BEATING SYLVA WAS CHEAP…WE WON'T ALLOW HIM DESTROY PDP -DICKSON
Last Saturday's governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State was an anti-climax of the prolonged political intrigues that had pitched incumbent governor, Timipre Sylva, against President Goodluck Jonathan's camp. But in this interview during the tension-soaked exercise, Hon Henry Seriake Dickson said he had a far more superior team to pick the ticket even if sylva had participated in the primary.
Finally, the D-day is here. What is your expectation of today's primaries?
Well, I am confident that by the grace of God, I will emerge victorious at this primary today. My message has been well delivered and very well received. And with the tremendous support I have received and continuing to receive from all Bayelsians from all walks of life and also among party faithful and with the strategic superiority of my team; if I may say so, I am confident that I will win.
This game at the moment is about message and the team that can deliver. I am both. And the people of the state also know me; they know my tract record of being firm in defence of Ijaw national interest, they know my modest achievements and I am a consensus builder. With all of these put together, I believe I have had more contact and more endorsement of all stakeholders than any other candidate. Even aside from delegates, I believe I stand a very good chance of winning the nomination today.
There are speculations that you have the backing of a particular power cabal behind your ambition. Is that why you are so confident of winning the ticket?
I am not aware of that. There are so many speculations. Prior to now, there were speculations that some people had been endorsed. There were even newspaper speculations that I had been dumped. But I kept my focus; I kept delivering the message and building a team. I am a team builder and my team has done a wonderful job. So, apart from support and endorsement you were alluding to, all in all, I am the best prepared candidate. I have more presence, more contacts and endorsement than any other candidate. I am the only voice that has been heard on the need for change as well as the message of restoration.
Are you saying that if the incumbent governor had been cleared to participate in this exercise, you would still have won the primary?
When I started this race, I did so on the assumption that the incumbent governor was going to run the primary. I overestimated him and therefore set up a tactically superior team even more superior to his own team. And that made my job easy. This is a team in which I have all the former PDP chairmen from inception till date present. And these people are automatic delegates. Besides, I have endorsement from all other statutory delegates. The governor only had the support of a few government officials, seven members of the National Assembly and 21 in a 24-member state assembly who are all automatic delegates.
Yes, these are critical stakeholders of the party but if you add up the figure, it is just about 30. So, if you do well at ad hoc congresses and you get the support of enough delegates, it can neutralize all of that. I am aware of that. I have been involved in a lot of political battles in the state and I have gone through these processes, managed these processes for others successfully and campaigned successfully for others. Even at times when they didn't stand the chance of winning, we worked hard to make them win. So, I know what it means to come up from a position of disadvantage in a political contest.
And that is one thing I have going for me. Because of my background, I know what it means to fight from a position of disadvantage in politics and gradually gaining strength and momentum. That is what happened. So, even if the governor were cleared in this race, with the parameter that I worked on, the assumptions that I made based on my understanding of Bayelsa politics, I would have won the election. The governor would have had his official delegates and even those official delegates in an anonymous voting setting could have voted for me because I make contact with them, including those that claim to be supporting him. Just yesterday, I was told that so many councilors were suspended on the directive of the governor because he didn't know that I have such a large number of councilors that are supporting me.
So, these are all political strategies I have deployed to penetrate every segment of Bayelsa society. And I don't make noise about that. If you talk of ex-militant generals, people will be shocked to know my reach and endorsement that I have received from them. But I don't make noise about it. So, I am a quiet, effective strategic player in this game and I know the depth of my reach and contacts. So, I am very confident that even with the governor as a candidate, I would have still won the primary. In fact, I set out to defeat him at the party primaries.
You talked of restoration; what are the cardinal programmes of this agenda?
I talked of reformation which is another word for transformation because we need to transform the culture of governance. A governance of impunity must go; a governance of greed and selfishness must go; a governance of state abuse of power must go. On the other hand, the governance of transparency must be ushered in; governance of accountability must be ushered in.
I am brought up to see politics as a service, not as an opportunity to be served or as a means to acquisition of wealth. I want to show my people that in this age and time, it is still possible to promise, come and then deliver. Government runs on high moral values and integrity. I am planning for Bayelsa not of today. And if I am elected by the grace of God and with the support of the people, I will plan for Bayelsa in 30 year's time. That is what I mean by restoration.
This is, putting an end to crime and criminality, bringing about effective law enforcement that we can create security for investment and for other businesses to thrive and even for other people to enjoy their lives, massive investment in education, rural development and infrastructure. Generally, we will be working hard to serve our people and they will see it. It is not going to be politics alone. I am not going to play politics with security. I am not going to play politics with development and I am not going to waste their resources. They themselves will see it. I will announce state resources every month; I will announce government expenditure; I will announce balance sheet and block all leakages. They will be witnessing the dawn of a new era.
Almost at the eleventh hour, the incumbent governor got a court injunction restraining the party from conducting this primary. Are you not worried that whatever is done here today might be nullified by the court?
The problem is that not many journalists have read what they call a court order. And I don't want to talk much about a matter that is still pending in court because I am a lawyer, a former Attorney General of the state. So, I have a very high regard for the judicial process.
And so I don't want to comment much on the matter. All I can say is that the party has reacted and responded. The lawyer of the party will file the necessary legal papers to meet the legal challenge at an appropriate venue. I was not a party to the proceedings, but I am also not aware of any court injunction. I know there is a judicial process but I am not aware of an order saying we should not hold this congress today. But all these are decisions for the party to make and not for me. I am here as a loyal member of the party who is an aspirant. So, let's leave that for the party to sort out.
Would you take whatever is the outcome of this exercise?
O yes, I am a loyal party man. I will take whatever is the outcome in good fate. And I want to urge all contestants to have the same spirit so that whoever wins the others can rally round the person; after all, we are all members of the same party. The governor has his own plan. We know their plan is to discredit the PDP so that he can go to the preferred platform. That is his right but we will prevent him from destroying the party.