There are series of nocturnal meetings, scheming and manipulations, including recruitment of gunmen by political parties towards the Bayelsa state governorship November 16th election returns fresh tension among residents in the state. OUR SENIOR CORRESPONDENTS, CLETUS OPUKEME & AMGBARE EKAUNKUMO give the details.
There is a palpable tension among residents, political parties contesting the November 16,2019 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa state.
The fear is emanating from suspicion and counter suspicion from intra and inter party activities in the state with the involvement of gunmen hired by both political parties to unleash terror and hijack ballot boxes.
The 2016 governorship election between former governor Chief Timpre Sylva and governor Seriake Dickson second tenure leaves sad memory as both political parties resigned to politics of power, money and gun to win the election.
In that election, Daily Watch recorded orgy of blooth bath on both sides with the families of the affected victims keep wailing and mourning their loved ones.
As usual, the last week PDP state congress election has signaled a bad day ahead in the coming November general election where its is glaring to both the blind man that Bayelsa election would be bloody. The last week PDP congress at the party’s secretariat, gunmen detonated an explosive very close to the venue and shot sporadically into the air to cause panic and tension in the arena. This open gun display is common in Bayelsa state which made it among one of the most unsafe states during elections in the country.
Daily Watch investigations confirmed, in Bayelsa state the armed robbers, cultists and ex-militants are king makers during elections as various political party leaders woo them with millions of nairas as already made thugs to unleash terror on election day. This gives heavy insecurity problem as the weapons provided for the thugs were not easily retrieved from various gang leaders who used them to torment innocent residents in he state.
We gathered, Bayelsa politicians apart from money strength, they believed in the strength of gunmen who went about recruitment beyond the state to neighbouring state in Delta and Rivers state.
We were reliably told that among those killed during 2016 elections, some of the political thugs were who were from Delta Ijaw and Rivers state who came to the state as machineries.
A source told Daily Watch who never wanted to be mentioned, said ‘‘ during elections in Southern Ijaw LGA and Ekeremor LGAs, the gun shooting between political thugs and soldiers were like civil war. The soldiers are also part on paid job to rig election on their favoured political party. The last governorship election was between two heavy weight, between the federal force and the state force of Chief Timpre Sylva and governor Seriake Dickson. They both have access to government forces a and hired gunmen’’
In 2009, PDP, Chief Henry Seriake Dickson, Executive Governor, Bayelsa state has said the new governor o rule Bayelsa state must come through his support. That he will only back candidates who have been loyal and dedicated to the restoration government, anything out those in the Restoration government is of no interest to him.
To prove this, Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson include last day of the three-day Prayer and Fasting programme organised by the state for the 2019 Gubernatorial Election at the Ecumenical Centre, Yenagoa informed the listening audience that the state would never elect a godless person as their Governor.
Governor Dickson fired the first salvo as he informed Bayelsans that the people of the state would never elect a Godless person as governor of Bayelsa state.
Governor Dickson said that the position of governor was not for those who are poised to grab it by violence but for a person who appreciates the place of God in human affairs.
He said the state would never again experience governance by cult elements, crude and brutal human beings, whose aim is bloodletting, killings and violence.
Governor Dickson restated his call to the people of the state to resist cultists who could use the temptation of political offices to lure the youths in dangerous occultic practices.
“No one who does not subscribe, understand, submit to the authority and divine mandate of God over our lives shall ascend the seat of governor”.
Governor Dickson said that the essence of the three-day programme was to seek God’s guidance and control of the transition process to reveal his successor.
He stressed that the governorship seat òf the state had been handed over to God which would make it impossible for cultist or anyone involved in occultic practices to occupy the position.
He prayed to God to give his successor the courage, knowledge and wisdom to pilot the affairs of the state and to navigate all the landmines associated with the times.
“We agree we are not perfect, but we are praying for humans who will be our leaders but we want humans who will always realise that though they sin, they must go back to seek the face of God and continually pull our state towards doing what is right and God’s will”.
After the three days fasting and prayers gramme, three persons indicated interest and were picked by the inner caucus of the Restoration government to replace Governor Dickson. The three persons include, Rt. Hon. Talford Ongolo, Chief of Staff, Government House, Senator Douye Diri, member representing Bayeksa central,Mr.Kemela Okara,secretary to state government and later included Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah,Deputy Governor,Bayelsa state.
Following massive criticism of the restrictions, the government opened the floodgates which increased the PDP aspirants to twenty-one.
In a twist of event, Governor Seriake Dickson while inaugurating the Restoration Governorship Primary Election Committee in Government House, Yenagoa insisted that he would not support any candidate outside the Restoration Group òf the party, stressing that the leadership òf the Restoration Caucus would decided on an aspirant to support in the primaries before the September 3, 2019 elections.
The Governor said supporting any aspirant of the PDP outside the Restoration Group was one heavy moral burden that he was not prepared to carry.
He stressed that his upbringing and values which place emphasis on the reward for the sacrifice of loyalty and steadfastness would not allow him to turn his back on those who stood by him as leader of the party in the state,
He also hinged his decision to support a Restoration aspirant on the imperative of continuity, effective service delivery, and commitment of Restoration caucus to the socio economic growth of the state.
The Governor dismissed those accusing him of refusal to support some aspirant insisting that it was his right to decide who to back in the forthcoming gubernatorial primaries of the PDP in Bayelsa.
Governor Dickson also urged the members of the party to ignore the rumor masterminded by some political interest that the newly elected party chairmen and councillors were not qualified to be delegates in the election.
He said that there was no law in the PDP constitution that prevents elected local government officials from becoming delegates in the primaries.
“Let me make it clear that no one by the rule of this party will prevent elected council officials from voting as delegates. No one will stop them from entering the venue to vote for a candidate of their choice.
“We have agreed to elect a candidate for our party from the Restoration team. I will fail in my responsibilities and values if I abandon those who have supported me, who have been through thick and thin with me over the years.
“The way I was brought up, it is support for support and loyalty for loyalty. You have to be on board on this for the Restoration Team.
“My support will go to a loyal, committed member of the Restoration team. Not to do so will leave a very heavy moral burden in my heart
which I am not prepared to bear.”
He stressed that he was not a bystander in the process to elect his own successor but a key stakeholder with the right to support any candidate of his choice in the collective good of the state.
He charged the party members not to succumb to propaganda and blackmail calculated to sow seeds of discord within the party.
He noted that the newly inaugurated committee’s mandate involved the mobilization of the delegates both at the ward, local government, Senatorial and indeed levels for the task ahead.
He said that the supporters and key players of the Restoration Team which recorded a resounding electoral victory over the opposition in the last election were intact.
He urged the people to be resolute in their support for the leadership of the Restoration even in the face of glaring blackmail by some persons with the intent to rubbish them.
However, the governor’s pronouncement became a problem as majority of the aspirants are not core members of the restoration caucus.
The likes of Hon. Fred Agbedi,former Director General, Dickson’s campaign team, Chief Timi Alaibe, elsewhile chairman of NDDC,Arc. Reuben Okoya Franklyn Osaisai and a host of others.
Reacting to the governor’s speech, Hon. Agbedi said that he does not believe in that, stressing that if anybody can be in the restoration caucus candidate he should be the one considering the pedigree of position he and held in the PDP and being the governor’s director general that returned Governor Dickson twice.
But the real fracas came when Governor Dickson warned the PDP to be careful with chief Timi Alaibe, as he might be one of several moles planted by the APC to cause confusion during the state governorship Congress.
Governor Dickson,said Mr. Timi Alaibe, former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and a governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, is blackmailing him to gain political advantage for the party’s ticket.
Governor Dickson called on Nigerians to disregard the blackmail, adding that Alaibe is circulating a cynically manipulated version of addresses he delivered during political meetings and at other fora with the intent to smear him to assumed political benefits.
” Alaibe is resorting to blackmail out of desperation to win the gubernatorial primary of the PDP at all costs”.
He said it was absurd that Alaibe would go to the extent of manipulating audio recordings of his speeches for distribution to respected Nigerians with the intent to blackmail him.
The governor said that Nigerians and leaders of the PDP should expect more of such blackmail as the state moved closer to the September 3, 2019 party primaries.
He enjoined Alaibe to focus his attention on the Bayelsa people, especially the delegates who are empowered by law to decide who should be the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP.
Dickson said acceptability and popularity rather political desperation and manipulative action would make one of the 21 gubernatorial aspirants under the PDP to emerge winner at the forthcoming primary.
He said that the surreptitious bid to mud-sling was unnecessary as only one of the 21 aspirants, most of who are qualified to govern the state, would fly the party’s flag.
Dickson maintained that while he remained a major stakeholder in the gubernatorial contest in Bayelsa as the leader of the party, it was his own right to decide who to support and vote for.
He said, “It has come to the attention of the government that the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Chief Timi Alaibe, has been spreading manipulated audio recordings of Governor Dickson’s public utterances during meetings.
“It is curious that Alaibe would rather dissipate energy to the propagation of mischief rather than focusing attention on his gubernatorial campaigns.”
“We wish to reiterate for the umpteenth time that the governor as a major stakeholder in the issue of the governorship primary is entitled to his own political views and decisions. That does not preclude any politician with genuine interest from testing his popularity with the delegates.
“It is important to stress also that the governor’s decision not to reward disloyalty with the candidature of the party is an informed decision of conviction.
“Alaibe would do well to focus on the campaigns to actualize his aspiration rather than the spreading of a campaign of calumny against a man whose name is not on the ballot.
“Nigerians and leaders of the PDP should expect more of this blackmail as we move closer to the primaries.”
When contacted, In his reaction,Professor Seiyefa Birisibe , administrative secretary, Timi Alaibe campaign organization, stated that the allegation leveled against Chief Timi Alaibe is a clear attempt to incite the public against him.
He said, ‘For the records, let it be stated that we as a campaign organisation, take serious exception to the wrong use of tar-brush loaded words and gutter language to describe the person of our Principal with the intent to incite the public against him; particularly over an issue he knows absolutely nothing about. This is unacceptable.’
“‘Neither Alaibe nor any member of his Campaign Organisation was at the meetings referred to in the public statement issued on Wednesday.
If any of us has access to the recorded discussion mentioned in the public statement, such access can only be traced to the originators of the statement. Our focus is to conduct our campaign on issues that will lead to the development of Bayelsa State through a shred economic prosperity and not waste energy and time on common place matters’.
‘Since the beginning of the search for a successor to Dickson, and in spite of provocative and insulting statements by certain individuals and groups, including serving commissioners in the state, this is the first time we have decided to say enough is enough.
Our silence should not be misconstrued to mean timidity, fear or any such thing. It was basically and still a measure of the respect we and our Principal have for the person and office of the Governor. Unfortunately, that respect has not been reciprocated’.
‘At the point of expressing interest in this race, we were enjoined by the party leadership to run a clean campaign. We have been faithful to that directive and will continue to be. This is an internal contest in which the eventual choice of the party would need the support of other contestants to win the governorship election.
It would therefore be unhelpful to take up issues with anyone as though winning the party ticket is a matter of life and death; certainly not with the governor who is neither a contestant in the race nor expected to sponsor any of the aspirants.’
‘Let it be known that we are not desperate but determined to win this race, by the grace of God. We will not allow ourselves to be distracted neither shall we engage in any indecent act or sinister strategies for the sake of this race. We are too focused to be distracted.
In his advise, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria sounded a clear warning about the dangers that lies ahead if we do not conduct ourselves in a manner that promotes the finest traditions of the PDP in our internal and external processes and in our individual and collective conduct.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) in Bayelsa state has three factions. Heineken Lokpobiri, former minister of agriculture(state) and former speaker Bayelsa state house of Assembly, Engr Preye Aganaba , a close ally to Hon. Minister of Transport, Chief Rotimi Amaechi and Prince Ebitimi Amgbare , former commissioner of sports and guber candidate under Action Congress of Nigeria.
However with the entrance of David Lyon, a native of Olugbobiri in the Southern Ijaw local government area. He is an oil magnet . He is the Chairman / Managing Director of Dalon Security Company Limited a surveillance and contracting firm to International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Southern Ijaw local government area of the state. David Lyon is said to be rich and has empowered many youths of Southern Ijaw through provision of jobs and empowerment which many people, including the opposition PDP became jittery in the state.