War! That word alone summarises the situation in Bayelsa State as the governorship election approaches. Bayelsa is at war with itself. To put it more appropriately, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State is on the path of self-destruction. Both the party leadership and the government seem to have found a common enemy within, and they are tackling him with all the arsenals at their disposal. One question bothers me. There are 21 PDP aspirants currently campaigning for the office of the governor. But only one person, Timi Alaibe, has come under consistent attacks either directly by the government of Bayelsa State or by sponsored groups. The focus of this war is the insistence by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson that he must decide who succeeds him in January next year. His fear is that if left alone, Alaibe would be that successor. That scares him.
Last week, a certain Alfred Egbegi who heads the state newspaper company, went personal against Alaibe whom he said has not been picking his calls. Imagine that! Findings show that he had gone to Alaibe’s house to protest the same issue only to realise that the man did not have his new phone numbers. Not satisfied, he took to Facebook. He wrote, “I was for Alaibe for 100% for over 10 years. He refused to pick my calls, ignored my person and refused to return (sic) text messages until Dickson my friend appointed me. In public, Alaibe behaves as if he has never met me before and my friend Douye Diri is acknowledging me and ask (sic) me to join him. If you would advise me, what would you say?” From the responses, he got more than he ever expected.
That is how petty the situation is in my state. From those names he dropped, you can clearly hear the voice of Jacob and see the hands of Esau. A few days earlier, one phoney group had issued a press statement accusing Alaibe and another aspirant, Dr Franklyn Osaisai, of becoming panicky as the primary election draws closer. The group, called Association of Concerned Bayelsa Professionals, and led by one Jasper Timiebi, alleged that the duo have devised a plot to cause premeditated violence and instability in the state with the intent to arm-twist the national leadership of the PDP to move the primaries to Abuja or the neighbouring Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Quoting non-existing security intelligence at its disposal, the obviously fake group said the two gentlemen “are deploying their men to plant bombs and engage in sporadic shootings to create a non-existent threat of violence to actualize their plot to move the primaries outside Bayelsa contrary to the stipulations of the law.” It cited “increasing desperation occasion by blackmail and the evil plot to unleash mayhem and killings in Bayelsa just to achieve a satanic plot,” because of the “influence of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson who have (sic) led the Restoration Team of the PDP for almost eight years since 2012.”
Knowing the dignifying silence of Alaibe anytime such attack is launched against him, I was not expecting a response until the Bayelsa PDP Preservation Group led by my village man Ebiowei Ogulu, decided to respond to what it saw as an attack from within. It said while Alaibe and Ossaisai might have refused to respond, “We feel their stance might be misconstrued by the good people of Bayelsa as acceptance of the charge.”
It noted that Alaibe, for instance, is not an unknown quantity in Bayelsa politics. His antecedents both as a public servant and a private business man are there for everyone to see. As an apostle of non-violence and inclusiveness, he headed the Presidential Amnesty Programme that disarmed. demobilised and rehabilitated the militants about 10 years ago and wondered aloud how such a man would resort to violence because of politics? It noted clearly that in his persistent quest for the governorship seat of the state, Alaibe has always conducted his campaigns within acceptable rules of engagement and civilised standards.
It stated, “For one, the so-called threat of a pre-meditated violence is not based on any strand of intelligence by the Department of State Security (DSS) but on the intelligence gleaned by these indeterminate concerned non-professionals; needless to add that this threat exists only in their warped imagination. We hasten to add that while others rely on some super factor to swing things in their favour, Alaibe has been afield preaching to relevant stakeholders why he remains inevitable in the calculation to take Bayelsa State to greater heights.”
There is no doubt that these demonic accusations are empty imaginations of a government that wants to force its anointed candidate on Bayelsans. To accuse aspirants of plotting to destroy the very land and people they have craved to lead is not only unkind but ungodly. As observed by the PDP group, if these so called professionals do exist, “we advise that instead of engaging in evil merchandising, they are better off bringing their professionalism to bear on the processes of the governorship election so that the very best among the aspirants is thrown up to lead the people of Bayelsa in the end.”
However, every war must have an end; and only Dickson can end this war. He cannot continue to pretend that he knows nothing about what is happening. That ended weeks ago when his Environment Commissioner mercilessly attacked Alaibe in a public statement. Using government resources to fight an individual for selfish political interest is morally unacceptable and unbecoming of any government. Dickson must understand that the house that divides against itself cannot stand. He has to show leadership and end this war from within.