Bayelsa Governorship: Who is Afraid of Timi Alaibe?

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Timi Alaibe

By November, Bayelsans will go to the poll to elect a new governor. One of the aspirants for the seat is Mr Ndutimi Alaibe, a very familiar face and name in the politics of the state.

Early this month, he furthered his interest in the race by collecting the governorship form in Abuja, under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The collection of form itself was greeted with so much élan and panache, asthe mass of supporters almost made it look like a too-soon carnival.

PDP is the dominant party in the state. It is the home state of the immediate past president of the country, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

Alaibe was a foundation member of the party. But he had left and returned to the party a few times in the past, as he continued, albeit unsuccessfully, his quest to preside over the Creek Havens, the seat of government in the oil rich riverine state.

In returning to the PDP, Alaibe reasoned that he was coming back home to his political kith and kin who understand him better.

Given his prized and wide network,means, charisma and administrative niche, it is a wonder that the gubernatorial crown had been elusive, essentially because he had been a good and loyal party man, always abiding by the decision of his party.

But all that had seemingly worked against Alaibe in the past seem to have merged, this time around, to support, promote and sponsor his candidature and eventual election.

When that happens, it would be the seminal time his name would be on the gubernatorial ballot in the state. And that is why his teeming supporters are avidly excited that “his time has come”.

Indeed, his time may have come. Lined up behind are everybody who is anybody in the PDP circle in the state and even outside the state. Perhaps two remarkable personalities prodding the Alaibe candidature are two former Presidents of the country: Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Jonathan, just as many national and State PDP chieftains are baying for the Opokuma-born technocrat and politician.

Perhaps the only river between Alaibe and the seat is the sitting governor, Hon Seriake Dickson, who , it seems for now, is not exactly enthused about the Alaibe card. It is said he has goaded and funded many of his supporters to join the race by collecting the N20 million form as well. But given the swathe of political support and goodwill Alaibe is garnering by the day, many bookmakers predict that it will be only a matter of time before Gov Dickson signs up on the Alaibe project.

Those optimistic about the collapse of the Dickson hurdle explain that he (Dickson) would not want to be remembered as the one who shortchanged the PDP in the state, as they are quick to recall that it was the obstinacy and refusal of Gov Dickson in supporting the PDP candidate in the senatorial race of Bayelsa East senatorial district (Mr Ipiganai Izagara) that led to the loss of the seat to the APC candidate, Degi Wagara.

Former President Jonathan is from Bayelsa East senatorial District and had supported the candidate of the PDP against the wish of the sitting governor, who himself, is essentially the product of Jonathan’s support. Reports had claimed that rather than tow the line of the party, Gov Dickson had thrown his support behind the APC candidate, albeit surreptitiously, all in a bid to spite the former president.

Some say it is the height of disloyalty and an odious case of biting the fingers that fed one. Those close to Dickson say he is concerned about the negative perception in the eyes of the larger Bayelsans. Would that concern cause him to listen to his political elders and benefactors henceforth? Time will tell.

It is recalled that then President Jonathan had supported Seriake Dickson at the time, against the re-election of the then sitting governor, Timipre Sylva, who had fallen out with the Jonathans. Against the grain, Sylva was edged out of government in favour of Dickson in 2011.

It is that same Dickson that seems to be on parallel lines with his erstwhile godfather, all to prove that indeed, in politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interest.

And that is why the watchers of Bayelsa politics are curious in understanding why Dickson is seemingly opposed to the Alaibe project. The duo had chimed well at the onset of the Dickson administration. At what point did their relationship experience creasesresulting in distrust?

What however remains certain among the Bayelsa political stakeholders is the undoubtable capacity of Alaibe to remarkably transform the state in a way that it would accord with its oil-producing status.

Those who so believe note that Alaibe had remarkably grown the development index of the state while he served as, first, the Executive Director, Finance and Administration and later as the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Alaibe was largely seen, at the time, as the brainbox of the

Commission. He had massively directed many development projects to his home state. The people and even the state still bear witnesses of his deeds.

What is more, Alaibe, it was, who designed the amnesty programme for the Niger Delta agitators at the time, under late President Umaru Yar’Adua. Under the platform of that programme, Alaibe had remarkably rehabilitated the lives and economy of thousands of Bayelsa youths, many of whom believe that allowing him the governorship seat is perhaps the only reward they can give him.

As it stands, the PDP which has scheduled the governorship primaries for both Bayelsa and Kogi States for next month would require a conscious determination to have a credible exercise which will not only reflect the wish of the people, but to also ensure the ultimate winning of the election.