step to be taken by our Principal, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, in search of justice in what was generally seen as a deliberate adulteration of due process in the conduct of the primary election’.

‘We thank our supporters and the good people of Bayelsa State for their unprecedented support (evidenced by dead silence in the State on Wednesday September 4, 2019), peaceful conduct and patience since the unacceptable election result was announced last week. We apologise for the vacuum created by our silence which has given risen to various speculations planted in the media by those who masterminded the injustice in order to confuse the people.’

‘Be assured that this evil act against the wish of the people of Bayelsa State, carried out by a handful of selfish people who decided to play god by arrogating to themselves the unrighteous act of imposing their personal decisions on us, will not go unchallenged. At the end, Bayelsa people—who are in the majority—will have their way.’

‘As it is traditional in matters of this kind, we needed to carry out due consultation across board with our supporters; particularly the stakeholders—including our vibrant youth and women—before taking any step or embarking on any decision in search of redress or alternatives. We are almost at the end of the necessary consultations.’

‘However, let it be stated that Chief Alaibe has not joined any political party as bandied in the media. He is still a loyal member of the PDP despite being bombarded by requests and offers of opportunity by other political parties. That decision has not been taken. Any speculation to the contrary remains what it is—mere speculation’.

‘Conscious of the deadlines provided in both the Electoral Acts and the PDP Constitution regarding any action deemed necessary on matters of this nature, we have decided that whatever needs to be done must be done fast. We are appealing to our supporters to remain calm as it would be made known within the next 48 hours, a necessary action that will ensure that Bayelsa people have the governor they deserve, in the person of Chief Alaibe’.

But few days after his public denial of the defection rumour and true to his earlier prediction, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe announced his decision to file a case against the Party and its flag bearer,Senator Douye and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to court over alleged manipulation of the processes adopted during the September 3rd governorship primaries in Bayelsa State, alleging that he brazenly robbed to allow for the emergence of Senator Douye Diri as flag bearer of the Party.

Chief Alaibe, who approached the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa in a suit numbered FHC/YNG/CS/99/2019 also included as defendants are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Douye Diri, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Embeleakpo Alale for himself and representing the elected local government chairmen, vice chairmen and councillors of the PDP allowed to be delegates at the elective State Congress of the PDP in Bayelsa State held on September 3, 2019.

Also joined in the suit as defendant is Doubra Kumokou, for himself and on behalf of the Three Ad-Hoc Delegates allowed to be delegates at the elective State Congress.

Alaibe is seeking, with an application, for cancellation of the result of the primary election based on cited procedural flaws.

The suit,which was filed in pursuant to Order 3(9) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019, seeks answers to questions bordering on obvious non-adherence to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act 2010, the Peoples Democratic Party Constitution and Election Guidelines, by the State Chapter of the party in the conduct of the Ward Congresses, inclusion of local government council officials in the delegates list and the procedure for inclusion of three ad-hoc delegates.

Citing specific sections of relevant laws and guidelines, Alaibe is asking the court to examine the entire processes that resulted in the primaries and rule in his favour in the light of violations committed in a desperate move to impose a pre-determined hand-picked candidate on the people out of 21 aspirants.

It would be recalled that the Timi Alaibe Campaign Organisation had raised objections against what it described as crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines in the build-up to the conduct of the governorship primary election by the State Chapter of the PDP. The objection covered open disobedience to the party constitution and electoral guidelines and the manner in which Ward Congresses were conducted; among others.

Specifically, the Campaign Organisation had protested the inclusion of the newly elected council chairmen, vice chairmen and councillors in the delegates list contrary to the provisions of the PDP Constitution; the manner in which electoral and returning officers were picked to favour aspirants endorsed by the already biased leadership of the party in the state; the manner in which the 315 ad-hoc delegates were directed to vote contrary to already established judicial precedents; among other issues.

The former Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs wants the court to determine whether the pre-election actions and inactions of the defendants satisfied conditions specified in relevant sections of Nigeria’s Constitution, the Electoral Acts and certain sections of the PDP Constitution.

It is Alaibe’s prayers that the entire processes be declared unconstitutional and the declaration of Senator Diri as the winner be declared invalid having failed to comply with relevant sections of the laws governing such processes.

He is also seeking an order setting aside the purported submission of Senator Diri’s name to INEC by the PDP as its candidate in the governorship election coming up on November 16, 2019 in view of the several legal and procedural infractions cited.

In view of this, he wants the court to order the conduct of fresh primary elections for the nomination and sponsorship of the candidate for the governorship election in Bayelsa State. No date has yet been fixed for hearing in the case.

Political observers tokd LEADERSHIP Friday that “If you ask genuine members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, the achievements and profile of the Flag bearer of the party, Senator Douye Diri is enough to humble many of the governorship aspirants that lost to him during the September 4 disputed Primaries and reconcile the aggrieved once with him for a united party ahead of the November 16th Governorship poll.

But many are aggrieved by the way and manner, the Governorship primaries exposes the Bayelsa PDP along gulf of divisions between the Restoration Caucus and the rest of the PDP.

More annoying is the fact that those members under the umbrella of the Restoration group led by governor Seriake Dickson are in the majority and wielded the needed political power than the “outsiders” taking solace under the weak umbrella of the Party known as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

But Harvard trained business man and one of the governorship aspirants that lost to Senator Douye Diri, in the recently concluded People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election in Bayelsa State, Mr Kenebi Okoko, decried the gale of defections to APC hitting the party.

Okoko in a statement he personally signed kicked against politicians who defect from their parties after losing elections, insisting that the practice was bad for the country’s nascent democracy.

He disclosed that he visited to congratulate his rival, Senator Douye Diri, candidate of the PDP because he was convinced that it was in the best interest of the people of Bayelsa to do so. It’s the love for Bayelsa State that made me to visit Douye Diri. The same urge to move my state forward, has made me go and listen to Governor Seriake Dickson and to support the party because I believe that collectively, we can make a change. Not one governor can change a state.”

“ We need collective effort and if your governor is doing something that you don’t like, you don’t run away from the party, you confront him.  Today, if I am on the seat with Governor Dickson, I can tell him sir, this thing you are doing is wrong sir. We should try and unify the party and not divide it. We need the kind of people who will tell them the truth, rather than lying to him because of personal ambition. We need to say the truth,” he maintained.

Governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has said he only disagreed politically with a Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, but that they remain brothers.Senator Diri also said efforts were ongoing to reconcile all aspirants in the September 4 primary election of the party and that the PDP was formidable enough to win the November 16 governorship election in the state.

The federal lawmaker, who defeated 20 others, including Alaibe, to emerge the PDP flag bearer, spoke during an interactive session with senior journalists and bureau chiefs of media organisations in Abuja.

His words: “For clarity, a lot of people saw me as a staff of NDDC but I wasn’t. I was a political ally and a close person to Chief Timi Alaibe, believing that we were going to enthrone a government in Bayelsa that would be more responsive to the people.

“I was with Chief Alaibe for about 10 years. One thing or the other happened in each election we attempted. Then he would return to NDDC. A few of us didn’t feel very comfortable with that.

“Just to let you know, we hail from the same local government area. So he is my brother. I see him as a brother and I believe that he too sees me as one.”

He however noted that they parted ways when he (Diri) accepted to join governor Seriake Dickson’s campaign before the 2012 election in the state.

“Being a former colleague, he (Dickson) invited me to be a part of the campaigns. In fact, when I accepted the offer and informed Chief Alaibe, my political ally at that time, he didn’t take it kindly. That was how we parted ways. So, I joined Glgovernor Dickson, we campaigned, went into the election and he won in 2012.”

He urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be an unbiased umpire and that the security agencies should be professional during the election.“We have a fight ahead of us but I don’t see our opponents as being so strong on ground to defeat the PDP. If we have a free, fair and transparent election, the APC cannot win even a councillorship election in Bayelsa State.

It is all the hype about federal might by using security apparatus to intimidate or using INEC to write results.

“Our appeal is that the security agencies must be professional. INEC must remain an unbiased umpire. If there is that fair playing field, the opponents are neither here nor there to contest in this election. “

He said Governor Dickson is an exceptional leader who had performed very well in office and that some of his laudable policies would be sustained if he is elected.

Diri promised to involve more Bayelsans in the economic activities of the state and that he would pay greater attention to the issue of security.

“When we took over in 2012, the policy thrust on education came about because there was a lacuna in our educational sector. So the governor declared a state of emergency in that sector.

“I believe to a large extent, he has ameliorated most of the gaps that we discovered when we came into power. For instance, Bayelsa State was about thirty something (position) in all national examinations. But today, Bayelsa is among the first ten. That has been achieved to a level. I will continue with it and ensure that we go higher.

“Next will be the economy. Our local economy is neither here nor there. The sitting governor has tried to bring in solutions in agriculture, trying to look at our comparative advantage and I intend to build on that. I want us to have a local economy where our people will be directly involved.

“Today, the number of Bayelsans involved in economic activities is low. That will be one of our policy thrusts while not forgetting the issue of security. No government can thrive and do well without security. We are seeing bits of it at the federal level where the level of insecurity in the country is so high. “Those are the things I will build on. But that is not to say we will neglect other sectors.”

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