Despite the fact that leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) made moves to appease former President Goodluck Jonathan, members of his family and his followers in Balyesa State, last week, there are indications that the former President and his group may support the candidate of the rival All Progressives Congress (APC), former Governor Timipre Sylva, in the election scheduled to hold in Bayelsa State on December 5.
As of yesterday, there were enough signs that the former President’s family, especially Mrs. Patience Jonathan, may have irrevocably fallen apart with Governor Seriake Dickson over what some people described as ‘disloyalty’ on the part of the governor.
To prove that all is not well between the party and the governor, different sources said that, when the Peoples Democratic (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT) members met at the country home of former President Jonathan in Otuoke last Monday to settle the disagreement within the party in the state, Governor Dickson and former Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, his staunch supporter, were not allowed to attend the meeting. The thinking of party stalwarts is that the former President may have lost confidence in the governor.
At the meeting, different sources said the party resolved that all the members suspended by the party and Governor Dickson should be re-admitted and be treated equally like any other member to ensure the party once again becomes one united family in the state.
However, there were claims by loyalists of Jonathan that Governor Dickson, in company of former Governor Alamieyeseigha, sighted the former President and pretended as if he did not see him at the airport in Port Harcourt. The story went further to state that when Alamieyeseigha reminded Dickson of the interpretation that may be given to such action and the possible consequences, the governor rushed to Otuoke, country home of the former President to see him, but was allegedly snubbed by Jonathan.
Those who worked with Dickson said members of the PDP condemned the suspension order placed on the state chairman of the party, Col. Sam Inokoba (rtd) by the governor.
Party sources said there were strong feelings among party members that the party should not field Dickson if the party intends to win the election. They maintained that the governor destroyed the party in the state and that they are mounting pressure on the former President to ensure that the party does not present him as candidate of the party.
For instance, two former Commissioners, who served under Dickson, Mrs. Marie Ebikake and Ebikitin Diongoli, warned the PDP against presenting Dickson for election because his candidature would spell doom for the state.
The duo spoke in Yenagoa, under the auspices of the Peoples Democratic Party Unity Forum, and emphasised that there was strong indignation against the person of Dickson because he failed the people.
Ebikake, who was removed from office because of her alleged closeness to former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, also gave insight into what transpired during their meeting with PDP’s Board of Trustees in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s residence in Otuoke.
She said, during the meeting, Dickson and former Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha were barred from participating because the meeting was not meant for reconciliation. She also corrected the insinuation in some quarters that she and other members of the Unity Forum were either expelled or suspended, saying that there was no time they were sanctioned by the party.
Ebikake, who commended the BOT members for intervening in the crisis in Bayelsa PDP, admitted that, prior to their intervention, the PDP was divided because of Dickson’s alleged high-handedness and manipulations, adding that it was such division and crises that led to the formation of the Unity Forum within the PDP, with a view to uniting members.
She said: “We are averse to the governor contesting for a second term under the platform of the PDP because if he does, the party will lose woefully. The governor has squandered his political goodwill and such is bad for our party. He cannot be governor again. We will use all constitutional means to ensure he does not come back.”
On his part, Diongolo said members of the Forum were bent on preventing Dickson from flying the flag of the PDP in the state, and reiterated that if by any chance, the party gave him the ticket, the PDP stood to lose the governorship poll.
Diongoli added: “During the meeting, we told the BoT members that, ahead of the governorship election in the state, there was the need for the party to be united. We asked them to recall all the members suspended or expelled unconditionally, as they were sanctioned without reasons. They agreed with us and reversed all that.”
But reacting to the allegation, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Mr. Fyneman Wilson, said people misconstrued the decision at the meeting with BoT members where it was resolved that those suspended and expelled, but yet to defect to other parties, were pardoned.
Wilson briefed selected reporters last Friday, and disclosed that the decision did not affect the embattled PDP Chairman, Col. Sam Inokoba, whose matter bordered on alleged embezzlement of party funds.
Wilson also claimed that Inokoba was asked by the BoT members, led by its acting chairman, Mohammed Bello, at a meeting presided over by former President Goodluck Jonathan, to step down as chairman because of alleged misappropriation of funds meant for the presidential campaign.
He said Dickson remained the best foot for the governorship election, adding that he had performed creditably in all facets of the state.
He said: “Dickson has the grassroots support and we are sure of getting 90 per cent of the votes. Therefore, as a responsible government, we wish to state categorically that the welfare, security and meaningful development of our people are our priority.”
Unconfirmed sources said that, at a meeting convened by Mrs. Jonathan last Monday at her palatial hotel in Otuoke, the former First Lady told members of her group not to support the re-election of the incumbent governor. She allegedly directed them to support the aspiration of Sylva.
When some members raised the observation as to the practicality and feasibility of working for Sylva when the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had openly declared support for Dickson, Mrs. Jonathan was said to have asked the group to leave her husband to her to handle, saying nothing will make Jonathan support Dickson when the chips are down.
She was quoted as saying: “My husband dey play politics with Dickson. Dickson think say na only him wise; no bi only him waka come Bayelsa. E de chop alone, e go die alone. Oga will soon dump Dickson, don’t worry. My husband was accused of not being a good politician. Now, he has learnt fast to be a good politician; what you see is politics, Dickson won’t go anywhere.”
Mrs. Jonathan and her group allegedly resolved to mobilize support for Sylva as an alternative, but vowed to remain in the PDP, to frustrate the re-election of Dickson who is generally adjudged to have opened up the state and delivered on his campaign promises to the people.
Mrs. Jonathan’s anti-Dickson mobilization came few days after the national secretariat of the party dispatched a reconciliatory committee to Bayelsa to reconcile the feuding factions in the party ahead of the elections. The committee is headed by the party’s acting BoT Chairman, Gen. Haliru Mohammed Bello, and was received by the governor in Government House after which they proceeded to meet the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in his Otuoke home. The committee also met with Mrs Jonathan’s group as well as those party members who had either been suspended or expelled from the PDP for anti-party activities in the last national and state Houses of Assembly elections in the state. Members of the committee who were on the trip with the chairman included former governor of Ebonyi State, Senator Sam Egwu, Senator Stella Omu and the South-South Vice Chairman of the party, Chief Cairo Ojougboh.