As the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP ) governorship primary in Bayelsa State comes up on November 19, the convoluted drama going on in the state over the choice of who becomes the party’s flagbearer is getting interesting daily.
The out come of the first hurdle which is the screening had already complicated the issue the more,thereby creating doubt and suspense among the contestants and their supporters.
For weeks now ,the issue of who becomes the governorship flagbearer of the most popular party in Africa has dominated the public space and discussions with so much frenzy and anxiety.
The party screening committee failed to clear Governor Timipre Sylva ,former Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Mr Ben Murray Bruce, and the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe,to contest its forthcoming primary election for the governorship race in the State.
The party, subsequently released the names of aspirants it had screened and cleared for the race and the names of Governor Sylva,Alaibe and Bruce were missing.
The release of the list of cleared aspirants followed an emergency meeting of its National Working Committee (NWC), which was held on Monday in Abuja to consider reports on the preparations for the forthcoming gubernatorial primary in Bayelsa State.
According to a statement issued last Tuesday in Abuja by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, the NWC also received the report of the Screening Appeal Panel, headed by Mrs Abiodun Olujimi, former deputy governor of Ekiti State.
It said “after a thorough review of the reports of the Screening Panel and the Screening Appeal Panel, “the leadership of the party has so far cleared the first batch of contestants for the primary in the state”.
The statement gave the names of those cleared as Oruta Justine Boloubo; Henry Seriake Dickson; Enai Christopher Fullpower and Kalango Michael Youppele.
The PDP statement added: ”The NWC session to conclude the review exercise continues in order to consider cases of other aspirants on their individual merits. All party members, particularly stakeholders in Bayelsa State, are to please note that the NWC is handling this exercise painstakingly and shall communicate all its decisions in due course.”
It therefore advised party members to await the decisions of the NWC on this issue and mobilise all their supporters for the success of the forthcoming primary.
However, reports revealed that though the PDP stated that the names released were just the first batch, Governor Sylva’s case is as good as closed, following the alleged endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan of his exclusion from the race.
The party leaders were said to have sought and received the president’s approval. Evidence suggested that Sylva may have violated rules guiding the party and security mix up.
Bruce was said to have been stopped because he holds dual citizenship of Nigeria and the Britain.while the former NDDC boss,Timi Alaibe who was expecting a waiver was denied the opportunity which was given to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar before the April presidential elections.
The long expectation of Governor Sylva may not come as the macabre dance of Nigeria political intrigues is about to play its ugly head again in the oil rich state of Bayelsa. The last time we experienced such case was in 2003 Governorship election in Anambra State.The first term of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju was coming to an end and he was warming up for re-election in spite of the fact that many in and out of the state knew he had failed to perform for the first tenure.
The then Governor who had failed to provide infrastructures in four years for his people, unsettled civil servants salaries for about six months, schools were on prolonged strike was shamelessly thinking to come back to continue impoverish and underdevelop the people.but as God may wish,he was at the same time not in good term with his political godfather,Chief Emeka Offor. And Offor had the ears of the authorities in Abuja .Mbadinuju was muscled out of the peoples Democratic party Governorship race and he accepted his fate and went and licked his wounds
The incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State may get the Mbadinuju measurement with the way things are going on in the race to fly the PDP ticket in the February,12 election.
Governors from the South South geo-political zone on Friday met with President Goodluck Jonathan in a last minutes bid to secure the clearance of the embattled Governor,Chief Sylva to contest the primary in two weeks time.
Although the out come of the meeting was not known,but disappointment could be seen in tthe faces of supporters of the incumbent Governor and his camp.
The leader of the team and the Chairman of the Governors Forum (NGF) Governor Chibuike Amaechi,along side his colleagues, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom,Liyel Imoke of Cross Rivers State and Timipre Sylva were reported not happy as they came out from the meeting, an indication that all is not well with Sylva
As Sylva camp is fighting to regain power at the state level,the camps of opposing contenders for the race are jubilating and working hard to ensure that Sylva does not get cleared.
Sylva had raised alarm over what he described as “a desperate attempt by unnamed forces to exclude him from contesting the governorship primary of the PDP,” alleging that he has not been told that he has been disqualified by the party.
At a press conference in Abuja, , the embattled Governor said the party had cleared him and had issued him a provisional clearance certificate, with serial number 0000012, dated October 28, 2011.
According to Sylva, whose statement was read to newsmen by Nathanial Egba,the commissioner for Information in the state,said the reports of his disqualification were, therefore, unfounded.
Sylva said his encounter with the PDP gubernatorial screening committee held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was warm and friendly, adding that his subsequent appearance before the gubernatorial screening appeal committee in Abuja did not give him any cause for concern.
The PDP NWC is expected to either ratify or reject the report of Abiodun Olujimi-led appeal panel, which recommended Sylva’s disqualification.
No reason has, so far, been given as the official position upon which the disqualification was hinged, but there were strong indications that it was not unconnected with some classified reports which security agencies reportedly shared with the PDP’s panel on alleged treasonable utterances of Governor Sylva, who allegedly threatened the life of President Jonathan and his immediate family.
Notwithstanding the development, Sylva said his reported romance with other political parties “is another segment of blackmail” against his person, saying that he remained in PDP even if the NWC ratified his disqualification.
Against the widespread rumour that he was on his way to joining the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) or All Progressive Grant Alliance ( APGA), Governor Sylva affirmed his commitment that he remained in the PDP.
As we expect the outcome of the Governors meeting with the president this week,if preference must be given,it should also be extended to others whose names were also missing in the list so that it does not turn a slap on democracy.Already,there have been multiple claims of being the president anointed among the aspirants.the current delays and suspends gives room for such claims to strive.
Many believed that if Governor Sylva is allowed to contest,waiver should be given to those who are seeking for it on merit and contributions for the party.A level playing ground should be given to all. Above all,the people should be allowed to choose who govern the state.