By Emmanuel Aziken
It is gratifying that the fundamental substance of the leaked audiotape of a closed-door meeting between Governor Serikae Dickson and the newly elected local government chairmen in Bayelsa State is not in dispute.
Though there are allegedly two versions of the leaked tape, your correspondent has listened to one apparently authentic version.
In it, the governor is heard mobilizing the local government chairmen for the forthcoming governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP due on September 3.
Contrary to earlier reports, it appeared from what the governor said that he had not opened up on who he prefers as a successor.
However, there is little dispute over the fact that his choice for governor will definitely not be Chief Timi Alaibe, the man famously called Principal by his several political adherents.
In the audio the governor is heard repeatedly claiming that a man who was a political enemy who joined the PDP only six months ago cannot be handed the banner of the party.
That is about where the governor and the Alaibe crowd are agreed as to the authenticity of the tape.
Thereafter, there are reports about Dickson allegedly claiming to have rebuffed entreaties made on behalf of Alaibe by Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen. Aliyu Gusau for the PDP ticket.
Associates of the governor and Alaibe appear to disagree over the authenticity of the claim as the governor’s crowd allege a doctoring of the tape at that point.
Nevertheless, from the bearing of the governor and those around him, it would appear that not even The Almighty may sway him to support Alaibe as a successor.
As the governor was quoted as saying in the tape, the emergence of Alaibe as governor would immediately lead to the political suicide of the local government chairmen.
Though the governor said he would himself not be overtly bothered, but the prospect of him losing relevance in the affairs of the state was indeed a fear he captured as the political suicide of his lieutenants.
Of course, the governor knew what he was talking about in referring to the prospects for his supporters under a possible Alaibe government.
In 2002 when Dickson was yet in the political edges, when he was as at that time a crusader of the Alliance For Democracy, AD, Alaibe had already become a political phenomenon and was about putting the incumbent governor of the state, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha to irrelevance.
Indeed, by late 2002 Alamieyeseigha’s political weight even as the famed governor-general of the Ijaw Nation was at rock bottom as he ran from pillar to post in Abuja as the Alaibe hurricane reached touchdown.
Many of the then governor’s political associates it was alleged, abandoned him as they inclined themselves towards Alaibe who it was surreptitiously claimed had the backing of President Obasanjo.
But willy-nilly, Alamieyeseigha survived perhaps out of a deal between his political leader, Atiku Abubakar and President Obasanjo.
Since then, Alaibe had regularly remained a threat to all incumbent governors of Bayelsa State who partly on account of his lurking shadows never completed a second term.
Now Dickson is about to become the first of the four civilian governors of the state to finish a second term.
He is also determined to be the first to permanently erase Alaibe from the political limelight.
Alaibe’s Achilles Heel has been his topsy-turvy political gyrations since the exit of President Obasanjo from power and the PDP. After different stints in Labour Party and the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alaibe returned to the PDP six months ago with his 17-year governorship aspiration still burning.
At that time, Governor Dickson welcomed him with the declaration that everybody had an equal stake in the PDP. But he spoke tongue in cheek. As everyone knows, Dickson is determined to hand over to someone from within his inner caucus, those identified as the Restoration Movement who identify with him.
With the Restoration Movement composing about 80% of the structure of the party it would be a tall order for someone from outside to win the prized governorship ticket in the primary due in September.
But miracles do happen. There are examples of incumbent governors who were badly disappointed and shocked by the outcome of primaries or elections that were theirs to corner.
Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan in 2014 orchestrated a succession scheme in Delta State that sought outdo his onetime neighbor, friend and fellow medical doctor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. It failed.
Senator Ibikunle Amosun disciples were convinced that his political astuteness coupled with his well-known relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari would give his succession programme a comprehensive insurance from default. But it didn’t and hence the mircal of Governor Dapo Abiodun.
Governor Mohammed Abubakar dismissed the uprising against him inspired by Speaker Yakubu Dogara as the ranting of an ant, but the ant fell him down in the election.
Despite the disaster he left behind in the Mile 2- Badagry Expressway, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode believed that his uprising against Bola Tinubu would secure him a second term ticket as governor of Lagos State, but failed.
So, as Governor Dickson forges ahead in what he told his political disciples is a battle, he should realise that miracles still happen.
Though he has 80% of the structure, the other 20% is still formidable and includes the lovable but croaky voiced former first lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan!