President Goodluck Jonathan (L), being received by the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, on arrival at the Government House helipad, Yenagoa, for his daughter’s marriage ceremony.
The defection of all three legislators representing President Goodluck Jonathan, senator, member House of Representatives and state House of Assembly was a jolt from the blues.
By Samuel Oyadongha
After gifting the presidency to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, the defection of the legislators underscored the inclement political weather the outgoing president is bound to face when he returns home.
Senator Clever Marcus Ikisikpo, representing Bayelsa East, President Jonathan’s senatorial district, who led the other two legislators, Hon Nado Karibo representing Ogbia federal constituency and Hon Azibola Paul Omekwe representing Ogbia constituency I in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly to defect had been particularly close to the president. He had sojourned with the president through thick and thin since 1999.
Ikisikpo, a former classroom teacher, had been elected a member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly to represent Jonathan’s Ogbia constituency III in 1999.
Following that, he proceeded to the House of Representatives in 2003 where he was re-elected in 2007 at the same time that Dr. Jonathan emerged as vice-president. Ikisikpo was to emerge as a pawn in the remote fight between the president and former Governor Timipre Sylva in 2011.
When Ikisikpo got the ticket to represent the Bayelsa East Senate seat in 2011 many believed that it was because of his closeness to the president. However, that fact did not reflect that he got the seat at the pleasure of Sylva who had fallen out very badly with the occupant of that seat, Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange who was also a very close associate of the president.
But even at that only few until recently would comprehend that Ikisikpo, regarded as one of the longest serving PDP chieftains from the Ogbia Ijaw speaking stock could abandon his kinsman and benefactor, President Jonathan by dumping the president and his party, PDP in their most challenging times.
PDP disciplinary committee
The decision of the PDP to set up a disciplinary committee to investigate and sanction some of its high-ranking members at the state chapter over alleged anti-party activities in the last general election and alleged hijack of the party by Governor Seriake Dickson, Vanguard reliably gathered was responsible for the defection of Ikisikpo and others to the APC folk.
The rank of the PDP, a source told our correspondent, may be further depleted as some of the big names in the party are already holding secret consultations with their supporters and the powers that be in the APC.
Though the names of the party members facing the disciplinary committee were not made public, it was speculated that Senator Ikisikpo was on the chopping list and that he took the decision of opting out of the party at this time. His decision was seen as an irony given that he was a convener of the party in Bayelsa while Dickson did not join in the party until about six years after.
A source close to the senator said, “It was a smart move on his part to leave the party before the sledgehammer descended on him as there is no way he could have escaped given the cold war between him and the governor. Oga is a loyalist of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, and you don’t expect the committee to come clean in their findings without indicting perceived opponents of the governor.”
Bayelsa Assembly declares four seats vacant over defection
In a surprising move, the Speaker of the Bayelsa State Assembly, Hon.Kombowei Benson weekend declared that four members of the House who joined in the defection to the APC have lost their seats purportedly over their alleged defection.
According to the Speaker, the decision to declare the seats of the four members vacant was based on the provision of section 109 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The affected members, had at separate fora, announced their decision to dump the PDP for the APC, citing the hijack of the party by the governor and the crisis over the suspension of the State Chairman, Col. Sam Inokoba (rtd).
The affected members include Hon. Fini Angaye (Kolokuma/Opokuma constituency 2) Hon. Alfred Egba,(Yenagoa constituency 1),Hon. Victor Prezi (Ekeremor Constituency 3) and Hon. Azibola Paul Omekwe (Ogbia constituency 1).
Assembly action ‘ll reduce indiscipline, engender sanity- Dickson
Remarkably, Governor Dickson was quick to commend the decision of the legislature saying that the action was a step in the right direction and would help to bring sanity to the House.
Dickson, in a statement issued Friday night by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said the action of the state legislature was not only constitutional, but would also instil party discipline and sanitize the polity.
He condemned the practice, where politicians cross carpet at will, without recourse to the parties under which they were elected into positions as no longer acceptable and practicable, under a thriving democracy.
According to him, the state assembly has by the singular act, set the pace and shown the direction of the new PDP in the state, where party discipline and loyalty, must be the overriding principles and factors for all members.
The governor noted that, indiscipline, disloyalty and greed have been the bane of the PDP at state and national levels in the past, stressing that, such acts would no longer be tolerated for whatever reason in the party.
He said, “We will continue to do the needful by ensuring that, only those who respect the position of the party on issues are allowed to remain, while all those with selfish and unacceptable behavioral patterns will be shown the way out for the good of the PDP. Henceforth, members of the party, if truly they belong to the party, must be held accountable for their actions and in-actions.”
Also defends PDP disciplinary committee
Dickson also had while inaugurating the disciplinary committee, which is expected to determine and recommend steps to be taken against those who worked contrary to the party’s interests during the general elections, said indiscipline within the party contributed to the failure of the president in the recent presidential elections.
He said, “We won the election no doubt, but this party must continue to be a party of discipline, commitment. One of the problems we have in the PDP, as a matter of fact, the main reason we even lost at the federal level in addition to other things, is because of indiscipline and disloyalty to party.
“Party interest supersedes individual interest and agenda. Regrettably, we have received reports that some leaders of our party in some cases did not only work against the interest of our candidates, but actually sponsored and actually worked to undermine the success of our party and our candidates at the just concluded elections” Dickson added.
Dickson, who warned that dire consequences await any member of the PDP, who engages in anti-party activities, emphasized the importance of party discipline and loyalty towards achieving success in any political contest.
He said reports at his disposal indicated that, some members sabotaged the interest of the party rather than demonstrate commitment and galvanize support for the party’s flag bearers.
According to him, “We will not sit idle and allow people promoting indiscipline and disloyalty to overrun our party. The PDP has to reform itself; it has to renew itself and be a party of committed and loyal members. Without discipline and loyalty, no political party can survive or stand or even win any political contest.”
Further trouble ahead of 2016
Dickson as the incumbent governor, no doubt has the war chest to prosecute his re-election bid but his fighting too many battles at the same time as well as his stringent fiscal policies, (tight fist) approach to governance coupled with the recent sharp drop in allocation to the state leading to stagnation at projects sites across the state due to the inability of the government to pay contractors may turn out to be his undoing.
A party chieftain who spoke on condition of anonymity, “Dickson may be planning the best for the party but is doing it the wrong away. This is not the time for the party to alienate its members especially as it is going for election. The unfolding drama if not handled with utmost care could backfire on the party in the state.”
The PDP, the source added, needs to act fast to mend its weather-beaten umbrella and save President Jonathan from returning to his home state to find a disjointed political ambience where the opposition APC is also desirous of taking charge of the Creek Haven, the state seat of power, come February 14, 2016. This, however, depends on the candidate the APC would present to confront Dickson and if indeed he has the support and command the respect of the electorate.
It is, however, left to be seen if the people of the state will agree to remain in the mainstream by tagging along this time around with the party at the centre, the APC. This was the scenario in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011-2015 when the PDP controlled the centre or chose to be an opposition state in 2016.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.