The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Bayelsa state holds its governorship primaries Tuesday in Yenagoa with some 21 aspirants vying for the ticket of the party for the November 16 state wide governorship poll. Abdulrahman Zakariyau writes on expectation.
Barely 48 hours before the deadline fixed for the completion of all political parties’ primaries for the selection of their ticket bearers for the main governorship election scheduled for November 16, almost all interested parties have concluded the process. Only a few are yet to do so. One of such is the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa state, whose primary would be held today.
Already, some 21 aspirants had authenticated their interest in the race by submitting themselves to the processes of obtaining and filing out their forms and returning them. They were accordingly screened and given the nod to participate in today’s primaries. In view of the calibre of persons involved in the exercise, the tension and high-wire policing that have taken place since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the time table for the election has been palpable and sems to have hit the crescendo in the last couple of days.
So, intrigues, realignment, horse-trading and all political theatrics have become the common feature in Bayelsa politics. The battle for supremacy has been so intense that even hitherto political friends have become foes as camps have been created for the purpose of driving the candidatures of respective aspirants. Some say much depends of the financial fluidity of candidates and the powers standing as bulwark behind are them.
Two major groups have emerged: Restoration Caucus of the PDP, which is being backed by incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson. The other for want of proper nomenclature is Non- Restoration Caucus, which is chiefly driven by former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) Chief Ndutimi Alaibe.
The two camps have had reasons to antagonize each other over the conduct of the ward congresses election for the selection of ward and local government delegates. Albeit members of the non- Restoration Caucus do not have an arrow head that speaks for them nor have they subsumed their interests under one leadership by way of sponsoring an aspirant, they have however been unanimous in condemning the manner the delegates congresses were conducted.
Conversely, the Restoration Caucus boasts of about 90 per cent of the elected delegates and are mostly expected to queue behind whoever is the preferred candidate of the leader of the group: Senator Douye Diri, currently Bayelsa Central senatorial district.
The chairman of the party in the state, Hon Cleopas Moses Sunday raised the alarm over fake bank alerts being sent to some delegates. In the statement, Moses directly accused Timi Alaibe and Kenebi Okoko of sending N1m fake alert, describing same as a desperate move by the two aspirants to hoodwink the delegates to vote for them.
According to him, some of the delegates have started receiving the fake alerts with a promise that they can access the money by tomorrow after the fate of Alaibe and Okoko would have been decided by them. The PDP chairman, who described the action as a political fraud, noted that it is the height of desperation and called on anti-graft agencies to investigate the issue and make those behind it to face the long arm of the law.
“We got a very disturbing report of how two aspirants, Messers Timi Alaibe and Kenebi Okoko are sending fake bank alerts to some delegates to make them vote for them on Tuesday.
“This is desperation taken too far. We feel that if they are popular then that is not the road to travel. Allowing them access to the delegates like others is to sell their manifesto and not engage in what is clearly vote buying.
“We call on the EFCC and ICPC to investigate this issue and bring those behind the fraudulent bank alerts to book. On our part as a party we will not condone such actions that are capable of putting us in bad light” the statement said.
But Monday, Alaibe’s campaign organisation responded by dismissing the allegation and threatened to seek legal action over the false accusation. The Administration Secretary of the organisation, Prof Seiyefa Brisibe in a statement titled: “This Is No Longer Politics” said: “We have been informed of a damning statement issued today by the Bayelsa State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Cleopas Moses, to the effect that our Principal, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe and another aspirant, Kenebi Okoko, were sending fake bank alerts to some delegates in a bid to buy their votes in the forthcoming primary election of the PDP.
“As a campaign organisation, we find it difficult to believe that this extremely criminal allegation is coming from the chairman of PDP in Bayelsa State. We assume that there is a mistake somewhere. How would any reasonable person wake up to utter this kind of evil allegation against responsible fellow human beings?
“While we allow our lawyers to study the legal implications of this irresponsible and careless allegation, we need to state that there is no truth in it whatsoever. The burden is on those making the allegation to provide evidence when the time comes.
“We believe this is dirty politics taken too far. Someone does not need to go to this extreme just to win an election. This allegation is an equivalent of bloodshed for the sake of politics and must not be ignored by those whose responsibility it is to ensure that it doesn’t happen.
“We had promised from the beginning to run a decent campaign for this race. And we have not deviated from that promise. We have been irresponsibly attacked and rubbished. But we choose to keep our sanity by focusing on the campaign and not allowing anybody to distract us. We believe that politics is a game of superior ideas and not a-do-or-die affair.
“Our Principal has been called names. His reputation has dragged in the mud by those who are bent on scoring cheap political points. Issues bordering on terrorism have been raised against him. And today, he is being accused of engaging in acts that violate both local and international laws. His silence has been misconstrued as weakness and a victory for those on the offensive.
“Let it be clear to whoever is behind this gutter politics that Timi Alaibe has an impeccable reputation both in private and public service. Accusing him of criminal activity as though it were a child’s play is unacceptable and is not going to be ignored. He has a name to protect and will not allow anybody to soil that name. The law must take its course. This is a deliberate falsehood that must be challenged.”
The delegates were allegedly directed to line up behind Senator Diri, while the non-favoured candidates were advised to step down, a development that seems to have divided the ranks of the Restoration Caucus. In this wise the likes of Dr Nimibofa Ayawei, Fred Agbedi, former Speaker Kombowei Benson, Deputy Governor, John Jonah, Talford Ongolo and Kemela Okara, all dismissed the order and threatened to hurt the caucus and ultimately the party were internal democracy not allowed to take its course at the primaries.
Speaking for Senator Diri, the leader of the state House of Assembly, Monday Obolo, said the senator remains the best candidate with the clout and capacity to secure victory for the PDP.
“He has worked at different capacities. The restoration government has laid a solid foundation and other eminently qualified aspirants, we believe that Senator Douye Diri is a man that can consolidate on the gains of restoration.
“He is the one that can win th election for the PDP. We believe that he will not waste the resources of Bayelsa State. We believe that he will use the resources for the food of the people and he has the capacity to develop Bayelsa”.
Also the leader of Nembe Caucus and Commissioner for Education, Jonathan Obuebite said all the Nembe people representing the 13 wards in the council had taken the decision to support Diri”, he said.
The NDDC boss thinks he remains the candidate and has the image, integrity and capacity the state needs now to jumpstart its industralisation processes. He says he programmes would ensure all militants are gainful engaged and therefore they would be guaranteed peace.
“We will face the primaries and we will go full blast. By the grace of God we are going to win. The delegate elections are past and I don’t want to comment on them. We have passed that stage.
“I have been a contender for many years and I told you why I do that because I love this state. I am not a desperate politician against what some people think. I have stepped down for people at various times when people wanted to run amok with violence”.
Ayawei, who chaired the state Revenue Board, has insisted that no aspirant should be favoured eventhough he said Gov Dickson has every right to support any candidate of his choice.
“The governor has the right to support a candidate. He is the leader of the party. And I think he is supporting Ayawei. He knows Ayawei is forthright. Ayawei is young and dynamic”.
“But like I mentioned, all these other aspirants are eminent qualified. They are professionals and politicians.
“They all have things to offer. But I think I am better than all of them because I am the only chemist taxman in the country that has come to open more frontiers for our people.