By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
LAGOS — Despite the silence of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, on his eligibility for the forthcoming Bayelsa gubernatorial primaries, Gov. Timipre Sylva, was yesterday pushing ahead with preparations for the contest with the mobilisation of his supporters across the state.
The governor’s fate was, nevertheless, in further limbo, yesterday, as a scheduled meeting of the PDP’s National Working Committee, NWC, expected to reconsider its stance on him failed to hold.
However, the governor’s power base was shored up as six of the eight members of the Bayelsa State delegation in the National Assembly petitioned the NWC on behalf of the governor affirming their support for his participation in the contest.
The only exceptions to the petition were Senator Paulker Emmanuel who was not in the country when the petition was drafted and Rep. Henry Dickson who is contesting in the primaries.
The governor, in further demonstration of his determination to contest the primary, would be launching his campaign tomorrow, it was learnt yesterday.
Chief backers of the governor and top state officials who had recently almost all totally relocated to Abuja to plead his case had by yesterday divided themselves with some returning to Bayelsa to prepare for the three-stage contest commencing next Monday with ward congresses across the state.
The ward congress is to be followed by the local government area congresses before the State Congress on November 19 during which the party flag bearer for the contest is expected to be chosen.
Supporters of the embattled governor, it emerged yesterday, were now actively mobilising supporters for the ward congress where delegates for the LGA congress would be chosen.
“We are actively mobilising and preparing our supporters for the ward congresses and we are not taking anything for granted. Throughout the state, the supporters are being mobilised to ensure a successful outcome at the ward congresses,” the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Nathan Egba said over the telephone from Bayelsa.
Meanwhile, the clearance of Chief Francis Doukpola, a former banker to contest the primary may have again compounded the choices opened to those against the incumbent governor, Vanguard learnt yesterday.
Doukpola, a former banker, was the original choice of President Goodluck Jonathan to replace him as the PDP gubernatorial candidate after he was picked as Vice-Presidential candidate ahead of the 2007 presidential election.
NASS members’ petition
Meanwhile, the National Assembly members in their petition to the NWC channelled through the Acting National Chairman, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, expressed reservation on the party’s silence on Sylva.
Signatories of the petition were Senators Heineken Lokpobiri, Bayelsa West Senatorial Disrict; Senator Clever Ikisikpo, Bayelsa East Senatorial District; Rep.. Warman Ogoriba Yenagoa, Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency; Rep. Jephatha Foinghan, Brass/Nembe Federal Constituency; Rep. Nadu Karibo, Ogbia Federal Constituency and Rep. Henry Ofongo, Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency.
In their petition they affirmed that Gov. Sylva having passed through the gubernatorial screening and the Appeal Committee screening and having not been indicted on any of the grounds as provided for in the party’s constitution should be allowed to participate in the primaries.
They affirmed that “the powers and functions of the National Working Committee, NWC, as enshrined in Article 12.63 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party 2009 as amended do not include screening and or clearance of candidates for any election.”
“In the light of the above, His Excellency Chief Timipre Sylva is legally speaking cleared and qualified to contest in the primary election. Subjecting him to any further scrutiny by the National Working Committee, NWC, is illegal, manifestly at variance with the PDP constitution and the Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections 2010 and therefore null and void.”
“Mr. Chairman Sir, as stakeholders and very loyal party members, we wish to inform the National Working Committee that the uncertainty being created is causing a lot of tension in Bayelsa State chapter of our great party and indeed the polity of the state.”
“We therefore demand with all sense of responsibility that His Excellency Chief Timipre Sylva and all other aspirants screened and cleared by the Gubernatorial Screening Committee and the Gubernatorial Screening Appeal Panel should be allowed to contest the primary election in line with the tenets of democracy and the rule of law.”
“Anything short of this would be a violation of the supremacy of the Constitution of our great party as enshrined in Article 2. This would send wrong signals that would undoubtedly have dare consequences for our party as fortunes in the general elections.”