Sorry Tale Of APC Guber Primary In Bayelsa
The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has done the needful by ordering a fresh governorship primary for Bayelsa. To a great extent the ugly spectacle in Siasia Stadium last Tuesday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, was not a governorship primary. Though it was planned to be a faultless event, it turned out to something unbelievable.
A few months after the All Progressives Congress won an unprecedented election both at the states, the National Assembly and the Presidency, people have begun to wonder whether the party was incapable of conducting an ordinary governorship primary in a small state as Bayelsa.
The events of last Tuesday took off on a normal note. But suddenly illegal delegates were smuggled into the list of authentic delegates clutching cloned identity cards even when the identity cards bore the names of the authentic delegates.
Some aspirants, on noticing what happened protested to the electoral committee. This saddened the thugs who had assembled nearby waiting for signals to strike. Minutes later they started chanting war songs in support of the former state governor, Timipre Sylva, who is also one of the governorship aspirants.
The three aspirants that complained were Timi Alaibe, Ebitimi Amgbare and Preye Aganaba. They protested against the use of cloned voter cards by unauthorized persons who were impersonating actual delegates.
Former Governor Timipre Sylva was seen walking towards the podium where he accosted Governor Adams Oshiomhole, chairman of the electoral committee. As he protested that the process was denying him certain advantages, Oshiomhole maintain his calm. Very soon the state chairman of the APC, Tiwei Orunimigha, joined them and tried to calm Sylva down.
However the former governor continued his protests and accusations against Oshiomhole and Oyegun. APC ex-officio NEC member from Bayelsa state, Hon Yekini Nabena Jimoh, beckoned on some of Sylva’s supporters to come inside the main bowl. As the thugs invaded the main entrance and headed to the podium, Oshiomhole remained calm but as the thugs advanced, most of the governorship aspirants, observers and journalists voted with their feet.
APC chairman was heard shouting that whether or not the electoral committee want it or not that the primary must hold. ‘’Whether or not Oshiomhole want it, we must hold our primary, there is a party on ground and no one can chose for us who will be candidate. Alaibe just joined the party two weeks ago and cannot claim to know who is a delegate or not, we are forging ahead with the primary,’’ Orunimigha continued to shout through the public address system.
Earlier, Alaibe, had joined three other aspirants to gently point out various anomalies in the process especially intimidation and irregularities. “You have seen the rancourous process leading to the primaries. The process is being marred by irregularities, violence, intimidation and complete disrespect for aspirants, agents and party officials. This is an enactment of negative history for a party that stands on the mantra of change. I think something is missing somewhere and we need to get it right. We have had delegates perceived to be loyal to us, threatened, beaten and wounded since morning
“Quite a lot of people you see here are not delegates. Most of the authentic delegates are outside. We need to put a stop to this process. We will meet with the chairman of the committee and ask for the cancellation of the process. Some other times we can get the security dynamics rights so that we can get the methodology of the primaries right. We cannot continue with this process.”
In his own contribution, Aganaba lamented that the process does not represent the values and principles of the party adding that it was quite unlike the APC presidential primaries, which he participated in organizing. He added: “The process today is flawed; most of the delegates here are fake. I toiled for this party and sweated for it to be established in Bayelsa and if l am asking for the cancellation of this exercise, they should know how serious l am. I believe we should even move the primary to another state.”
It was after he got the series of protests from the aspirants that Governor Oshiomhole and other members of the committee retreated for a long meeting. Oshiomhole was later to confess to a journalist that thugs took over the sports complex where the exercise was to take place. “The thugs practically prevented the actual delegates from participating and as a result, we could not proceed with the exercise.
The committee was virtually held hostage including my humble self and this time, they were supervised unfortunately by one of the aspirants, the former governor of the state, Timipre Silva, who said to my face and to the committee that we cannot leave the venue of the conference unless we conduct the exercise without accreditation as prescribed by the National Secretariat of the (APC),” the governor stated.
While disclosing that he was forwarding the report of what took place in Yenagoa to the National Secretariat, Oshiomhole said the party would fix a new date for proper accreditation and fresh conduct of the primaries. His words: “It is important that we state clearly that the National Secretariat has adopted a standard guideline for the conduct of gubernatorial primaries and this guideline was used effectively in Kogi state and it produced a candidate in which all the aspirants were quite happy with.
The key issues in this guideline as handed down by the party is that delegates as contained in the list have to be identified either though the Permanent Voters Card, or the National Identity Card or International Passport. This was to ensure that proper accreditation was done because the integrity of an election rests primary on the integrity of the accreditation process, once the accreditation suffers any defect, it affects the entire exercise, as they, you cannot build something on nothing.
Whereas all the aspirants agreed with this guideline, it is only Silva that did not agree with it, he rejected this mode of accreditation and chose to accuse the National Secretariat of formulating the guideline to frustrate his ambition.
“When it became clear that he has mobilised thugs in connivance with the police, these thugs without accreditation found their way into the stadium and insisted that we must conduct the election based on their own rules, Silva insisted that it is the state executive that must conduct the election and not the national body and that it was wrong for the national body to conduct election without the state secretariat.”