Sachet water is banned at today’s rally of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State because of fears it could be used as missile by contending forces in the camp of the president wanting to settle scores at the rally ground. Why is there trouble at home?
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Despite the ban on sachet water at the campaign ground, unrepentant troublemakers are said to have devised other strategies of hurling missiles at their foes on the podium.
It was as such not surprising that yesterday, the Joint Task Force, JTF in Yenogoa carried out a show of strength along the major highways of the town with the objective of telling the troublemakers that the authorities were set for them.
While President Goodluck Jonathan remains almost universally popular among his people, a sharp division has arisen among his supporters. The cleavage is essentially formed by the different allegiances to his wife, Mrs. Patience Jonathan and one of his closest political disciples, Governor Serikae Dickson.
The trouble between both parties is the common gist among stakeholders.
In various states where she has campaigned for her husband, Mrs. Jonathan has sufficiently worked the crowd to the obvious satisfaction of her husband.
So satisfied is Dr. Jonathan with the campaign stumps of his wife that he has recently taken it as a habit that whenever he is called upon to speak that he now almost brings his wife forward to first speak.
However, as the campaign train berths in Jonathan’s home base today, his wife is bound to be an issue following Mrs. Jonathan’s alleged meddlesomeness in the political affairs of the state.
Ahead of today’s visit, the contending factions in the state chapter had publicly shown their distrust and exposed what was claimed as covert plans to humiliate one another.
There were allegations that the camp of Mrs. Jonathan had recruited men to jeer at the governor during the rally. The allegation was strong enough for those sympathetic to the governor to issue a counter threat warning Mrs. Jonathan not to come for today’s event. But it is doubtful the First Lady would succumb to that threat especially given her strong political appendages across the state.
Whatever is the cause of the malaise is not known, but some stakeholders trace the differences to before the emergence of Dickson as governor when he chose his present deputy, Admiral John Jonah over Dr Waripomowei Dudafa, special assistant (domestic matters) in the presidency.
Dickson’s choice of a deputy was said to have been strongly opposed by associates of Patience, but with the deed done, there was apparently little she could do in order not to present a divided house in the more contentious fight to stop Timipire Sylva. The appointment of Mrs. Jonathan as a permanent secretary in the state civil service after Dickson’s emergence was one of the acts said to have been carried out to placate the first lady.
However, that it seemed, was not enough as not long after trouble resurfaced barely months after. Associates of Dickson alleged a covert script to stop him from a second term through the use of Dudafa.
As Dickson moved to reinforce his own structures, the first lady last October resigned her appointment as a permanent secretary drawing the battle line between her and Dickson.
A number of associates of the first lady who got appointment in the state through her goodwill followed her in leaving the Dickson government.
The crisis reached a new climax on January 5, 2015 when two close associates of the first lady, the Commissioner for Local Government Administration, Marie Ebikake, and the Special Adviser on Special Projects, Remmy Kuku were relieved of their appointments. Kuku was also coordinator for Mrs. Jonathan’s NGO activities in Bayelsa.
Days later, Governor Dickson banned the activities of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN in the state.
The group which has been very effusive in singing for President Jonathan’s re-election was banned in the state according to the governor to stop its divisive policies.
“Those claiming to be campaigning for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan, but are instead engaged in promoting subversive activities and inciting crisis and division within the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, to move their activities elsewhere.” Dickson affirmed that Jonathan did not need a support group at home.
The “subversive actions” of the group it was learned may have been that the group was besides promoting Jonathan’s re-election also sowing seeds for the emergence of Dudafa as governor in the 2016 governorship election.
The governor’s open declaration of war was said to have enraged his traducers in the Patience camp leading to allegations of a plot to pelt the governor with sachet water at today’s rally. Dickson is also not helped by the fact that he has not followed the steps of his predecessors in sharing money a development that has made beneficiaries of such largesse in the past to take position against him.
While a number of the contending groups have been faceless, the National Rebirth Initiative led by Mr. Joe Ambakaderimo, which had in the past strongly backed the president warned the troublemakers not embarrass the president.
“We are as such surprised that when it was expected that all hands should be on deck in the project towards actualising success for the president in the polls, that a few mischief makers are trying to use the platform of the President’s campaign in his home state to pursue this selfish agenda,” Ambakaderimo’s NRI said in a statement condemning plans to use today’s rally to settle scores.
Meanwhile, Dickson has refused to open up on the issue. In an interview on state radio he was taciturn on the issue saying: “I have a policy of not discussing my boss’ wife. She is our mother, our sister and our wife and she is entitled to all courtesies and respect due her.”