October 28, 2018

Bayelsa PDP and the return of the big fish 

Bayelsa PDP and the return of the big fish 

Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, (left), and former Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and former Presidential Adviser on Amnesty, Timi Alaibe, during the formal return of the latter back to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at Government House Yenegoa, recently.

By Jack Kalio

Finally, speculations have turned to news. The news, which is still unfolding, is that ‘Timi Alaibe and his political co-travellers have returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after a brief sojourn in the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, (left), and former Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and former Presidential Adviser on Amnesty, Timi Alaibe, during the formal return of the latter back to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at Government House Yenegoa, recently.

And trust the politically sensitive people of Bayelsa State, they have since put the past behind them; rising as one man to receive back their brothers and sisters into the ruling party in the state. Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has already tasked both his political adviser, Fyneman Wilson, and the PDP state chairman, Moses Cleopas, to plan a huge reception rally for the returnees.

So, on October 30, drums would be rolled out and freshly-minted dance-steps will be on display as the PDP faithful assemble to receive back into their fold, their returning sons and daughters. Dickson has not hidden his excitement over—what someone with a sour sense of humour has described as—the return of the prodigals.

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Though the state party chairman, Moses Cleopas, tried to sound tough while welcoming the defectors, Dickson did what Dickson is known for. He spoke boldly with a touch of fatherhood. He saw the return of Alaibe and others as an opportunity to celebrate strength in togetherness and what he believes represents the final collapse of the APC in Bayelsa State.

In his view, the exit of Alaibe and his team from the APC in the state also marks the exit of the only good men and women who kept the party alive in the state. Even the party chairman recalled that immediately Dickson won his re-election as governor, he gave a directive that whatever was possible should be done to ensure the return of the precious Bayelsa sons and daughters who had strayed into other political parties.

He said between when the directive was given and the return of Alaibe, the assignment has been doubtlessly accomplished.

Here is a part of what Cleopas said in Government House Yenogoa where the defectors were received by the governor: “Humanly speaking, with the kind of election that His Excellency and the party passed through and the fact that God enabled us to win that election, it would have been difficult for us now to open the window for people that fought us to that level. But today because of the grace of God that is at work in his life to be accommodating, we are all celebrating what we are seeing.

“We are receiving you wholeheartedly, with our spirit, soul and body. One belief we have is that you are coming to add value to this party; you are coming to promote this party, you are coming to ensure that even in the next election, our party candidates, irrespective of who they are, are supported and advanced to win the election. We are receiving you today, not with any fear that you shall by anyway make the party to be less of what it is.

“It is better that I say this to your hearing now. Please as you are coming in, this is a transformed and reformed PDP in Bayelsa State, old things have passed away. The time that the governor will be going in one direction, another faction is going in another direction, party chairman is this way, part of the exco is on the other side, that era is over. Finally let me say that we love you, we appreciate you; we want to welcome you into the party.”

Then Dickson—after a short introduction by his aide revealing his numerous traditional titles—took the reception to a more exciting and accommodating height. He spoke about the returnees, particularly Alaibe, in glowing terms. It was his opinion that as notable political leaders in the area, the returnees deserve to be celebrated publicly by the PDP in Bayelsa State.

He said of Alaibe, “We honour and respect and regard one another and promote and encourage one another. That is the only way we can change this place. And so, I have told the chairman and the political desk to, after today, get a convenient date to receive and welcome you. We shall have a major rally to receive you because you are a big fish. You cannot come back into the PDP and people do not know that you have come. So what is happening today is a prelude to your formal reception that the party will organise for you at a date to be mutually agreed upon.

“But let me say this, we were pained when you and all of you left at a time and hour that we needed ourselves most. But all of that is now history. What is important is what is ahead of us; not what has gone by. I just want to assure you all that you are valued leaders of our party once again. You will all be integrated fully into the structure of our party—from ward level to local government level, and those of you who are senior players, you will be restored fully to your rightful positions—positions that you occupied before you parted ways with us unfortunately. But now you are back, I want to commend and appreciate you Chief Alaibe for not forgetting your home. I also appreciate all of you.”

Then he took a hit at the APC, “And to the rest of our state and Ijaw nation, let me say this… These were the good people in APC. And even when I used to run into some of the APC leaders I used to tell them that there were few APC leaders in Bayelsa that are good and decent people. You guys are only promoting and working with crooks and criminals…. You were the few good, decent and patriotic people in the APC in Bayelsa; and you have now left. So, the APC is finished in Bayelsa. So, I want to tell those few people who are still in the APC that they can never win any free and fair election in this state—not after these people have left the APC.”

He threw the challenge, “When we come to campaigns, they will hear something. We will wait for them to tell us the roads and bridges from Abuja that they have brought to this state. We will wait for them to show us the major appointments and benefits and patronage that they deceived these good people and decent people to join a party that doesn’t mean well for the people.

So, the APC clearly is being folded up in Bayelsa with all of you leaving. I want to thank you very much for leaving the APC that has no room for our people. Where they have a room to appoint and encourage and empower one of us, they will reward the person with a dismissal and sack.”

He was making a veiled reference to the appointment and sack of the immediate past Acting Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr Matthew Seiyefa, who was replaced by a retired staff of the service from Kano State instead of being confirmed. Under almost the same circumstances, Alaibe was appointed as chairman of the board of Oil and Gas Free Zone only to be replaced some months after even before he was he sworn-in.   Dickson said even “when they have positions, they will give them to their girlfriends, their cousins and one person will be having two to three appointments whereas people who went to work for them are left in the wilderness.

“Chief Alaibe, you have done the right and patriotic thing; and your state is proud of you. Ijaw nation appreciates this. We did one patriotic duty during the governorship election. We in the PDP came together and at a great cost defeated the so called federal might.

Now, that is history. From today, we will be working together with all of you good and wonderful people—and we all know ourselves, a mistake was made, you call it political expediency, let us leave it at that. The important thing is: you are welcome home. These are times that call for togetherness and cohesion of all good and well meaning people. So, welcome. You are not decamping. You are just coming back home. I congratulate you all.”

With that, the big fun—handshake and backslapping, wide smiles and the big laughter—commenced. These constituted mere prelude to the eventual integration of the defectors into the mainstream of the PDP leadership in the state at the proposed rally.

The political atmosphere in Bayelsa is bubbling again. The general feeling is that of alarm in the APC camp over the defection of Alaibe and others. But politics being what it is, the PDP must handle and celebrate its big catch and great success with care.

There is no doubt that the APC wants to capture the South South geo-political zone by all means in 2019. The attraction of course, is oil and the expected resources. Unfolding events in nearby Akwa Ibom State—where APC is invading the state the same manner Adolf Hitler invaded Poland—is a pointer in this direction. Those attempting to escape accountability from their past misdeeds have decided to hurt the innocents. We hope the madness will not engulf in the entire region.