Before the conduct of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election in Bayelsa State, former president, Goodluck Jonathan warned that without unity in the ranks of PDP in the state, “the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) may find their way into the governance of the state come November 16, 2019”.
Fidelis Soriwei, the Special Adviser on Media Relations to the outgoing governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, had quoted the former president, as saying this during the PDP elders advisory council meeting held at the Bayelsa Government House in Yenagoa sometime in August.
Quoting Jonathan, Soriwei said: “It is only our unity that can give us victory and if we are not united, they (APC) can get away with it.
“For example, it took the unity of the people of Rivers state including women who were resolute against soldiers to get the PDP victory in the state. If that had not happened, the opposition would have taken it.
“Though, the opposition APC in Bayelsa State lacks the political presence at the ward, local government and state levels to win the November 16, 2019, governorship election, but PDP must be more united to retain power in the state.
“I need to plead with all the aspirants and all political leaders that there should be no mudslinging. We must free the space and eschew rancour because finally one person will become the candidate of the party and for that one person to win the election, all aspirants must work for that person.
“For us to secure this state for PDP, we need maximum unity and that is why all the 21 aspirants are important to us; we must have that maximum unity and must not create any form of division or discrimination. At the end of the day, one person will emerge and all of us will work for whoever emerges as candidate of the party,” he said.
When the ex-president gave this warning in August, no one ever imagined that the PDP could lose a state it has always ruled since the return of democracy in 1999, to the closest opposition, the APC.
Weeks before Saturday’s gubernatorial election, the state governor was very confident of his party’s victory, despite speculations that the APC could capitalise on the internal crisis going on in the party.
However, it was a shock for many on Monday morning, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the APC candidate, David Lyon as the winner of the governorship election. Lyon won the election having polled a total of votes 352,552 to defeat his closest rival and candidate of the PDP, Duoye Diri, who scored 143,172 votes.
There are still confusions among many political analysts and observers as to how the APC was able to pull through and defeat the PDP. While some are laying claim to the fact Jonathan didn’t support the PDP during the election, others believe that the current Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva has been able to sell the APC ideology to the people of the state.
To those who expressed the view that Jonathan didn’t work for his party at the poll, there were allegations that while the electioneering campaign lasted in the state, he never campaigned for the candidate of his party. Also, there were reports that he (Jonathan) fell out with Dickson, because the governor allegedly handpicked Diri against the wish of generality of the party.
Dickson was also said to have hijacked the PDP’s machinery and in the process sidelined Jonathan and his allies in the scheme of things, all in a move to have his chosen candidate as successor. He was also said to have bankrolled the party’s candidate and jettison an age-long rotation arrangement between the three senatorial districts of the state.
The former president had wanted Timi Alaibe, a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as the party’s candidate but Dickson kicked, and instead, supported Diri, who eventually clinched the ticket. The fallout of the PDP governorship primary also led to the defection of Jonathan’s close allies to the APC. Also, the open endorsement of Lyon by Jonathan’s mother gave credibility to the speculations that Jonathan and his kinsmen were out to confront Dickson and his candidate in the election.
As it was gathered, Jonathan could have insisted on any of his loyalists to be the candidate but decided to settle for Alaibe, who he believed was the most formidable candidate and had the support of all. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was said to have joined Jonathan in appealing to Dickson and PDP National chairman, Uche Secondus to let Alaibe get the ticket but Dickson refused to heed to their pleas. It was, however, revealed that Jonathan simply turned the table to show to those who took his political simplicity for granted to learn a bitter lesson.
A close ally of the outgoing governor, who spoke with DAILY INDEPENDENT on the basis of anonymity, lamented that Dickson refused to listen to some of them who complained that Diri was not the best candidate for the party. “We told him that he (Diri) is weak and unpopular among our people but he was so adamant to the extent that he refused to change his mind,” the source said.
However, Sylva on Monday appreciated Dickson for making it much easier for Lyon to win the election. He disclosed this after presenting Lyon to President Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Sylva attributed the electoral victory of the APC candidate to what he described as “poor performance by the Bayelsa State government”.
According to him, “It’s been a very hectic week but I will like to bring in this Eritrean proverb, that ‘if you marry a wife very well, you will be blessed with another wife’.
“Gov. Dickson, unfortunately made our job very easy because he married the wife very badly. Of course this proverb pre-supposes that if you marry a wife badly, you will not get another wife. So he did not marry the state very well, so the state roundly rejected him.
“Like it’s been said earlier, we had a good candidate and when you have a good product it’s very easy to sell it. So, we went round and sold this good to Bayelsans and the result was an overwhelming success,” he stated.