Mike Odiegwu, Yenagoa
Efforts by the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to reconcile the two major camps of the party in Bayelsa State ahead of the November 16 governorship election have not yielded expected results.
It was gathered that the state Governor at the buildup to the primary election and politicking that produced Senator Douye Diri as the Candidate of the party divided the state PDP into restoration and non-restoration members.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan and a former Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe, who were classified as non-restoration members, lost out completely in the party’s choice of candidate and running mate.
While Alaibe, a frontline non-restoration governorship aspirant during the internal poll, is in court challenging the process that led to the emergence of Diri, Jonathan, who felt sidelined, was said to have abandoned the ongoing campaign to Dickson and his state party leadership.
It was gathered that a reconciliation committee chaired by a former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was battling to reconcile the aggrieved party leaders and convince them to work for the victory of the PDP at the poll.
But a party leader, who spoke in confidence, described the party’s reconciliation efforts as belated saying that most of the foot soldiers of Jonathan and Alaibe had already left the PDP and vowed never to come back.
“This reconciliation should have come before September 23, the last day for substitution of candidates at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Most of the people, who are leaving waited for the national party leadership to intervene and mount pressure on Dickson to make some concessions.
“But these defections and resignations by political appointees started after the closure of candidate substitution. For instance, most of the Jonathan’s foot soldiers that left the party have vowed not to come back. Even Alaibe’s loyalists have also moved on. Most of them left because they were disappointed at the choice of candidate and running mate”, he said.
It was further learnt that the committee had yet to make productive contact with Jonathan, who was said to be out of the country.
While some said Jonathan decided to stay away to avoid undue pressure, others said the former President was on a United Nations Peace mission.
But a member of the restoration team, who spoke in confidence, said the efforts of the committee were yielding positive results.
He said talks were in a gear adding that soon Alaibe and Jonathan would work with other PDP leaders for the victory of Senator Douye Siri and his running mate, Lawrence Erwujakpor.
“I can assure you that the committee is making positive efforts. Soon, the former President and Alaibe will work for the victory of Douye Diri at the poll,” he said.
Signs that all was not well with the reconciliation emerged following exchange of hot words between the PDP leadership in the state backed by Dickson and Alaibe.
The state Chairman of PDP, Cleopas Moses, in a statement said that the party was not under any threats from the APC following defections.
The PDP State Chairman said that all those who defected from the parties were persons readmitted into the party with Alaibe in November last year.
According to him, the supporters of Alaibe whose original motive was to support him under the platform of the ADC and who were readmitted into the PDP with him in November were the ones leaving for their party.
Cleopas who urged the members of the PDP to ignore the stories of defections within the party said that only those members of the APC who were defeated by the PDP in the 2015 elections defected to their base to await a more crushing defeat.
He listed the politicians to include Chief Peremobowei Ebebi, Prof. Seiyefa Brisibe, who was Alaibe’s Campaign Director-General, now alternate DG in APC, Chief Nimi Amange, APC Senatorial Candidate , Hon. Enegesi, Mike Ogiasa, Beinmo Spiff, Octopus, and Hon. Tiwei, Orunimighe, a former State Chairman òf the APC who came with Alaibe.
He said, “The good people of Bayelsa State should ignore the orchestrated report of defections in the PDP. The fact is that Chief Timi Alaibe mobilized some passive members of the party and opposition elements to pursue his gubernatorial agenda. These are the people who are defecting.
“Alaibe’s supporters whose original objective was to support him on the platform of the ADC came to fight within the party and these are the purported party leaders who are leaving. They All came with him from the APC in November this year.”
But Alaibe in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Enize Ogio, accused the party chairman of lying unreservedly to members of the public.
The statement said: “The party chairman unreservedly lied to the public when he stated that Chief Alaibe was directly responsible for the mass exit of previously prominent members of the PDP to the main opposition party in the state, the All Progressive Congress.
“It would have been appropriate, under certain circumstances, to ignore Chief Cleopas ranting on behalf of his evil-minded sponsors whose mission is to search for who to blame for their failures in party leadership. But doing so would mean denying the Bayelsa people and indeed other Nigerians the opportunity to know the truth so as not to be misled by this cooked-up falsehood.
“For avoidance of doubt, Chief Alaibe is not in any way responsible for the defection of these respectable Bayelsans from the PDP to any other party. How would he do such a thing when he has personally, in repeated signed statements, made it clear that despite pressures from all quarters, he would remain in the PDP and that he would not be persuaded to abandon the party though his desire for the governorship of the state was tragically aborted by Chief Cleopas and his ilk.
“It is so unfortunate that at a time Chief Cleopas and his sponsors should be apologising to the good and patient people of Bayelsa State for presiding over the conduct of the most procedurally flawed primary election in the history of the state—an election that deprived the people of the opportunity to choose their next governor—they are busy grandstanding and looking for who to blame.
“This is the second time in two months that Chief Cleopas has found it convenient to allow himself to be used by his pay-masters to tell blatant lies against Chief Alaibe in attempt to rubbish his reputation without considering the legal consequences.
“It is sad to note that at a time the National Headquarters of the PDP has set up a committee to reconcile and bring aggrieved members of the party back to the political family after the defective primary election, the party leadership in Bayelsa State is embarking on further self-destruction, just three weeks to a crucial governorship election’ by bandying falsehood against someone who could reinvent and mobilise the people against the already anticipated failure of the party at the poll on November 16.
“It should worry every member of the PDP that Chief Cleopas, instead of burying his head in shame that the party he was elected to lead is disintegrating on his watch, is noisily going about advertising his glaring incompetence by attacking someone whose public service records and leadership qualities are far beyond his imagination.
“Let it be known that those who have left the PDP for other political parties in Bayelsa State are merely fed-up with the ineptitude of the current leadership of the party in the state exemplified by the partisanship exhibited in the last governorship primary election. Their exit has nothing whatsoever to do with the insinuations made by Chief Cleopas and his sort. Chief Alaibe still remains a member of the PDP.”