June 14, 2021

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A Case For Credible PDP Primary In Bayelsa

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As the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) goes to the polls to elect its flagbearer for the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa state, there are fears that the ruling party in the state may face implosion after the exercise. One of the major reasons for the imminent fiasco in the PDP, according to political prophets, is the unprecedented number of aspirants jostling for the party’s gubernatorial ticket.
It is somewhat atrocious to note that a total of 21 aspirants.The implication of this is that it has polarized the party and caused great division within. Inside the party, there are fragmented camps, one of which is the restoration caucus led by the state governor himself.
Governor Seriake Dickson has not hidden his bias for an aspirant from his camp becoming the standard bearer of the PDP. His avowed position ahead of the primary election has since heat up the political scene in the party. The governor has, in different occasions, sound it very clear that he won’t support the aspiration of any aspirant outside the restoration camp. He went on to describe some unnamed aspirants within the party as “butterfly politicians”, vowing that such aspirants would not have his backing.
According to the reports, it is only the aspirant to whom he gives his blessings that could become candidate of the PDP and eventually win the forthcoming governorship election in the state. It was consequent upon this that the restoration camp endorsed only three aspirants and asked them to pick the party’s gubernatorial primary election form. They are: Mr. Kemela Okara, Senator Douye Diri and Mr. Talford Ongolo. Other aspirants within and outside the restoration team, however, ignored the endorsement of the above named aspirants and went ahead to pick the PDP nomination forms and have since joined the race.
Flowing from this, there has been a perception that some statements made so far by the governor are unguarded and capable of raising bad blood amongst members of the party. As the leader of the PDP in the state, key stakeholders of the party had expected that the governor would play a fatherly role and remain neutral and allow the various aspirants to test their popularitty at the party primaries rather than taking sides. There are therefore fears that the process may be skewed to favour a particular aspirant against others. Another worrisome sign is a statement credited to the state chairman of the PDP, Mr. Moses Cleopas, to the effect that he would support any aspirant that the governor supported. That statement is believed to have aggravated the fears raised by some of the aspirants concerning the credibility of the PDP primary election.
During the ad-hoc delegates elections conducted across the state, there were pockets of violence as well as protests by some of the aspirants who felt that the process of electing the three delegates per ward was fraught with irregularities that negate the party rules on the conduct of ad-hoc delegates elections in the PDP. Particularly, the political camp of one of the leading aspirants, Chief Ndotimi Alaibe expressed dissatisfaction, condemning the whole process and accusing the state leadership of the PDP of hijacking the exercise.
As a result of the expression of dissatisfaction and protests that greeted the conduct of the ad-hoc delegates’ election, some irate youths took advantage of the protests and began to foment trouble in the state. They were said to have besieged the state secretariat of the PDP and detonated explosives suspected to be dynamite, while there were gunshots around the party secretariat. Indeed, these are signs that call for concern and should be treated with all sense of seriousness, as the party goes into her primary election today.
To ensure a hitch free and acceptable exercise, the PDP should be above board in the conduct of election to get its governorship candidate for the November 16 general election. To do this, the state governor, who is the leaders of the party, has a key role to play. He should see his self as a father to all, not a leader to a section of the party. The governor should also control his emotions and allow a free process that gives room for every aspirant to participate so that those who lost can congratulate the winner.
Similarly, the state leadership of the party should be neutral and treat every aspirant equally. Any act of giving preferential treatment to any particular aspirant may attract legal fireworks capable of causing the party regrettable misfortunes. In the same vein, the national working committee of the party that will conduct the election should avoid monetary and external influences that may affect the true reflection of the wish of the delegates.
The outcome of the primary election lies in the hands of the delegates. Their actions or inactions would determine how generally acceptable the PDP governorship candidate will be. As it stands, the destiny of the PDP is in the hands of the delegates. The much the party can go at the general polls will largely depend on the choice made by the delegates. If they decide to sell their consciences for pecuniary gains, the party would be made to pay dearly at the final battle.
The state government, the police and other security agents should be on top of their game to avoid a repeat of what transpired during the election of the Ijaw Nation Congress (INC) held in Yenagoa, the state capital, were hoodlums disrupted an ongoing electoral process and carted away all election materials, making the process of electing leaders of the Ijaw Nation inconclusive. If that ugly experience is replicated at the PDP delegates election, there will be grave consequences that would be better imagined than experienced.

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