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As Bayelsa State governor, Mr. Timipre Sylva, flags off his re-election campaign today, despite his non-clearance by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), elders of the state have said that he's not a candidate in next year's governorship election.

At a press briefing under the auspices of the Bayelsa Elders and Opinion Leaders, in Abuja, the elders also asked governors of other PDP states to stay clear of the governorship election in Bayelsa, as it concerns Sylva.

The forum, in a statement read by the Chairman, Col. Sam Inokoba (retd), condemned what it termed 'undue meddlesomeness by various groups in the internal matters of Bayelsa State and the PDP,' stating: 'The PDP should be allowed to utilise their internal machinery to determine the right candidate for the party for the gubernatorial elections. Likewise, Bayelsans should be allowed to determine who governs them.'

The group accused the Governors' Forum of interfering in the PDP governorship candidacy 'by putting pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure the return of Governor Timipre Sylva,' adding: 'The chairman of the Governors' Forum, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, as a democrat himself, knows that this is not the best way to force through the candidacy of a colleague.'

It said that the future of Bayelsa State should be left in the 'hands of the people of the state and not in the hands of other elected governors, who, in the name of camaraderie, want to push at all costs the electoral fortunes of their colleague.'

The Bayelsa elders, however, said that inasmuch as there was nothing wrong in the PDP governors giving their colleague a helping hand, 'they have no moral right to influence his adoption by the party.'

The group said: 'The Governors' Forum, as a body, especially the South-South Governors' Forum, should desist from applying undue pressure on the PDP and the president to subvert the internal democratic process of the party which is crucial to the enthronement of enduring democracy.

'Equally, members of the National Assembly should remember that they have a mandate to represent the will of the people and not pursue their own personal interests and agenda. They should concentrate on the passage laws and mobilising support for the development of the state.

'We all recall that the governor was rejected by the people early this year when he was publicly rejected several times by Bayelsans, especially in September last year during the presidential rally in Yenagoa.

'Paragraph 16(f) of the electoral guidelines for primary elections is very clear in stating that 'only aspirants whose appeal of the gubernatorial screening appeal panel has upheld shall be qualified to participate in the primary election.' In this light, Timipre Sylva is not qualified to contest, as the appeal panel has not cleared him. This is the position as at today and until the NWC of the PDP clears Chief Timipre Sylva.

'We wish to commend the PDP for going through an internal democratic process in the determination of their candidate. No longer should any candidate, be it a governor, senator, House of Representative member or local government chairman be selected to run by any godfather, clique or pressure group. They must all go through the internal democratic process of the party, namely, the screening panel and appeal panel and then the final approval by the NWC. This process, as has been done by the party in the case of Bayelsa, is highly commendable, the president, governors, senators, honourable members or any other pressure group have no power to interfere in this process.

'We believe that various groups and interests are deliberately angling to discredit the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who is a man committed to upholding the rule of law. Pressurising him to do otherwise would amount to subverting the same ethos that has been the guiding principle of his administration

'The Bayelsa case is not unique. There is a precedent of underperforming PDP governors being denied a second tenure. The case of former Governor Mbadinuju of Anambra State easily comes to mind.

'The electability of Timipre Sylva as governor of Bayelsa is a decision that the people of Bayelsa State and his party, the PDP should determine. It should not be the decision of the president or any governor or National Assembly members, for that matter. The Governors' Forum should mind its business and leave Bayelsans to decide the fate of their governor.'