By Sylvanus Okpe
The conspicuous absence of former President Goodluck Jonathan and a leading contender at the September 3rd Bayelsa PDP Guber primary, Ndutimi Alaibe, from the party’s mega rally on Wednesday ahead of the November 16th polls, seems to have squashed the lingering speculation that all is not well with the ‘umbrella family’ in the state.
The absence of the two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders leaves much to be worried about as curious political analysts wasted no time in drawing the conclusion that little or no efforts have been made to pacify the many nerves that got frayed following the outcome of the Guber primary.
The outgoing governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, who had before now, occupied a special seat in the community of democrats began to arouse doubts as to his credibility and democratic tendencies when he moved to sway the party delegates into settling for a member of the Bayelsa Restoration Team. The governor was clear in his resolve to handpick his successor from its eight members who already counted themselves among the 21 candidates that threw in their hats for the battle to fly the party’s flag.
The governor, who later narrowed his choice of successor to two; namely, the senator representing Bayelsa Central, Douye Diri and the immediate past Secretary to the State Government, Kemela Okara, later settled for the unfancied Diri who hails from the same Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Council Area with Alaibe, a renowned grassroots politician and also a leading contender in the primary who is a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The outcome of the primary which returned Diri as the flagbearer became contentious amongst party faithful who felt Governor Dickson failed to consult with his erstwhile political Godfather and benefactor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan before the last-minute gimmicks that paved the way for Diri to clinch the flag.
Many PDP leaders and analysts in the know as to how Dr Jonathan changed the tides in favour of Hon Dickson, merely a member of the House of Reps during the PDP Guber primary in 2012 protested Dickson’s perceived efforts in relegating the erstwhile president to political oblivion in the state. This prompted not a few Jonathan’s loyalists and kinsmen to disassociate themselves from the political dispensation of Hon Dickson. The first to publicly protest this perceived unfavourable treatment was the Former Special Adviser on Power Development to the Governor, Mr Michael Ogiasa who immediately resigned his appointment with the state government.
While the political unrest generated by the primary raged on, the Governor worsened the situation by orchestrating the appointment of another PDP serving Senator, Mr Lawrence Ewrudjiakpo who represents Bayelsa West Senatorial district Diri’s running-mate. This further plunged the party into turmoil as many PDP stakeholders viewed the actions of the Governor as a desperate coy to pave way for his ascendancy into the Senate at the expiration of his tenure in few weeks to come. This speculation could not be brushed aside as Mr Dickson who hails from Bayelsa West would stand a chance to push his political career back to the National Assembly in the event that INEC conducts a by-election when the outcome of the election favours the PDP.
So many party stalwarts have also questioned the rationale behind the Governor’s removal of the only two PDP senator from the National Assembly thereby making their positions susceptible to a possible take over by the waxing opposition should a by-election be conducted. Many stakeholders reasoned that the party ought to have sealed that font and sought for fresh party men to occupy the Governorship and deputy governorship positions of the party.
The discontent is enough to negatively affect the fortunes of the party in the November 16th Guber polls. Analysts opined that Jonathan might be gentle but not a political neophyte, insisting that his political block and wide acceptability across every stratum of the state will play an inestimable role in who succeeds Dickson as governor.
If anything, the rally in Yenogoa, on Wednesday, raised question marks about the effectiveness of the Dr Bukola Saraki-led reconciliation committee of the party. So many political onlookers who were abreast with the political development in the state doubted the efficacy of the peace committee.
Mr Alaibe’s political acceptability in the state would also play a significant role in granting the party victory and his obvious indifference to the party’s campaigns has been described by a commentator as injurious to its desired electoral success.
The absence of PDP governors particularly of the South-South region at the conference even as Hon Dickson still holds sway as the Chairman of PDP Governors forum has been interpreted by many analysts as a direct protest of the demeaning treatment Dr Jonathan was subjected to by the Governor.
It has torn the party apart albeit supporters of the state governor are unwavered in their belief that the Governor’s popularity and grassroots touch will count in their favour as November 16th draws closer.