From every indication, the Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), appears to be the party to beat in the December 5th governorship election. This follows the array of personalities and political heavy weights streaming into the APC and declaring support for the campaign of change by the party in the state.
Over the weekend, the APC had a big harvest in the state as the PDP, state Chairman, Col. Sam Inokoba (rtd), the former Managing Director of NDDC, Mr. Timi Alaibe, other prominent politicians and their supporters defected to the APC at the weekend. The obviously overwhelmed national chairman of the (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who received the defectors at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex, Yenagoa noted that the calibre of defectors into the party in Bayelsa state had signaled the empty shell under the leadership of Governor Seriake Dickson. Receiving the key supporters of former Nigerian President Jonathan, in his home state, Oyegun said the defection of PDP bigwigs was unique. His words, “The people in Bayelsa are making history for the South- South zone. The APC leaders in the state are very loyal and fought gallantly against the false claim that “He is our own”, alluding to former President Jonathan”.
Oyegun who led national officials of the APC including the deputy national chairman and former Ekiti governor, Olusegun Oni further said, “When they overcame such false campaign, their eyes opened and they saw recklessness, under performance and failure. It was only Edo that survived their onslaught. Can we allow ourselves to lose out? When we vote, we bring back Bayelsa to the mainstream of politics.” The APC National chairman who handed over the broom symbol of the party to the defecting members said the APC was not a party for sharing money but party posterity. In his remark, the State APC leader and former governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, said the defection of his brothers and sisters of like minds that had reunited under APC overjoyed him.
“We have had too much division and the division was created by parochial people. As we come together, we have seen enough of division,” he declared. Sylva lashed out at the administration of the PDP in the state, noting that, it had witnessed blood and sorrow including increased cases of political killings. “Sea pirates have taken over the creeks and waterways. They claim, they will provide us security. But we told them to provide security to the people of the state. The era of prosperity have come.
Poverty will soon go away. “The PDP has been decapitated at the national level. Development was not brought to us during their time in office. The East-West road was abandoned. If they claim we should vote for the PDP, they should show us the roads they built. If they cannot show us, they should vote for APC,” he further said. On his part, the former Managing Director of the NDDC, Chief Timi Alaibe said the defection of notable members of the PDP shows that the needed ‘Change’ had come to the state. “This is common sense revolution. It is not change for the sake of it. We are changing from poverty to prosperity. We are changing from lies and deceit,” he noted.
The former Chairman of the PDP in the state, Col. Inokoba on his part noted that the PDP administration under the leadership of Governor Dickson had witnessed misrule and had abandoned good governance. Reacting to the defection of the PDP Chairman, the Publicity Secretary of the state PDP, Osom Makbere, said though his defection was of no effect to the party, describing it as “good riddance to bad rubbish. We knew before now, that he was working for the opposition party and that is why we insisted that he will not be returned as the State Chairman of our party. It is not a surprise to us.” Meanwhile, PDP’s acting state chairman, Serena Dokubo-Spiff, in a signed statement issued in Yenagoa, said by their conduct, it has clearly shown that the defection was largely driven by greed and for personal aggrandizement. According to him, the defectors are “men and women” who no longer have electoral value and as such the PDP will not miss them.
He noted that the defectors were also those politicians who sponsored candidates against the PDP in the last state house of assembly election and worked with the opposition to betray both former President Goodluck Jonathan, and the PDP at the last presidential election, adding that those crop of politicians could not be regarded as dependable nor should they be celebrated by the APC as political assets. His words, “Suffice to say that no member of the PDP in the state or any of the party’s organs was part of this charade called a mega rally. The PDP in Bayelsa State is intact. All the structures and organs of the party at all levels are fully intact.
Our great party is not perturbed in anyway. “The so-called defectors were never with us because they are the same people who betrayed PDP at the presidential election and also sponsored candidates against our party in the state house of assembly election. These are spent forces and we are not moved by APC’s charade. “For instance, the former PDP chairman, retired Col. Sam Inokoba, who was one of the defectors has since been suspended on acts bordering on corruption and anti-party activity. Is that the kind of character the APC is celebrating and welcoming into its fold? It’s a sham, indeed.”
The party chairman berated the defectors as lacking in principle and as such were more of liabilities to the APC than being assets, stressing that Bayelsans know their antecedents and that they won’t be taken seriously now or in the future for any possible effect on the December 5th governorship election. “It is so unfortunate that the APC in Bayelsa has attracted into its fold a congregation of persons with well-known track record of violence and political brigandage. As a party, we are worried that, if not well managed, they could truncate the prevailing peace,” he stated. However, keen political observers in Bayelsa state say governor Dickson does not seem to be worried by the gale of defections from the PDP. The governor has declared that he was ready for the battle and had fixed August 28 for his declaration to run for second term.
While a few PDP loyalists are however showing signs of doubt about the readiness of the party many believe that the people of the state will not vote for APC due to the Jonathan factor in today’s Nigerian politics. Others argue that the perceived high-handed politics of Dickson can also change that feeling among the people of Bayelsa. But some loyalists of the governor, including the pioneer chairman of the PDP in Bayelsa, Engr. Charles Dorgu, had remained resolute that the performance of the state governor in the last three and half years gives him all the advantages. His words, “Frankly speaking, the chances of the PDP are quiet bright in Bayelsa.
I appreciate that APC had won election at the national level. And I appreciate that some of their big wigs come from Bayelsa. No big deal. But it is not the big name that wins election. It is the people. We have to interact with the people. And as soon as we can separate blackmail from facts and issues, the people will get to know that yes, it is better for them to be with PDP than APC at this point in time.”
In a related development, the Ijaw Peoples Assembly, (IPA) an organisation known to be in support of Governor Dickson’s second term ambition, has rather advised the national leadership of the APC not to dissipate energy and resources on the December 5th governorship election in the state because the incumbent governor, will win the election.
A statement issued over the weekend by the spokesperson of IPA, Tom Kombowei Daniels, said that with the backing of prominent Ijaw leaders and key stakeholders who have unanimously endorsed the governor for a second term, the chances of the opposition were minimal. According to him, having regard to his performance record in the last three years, Dickson would be re-elected. With this development, observers say the battle line may have been drawn between the PDP and the APC.
-Francis Moses writes on the gale of defections that has hit the Bayelsa State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the December 5th Governorship election in the state.