Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Erstwhile Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has insisted that only the adoption of indirect primaries in the August 29 All Progressives Congress (APC) poll to determine its candidate for the Bayelsa State governorship election can guarantee peace in the party.
The former minister, a frontline aspirant on the platform of the APC, said the only way to avoid disagreements was for the party to conduct a credible and transparent primary election.
Lokpobiri, the only aspirant to have collected his Expression of Interest forms, argued that having weighed options for primary elections in the party, many stakeholders in APC believed that indirect method was better to avoid unnecessary acrimony.
He noted that anybody rooting for a direct primary was expressing his personal opinion, adding that majority of the party leaders were in agreement with him and his team that indirect primaries were the best for the party.
Lokpobiri insisted that for the APC to win the forthcoming governorship election, the party must present a credible candidate, who is free from many issues, stressing that the party, a few years ago, lost an election and should not toy with the November 16 poll by selecting a wrong candidate.
He maintained that he would never have problems with the former Governor, Timipre Sylva, ahead of the internal poll, noting that due process must be followed.
According to him, “I have no problem with Timipre Sylva. He is a Bayelsan man and a leader, just like we have other leaders here. I have no problem with him at all and I will never have any problem with him.
“The only way to avoid a disagreement that will arise from a primary is to conduct a credible and transparent primary. That is why in the wisdom of majority of the party, we are saying that indirect primary is the way to go.
“By the time all the delegates who are party leaders as at today gather in a designated place, the winner will clearly emerge and the losers will know that they were given a fair chance to contest.
“That is what we are supporting. Anybody clamouring for direct primary, that is the person’s opinion. I know that majority of APC supporters prefer indirect primary. In the last election in Bayelsa State, we got over 40 per cent, this time we will win. Majority of voters are not party men.
“What determines the failures and success of any party in an election is the quality of the candidate. If you have the highest quality of candidate, you have won the election by 50 per cent, but if you bring a candidate with a lot of questionable issues, then you have failed the election.
“We have had the experience some years ago and we don’t want a repeat. We want a situation where APC will be able to present the best person that can help the party to win. I don’t have any personal problem with Sylva and I know he doesn’t have any problem with me.”
He boasted that there was nobody in the state APC aspiring for the governorship ticket that has his kind of experience in both executive and legislative arms of the government.
According to him, his track records as the first Speaker of the state House of Assembly, two-time senator and a minister, qualify him as the most experienced person on the party platform.