Controversy Trails Voting Status of New Council Officials in Bayelsa

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Seriake Dickson

Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

Controversy has continued to surround the eligibility of newly sworn-in local government officials, mostly chairmen, their deputies, and councillors in Bayelsa State to participate as statutory delegates in the forthcoming Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primaries in the state.

But the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, insisted yesterday that there is no law barring the council officials from taking part in the September 3 primary election, maintaining that under his watch as governor, all the chairman and councillors will exercise their rights as delegates during the election.

Those opposed to the plan to allow the chairmen who were sworn in last week quote a portion of the PDP constitution which guarantees that: ‘Statutory delegates’ list for elective congresses shall be authenticated by the National Secretariat 90 days before the congress.’ The council officials were inaugurated about 19 days to the primaries.

Dickson urged members of the party to ignore the ‘rumour masterminded by some political interest’ that the newly elected chairmen and councillors were not qualified to be delegates in the election. He said there was no law in the PDP that prevents elected local government officials from becoming delegates in the primaries.

According to the governor in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media, Fidelis Soriwei, “There are people who fought to stop our chairmen and councillors from participating in the last election and they failed. The propaganda out there is that our elected chairmen and councillors are not going to participate as delegates in the election.

“Let me make it clear that no one by the rule of this party will prevent elected council officials from voting as delegates. No one will stop them from entering the venue to vote for a candidate of their choice.”

Dickson also insisted that he would not support any candidate outside the Restoration Group of the party, stressing that the Restoration Caucus would decide on an aspirant to support in the primaries before the September 3 primary election.

He said supporting any governorship aspirant of the PDP outside the Restoration Group was one heavy moral burden that he was not prepared to carry.

The governor stressed that his upbringing and values which place emphasis on the reward for the sacrifice of loyalty and steadfastness would not allow him to turn his back on those who stood by him throughout his years as leader of the party in the state.

He also hinged his decision to support a Restoration aspirant on the imperative of continuity, effective service delivery, and commitment of Restoration caucus to the socio-economic growth of the state.

Dickson dismissed those accusing him of refusal to support some aspirants, insisting that it was his right to decide who to back in the forthcoming gubernatorial primaries of the party in the state. “We have agreed to elect a candidate for our party from the Restoration team. I will fail in my responsibilities and values if I abandon those who have supported me and have been with me through thick and thin.

“The way I was brought up, it is support for support and loyalty for loyalty. You have to be on board on this for the Restoration Team.

“My support will go to a loyal and committed member of the Restoration team. Not to do so will leave a very heavy moral burden in my heart which I am not prepared to bear,” he said.