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Bayelsa Guber Primary: Alaibe, Nine Others Obtain APC Nomination Forms

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The race for the Bayelsa State governorship ticket on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has begun as the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe, was monday among the nine persons who procured the Expression of Interest and nomination forms to contest the governorship primary of the party in the state.

Those confirmed to have picked the forms and indicated interest to contest the primary were former member of the House of Representative, Hon. Warman Ogoriba; former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Col. Sam Inokoba; former state Housing Commissioner, Austin Ogiowon; former Commissioner for Local Government, Chief Godknows Powell and former Chief of Staff to the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, Chief Dikivie Ikhiogha.

Although it could not be confirmed at press time, it was however gathered that a former governor and state leader of the APC, Chief Timipre Sylva, may have also picked his forms for the race from the national secretariat of the party.

Also listed among those who have procured their forms are former Chairman of Ekeremor Local Government Council, Hon. Christopher Enai and ex-senator representing Bayelsa East senatorial district, Senator Clever Ikhisikpo.

Alaibe's form, according to party source, was procured by some elders and stakeholders from the state under the aegis of the Bayelsa Change Project.

“This afternoon, some elders picked the nomination form for Alaibe at the APC national secretariat. The group of over 48 members was led by Senator John K. Brambaifa. Others are Chief Alex Ekiotenne, Hon Stella Dorgu, Chief O'Lord Michael Bassuo,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the battle line has at last been drawn between the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, his predecessor, Chief Timipre Sylva and Alaibe over the governorship of the state.

The state government in a statement by one of its proxy media organs claimed that “the race of who picks the governorship ticket of the APC for the December 5 governorship election in the state may have been settled between Sylva and Alaibe.

“If the arrangement sails through, Sylva will now shelve his governorship ambition for Alaibe, but that will come at some huge concessions as Alaibe has offered a N5 billion cash inducement to Sylva as well as a firm commitment to ensure that the party leader becomes a minister and nominate his deputy and five commissioners in his cabinet if he wins the election.

In what is said to be a secret deal, Alaibe reportedly told one of his aides that the deal concluded at a secret meeting in Port-Harcourt over the weekend involved some “significant tradeoffs.”

In addition, the source said Alaibe had also offered to weigh in through his contacts to make sure that Sylva's case at the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) was dropped because he has the support of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who would in turn talk to President Muhammadu Buhari to facilitate the ministerial position and close the EFCC trial.

But the political intrigues continued at the weekend as the Tiwe Orunimigha-led faction of the APC also endorsed Sylva as the candidate of the party for the election.

On his part, Sylva, curiously, was also said to have told Alaibe that he needed time to consult and would get back to him on his offer 'very soon'.

Following the weighty allegation, another group, Bayelsa Democratic Front (BDF), said to be in support of Sylva has criticised Dickson for allegedly sponsoring publications in the media aimed at causing tension in the APC in the state.

In a statement issued yesterday in Yenagoa, the President-General of BDF, Chief Promise Okpoebi, said the publications were a failed attempt by a “nervous” Dickson to truncate a political tsunami that is set to sweep him out of office.

The statement said: “In the latest of these publications, the APC leader in the state, Sylva, was alleged to have made a deal with former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Alaibe, who recently joined APC, to concede the party's governorship ticket to him (Alaibe) in return for N5 billion compensation and a ministerial nomination.

“The report also alleged that Sylva was offered the right to nominate Alaibe's deputy and five commissioners in his cabinet if he wins the election, and that Alaibe also offered to use his contacts to ensure the discontinuation of the case against Sylva at the EFCC.

“These postulations are not only false, they are flagrantly out of sync with reality.

“To start with, even the most laidback of citizens in the state and, indeed, Nigeria today, know that Alaibe is not in a position to nominate Sylva as a minister under the President Buhari administration. As a leader of APC in the state and a national leader of the party, Sylva had only recently led other party stakeholders to receive Alaibe and many other prominent indigenes of the state into APC. It is only laughable for anyone to reason that Alaibe would suddenly be the one recommending Sylva to the president.

“Besides, Sylva has not yet told anyone that he wants to contest the governorship election.

“On the N5 billion compensation allegation, we wonder where Alaibe would get such a huge sum of money, particularly, at this era of anti-corruption campaign under Buhari. Will he send it by cash, bank transfer or cheque?”

Regarding the allegation that Alaibe had offered to weigh in, using his links with President Obasanjo on Sylva's case before the EFCC, the BDF stated that: “We are not aware that President Obasanjo has become the chairman of EFCC or the authority to which EFCC reports.

“We know Sylva is having his day in court, but he has left no one in doubt about his ability to prove his innocence in the charges leveled against him. Dickson should make no mistake about it; he will have his own day in court when he loses the governorship election as all indications point to that direction. He should not think that Bayelsans would take the huge corruption going on under his watch easily.”

BDF said the publications had also tried to portray Obasanjo as sponsoring certain candidates in the state governorship poll.

“These are all lies that cannot sway Bayelsans from their resolve to change the four-year-old anguish under Dickson. Having being rejected by the people and even his most trusted allies in a historic effort to change the lot of the state, Dickson is trying every trick in the book to try to truncate the course of a political tsunami set to sweep him away from the governorship seat. But he cannot successfully swim against the tide,” the group said.

But Alaibe in a statement signed by Mr. Patterson Ogon accused the state government of smear campaigns against him.

According to the statement, “The attention of Alaibe has been drawn to media reports linking him to a purported clash between officials of the Bayelsa State Sanitation Authority and some people on August 29.

“The highly speculative report, which has received very generous airtime in a section of the state media is false, mischievous, malicious and intended to bring the integrity and character of Alaibe into disrepute.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Alaibe was not anywhere in the state on the day of the purported incident and could not have engaged in such juvenile display of power by any stretch of imagination. We dissociate Alaibe from any fracas between the state sanitation authority and anybody whatsoever.”