In Bayelsa, Dickson, Alaibe Go for Broke

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Seriake Dickson

Segun James writes that leading opposing camps in the battle for the Peoples Democratic Party governorship ticket in Bayelsa State are coming up with new intriguing strategies by the day

When Bayelsa State governor, Mr. Henry Seriake Dickson, announced some months ago that he had no intention to impose a successor on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the state; he was only stating the obvious. He has no such powers, in the first place. The obvious situation is that he has an interest in who succeeds him.

Does Dickson want to determine who succeeds him as the governor of one of the nation’s most volatile states or not?

While not denying that he has an interest in who succeeds him, Dickson denies that he intends “to impose” a successor or candidate on his party for the November 16, 2019 governorship election.

For some palpable reasons, the pending battle in the state PDP is not just one of ambition but more of survival – the political survival of Dickson. And he is ready to crush anyone on his way.

There is no denying that the race towards the governorship election is on and that Dickson is not going to be on the ballot having completed his mandatory two terms, but barely two weeks to the primaries, there is no word on his anointed candidate.

This has polarised the governor’s political family – the Restoration Group – where majority of the over 21 aspirants jostling for the PDP ticket come from.

In the midst of this confusion, the state government has set up 150-member campaign committee for the party. The action of the government has drawn the ire of political opponents who see the committee as a desperate move to strangulate opposition.

The government has issued a special announcement signed by Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the state Commissioner for Information, who was also inaugurated as Head of Media and Publicity, “Restoration Governorship Primary Election Committee,” on the PDP Primaries. The committee which has Dickson as the leader has since been inaugurated.

Despite the desperate move, the governor’s camp has suffered series of setbacks: he is said to have had open disagreements with his former strategist, who engineered both his initial election and subsequent reelection, Hon. Frederick Agbedi, a member of the House of Representatives; he is also said to be at loggerheads with his deputy, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha Jonah, who decided to join the race for the governorship against his objection.

Also, the former chief executive of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Franklin Ossaisai, is said to be giving the governor worries.

Of all of them, it is Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, a former presidential adviser and former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC), that the governor considers as his most formidable opponent.

In a surprise outburst, Dickson called Alaibe an outsider in the political affairs of the PDP. The governor realizing that Alaibe has the support of former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Green Movement, which was used to bring Dickson in as governor, went for the jugular in his bid to silence Alaibe, whom he believes has the capacity to derail his plans to install a preferred successor.

This is because Alaibe was able to block the inclusion of the newly elected local government council chairmen and councilor as statutory delegates to the party’s primaries

Dickson, in his first direct outburst called Alaibe a foreigner in the politics of Bayelsa. He called on the PDP faithful not to vote for Alaibe at the primaries, instead, to vote for whomsoever his Restoration Group throws up.

As part of the moves to ensure only his preferred candidate emerges, Dickson ordered the state leadership of the PDP to collect the party cards of statutory delegates so as to stop them from supporting other candidates instead of those presented by the Restoration Group.

Alarmed by the desperate action of the governor, a group within the party, the PDP Integrity Group (PDPIG), in a petition signed by its coordinator, Mr. Tony Nathan Ile, raised the alarm, crying that all statutory delegates have been ordered to submit details of their voter’s identity cards and PDP membership card numbers to the leadership of the party.

According to Ile, he said at a meeting called by the state leadership held at the party secretariat, the delegates were ordered to drop their cards, but when some of these delegates refused to comply with the order, thugs were used to collect them by force.

Ile lamented that, “it is quite unfortunate for someone to indulge in such an inglorious act. We do not believe that our party’s executive at the state, which is expected to show good conduct during the primaries coming up soon will be involved in the nefarious act.”

Ile said that the issue of “ordering ward and local government executive members of the party to submit their party identity cards and also voter’s card pin number is surely an attempt to discredit and undermine the good and lofty intentions of the national leadership of the party to conduct free, fair and credible primaries of the party.”

He called on the national leadership of the party to immediately setup a panel to investigate the allegations, which he called ‘serious and grievous.’

“Failure to act on these damning allegations would further polarize the party and make it vulnerable to defeat at the November 16 election as aggrieved members will have no other option than to seek refuge in other political platforms,” Ile warns.

Despite this, the governor accused Alaibe of circulating a cynically manipulated version of addresses he delivered during political meetings at various fora with the intent to blackmail him for assumed political benefits.

In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, the governor said that the former Managing Director of the NDDC has resorted to blackmail in the desperate effort to win the gubernatorial primaries of the PDP at all costs.

The governor said that it was absurd that Alaibe would go to the extent of manipulating audio recordings of his speeches for distribution to respected Nigerians with the intent to blackmail him.

But the Timi Alaibe Campaign Organisation replied Dickson over the allegation of sinister blackmail against its principal, saying he would not be distracted by the allegation as “we are too focused to be distracted.”

According to Mr. Seiyefa Brisibe, the administrative secretary of the organisation who objected to Soriwei’s choice of words, “We as a campaign organisation take serious exception to the wrong use of tar-brush loaded words and gutter language to describe the person of our Principal with the intent to incite the public against him.”

He denied Alaibe had any knowledge of the allegation and described it as unacceptable pointing out that neither he nor any member of the organisation was at the meetings referred to in the government statement.

“If any of us has access to the recorded discussion mentioned in the public statement, such access can only be traced to the originators of the statement,” the campaign said pointing accusing fingers at Dickson’s people on the issue.

Alaibe’s campaign said it was running a clean campaign in accordance with the directive of the party noting that the eventual winner of the primary would need the support of other contestants to win the governorship election.

It said it was not desperate for the ticket as it was not a matter of life and death.

QUOTE:

In a surprise outburst, Dickson called Alaibe an outsider in the political affairs of the PDP. The governor realizing that Alaibe has the support of former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Green Movement, which was used to bring Dickson in as governor, went for the jugular in his bid to silence Alaibe, whom he believes has the capacity to derail his plans to install a preferred successor.