* Says he visited ex-president 15 times before the primaries
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Senator Bukola Saraki National Reconciliation Committee may have recorded a breakthrough with its recent shuttles to reconcile aggrieved members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, with the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, indicating yesterday that he would formally present the candidate of the party, Douye Diri, and his running mate, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor, to former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Dickson stated that it was a mark of respect for the former president, noting that the visit would take place at the earliest convenience of the former Nigerian leader.
Part of the peace move was followed by a visit to the former president by state governors-Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) and Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto)-who were said to have pleaded with Jonathan to back Diri, Dickson’s preferred candidate.
According to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, at the weekend, Dickson stated this when the Ogbia Restoration Caucus of the PDP from Jonathan’s Ogbia Local Government Area visited him for an interactive session.
The governor, who described the former president as his elder brother and leader, noted that he was deeply appreciative of the mutually beneficial political alliance and relationship spanning over 17 years between the two of them.
He dismissed the insinuations of a frosty relationship between him and Jonathan, saying the report was the handiwork of ‘self-centered politicians’ on a mission to use the former president’s name to cause mischief.
The statement also quoted the governor as saying that politicians around the former president had been in the habit of fabricating reports of a non-existent conflict between them.
He told Jonathan’s kinsmen that he visited the former president on 15 occasions out of respect to compare notes with him and to agree on a candidate to support collectively which unfortunately did not happen during the transition period
Dickson, however, commended the Ogbia Restoration Caucus and all members of the party for holding on to the PDP which gave the Ogbia people, Bayelsans, the Ijaw people, and the Niger Delta people the opportunity to contest for the rhighest offices in the land which APC truncated in 2015.
“If the rest of this state, Ijaw nation and Nigeria, supported us and worked with us, then the least we can expect is that we in Bayelsa State and Ogbia in particular should be faithful to the PDP,” he said.
The governor said those making allegations against him in the bid to rationalise defections and ingratitude to the PDP should be bold to tell Nigerians that they were leaving in pursuit of money and federal appointments being dangled at them.
He further condemned the manner in which the name of the former president was brought into the governorship contest “where all aspirants are his people.”
Dickson noted that politicians who framed the governorship candidacy of an aspirant they supported as a contest between Dickson and Jonathan were unfair to them, especially Jonathan.
He said no governor, especially a second term governor who is almost completing his term, would sit and watch politicians in his party impose a candidate on him as they tried to do.
According to him, “Nobody here is Jonathan’s mate in the state. He was a former President of Nigeria, but some people around him are always dragging his name into the local politics of the state just to have their way, and when they fail, they spread the propaganda that the former president is sidelined. I have been silent all along out of respect for the man that I respect as my ‘oga’ any day.”