Bayelsa APC Primaries: The Fight Before The Battle
Nobody would have imagined attempting to wrest the governance baton of the Creek Haven from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and by extension, the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. But as it is said in ecclesiastical narratives, all that seems to be the old things, which have passed away, and all things have become new. There is a new political dawn and reality.
Right now, former President Jonathan, Governor Seriake Dickson and their PDP know that nothing can be taken for granted anymore in the political arithmetic of the state.
Not when the All Progressives Congress (APC) has waxed so strong across the length and breath of the nation.
It is even more unsettling for the PDP when the mass and crème de la crème of the party (PDP) swarmed into the APC few weeks ago in Yenagoa at a ceremony that seemed to have prematurely sounded the Nunc Dimitis of the PDP in the state. The sweep was massive such that even the state Chairman of the PDP, Col Sam Inokoba (rtd) led thousands of PDP faithful to swell the rank of the APC. Unfortunately, Inokoba died few days later. But the other members have continued to make the APC a go-to party in the state. And that is sending shivers down the spine of the PDP in the state.
The fear of the APC impending Tsunami was evident in the theme of Jonathan’s campaign for Dickson last week when the latter formally declared for second term bid.
Jonathan had to play on the sentiment of the state’s people when he said they should support Dickson so as to save his (Jonathan’s) political history and dignity.
But those who know say it is apparent that the glory of electoral charm has vacated the PDP in the state.
The failure of Jonathan to do any significant thing for either the state or the geo-political region has eroded the moral/political authority of Jonathan on the people. That perhaps explains the resort to veiled blackmail.
But before the village square battle, comes the micro-fight within the APC. Dateline is September 19. On that day, the APC will hold its primaries in the state to determine who will fly its flag at the December 5 governorship election in the state.
Although there are about a dozen governorship aspirants in the APC, many analysts believe it will be a two-horse race between former governor of the state, Timipre Sylva and former Niger Delta Development Commission Chief (NDDC) chief, Timi Alaibe. That means it will be a Timi versus Timi contest. Many of the other aspirants may not have aimed beyond the “also-ran” tag.
So what are Sylva and Alaibe bringing to the table as to make the party’s delegates line up behind them?
Sylva having been a governor in the state certainly comes with a familiar governance experience. How that experience impacted on the people of the state at the time is a different issue.
On the other hand, Alaibe comes with his trailer-load of his whiz kid niche. Famed technocrat, Alaibe has a sterling public service credential especially as his years in the NDDC helped to largely recast the Bayelsa outlook as we have it today.
Both Sylva and Alaibe were originally PDP members. Former President Jonathan hounded the former out of the party, when he (Jonathan) refused to allow him (Sylva) run for a second term. In his place, the present governor, Dickson was foisted on the party and the government. In understandable protest, Sylva stormed out of the party. And when the APC rainbow crystalised, he pitched his tent therein, albeit symbolically as he could not have much electoral impact for his party, given that the party (APC) polled just about 5,000 votes during the presidential election in the state.
His return bid is thus seen largely as wanting to continue from where he stopped in 2012.
But what are the landmark achievements during his four-year governorship that will endear him to the people? It is believed that he merely ran a government-as-usual template, which produced no remarkable achievement as both the state water project and the inherited hospital project remained uncompleted and enmeshed in needless crisis and controversies.
Today, Bayelsans are diligently searching for what will remind them of Timipre Sylva’s four-year rule in the state, and they cannot locate or identify any.
Those who are a little uncharitable have described Sylva’s years in Creek Haven—the seat of power in Bayelsa State, as the years of the locust. Those who so believe therefore do not see the essence of his “second missionary journey” as the first missionary journey was without spark and mark.
But those who are goading him on in the race argue that he risked his political career by staying in the opposition in the then president’s very own state. And that he therefore deserves to be rewarded with the second term.
In that wise, the support base of Sylva is thus predicated on compensational reward, not deserved or earned character strength.
On the other hand, Alaibe, although coming into the race rather late, he yet comes with a rave of swell support, many of whom had been his long-standing supporters and allies.
Alaibe had had repeated shots at the Bayelsa governorship, but he had hardly ever been on the ballot, essentially because of the intervention of the party (PDP) leaders at the time.
This time, he has come forth smoking with a rebounding courage and confidence.
Although he recently declared for the APC, insiders say he had been of great support to the party. “ He is not exactly a stranger to the workings of the party”, a chieftain of the party said.
Aside the nuances of party calendar, Alaibe, is believed to be a far better aspirant in the pack, what with his experience, hands-on capacity, wide contacts which can be maximally deployed to turn the state around, as well as strength of character which puts him heads ahead of the other contenders.
Political bookmakers have predicted that Alaibe is about the only aspirant that commands both a fair spread of goodwill and support in the state as well as having capacity to match Governor Dickson bat-for-bat.
His support base had grown from his days as the Executive Director, Finance and Administration (EDFA) and later Managing Director, NDDC as well as his days as the Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty Matters.
Funkekeme, an architect, wrote from Port Harcourt.