By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
AS the race to the Creek Haven hots up, a chieftain of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, in Bayelsa State, Hon. Seikapatimi Ituamokumo, has said that Mr. Timi Alaibe deserved to succeed Governor Seriake Dickson.
He spoke in an interview with Vanguard, in Abuja, Ituamokumo said that Alaibe had paid his dues in the PDP at the state, regional and national level and towered above all other aspirants.
His words: “For those who don’t know, Mr. Timi Alaibe has paid his dues in PDP, at the state level, as well as, regional and national levels. We are talking of someone who was there from the beginning of the PDP as the current democracy started in 1999.”
The PDP chieftain said that founding members of the PDP in the state knew how much Mr. Alaibe did to ensure the building of the party and ensuring that it remained the dominant party in the state in the last 20 years.
Those insulting Alaibe
“At a time like this, all kinds of groups will emerge, trying to look for money. May be those who have come up with all these names, PDP Restoration Network; PDP Stakeholders; PDP Restoration Foot Soldiers and what have you, may be people looking for money and they may be thinking, if we can do this or that, the Governor will call us and give us money.
“And if such group of persons are attacking or focusing on one particular individual, it means that individual is very important. I say so because people cannot attack someone who is not important.”
Ituamokumo said that many of those currently parading themselves as members of the Restoration Team were people who came in to enjoy the benefits of the original Restoration Movement which included Mr Alaibe and other notable PDP leaders in the state.
His words: “Some people ascribed to themselves membership of the Restoration Team. I believe these are essentially supporters of Governor Seriake Dickson. I said so because that was the name given to his campaign organisation during his campaign.
“But let me add that when we talk of Restoration Team in Bayelsa PDP, that was the name that was given to the team that brought Dickson on board as Governor of Bayelsa State.
“The members of that team included people like Hon. Fred Agbedi, who was the Director-General, King A J Turner, who was the Chairman, Hon. Nelson Believe, Mrs. Marry Ibikake, Chief Degi who is now a senator on the platform of APC, Chief Ikiwa, Chief Ezegara, Surveyor Akene, Mr. Timi Alaibe, Sen. Emmanuel Paulker, Heineken Lokpobiri were all members of the Restoration team.
“This team was instrumental to Dockson’s emergence as governor of Bayelsa State. At a point some left the Restoration Team because of some unpleasant things that they observed in the the Dickson administration.”
The original group that metamorphosed into Restoration Team were a group of friends who were essentially former President Goodluck Jonathan’s supporters when he was still deputy governor of Bayelsa.
That group, the chieftain disclosed, later became the major political structure of Dr. Jonathan when he became the governor of the state, following the impeachment of Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
His words: “At the beginning, these people were a Committee of Friends which was essentially made up of the Jonathan Support Group. So the Restoration Movement or team metamorphosed from the Committee of Friends when Jonathan was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State. It was through that committee that Jonathan’s political structure started.
”And from there when Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was impeached, Jonathan became governor. When Jonathan became governor, he appointed Dickson as Commissioner for Justice. That was after he crossed over from the Alliance for Democracy where he was the state chairman.”
Five aides of governor declaring interest
On the declaration of interests of several of Dickson’s aides or members of his administration, Ituamokumo said that it was funny and their claim that they were endorsed by the governor was doubtful.
According to him, “It looks like a child’s play. Majority of the people who are contesting are from the Restoration Team, which is the Governor’s team. I find it very funny. People may be looking at it as if it is the governor that is sponsoring them.
“But if the governor is the one sponsoring them, how many people will the governor sponsor at a time? How many people will he endorse to occupy the seat? I don’t believe that it is the governor that is sponsoring five or six persons to contest the state governorship election.
“I don’t think the governor can waste the state’s resources like that. N21 million to buy Nomination Form. In five or six places, that money is enough to at least do one project. I don’t think, as clever as the governor is , he will waste money in sponsoring all those persons.
“Today some people who came to benefit from the struggles of founding members of the Restoration Team are now the ones saying they are the ones to dictate things in Bayelsa.”
Alaibe owes no one apology for returning to PDP
The Chieftain added that those asking Mr. Alaibe to apologise before his ambition could be supported had no case.
His words: “Those calling for apology are not serious. Has the person not declared publicly that they are back to PDP? A person who has returned to PDP with all his supporters and declared so in an open forum and such a person has been so warmly received by the party; where will the apology come from? What is the apology for?
“The question is, people who are demanding for apology, what contributions have they made towards the development of PDP in the state, region or at the national level? People who are demanding for apology, what have they done for the party? Have they contributed to the party more than the person that they are demanding apology from?
“The Timi Alaibe I know is a PDP man. He has always been a PDP man until 2015 when he left to contest the governorship election on another party platform. But he returned soon after.
“Let me tell you, many people don’t know that Dickson himself was, from the beginning of this democracy in 1999, a member of the Alliance for Democracy. In fact he was State Chairman of that party in Bayelsa. He came to PDP during the Alamieyeseigha saga. When he was AD chairman, his party did not produce even a local government councilor. Yet he crossed to PDP and was appointed a commissioner for Justice by then Governor Jonathan.
“As he left AD to the PDP through AJ Turner, what contributions had he made to the party before getting all these benefits? He is the greatest beneficiary of the PDP rule in the state since 1999. He is the first governor to enjoy two terms. No other governor has been in office for eight years in Bayelsa, apart from Dickson.”
Dickson should be neutral
Ituamokumo urged Governor Dickson to remain neutral in the contest for the next governor of the state by providing a level-playing ground for all PDP aspirants and to support whoever picks the party’s ticket after a free and fair primary election.
He said: “Dickson should be thankful to God almighty, to Jonathan and to Bayelsans. Dickson should not look for a successor.
”He should not make any move to impose a successor. He should ensure a level-playing ground for all aspirants and whomever God blesses to pick the PDP ticket in the state, should be the governor’s candidate, remembering where he is coming from, and the support that others gave to him to ascend to that office.”