APC Rally in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State capital last Saturday PHOTO: WILLIE ETIM
THESE are trying times for the Bayelsa State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and certainly worse for a party that has been in power in the state since 1999 to suffer a crushing defeat in the presidential election to have a fractured unity in the state.
A few months from now, it would be facing a rejuvenated All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state, led by former governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, at the governorship election.
With a divided house and lingering intra-party fight amongst key stakeholders and elders in the state, the party may not stand the chance of putting up a good fight against APC, which is fast becoming a household name in the state.
The prospect of any good fortune for PDP in Bayelsa would depended on how former President Goodluck Jonathan, who becomes the leader of the party, and Governor Henry Seriake Dickson can galvanised the people with a renewed hope and understanding.
But this seems a mirage, as it is not certain if such joint effort would work out, as the governor is perceived to be doing battle with
majority of the ex-President’s loyalist.
Most members of the party in the state are already working at cross-purposes against the interest of the governor.
The party is already in disarray, as notable members are leaving in their numbers.
The governor also has his reasons for the actions and decisions he has taken, even though his style and approach may not appeal to some members, as he believes there should be some level of discipline within the party structure.
For being independent-minded and showing stubbornness in defending a course he feels is right, he is risking the loyalty of party faithful.
The governor has repeatedly sent strong signals to opponents that he was ready for any battle ahead of the election and those agitating against him are conscious of the fact that it would be an uphill task to wrest the PDP ticket from him.
Dickson would do anything humanly possible to retain the ticket, but unless there is true reconciliation, most members may resort to
working for the APC, as is being speculated in the state.
PDP in Bayelsa would not dare to deny the governor its ticket, because he may as well decide to play the spoilers and this is the crux of the PDP fear of defeat.
A member of the party, Tekena Ebi, told The Guardian in Yenagoa that denying the governor the ticket would mark the end of PDP in the state.
According to him, with the change in the political dynamics at the federal level, the best the party can do is to come around and resolve
the lingering crisis in the state, if it has to move forward.
Besides his doggedness, Ebi believes most of the speculated aspirant within the PDP family would not have the financial muscle do battle against him.
He said: “Dickson is the incumbent governor, with enough financial resource and army of followers.
“It will be foolhardy for anybody to think he or she can denied the governor the ticket.”
While the crisis lingers, the issues surrounding the circumstances that led to the suspension of the elected and substantive chairman of the party in the state, Col. Sam Inokoba, and his eventful exit from the party still remain unresolved.
The state Publicity Secretary of the party, Osom Macbere, soon after the party’s presidential campaign in the state, had announced the suspension of Inokoba as fallout from the State Executive Committee, following allegations of financial impropriety.
Dickson only had inaugurated a special committee chaired by his Deputy, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd), to examine the performance and conduct of PDP leaders during the Presidential, National and State Assembly elections.
The committee was expected to determine and recommend steps to be taken against those who worked against the party’s interests
during the general elections.
Dickson said: “We will not sit idle and allow people promoting indiscipline and disloyalty to overrun our party.
“The PDP has to reform itself; it has to renew itself and be a party of committed and loyal members. Without discipline and loyalty, no political party can survive or stand or even win any political contest.”
The committee submitted recommendations to the party, which led to the invitation of some erring members to appear before a disciplinary committee.
The invitation had cause rising tension within the fold of the party, as some of those invited were key political associates of Jonathan, including former Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Jonathan on Domestic Matters, Waripanmowei Dudafagh, and six others over alleged anti-party activities.
The Disciplinary Committee also invited the Senator Emmanuel Paulker, representing Bayelsa Central; Senator Nimi Barigha-Amangi, who represented Bayelsa East; Inokoba; the former deputy governor, Werinipre Seibarugu; and former Speaker of the state Assembly, Nestor Binabo.
Barigha-Amange, Seibarugu and Binabo shunned the sitting of the committee, describing their summon as laughable and a deliberate act of witch-hunting.
The acting chairman said the party was working hard to entrench discipline and internal democracy and those invited should be objective, free, frank and fair and jettison their personal interest in the overall interest of the party to make reconciliation and internal democracy ease in the party.
“Discipline is the soul of the survival of the PDP and party discipline is necessary for the party to win competitive elections.
“Therefore, it is in the interest of the party to entrench internal party democracy as a pre- condition for the success of the party now
and in the future,” he said.
Nine members, mostly Jonathan loyalists were eventually expelled from the party as contained in a statement by Chief Serena Dokubo Spiff.
Those expelled include Barigha-Amange; Binabo; Seibarugu; Dudafa; Chamberlain Kren Ikidi; Osomkime Blankson; Emmanuel Okponipre; Ebikapade Dibiya; and Joyce Fouyowei.
Inokoba and Paulker were referred to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, while Fiebai Gbeinbo was suspended for three months.
Leghemo Kaiser and Denyabofa Dimaro were to render apology to the leadership of the PDP, while Godson Omubo-Dede and Dan Omubo-Dede were reprimanded.
All those sanctioned had described their expulsion as a joke, while some have gone to court to challenge the action.
At a reconciliatory meeting presided over by Jonathan, a three-man committee, headed by former governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was constituted to reconcile all aggrieved groups and individuals to ensure a united and a more cohesive PDP that would be strong and formidable in all ramifications to face and subdue the opposition in the state.
The committee, which has also King A. J. Turner and Chief Thompson K. Okorotie as members, was given two weeks to complete its assignment and submit a report to the larger house.
Even before the report was submitted, almost all those aggrieved decamped to the APC and this no doubt has depleted the support base of the ruling party in the state.
On August 15, a crowd of Bayelsan besieged the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa to witness the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, welcome over 70 leaders of the PDP in the state, Inokoba, former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe, and a former senator, Heineken Lokpobiri
Odigie-Oyegun had declared that with the quality of defectors into the party from the PDP in state, the ruling party under the leadership of Dickson has been decapitated.
Inokoba said the PDP administration under Dickson has witnessed “misrule and abandoned good governance. The labours of our forefathers have been rubbished.
“Bayelsa restoration has become a retrogression. Bayelsa PDP has become a Fuji House of Commotion. “Instead of development, we have witnessed disrespect to the elders in the state.”
How these defections and disaffection would affect PDP and its fortunes in the forthcoming election remains to be seen.
Source: The Guardian