Osa Okhomina writes on the intrigues that shaped the rescheduled gubernatorial, primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State
For the fourth time, former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe has foregone his governorship ambition.
In 2003, Alaibe was reportedly prevailed upon by former Vice president Atiku Abubakar, to step down for former governor Deprieye Alameiseigha during the PDP primaries.
Again in 2007, he was allegedly prevailed upon to forego the PDP ticket to former President Goodluck Jonathan, (then governor) by former president Olusegun Obasanjo. His attempt to become governor of the state, under the Labour Party ahead of 2011, also failed.
It also failed this time on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Alaibe’s decision to bow out of the rescheduled gubernatorial primary followed the controversy that trailed the previous one held on September 22.
The previous primary, conducted by the Edo State governor, Adams Oshomole, had ignited so much heat in the party, as former Governor Timipre Sylva and Oshiomole traded words over the outcome. While Sylva claimed he won, Oshiomole declared the primaries inconclusive. Other aspirants, including Alaibe, kicked against Sylva’s claim. The national party organ, however, cancelled the election and rescheduled a fresh one.
Though the fresh governorship primaries was held in a peaceful atmosphere, (perhaps because of the heavy security presence at the secretariat) the absence of a viable competing aspirant such as Alaibe doused the anticipated tension.
Sylva emerged the flag bearer of the APC with a recorded 981 votes out the total number of 1147 accredited votes.
A total number of 14 governorship aspirants participated out of the 19 that bought the governorship form.
The governorship primary was conducted by a seven-man team led by Brigadier General, Monsur Dan Ali (retired). Most of the delegates, defied the early morning rain, got accredited and voted immediately.
Sylva, while accepting the victory, could not resist the urge to throw a jab at Osiomhole. He said “It’s been a long walk, and today I am very happy to accept this victory that you have given to me for the second time.
“I would like to say that this is only the beginning of a journey. Today, I have seen that we politicians have a lot to learn from the military.
“What a great and serving governor of a great state of this country was unable of doing just a few days ago, has been achieved by a retired general and his team.”
However, aware of the task ahead, he said to party members, “We’ll do everything to keep this unity. I’ll like to call on all other aspirants who have also accepted this result, to join hands with me to ensure that we win the election come 5th December 2015, which is actually the main issue at stake.”
How Timi Alaibe Was Muscled Out
The last minute withdrawal of Alaibe from the governorship race of the APC, according to sources within the party, was allegedly orchestrated from the presidency.
It was gathered that a top officer in the presidency had prevailed on Alaibe to withdraw from the race in the interest of the party.
It was gathered that the war of words between the Oshiomole and Sylva, and the eventual decision of the national working committee led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to cancel the first primaries, provoked chain reactions within the party.
A close member of the Sylva campaign organization, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the decision of the presidency to throw its weight behind Sylva was due to series of issues that bother on the need to secure victory in Bayelsa during the December 5 elections.
According to him, ahead of the first primaries, a dummy was sold to the party that Sylva was not “marketable”, considering his brush with the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) pertaining the series of petitions and alleged corruption practices against him while he served as governor.
It was however gathered that after intense deliberation, and with imminent defeat stirring APC in the face if it fails to put its house in order, Alaibe was begged to step down. More so, it was rationalized that Sylva, seems to have more structure in the APC in the state than Alaibe.
By September 30, at exactly 2am, Alaibe, issued a statement of withdrawal from the race. He announced that his decision to withdraw from the APC gubernatorial primaries was for the interest of the party.
Alaibe said “It is with all nostalgia that I recall the zeal, enthusiasm and hope with which thousands of Bayelsans made a statement in the direction of change in August, 2015. I can also vividly recall a mental replay of the occasion wherein a qualitative representation of the leadership of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) ushered in respected leaders and members from their then party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“That singular event has been phenomenal just as its true meaning and direction have all exuded confidence, unity of purpose, cohesion, collectivism and courage. That day undoubtedly marked the beginning of a people’s journey from hopelessness and squandering as enunciated by the accidental PDP-led government in Bayelsa State to that of quality leadership that an APC government will represent.
“As one of such leaders who took that historic decision, I thought of giving a further bite to my burning desire to extricate the state from abysmal leadership failure. Therefore, my aspiration to be governor after series of consultations was to rekindle our collective hope and lift the state beyond its current state of decay under the PDP.
“Regardless, I am not oblivious of the fundamental fact that we all need a virile, united, cohesive and collaborative APC to bring about our desires to fruition. Not only do we need this, APC deserves every sacrifice, including personal interests, to arrive at the envisaged destination come February, 2016.
“This is more so that both as individual leaders and as a party, the need to avoid the a situation of crisis that the PDP might inadvertently reap from cannot be over emphasized. As a result, having carefully examined the circumstances that have trailed the governorship primaries of our great party in Bayelsa State, I have come to the conclusion that pushing my governorship ambition beyond this point carries alongside it some collateral consequences.
“Succinctly, two options are available to me. Whereas I am confident that I have the required support of my admirers and supporters as well as the needed backing of Bayelsans to govern them, the hurdles set on the way of this noble project are seemingly temptous and capable of overheating the APC in Bayelsa. In another vein, the virtuous path to take is that virtuous one in which personal interest are sacrificed for the common good, whether for the APC or the state in general. This is the path I chose in the light of the prevailing circumstances. I therefore withdraw from the governorship primary contest.
“This decision is taken in the interest of our party, especially as we face the task of the common challenge of unseating the PDP in the state come December 5.”
Chief Sylva has, however, called on Alaibe not to leave the party but to remain as member and work together with him to defeat the PDP in Bayelsa.
According to him, “I have a specific word for my co-contestant, Ndutimi Alaibe, who signalled that he was leaving the race. I’ll like him to come back, let us sit down as a people, as lovers of the APC, as lovers of Bayelsa and as lovers of Nigeria, to join hands and work together to deliver good governance in this state.”