Ahead of the 2016 Governorship election in Bayelsa State, there are indications that Governor Seriake Dickson has continued to lose his political associates to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), reports Peterclaver Egbochue
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State does not seem confortable with the fact that his tenure would end in 2016 when he would have to again plead with the people of the state for another opportunity to return him for another four years. Dickson’s reported fears may not be unconnected with speculations that he may have fallen out of favour with the forces that installed him in 2012.
Following this is the fact that the loss of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the National level which has upset and re-aligned political forces in the state. It was gathered that the governor has continued to lose goodwill from the people of the state while some of his close political associates are reportedly plotting to dump him for the now rampaging All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
Meanwhile, former governor of the state, Timipre Sylva on Wednesday in Abuja expressed optimism that the APC would win the November elections in the state. Sylva who said this while briefing newsmen after he led a 16-man delegation of Bayelsa elders on a courtesy visit to the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, stated that, “I am not sure of contesting for the governorship but I am optimistic that the APC will be victorious in the upcoming gubernatorial election.” Before Sylva decamped to APC, he was governor of Bayelsa from 2007 to 2011 on the platform of the PDP.
He was, however, ousted by Gov. Seriake Dickson, also of PDP after serving a single term. “My role is to make sure that APC wins the governorship in Bayelsa. The APC is going to win, that we are very sure about,” he stated. He dismissed rumour of division in the Bayelsa chapter of the APC, saying that any reported rancour was sponsored by the incumbent administration in the state. “It is the people who are not even members of the party that are making some noise.
The party is intact; everybody is intact in the party, we don’t even want to discuss them. There’s going to be a tsunami rally in the course of the next few weeks, Bayelsa is the next big thing that will happen in the history of this great party,” he said. The APC Chairman, while receiving the delegation, assured the group that he would lead other national leaders to the rally, planned to receive defectors from other parties into the APC. ”We will give you every support that we consider necessary; as many of us as possible will be there physically with you on that great day. It will be a historic day that will change the destiny of Bayelsa and governance,” the chairman said. Odigie-Oyegun said Bayelsa was in need of rescue and he was glad that the elders were spearheading the move.
His words, “The leadership of the APC is very glad that people of your calibre have seen how our nation was decimated in every facet. The economy in particular is decimated to the point that it is almost impossible for the presidency to meet its obligation. ”After hibernating with them for so long, you have decided that Bayelsa is in need of rescue, so you are most heartily welcome into the fold of the progressives. ”You only need to look at the APC states to see what transformation truly means in Sokoto, Kano, Oyo and Edo. By the end of the exercise, we hope to add Bayelsa to the list of the progressives’ family.”
Sen. John Braimbaifa, who led the delegation, said sensitisation was going on in the eight local government areas in the state as the massive rally was being planned to welcome defectors into the party. Similarly, a delegation of nine elders from Bayelsa State who came on behalf of the Bayelsa Consultative Forum (BCF), has also announced plans to dump the ruling PDP in the state for the APC. Led by Senator John Kofo Brambaifa in their Tuesday’s visit to the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Timi Frank, the elders noted that they were ready to join forces with the APCled federal government to help address challenges facing the country.
While vowing that the APC would defeat PDP in the forthcoming governorship election in the state, Brambaifa expressed the belief of the group that Bayelsa State under the PDP administration was currently drifting; saying the administration of the state had become a one-man affair being controlled by an emperor. According to him, “Bayelsa has become one man state, controlled by an emperor- like leadership. We have sampled opinion and the result is no to emperor leadership in the state.
“We held our inaugural meeting on the 8th of this month and the people of the state have resolved that the second term ambition of the current government in the state must not be allowed to succeed. “That we want to join the APC and they must come in their number to Bayelsa State to receive us to send a signal to the emperor that we have been properly received.” The leader of the delegation assured that the forum was ready to team up with the APC as soon as plans were concluded with the national leaders of the party. He further explained that their coming to Abuja was to see the national leadership of APC and all the prominent members from Bayelsa State, stressing that whenever the political history of the state would be written, the visit to Frank would not be forgotten.
In his response, Frank advised the PDP leaders not to waste time any longer trying to join the APC at the state level, assuring that the national leaders of APC would appreciate them and be willing to receive them anytime they deem fit to join the party. However, there are indications that the group of elders moving to stop Governor Dickson from returning as governor has split into two factions. According to sources, one of the camps is led by a former deputy governor in the state and chairman of the defunct Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) Bayelsa State chapter, Werinipre Seibarugu, while the second group is led by the Special Assistant on Domestic Matter to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Weripamowei Dudafa.
According to reports, what caused the bitter rift was the reported ambition of a former first lady to impose Dudafa as the PDP governorship candidate which did not go down well with the other faction which insists that there should be level playing ground for all interested and credible party men. Some members of the two factions, who fail to agree with the two camps it was learnt, have started reaching out to the governor while some are likely to decfect to the APC.
Recently, Bayelsa State Government revoked the contract awarded to Dudafa’s company for the construction of a Referral Hospital in Kaiama, Kolokuma/Opokuma local government area. Announcing the revocation of the contract at the May Transparency and Accountability briefing in Yenagoa, Governor Dickson said the firm had ‘‘abused the good intention of his Restoration Government to encourage local firms and entrepreneurs flourish through government patronage and vowed to revoke all contracts of failed contractors in the state.’’
But Dudafa has since fought back insisting that the firm abandoned the site because they needed more money to return which had not been released by government. However, a competent source told The UNION that the governor may have become frightened by his interpretation of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s body language against the 2016 gubernatorial elections in the state. Those close to him say the warm relationship that existed between him and the former President may have soured and may have turned into ‘cold’ adversaries.
Political watchers argue that certainly the governor would face a stiff opposition especially with the reported cold war between him and the forces that installed him. Even so, Sylvia’s lingering case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over money laundering charges may pour cold water on his avowed power to change things in the state he once ran with impunity. Besides, the APC is currently riven with internal crisis, which at the weekend led to the expulsion of some of its members who were accused of anti-party activities. For now, it is a ding dong affair with both parties.