Bayelsa APC Governorship Controversy And Sylva’s Winning Streak
THE stage for the failure of the All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship primary election in Bayelsa State was set even before
the scheduled date.
Party members in the state became apprehensive when the primary election postponed from September 19 to 22, as announced by Deputy Publicity of the party, Timi Frank.
Frank had attributed this to issues of logistic and special request by Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who is the Chairman of the committee to conduct the exercise.
At the party’s state secretariat in Yenagoa, members were seen discussing the possible effect of the postponement. Their fear came to pass on Tuesday, September 22.
As early as 8am, the delegates were already line up for accreditation and as expected, security operatives present at the Samson Siasia Sport Complex venue took their time to screen people before they were allowed into the stadium.
Along the line, some aspirants raised the alarm that some of their delegates were deliberately not allow into the venue for proper accreditation.
Early signal that all was not well with some aspirants at the venue emerged when Timi Alaibe, a former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), led two other aspirants- Ebitimi Amgbare and Preye Aganaba- to call for the cancelation of the election, which process had barely started at about 9.30 a.m.
Alaibe alleged intimidation, harassment and perceived electoral fraud.Oshiomhole did not arrive the venue until a few after noon, and this raised the suspicion.
He held a meeting with members of the election committee and all the aspirants to resolve some of the challenges, including the issues of alleged cloning of PVCs.
Timipre Sylva, an aspirant and former governor the state, had explained to journalist that Oshiomhole discussed with the aspirant on the possibility of ensuring the primary was concluded.The Edo State governor had raised the alarm that he was held hostage
by irate youths at the venue.
As soon as he was ‘rescued,’ he said he was going to eat and left the venue and never came back.
Seven other member of the committee, who were left behind went ahead to conduct the primary, where Sylva was returned as the flag bearer of the party in the December 5 governorship election.
Sylva was declared winner by a member of the committee, Nelson Alabar, with a total number of 726 votes to defeat his closest rival and former member of the House of Representatives, Warman Ogoriba.
Sylva, in his post victory speech, described his emergence as a proof of the indivisibility of the APC at the state and national levels.
He said: “I have never been proud in my life. I have belonged to many political parties such as the defunct UNCP, the nearly dead PDP, but I am very proud of the APC, with a very clear internal democracy.
“A few years ago, I was unjustly stopped from contesting the governorship primary by PDP, which a few days ago, disqualified a serving senator from contesting. It is shameful.
I have once again gone through a primary and emerged winner. It is contest like this that makes the difference between APC and others.
“There is no doubt that we will win the election.
Ogoriba, who spoke on behalf of other aspirants, accepted defeat, adding: “I am proud of the APC for organising a credible election with such outcome.It was a battle well won.”
But things became awry when Oshiomhole, days after the primary, said the exercise did not follow the procedure, prompting the national leadership of the party to call for its cancelation.
Sylva, in response to Oshiomhole, through his media aide, Doifie Boukoribo, dismissed as a deliberate “act of mischief” and “lies,” Oshiomhole’s claim that he (Sylva) truncated the process.
Sylva stated that though Oshiomhole was chairman of the committee and had left the venue, the election went ahead and was free, fair and without violence.
He alleged that from his position, it was clear that Oshiomhole never wanted to conduct the rescheduled election and “clearly had preconceived plans” about the exercise.
He added: “Oshiomhole cannot really say anything about the primary election, because he had left the venue at the time voting commenced.
“Oshiomhole set the process in motion for voting to commence before he excused himself on the grounds that he was going to eat, and he mandated other members of the committee to carry on without him.
“It bothers on pettiness for Oshiomhole to quote me as antagonist to new entrants to our party.
“Every discussion I had with the governor was public. The only private conversation I had with him was when he walked up to me and asked me if
I truly believed he was working against my interest. To that, I answered ‘YES.’
“As a man of integrity (?), he even offered to step down as chairman. If he had stepped down, would that have invalidated the primaries?”
He recalled that he was the one that received all new entrants, after and Oshiomhole failed to honour an invitation to that effect.
Sylva further alleged: “Oshiomhole came to Yenagoa with a clear agenda, which was to get me out of the race at all cost.
“We are aware that he had been lobbying at the centre to get me out of the race in order to pave the way for one of the aspirants.
“Indeed, one of the aspirants had boasted openly that Oshiomhole would cancel the primary once he arrived, shortly before his arrival.
“If I were not there, contrary to his insinuation that I rented thugs to manhandle him, the crowd would have manhandled him. I personally accompanied Oshiomhole to the gate when he was going to eat.
“We are shocked that the man who claims to be morally upright with a strong ethical orientation would land in Yenagoa for an exercise in which he ought to be an impartial arbiter with a helicopter provided by a friend of one of the aspirants.”
Also, in a statement they signed, some other aspirants, including Ogoriba, Clever Ikisikpo, Romeo Bekeyai, Godknows Powell, Charity Vadelago and Ebitei Francis said they were proud of the good fight they had fought.
They stated that since a winner had emerged through “a transparent process,” it behoves them and all APC members to rally round the winner for victory at the governorship election.
While congratulating Sylva,’ they said: “As aspirants in the contest and stakeholders in the APC family, we are proud of the democratic process that led to the emergence of our flag bearer for the December 5 governorship election in the state.
“We urge our brothers and sisters who might have disagreed in the process of agreeing on our candidate to sink their differences and join the historic commission of delivering the APC victory on December 5, which the whole Bayelsa needs badly.“Again, we congratulate Sylva on emerging the governorship
candidate of our great party and congratulate the entire APC family
in Bayelsa on a transparent and successful primary election.“We have once again demonstrated our reputation for fair play and good
Efforts to get the view of Alaibe and other aggrieved aspirants on the exercise were unsuccessful.
Bur certainly, the last has not been heard of the exercise, as the party needs unity and harmony in its quest to upstage Governor Seriake Dickson, who has emerged as PDP’s candidate from its primary election a few days after the APC primary.