As the crisis in the Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress lingers, a chieftain of the party in the state, Chief Godwin Sidi bare his mind to Segun James on the solution and sundry issues
The Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been engulfed in crisis for some time now leading to suspensions and counter suspensions, what is the situation right now?
You are right, but the problems are being looked into by the national leadership of the party. But pending the outcome of their decision, the chairman who was suspended by the state working committee of the party remains suspended, along with his deputy and the state secretary of the party. They were suspended for anti-party activities that were inimical to the growth of the party.
The chairman, Chief Tiwei Orunimighe was a founding member of the party like you, what really led to the crisis?
The crisis began following the unbridled ambition of the state chairman to be the deputy governorship candidate of the party and was denied. Following this, he brought in thugs to attack and destroy the party secretariat. We were all shocked by the action of the chairman. Can you imagine a situation whereby the chairman brought in thugs to destroy his own office? Yet it happened. But because of the election which was at hand, he was forgiven in order for the party to have a united and cohesive election process. But unfortunately, we never knew that from that moment, he had become a mole within the system working against the interest of the party. However, people like me and some few others knew his antecedent. He petitioned the national leadership of the party who down played our grievance and asked us to work together in the interest of the party.
Within this these problem, we forged on. We did the election, and from indication we were sabotaged along the line as the PDP were always in the know of all our strategies and plans, yet we know not who was responsible for the leakages. But the situation became clear when he started crying again when he was refused nomination as the chief executive officer of the Millennium Development Goal programme of the federal government.
He was told that position is meant for intellectuals not just anybody. He cried that he is entitled to the position, and before long and as usual with him, he engineered another crisis. It was at this point that the state working committee of the party got to know that he had submitted the names of 50 people to the party at the national for appointment without their knowledge. The names were those of people who were never members of the party and relation.
It was this that led the working committee to suspend him along with his deputy and the state secretary. He believed that the state party leader was the one who instigated his suspension, so in a counter move, he said he has suspended the party leader, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) indefinitely. When he found out that his action was illegal and the suspension placed on him stands, he ran to a Sagbama High Court to contest his suspension, an action which is against the party’s constitution which stipulates that all means to settle any problem within the party must be exhausted before heading for the courts. He never exhausted this means before instituting a case against the party.
What has being the reaction of the state leader, Chief Timipre Sylva in all these since the crisis started?
He has been cool and calm but disappointed at the action of the chairman. You will recall that Sylva made Tiwei what he is today. It was him who brought him out of the creeks and made him the chairman of Southern Ijaw local government area even though he had no antecedent. After he was forced to run out Bayelsa by Governor Seriake Dickson after the removal of Sylva, it was Sylva that ensured he had a roof over his head in Abuja. Even when myself and Chief Richard Kpodo who were the leaders of the new PDP following the crisis that led five governors out of the PDP, it was Sylva that made him the chairman of the APC at the formation of the party even though most of us knew he has no capacity to lead. He is a most ungrateful person. Sylva made him, yet today, he is biting that finger that fed him.
When Sylva was called by the national leadership of the party, he debunked all allegations made against him by Tiwei. It was at that point that Sylva asked Tiwei who compiled the 50 man list from the state and if he participated in the selection process. This was when the treasury of Tiwei became known to all.
Now that this crisis is still lingering, what is the situation in the party right now?
We are waiting for the national leadership to make their findings now. But in the meantime, the chairman remains suspended as the case is in court. At the party secretariat level, the place has been overgrown with weed since the chairman sent thugs to vandalise it. He destroyed the roof over his own head. After vandalising the place and he was retained as chairman, he couldn’t go back there as the premise was destroyed. In fact, he had been operating from his own house after destroying the secretariat.
But you alleged that the chairman was working for the PDP and Governor Dickson; do you have proof to this?
Well, what do you think of a situation in which the chairman’s brother won a case against the PDP candidate who happens to be the Speaker of the state House of Assembly and a rerun was called only for the party chairman to work against is own brother? What do you make of that? It is very clear that he worked for the PDP against the APC after he was not made the governorship running mate by Sylva. After all, there are reports that he was going to have meetings with Dickson at the Government House. You know that place is a public place and when people see you they will talk. What is the chairman of APC doing in Government House at night? Think of it yourself. All these are the things levied against him. These anti-party activities including highhandedness, abuse of office and ineptitude are what have counted against him.
What is the way forward for the party?
The way forward is for the national leadership to uphold the suspension of Tiwei. His activities have polarised the party and ay attempt to bring him back will lead to fractionalisation of the party. Nobody is ready to work with him again. He is unduly arrogant and proud. He treats members without respect. On several occasions, he had singlehandedly remove party leaders at ward level and replace them without due process. He cannot come back as party chairman. My stand on this case is that he bitten the bullet when he said he suspended the party leader. Based on that, Tiwei will never come back as chairman.
There are reports that he was going to have meetings with Dickson at the Government House. You know that place is a public place and when people see you they will talk. What is the chairman of APC doing in Government House at night? Think of it yourself. All these are the things levied against him. These anti-party activities including highhandedness, abuse of office and ineptitude are what have counted against him