The crisis within the leadership of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State is not one to go away any time soon, writes Segun James
To say that things aren’t going on well with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State would be stating the obvious. The crisis now rocking the party has been simmering on the background for some time and every effort made by party leaders in the state to contain it has been to no avail as it burst open last week.
The state chairman of the party, Chief Tiwei Orunimighe in an outburst had alleged that a former governor and the party’s candidate in last year’s governorship election, Chief Timipre Sylva was collecting money from non-party members in the state to nominate them for federal appointments.
Tiwei in company with the state secretary of the party, Daniel Marlin went further to place four members of the state working committee on suspension for their loyalty to the former governor. However, incensed by the action of the party chairman, 18 of the party’s state executive committee, who were angry that the chairman took such a weighty decision as suspending four of them without consultation came out to denounce the purported suspension.
In a statement by the state publicity secretary, Panebi Fortune, the 18 stated that, “At an emergency State Executive Committee meeting held today, 1st of April, 2016, the following decisions were reached: That cases of Gross Misconduct, Financial Embezzlement, and Antiparty Activities have been brought against the State Chairman of the party, Chief Tiwei Orunimieghe, the Deputy State Chairman, Mr. Eddi Julius and the State Secretary of the party, Mr. Daniel Marlin.
“The Bayelsa State Chapter of the party, this day, therefore places the aforementioned individual on an indefinite suspension pending the conclusion of the investigations. In the interim, the Senatorial Vice Chairman, Mr. Joseph Fafi and Mr Alabo Martins are to act as Acting State Chairman and Acting Secretary respectively.”
But the chairman in a statement dismissed his suspension, saying as a member of the national executive committee of the party, his suspension is beyond the state party. In a surprise move, Tiwei instead suspended Sylva from the party. He went further to give reasons for the crisis the party.
Tiwei accused Sylva of selling nominations for federal appointments to non-party members to the chagrin of the party and its members.
He said Sylva had promised that the days of “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop” are over, but they were surprised that he had gone contrary to his promises, leaving the members angry and bitter.
The Sylva group dismissed the allegation, saying Tiwei and “his gang” were indeed being sponsored by Governor Seriake Dickson in a bid to frustrate Sylva’s case against him at the election tribunal.
Sylva, in a statement by his media adviser, Doifie Buoboriko cautioned Dickson to desist from his efforts to destabilise APC in the state through the circulation of falsehood and the sponsorship of disaffection in the party.
Sylva accused Dickson of using some “discredited and suspended” officials of APC in the state as moles to try to cause internal disaffection and blackmail the party and its leaders.
He warned that Dickson’s devilish conspiracy against APC will always be exposed and demolished, saying it is an effort in futility, as he will eternally fail in his attempts to dissuade key members of the party.
“Of late, Dickson and his party, Peoples Democratic Party, have re-enacted their pastime of spreading falsehood about APC and its leaders in Bayelsa State and trying to create dissension where none exists. They had tried that before and during the last governorship election in the state. When they failed miserably, they turned to forces external to Bayelsa, but inside the election management body and armed militia community, which they used to steal the people’s votes.
“After he was awarded victory, one would have thought that a man, who ‘won’ election would concentrate on governance. But Dickson would not. Living under the shadow of fear of losing the stolen mandate, since APC filed a petition at the election tribunal, Dickson has applied every available mischief to try to destabilise the party and blackmail its leaders.
“They have now procured the services of some discredited officials of APC, who were suspended recently. These renegades are being used by Dickson and PDP to spread wild, unsubstantiated allegations against Sylva and the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.
“Fabricating stories about Sylva and APC has proved to be more than just a passing fad for Dickson. It has become policy – the only ostensible policy of the administration since his swearing-in.”
He cried that an “email from Dickson’s media aide, Daniel Markson (email@example.com) to some reporters on Sunday, April 3 at 16:24 hours, clearly showed how the Dickson government throws caution to the wind in its haste to blackmail APC.
“Dickson, who has since been awarded victory at the governorship election manifested understandable nervousness on the governorship seat. But there should be a limit to anxiety. He should stop his mission in futility and await the outcome of the electoral courts. Neither his nervousness nor his current mischievous publications can stop the wind of justice that is about to blow him out of his usurped seat.”
An APC chieftain, who pleaded anonymity, said it was the unbridled ambition of Tiwei to be made the deputy governorship candidate of the party that was responsible for the present face-off. According to him, Tiwei has been bitter since he was denied that position by Sylva.
He said that has been the real issues since the nation was “inundated with the dance of shame by some disgruntled party executives of the Bayelsa State APC’s greed and inordinate ambitions”.
“While many have expressed shock over the wild allegations these avaricious self-seekers have made concerning His Excellency, Chief Timipre Sylva, some of us close observers are not the least surprised.
“The telltale signs have always been there, but for the love of the party and with a bigger picture in mind, the excesses of these ignoble actors were overlooked. Not without some chastisement though, like a leopard whose spots can never change, the unbridled cupidity inherent in these fellows has become evident for all to see.
“Let me state it expressly here, in this business, loyalty is key. As a matter of fact, in the school of leadership, loyalty is a major course to be passed, if there must be an upward progression. You can never be promoted if you fail this major course. You may even get axed from a system, if you are discovered to have failed this all important course.
“We are aware of the nocturnal meetings between the gang leader, Tiwei Orunimighe and the Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson and that Tiwei wasn’t working alone. Who would handsomely reward such unstable characters, who hobnob with your adversaries?
“Double dealing is a clog in the wheel of progress. You can never get far with it as it is bound to boomerang somewhere along the way. Mind you, loyalty in this context must be absolute, not partial or half-hearted loyalty, and oftentimes, your loyalty is tested, thus, you need a persevering spirit to excel in this course.
“Now, let’s critically examine the case brought before the court of public opinion, the very case these protagonists want President Muhammadu Buhari to look into. The allegation leveled is double barreled, and I implore all to join me in analyzing these issues, so as to help us unravel the truth. We were told that His Excellency, Chief Timipre Sylva has merchandised the appointive slots reserved for Bayelsa State. Such lie makes the heavenly ordained principal of lie to quiver in hell.
“The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development’s appointment as at when it was given was a masterstroke that created pandemonium in the opposing party. Senator Heineken Lokpobri’s choice was purely borne out of political consideration given his pedigree.
“We were also lied to, that Sylva is getting appointment for non-party members. This is perfidy in an unadulterated form. Now, on the list of five persons that have made some people become overnight sufferers of insomnia, let’s quickly take a peep at them and also weigh their financial muscle to ascertain if there’s any validity in the claim of Sylva’s accusers. We shall also see if those on the list are unworthy of being on the said list.
“Who in his right senses would say Sir Tonye Okio is not a member of the APC? He is the state organising secretary of the party. This is a man, who has stuck with his boss through thick and thin and even suffered incarceration, when he was arrested and imprisoned on the order of Dickson for his unflinching loyalty. What is wrong with rewarding his steadfastness? Secondly, it is ludicrous to even imagine that Sylva would require some financial inducement from a man who is more or less like a son to him. What has Tonye Okio got to offer Sylva financially?
“Another name on the said list that gladdens my heart is that of Doifie Buokoribo. This man is a rare breed, when you talk about loyalty. He stood with Sylva when it wasn’t convenient to. Weathered the storm with Sylva even at a time when Sylva was ostracised by those he least expected. Doifie was Sylva’s Chief Press Secretary, and went ahead to be his media adviser after Sylva left office. A thorough professional journalist, what does he have to offer Sylva monetary wise? And what is wrong with giving Doifie an appointment?
“The name Julie Okah may not ring a bell with the Bayelsa State APC family, but she has been there with Sylva all along – served as his executive assistant when he was governor, and has remained with him through his trying period. She went back to her law practice after Sylva left Creek Haven, but she has never faltered in her loyalty. She toured the state with him during the campaigns. She is a bonafide member of the APC.
“Does Julie Okah have the financial muscle to induce Sylva to get a federal appointment? Those who know her, knows Julie doesn’t have the financial capacity to buy an appointment. She is simply getting rewarded for her steadfastness and loyalty, and that’s the truth.
“Mrs. Gloria Izonfou’s inclusion is also in order, having served as head of service in Bayelsa State under Sylva; she was forced out by Dickson when he became governor. Who can question her pedigree? And yes, she is a member of the APC, and no one can deny that.
“Whether she joined from the beginning, midway or at the eleventh hour is inconsequential here. There must be a balance and I think that is exactly what Sylva has reflected on the said list. Create a sense of balance, between old and new members that gives everyone a sense of belonging. She also does not have the financial wherewithal to induce Sylva for an appointment.
“I need to also drop a caveat here, Chief Timipre Sylva is a man of impeccable character, and can never condescend to soiling his reputation in a manner that is being painted by Tiwei and his co-travelers.
“Lastly, Mr. Simbi Wabote, he may not be a card carrying member of the APC, but he has always been an avid supporter. Mr. Simbi Wabote works with Shell BP, and is at the zenith of his chosen profession. If information available to me is correct, one of the offices up for grabs requires not just expertise, but also long term experience in the oil industry – we’re talking of about 15 years of experience. Do you manufacture such experience?
“We must realise that not every office is given, based on political consideration. Mr. Femi Adeshina was not a card carrying member of the APC, when Mr. President appointed him as his presidential spokesman. Dr Akinwumi Adeshina was not a card carrying member of the PDP when former President Goodluck Jonathan made him a minister, so what’s the fuss all about?
“Did these protagonists tell the world about the list of 50 persons that Sylva gave them the freehand to draw up for consideration into various MDAs? If Sylva didn’t whine over the 50 names they submitted, why are they killing themselves over the five man list submitted by Sylva? Meanwhile, one of the complainants has been made a member of the governing council in one of the federal universities in the north, yet he is dissatisfied, he wants something bigger.”
But in its effort to allow the situation fester, the PDP has taken a swipe at the opposition APC over its internal bickering resulting from crisis of confidence. The PDP, in a statement by the state secretary, Godspower Kenku, stated that by the latest scandal in APC, those who were parading themselves as leaders of the people were not people of integrity and therefore not fit to hold public office.
Kenku, who regretted that many unsuspecting individuals and politicians had been fooled by the antics of the former governor, called on the APC leadership in the state not to allow its internal crisis constitute a breach of peace in the state.
He observed that the unfolding showdown in the APC was not a surprise taking into account the nature and antecedents of the personalities involved, adding that similar stunt was already afoot to bribe the judiciary in order to influence the outcome of the ongoing case at the tribunal over the last governorship election in the state.
“The PDP is not surprised that the APC is fighting over the issue of buying and selling of federal appointments even as we were alarmed that the ministerial slot cost the sum of N400 million because such is the nature and character of the personalities, who once held positions of leadership in the state.
“As a party, we are glad that all this is coming into the open for the general public to see the stuff these characters are made of. For them, anything can be bought, including their quest to bribe the judiciary to deliver judgment in their favour. Thankfully, the secret evil plot has now come to public knowledge and the whole world is watching to see how the judiciary will be compromised to truncate the will of the people,” Keku stated.
But the national leadership of the APC has declared the suspension of Sylva, as unconstitutional. The APC National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, who stated this in a short message service, also stated that the party was not aware of the suspension.
A leader of the party in the APC in the state Mr. Yekini Nabena has this to say on the crisis rocking the party: “Is it only the former chairman Tiwei that joined APC or laboured for the party? Did Tiwei labour before Chief Sylva made him the chairman of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area?
“Who has benefited more than Tiwei in this party? He was also among the “just come group.” The house Tiwei is staying in Abuja, who rented it for him? It is still the same Sylva. When Tiwei’s mother was to be taken abroad for treatment, the same Sylva gave him $80,000 dollars last year.
“One question for those that said Tiwei has been spending his own personal money to run the party, when his own brother was running for state House of Assembly election: why is it that he suddenly has no money for his brother’s election? The big question is, if he has so much money to spend for the party, why didn’t his brother go for the election?”
But whether the crisis rocking the APC in Bayelsa will affect the chances of Sylva at the state governorship election tribunal is what even the closest observers cannot tell for now.
To say that things aren’t going on well with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State would be stating the obvious. The crisis now rocking the party has been simmering on the background for some time and every effort made by party leaders in the state to contain it has been to no avail as it burst open last week