Friday, November 7, 2014

Heavy Crisis Hits Jonathan’s Home State Bayelsa As The PDP Strongmen Fight

The political storm is gathering and the gladiators are all out against themselves. The ripples generated by last Saturday’s PDP ward congresses appear not to be abating as strong indications have emerged that the leadership of the ruling PDP is under intense pressure to cancel the exercise across the nation.

Curiously, Bayelsa, the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan, appears worst hit by the challenges that were thrown up by the controversial congresses.

Unless urgent steps are taken, Bayelsa may witness another round of crisis as Governor Seriake Dickson has resolved to stop all National Assembly members as well as state lawmakers from seeking re-election in 2015 and this is already creating tension in the state.

Stakeholders of the PDP, allegedly supported by Governor Dickson, had four weeks ago purportedly adopted a zoning formula across the state for elective offices in 2015. Curiously, the zoning of the offices saw to the shutting out of all current National Assembly members from the state.

The federal lawmakers are Senators Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa Central), Heineken Lokpobiri (Bayelsa West) and Clever Ikisikpo (Bayelsa East). Those in the House of Representatives are Foingha Jephthah (Nembe/Brass), Henry Ofongo (Southern Ijaw), Warman Ogoriba (Yenegoa/Kolokuma-Opokuma), Dr Stella Dorgu (Sagbama/Ekeremor) and Nadu Karibo (Ogbia).

Apart from Dorgu, all the affected lawmakers had conducted parallel congresses to protest the handling of PDP ward congresses by the governor. Their supporters have equally vowed to make the state ungovernable if PDP national leadership and President Jonathan did not intervene quickly enough.

This development is coming on the heels of moves by Governor Dickson to stop all, except two, of the state House of Assembly members from making a return to the assembly in 2015 on the party’s platform. The favoured two are the majority leader, Hon Peter Akpe(Sagbama 2) and Hon Daniel Igali (Southern Ijaw 3).

By implication, the speaker, Hon Benson Konbowei, an ally of the governor who was the arrow head of the controversial zoning against the return of Senator Paulker, has also been edged out in the unfolding political drama.

The state government and PDP leadership in the state have debunked the report.

But a PDP chieftain, who craved anonymity, LEADERSHIP Friday learnt, who had led a delegation of PDP stakeholders to meet with the president over the brewing crisis in Bayelsa, said that the ruling party was not just being threatened but the peace of the entire state was at risk.

The source, a former member of the National Assembly, said, “The brewing crisis within the PDP in Bayelsa State is not just a party affair; if care is not taken, it could lead to other political upheavals with the capacity of threatening the peace of the state.

“I can tell you that the reason some of us came to see the president today is to brief him adequately on the matter because the impression being created by the governor – that all is well – is erroneous; it can lead to something else.

“For those of us who have had the opportunity to serve in the National Assembly before, we know the importance of ranking; it is unfortunate that the governor has decided to ignite this needless crisis just because he is afraid of the popularity of some persons. The fresh people the governor is grooming for the National Assembly will at best need about two or three years before they can fit into the scheme of things and this is dangerous for the president himself. We cannot afford to waste experience,’’ he said.

One of the senators whose seat is seen as a target in the controversial zoning, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, confirmed the fact of a brewing tension but appealed to all concerned to eschew violence.

“Yes, it is true that most stakeholders are very unhappy with the purported zoning being orchestrated by the governor. It is normal for people to be aggrieved, especially when an apparent case of injustice has been meted out by those who have no reason to play God in people’s lives.

“However, my appeal to all our supporters is to avoid what could precipitate crisis and violence both in the PDP and the state in general because we believe that Mr. President will not allow this to go unchecked; we are sure he will intervene and timeously too,” Lokpobiri said.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that state lawmakers, led by the speaker, Hon. Kombowei Benson, have pulled out of an earlier agreement with the Governor Seriake Dickson-led Restoration Caucus to demand that they be given automatic return tickets in 2015.

The anger of the State Assembly members stem from the move by the governor to install some of his aides and those termed Restoration Boys as state lawmakers in 2015.
The battle has just started...


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