By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
The fate of Governor Timipre Sylva as a contestant in the forthcoming gubernatorial primaries in Bayelsa State was Abuja’s major talking political item this week.
Though successful at the initial screening held in Port-Harcourt last week, the Governor’s prospects in the scheduled November 19 gubernatorial party primaries were dimmed at the beginning of the week when the Gubernatorial Appeals Committee headed by Chief Mrs. Abiodun Olujimi left him out of the four candidates approved to contest. The committee neither approved nor disqualified him but rather referred his case to the National Working Committee, NWC of PDP.
The committee’s decision it was learnt was based on weighty security issues raised in a petition against the Governor which the committee claimed was not sufficiently empowered to deliberate on and hence the referral to the NWC.
However, that excuse Saturday Vanguard learnt was for the committee to excuse itself from taking any action on the Governor.
As at press time, no decision had been taken by the NWC as it kept on dilly-dallying on the issue despite pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan from several supporters or associates of the embattled Governor.
The committee’s failure to uphold the screening granted Sylva inevitably compelled the Governor and his associates to relocate to Abuja as they knocked on doors of party bigwigs with influence to change what they saw as the tide against the Governor.
While close aides of the governor are confident that he would laugh last saying he would overcome the obstacle on his path and go ahead to clinch the party ticket at the primaries, his army of supporters in the field have warned that barring him from contesting the primaries would spell doom for the PDP at the governorship poll next year.
Notwithstanding the refusal of the party to clear him to contest, they reasoned that he has the structure on ground to clinch the governorship poll if he decides to move to another party to actualize his ambition.
The governor, they added has the Council Chairmen as well as members of the State House of Assembly on his side.
In a statement ‘On Sylva We Stand’ jointly signed by the 24 members, they noted that as elected representatives of the people, they endorsed Sylva because there is no alternative to him from those who have indicated interest to contest.
Indications that the governor may be wooed to abandon the umbrella if things did not go his way emerged at a reception organized in his honour penultimate week by the State Chapter of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria, ALGON. The atmosphere at the venue of the rally was charged up with various banners sending what could best be described as the mind of his supporters to the appropriate quarters.
The address by the State Chairman of ALGON and Chairman, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area,Chief Timipa Tiwe Orunimighe on possible movement to another platform for the Governor to realize his second term bid was a confirmation that Chief Sylva is facing so much heat within the ranks of the PDP.
A very big banner at the Peace park also read,” “Without Sylva, PDP Fails in Bayelsa”.
According to Chief Tiwe Orunimighe, it would be wise for the party to give the ticket to Sylva or apparently be ready to damn the consequence of losing the state.
“And so, we the custodians of democracy at the grass roots have decided that come 2012, and if you look at the banners here, we are telling our great party something. We are the party. The party is not human, it is the human being that is the party. We are the only constant variable in politics, the human beings. Every other variable will change. So, today, that is the message. It is either our great party gives us our choice or the Glass house would be destroyed. I don’t know. That is what we have decided. And that is why in agreement with you people today, that is why we called you people to tell Bayelsans, to tell Nigerians, that if the man we want is not given the mandate to contest, because the party is not human, the human beings will vote for who they want. That is the level we have come”, Orunimighe said
He continued, “And so today, ALGON Bayelsa, we have said and of course you know, elections are conducted in local government areas and not in Abuja or any corner. We have mobilized our people. If Sylva is not given another chance, what do we do? Of course no vacancy, PDP itself knows that. ALGON, has decided to work for our father, Sylva has bought his form. ALGON is saying Sylva or nobody.”
His supporters are no doubt banking on the power of incumbency.
However, the Governor’s capacity to bank on the power of incumbency is also threatened with the looming judgment on an appeal on the tenure elongation case pending before the Supreme Court. A negative judgment would inevitably negate the incumbency factor and revert the Governor to an ordinary citizen.
The outcome of the meeting of the National Working Committee of the party in Abuja is expected to make or mar the party chances in the days ahead.
Should the NWC refuse to include the Governor as a participant in the scheduled primary, the Governor could be constrained to decamp to another political party, possibly the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.