Governors launch battle to save Sylva
The confusion over the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship ticket ahead of next year's election in Bayelsa State deepened yesterday.
The party cleared four of the nine aspirants, leaving out incumbent Governor Timipre Sylva.
Also left out are former Presidential Adviser Timi Alaibe and ex-President of Silverbird Entertainment Company Mr Ben Murray-Bruce.
Sylva, however, described his purported disqualification as “laughable”. He said he will be cleared to bid for the ticket. The PDP primary is slated for November 19.
Besides, his colleagues from Rivers (Chibuike Amaechi), Delta (Emmanuel Uduaghan) and Cross River (Liyel Imoke) met with the President and the PDP leadership last night, in a bid to save Sylva's political career.
Those cleared by the PDP are: Oruta Justine Boloubo; Henry Seriake Dickson; Enai Christopher Fullpower; and Kalango Michael Youppele.
The party described the list as the “first batch” of contestants to be cleared for the primary by the National Working Committee (NWC).
In a statement yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prof Rufai Ahmed Alkali, said the screening is ongoing. He said the NWC was considering other aspirants. Alkali was silent on Sylva's, Alaibe's and Murray-Bruce's fate.
Alkali's statement reads: “The NWC of the Peoples Democratic Party held an emergency meeting on 31st of October, 2011, and considered reports on the preparations for the forthcoming gubernatorial primaries in Bayelsa State. It also received the report of the Screening Appeal Panel headed Mrs Abiodun Olujimi, former Deputy Governor of Ekiti State.
“After a thorough review of the reports of the screening panel and the screening appeal panel, the leadership of the party has so far cleared the first batch of contestants for the gubernatorial primary in Bayelsa State
“The NWC session to conclude the review exercise continues in order to consider cases of other aspirants on their individual merits. All party members, particularly stakeholders in Bayelsa State, are to please note that the NWC is handling this exercise painstakingly and shall communicate all its decisions in due course.
“Party members are, therefore, advised to await the decisions of the NWC on this issue and mobilise all our supporters for the success of the forthcoming primaries”
A source at the party's secretariat described the party leadership's action as “surprising”. He wondered how a sitting governor failed to make the first batch of aspirants cleared.
Sylva said he has the assurance from the highest leadership of the PDP that things will be done in accordance with the rules.
In a statement read in Abuja by Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information Mr Nathan Egba, the governor said: “These reports are unfounded, laughable, but disturbing. I have not been disqualified. And there is no basis for my disqualification. As I speak, no organ of the party has informed me of anything to the contrary.
“My encounter with the party's screening committee was warm and friendly.
“Consequently, I was issued with the provisional clearance certificate with serial no: 0000012, dated October 28, 2011.” Sylva, while stating that he will not leave the PDP because he is a loyal party member, said: “I am in touch with the national leadership of our great party, including Mr. President.
“I have received solid assurances at the highest level that the party will base all its actions concerning the Bayelsa gubernatorial primary on law.
“I am happy about that. As a sitting governor, I expect protection from my party and all its organs. All sorts of machinations can be plotted against me.
“I assure all the people of Bayelsa State, my supporters and others that I remain in the race for re-election as Governor of Bayelsa State on the platform of the PDP.
“I am in this race to win. I am a founding member of the PDP and we all look forward to a free, fair and transparent contest.
“The decision to seek re-election is not personal. It was the collective decision of our people for a leadership that will consolidate the gains of the last four years.
“The battle is not about me. It is about Bayelsa State. It is about the people,” Sylva said.