The recent defection of some PDP chieftains in Bayelsa State to the APC has thrown up some political calculations in the state that is neither here nor there, so writes OKechukwu Jombo.
What started as rumours have finally become reality with the defection of the crème de la crème of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Bayelsa State over the weekend.
However, the state governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, who is believed to be the loser in all of this, has said that those who defected from the state chapter of the PDP to the APC were greedy and selfish politicians.
Dickson who spoke in Abuja said: “They decamped because each one of them wants to be governor and the PDP platform is not available.
“So, they are going to the next alternative and which, in the case of the APC, is the party that has control of the centre and by so doing positioning themselves for federal appointments, which the PDP and I are not in a position to give to them.
“And they are hoping somehow that federal might, by way of security and the Independent National Electoral Commission, will see their eventual flag bearer into the Government House, which is not going to be the case.”
The governor, who said he is firmly on ground in the state, added that his people are of the view that his administration has done well and on the election day will troop out en mass to vote for him and the PDP.
Dickson added: “We know the antecedents of each and every one of them and we are confident that the people are not with them.”
Asked if he would describe them as greedy and selfish politicians, Dickson said: “That is what people say it is. Our people know what is going on and at the right time they will put all of them to shame. Just watch out.”
On if he was sure of getting re-elected for a second term in office, the former federal lawmaker said he was prayerfully sure.
According to Dickson: “I am sure; that is a PDP state and I have done well. It is not me saying it; it is the people of Bayelsa that are saying it; and they know them. So, let’s wait to see who their flag bearer would be against me.”
A former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Timi Alaibe; a former chairman of the PDP in the state, Colonel Sam Inokoba (rtd); Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and others were among those who defected to the APC and were received by the national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
But Dickson, while accepting that it was their right to decamp, said for the records, it was important that the public knew why they decamped to the APC.
Addressing a political rally at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex, Mr. Inokoba, who listed 10 reasons for leaving the PDP, said they were crossing over to the APC because the PDP government had derailed from its original objectives.
He said they were disenchanted with the leadership style of Governor Dickson and lack of internal democracy in the PDP.
He said Mr. Dickson had abandoned the tenets of good governance and set the state on a path of retrogression and dictatorship even in a democratic dispensation.
Mr. Inokoba said the PDP was bedevilled by endless intra-party squabbles and manipulation by the PDP governor.
He said he was moving into APC with his followers from 105 wards in the state and urged Bayelsa people to shun sentiments to embrace change.
In his remarks, Timi Alaibe noted that he was not changing for the sake of change but to steer the state from poverty to prosperity.
He said a state as endowed as Bayelsa had no business with poverty.
Alaibe regretted that the state had not benefitted from its natural endowments and pledged to work to install an APC government in the state.
In his speech, a former governor of the state, Timipre Sylva said the party was poised to work with all political stakeholders in unity to foster peace and enthrone a people-centered government.
He decried the high level of insecurity and piracy in the state which he said had crippled economic activities in the coastal communities.
He said the APC would sweep the polls in the December election to usher in development in the state, adding that he would join hands with the APC-led federal government to drive the state to greater heights.
Receiving the new members, the APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, handed over brooms to the defectors.
He said the APC would ensure the collective development of the country for the good of all.
Mr. Oyegun paid tributes to Mr. Sylva for galvanizing support for the APC in Bayelsa state, by bringing quality political leadership into the party.
He said the South South remains the economic base of the nation and cannot afford to be in opposition.
Suffice to say that not all the party chieftains who rumoured to be among the decampees did so some prominent leaders of the PDP in Bayelsa State denied ever been in the plans to defect to the APC, saying the claim is baseless as they neither showed willingness nor were they consulted to cross-carpet to another party.
In a recent media report, a chieftain of the PDP, Alex Ekiotene claimed that many of the party’s stalwarts, including the former Alaibe, former deputy governor, Peremobowei Ebebi, among others, were on the list of those decamping to the opposition party on Saturday.
But Ebebi and former Minister of Transport, Festus Porbeni, and a host of others denied their involvement in the defection in separate statements.
While demanding apologies from the “ring leaders” of the defection plan, the PDP leaders unanimously condemned the listing of their names on the list of defectors.
Mr. Porbeni said in a statement that “it is an insult for anyone to associate me with the APC,” adding that he was “never consulted and as a matter of principle not ready or disposed to leaving the PDP.”
He said the APC should not drag his name into its political marketing in whatever guise.
“It was a rude shock to hear and actually see my name as one of those slated for defection to the APC on Saturday; but the truth is that it is a false claim. I was neither consulted nor am I convinced to change party ahead of the election. The reason so far adduced is not convincing beyond personal interest,” he stated.
On his part, Mr. Ebebi stated that he remained a committed member of the PDP and would work to ensure the party’s victory in the December 5 election.
According to him, any decision to change party should be predicated on “some substantive and noble values and in convincing consultation,” noting that “the opposition party was not and could never be a better alternative in the state for now.”
Meanwhile, following the spate of denials, some political watchers and analysts in the state have also taken a swipe at the APC, saying that the move to list names of political bigwigs as defectors without getting their firm confirmations or commitment smacks of “deceit and blackmail”.
Reacting to the development, a Port Harcourt-based lawyer, Sunny Etomi described the denials as “most embarrassing” to both the personalities involved and the APC, adding that “APC in Bayelsa State is already telling the world that it cannot be trusted.”
He said the action of the APC in Bayelsa State amounts to deceit, noting that the issue of name dropping wouldn’t have arisen if the party was confident it could win elections in the state.
“What it clearly shows is that the party is not on ground in the state. In fact, going by the true picture of the unfolding denials, it would appear that the APC in Bayelsa is more of a congregation of desperate governorship aspirants without the support of the grassroots. Dropping names is not a way of attracting any goodwill,” he said.
From the forgoing, one can see that the political equation of the state is at the verge of changing unless some drastic actions by the stakeholders led by former President Goodluck Jonathan and DSP Alamsieagh are taken quickly to which they said they have started.
And also, if all the elected officials under PDP in the Senate, House of Representatives and state House of Assembly muster their strength together, then they can beat APC to their own game but if they fail to do so, the end of PDP like at the centre is imminent.