Bayelsa: Anatomy of How the Labour Party Lost Out
Bayelsa State was created in October 1996 after protracted and tortuous struggle by patriotic Ijaw people, some of whom sacrificed their resources, sweat and blood. The creation of the State was seen as the culmination of the age-long aspiration of a people who have subjected to criminal neglect and mindless exploitation in a structurally truncated and fiscally skewed federalism. This was evidenced by the euphoria that greeted her creation. Bayelsa State is unique in several ways. It is the only State that is a homogenous Ijaw State.
The Bayelsa Redemption Movement, BRM was formed to criticize the Alamieyeseigha administration. At that time both Governor Timipre Sylva and Mr. Timi Alaibe belonged to the BRM. The BRM made a legitimate push for a peaceful and legitimate change of government and transfer of power. BRM came to the consensus that the Administration has been mired by entrenched corruption, gross violation of human rights and thuggery, which have conspired to precipitate monumental dislocations of the political economy. The BRM released a historic communiqué of May 28, 2002 to the effect that there was need for a peaceful change of government. However, because of the imperatives of consensus building and the intervention of well meaning Bayelsans, the BRM could not make concerted efforts beyond the realm of rhetoric.
Another crucial aspect of the peculiarity of Bayelsa State is the resilience of the people, the doggedness of the leaders and the tenacity of the youths in fighting for what they believe rightfully belongs to them. The political class is even more interesting. No one gives up till the last minute. In 1999, the contest was not very fierce because most Nigerians were not sure of the transition proogramme after many years of abortion of democracy by the military climaxed by the annulment of the June 12 elections. In 2003, the contest featured Mr. Timi Alaibe against the incumbent Governor Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha. The contest was fierce because people needed a change – a positive change and a new vision.
I know because I took part in the campaign as the Administrative Secretary. Our strategy then was based on issues and programmes. I could remember when Patterson, Kemedi, Nengi James, Maxwell Oko and my humble self under the People Power Projects (PPP) organized a debate at Intercontinental Hotel at Ingbi Road with a view to engaging some top Government officials on some knotty government policies and how most of the Government officials either left midway or never attended at all. We felt that logic and superior reasoning should rule like the Platos Republic where the philosopher argued that the philosopher Kings should constitute the ruling class. Some of them declined because most of their policies were indefensible and would have collapsed within the realm of superior political permutation.
In the 2003 elections, Timi Alaibe made two great omissions. First, he relied too much on Abuja (political connections of those who had been with contracts) so there was a huge lacuna at the grassroots, especially in Bayelsa Central and West. Most of Alaibe's supporters were from Bayelsa East. There were cases were the New Vision Campaign Organization was betrayed by even his Kolokuma/ Opokuma kinsmen. Alaibe's over-dependence on the Abuja connection led him to succumb to the antics of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who came and reconciled Alaibe and DSP Alams. The second omission was Timi's inability to take a quick decision to decamp to another Party. Given Alaibe's popularity in 2003, he could have won the incumbent Governor if he had defected to another party, but complacency, the toga of omnipotence and the lust for NDDC job became his nemesis. He was like a hunter chasing two animals in different directions. That take-all mentality still haunts his political career.
Although Alaibe became a symbolic condensation of the opposition at that time, his ambivalence and keen interest in the supply side of politics made him suspect by some of his followers. Even though he basked under the glow of techno-political dexterity, all that is now history. One thing even Alaibe himself will not shy away from is the fact that whatever fame, money and popularity he garnered for the past ten years or so redound to the effort of the PDP. It was the PDP that made him and not vice-versa, so when did he realize that the PDP is a woe-be gone Party.
After leaving NDDC, one would have expected that Alaibe would hibernate for a while and build a political structure but he did not. A 40-man Technical Committee on the Niger Delta was set up by the Late Yar'Adua administration, and rather than nominate people, he also made himself a member, thereby creating the false impression that he is political indispensable. Most of his followers had expected that he would be at the background to call the shots but he did not. Again, in order to remain relevant in the geo-polity, he accepted to run the Amnesty Programme, which was fraught with sundry allegations of sharp practices. Not many a youth would forgive him in a hurry for the alleged diversion of their funds rather than empower them.
He resigned from that appointment and joined the Labour Party to contest against the incumbent Governor Chief Timipre Sylva who, like President Goodluck Jonathan is a candidate of the PDP. Here again, Alaibe and the Labour Party made three grievous mistakes again. First he has demonstrated that his personal interest is over and above the people he hopes to govern. If it were not so he would have remained in PDP at least, to join other well meaning Ijaw people to support the Presidential bid of Goodluck Jonathan. But now the explanation is getting skewed by the day. Alaibe's political strategy is fast minimizing his imaginary colossal stature to the level of a political dwarf. My prayer is that he should not be reduced to the stature the bulldozer of Rivers State politics who joined the opposition anytime there was need for settlement. In politics, no one remains relevant at all times.
I had argued elsewhere that political opposition a key ingredient of good governance but at the time Alaibe joined the Labour Party, his sense of patriotism should have transcended the governorship of Bayelsa State; Timi Alaibe should have seen the bigger picture. This is the first time the South-South we are about to produce the President of Nigeria in the person of President Goodluck Jonathan GCFR. Witch hunting, mudslinging and character assassination has escalated since Alaibe joined forces to scatter the few votes Bayelsans are willing to give to Goodluck Jonathan Recognizing that the President is using PDP as a platform for launching his presidency, Timi Alaibe miscalculated by joining forces to condemn the PDP as an unprogressive and non-performing administration. Having criticized the platform used by President Jonathan, how can Alaibe claim that he would campaign for the PDP, which is an opposition party to the Labour Party? What a dummy he is selling to Mr. President?
Mr. Timi Alaibe agrees that he has served and transformed himself into a Naira heavy weight, why is he now disloyal to the PDP? Three conclusions could be drawn here. First, Timi Alaibe's life ambition is the ruination of Bayelsa State through a subtle pretension and posturing as a messiah. Sadly, he never demonstrated this messianic feat when he was in NDDC and when he superintended over the Amnesty Programme. The second deduction is that he has a winner-take-all mentality and would possibly take everything if given the chance so to do. Finally, although Timi Alaibe can be said to have invested in the politics of Bayelsa State, he has no genuine love for Bayelsa State let alone Ijaw people elsewhere. He never empowered the Ijaws in NDDC or the Niger Deltans for that matter. On the contrary, he orchestrated a plan that culminated in the travails of Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, opposed to the Ministerial ambition of Chief Godsday Orubebe. The trend of destroying Ijaws has been his trademark. The spiritual implication is that of he may always see the Promised Land without entering it or what I may call the “Moses Complex”.
He claims he holds Mr. President in such high esteem but his body language speaks otherwise. Even when Mr. President was Governor, Alaibe sponsored wicked propaganda against him. He and another politician plotted his impeachment twice. This is the mark of loyalty he demonstrated to his kinsman. It is therefore ridiculous that Alaibe could assert “Alaibe is seen as the next governor of Bayelsa and that is no good news for Sylva, who is angling for a second term in office. It is therefore not surprising that the governor and his handlers have launched propaganda war against the LP gubernatorial candidate”. Hear Alaibe again: “The panic and fear that gripped the governor and his aides is understandable; a big masquerade has arrived to seal the show and so the lesser masquerades must give way”. The question is how can a man who has never won any election describe himself as a big masquerade? The sense of bloated ego and thinking that money, mischief and militants are the solution to all problems is the solar-plexus of anatomy of Alaibe poor outing in competitive politics. He has no respect for the institution of governorship but still believes that he wants to be governor.
Bayelsans and the Ijaw nation are no fools; neither Bayelsans victims of collective amnesia. While people know that the Timipre Sylva administration cannot lay claim to perfection, the OPU-Abadi of Opokuma has provided a viable roadmap for sustainable development. From the fall out of the campaigns, Bayelsan have made Governor Timipre Sylva their choice in the 2012 elections and that forecloses Timi Alaibe's guber-ambition. Contrary to the weird imagination of the Labour Party, Governor Sylva's is not even capitalizing on incumbency but the people-oriented policies, plans and programmes of the administration. Sylva has become a fast selling brand in Bayelsa politics and majority of Bayelsans have settled for this brand.
While I make bold to admit that there is a sprinkling of level headed candidates in the Labour Party, Alaibe like the biblical Jonah has made the entire Labour Party to be toss around by the hurricane of uncertainly and now the Party has been swallowed by the PDP. Here lies the anatomy of how Timi Alaibe and the Labour Party lost out in Bayelsa State. I predict that soon he would redirect his political sojourning back to the PDP and start afresh. We cannot throw away the legacies or betray the intentions of our founding fathers because of the inordinate ambition of one man in an obscure party – the Labour Party.
Idumange John - an illuminati wrote from Agrisaba