A former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC), Mr. Timi Alaibe, has turned into a beautiful bride overnight for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State following Friday’s swearing in of Senator Douye Diri as governor.
Alaibe is being seriously courted by the party’s hierarchy and the immediate past governor, Seriake Dickson to stop his ongoing litigation which they strongly believe could truncate Diri’s tenure.
The former NDDC MD who contested the PDP’s governorship ticket with Diri during the primaries is currently in court seeking an order that he be declared as the validly nominated governorship candidate of the party.
He was heavily backed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for the race but lost in the primaries to Dickson’s candidate, Diri.
Jonathan and many other PDP top shots were alleged to have switched their support to the APC candidate, David Lyon on the basis of Dickson’s.
Lyon went ahead to win the election only for the Supreme Court to void his victory last Thursday, citing presentation of forged documents by his running mate, Senator Degi Ermienyo.
But the All Progressives Congress (APC) is insisting on a fresh governorship election in the state.
Moment after his swearing in on Friday evening, Diri accompanied by Dickson and the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus went to see Jonathan in his hometown, Otuoke.
The Nation gathered that the move was to beg the ex-President to prevail on Alaibe to drop his litigation against Diri.
In Suit No: FHC/YNG/CS/99/2019 filed before the court, Alaibe is, among other things, urging the Court to declare him as the validly nominated governorship candidate of the PDP. He joined the PDP, Diri and two others as defendants.
The emergence of Diri as governor, sources said, has presented Dickson and his party a rare opportunity to reclaim the political leadership of the state earlier lost to the APC last November.
Sources close to the former governor said: “He was struck beyond words when the judgement was pronounced. He never thought the APC would be denied the opportunity to carry out their plans against him.”
To kick-start a process of reconciliation within the party in Bayelsa and beyond, Dickson reportedly instructed his allies, including Governor Diri, that he intended to reach out to all aggrieved persons within and outside the state, with a view to re-energizing and repositioning the party.
This new position, which runs contrary to his earlier stance, it was learnt, was communicated to his allies, shortly before he handed over to Diri on Friday.
“The governor (Dickson) made it clear he would be seeking reconciliation. He begged his allies and associates, including the new Governor and his deputy to be ready to work with him to make peace and reposition the party in the coming days.
This explains why Governor Diri wasted no time to visit former President Jonathan with his Certificate of Return. Dickson also hinted on reaching out to Governor Wike of Rivers State, Timi Alaibe and other party leaders within and outside Bayelsa as part of the peace moves.
“In a way, even before the Supreme Court judgment, we in Dickson’s camp had observed some mistakes on our part. We saw that some things could have been better managed.
Politics is dynamic and we were looking forward to correcting some of those mistakes. But with the opportunity given us by the Supreme Court judgement, the quest for peace is now doubled.
Dickson would be working hard to ensure that all those who left PDP in Bayelsa as a result of one grievance or the other are persuaded to return.
“He will also look beyond the state and extend the olive branch. What else will he be fighting for? God gave him a second chance to right the wrongs and that is exactly what he said he will be doing with the support of the new governor and other party leaders within and outside the state.
He is the greatest beneficiary of the twist of fate that saw Diri become governor after the internal crisis within the PDP dashed APC the governorship on a platter of gold.
What we need to do is to convince Bayelsans that we have learnt our lessons and they will embrace the PDP which is the only true party of the people of the state,” he added.
Complaining of irregularities, Alaibe had immediately after the PDP primaries filed a case against Diri’s candidature at the Federal High Court in Yenagoa, the state capital.
In Suit filed before the court, Alaibe is, among other things, urging the Court to declare him as the validly nominated governorship candidate of the PDP. He joined the PDP, Diri and two others as defendants.
The case was later moved to Owerri when Alaibe complained about security in Yenagoa. On the 15th of October, 2019, Justice Jane Inyang, who was hearing the matter, announced the sudden transfer of the case to Abuja.
He cited an order of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court as the reason for the transfer. The matter came up for hearing only on the 8th of November 2019 when the matter was adjourned till 15 November 2019, the eve of the Bayelsa election.
Following a petition against Justice Inyang by Alaibe, alleging lack of confidence in her ability to ensure a fair trial of the matter, the case was adjourned indefinitely to enable the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, who had directed Justice Inyang to respond to the petition, conclude investigations into the petition.
The matter is yet to be heard since then. But supporters of the PDP governorship aspirant have remained confident that Alaibe’s case is a good one.
The Supreme Court’s declaration of PDP as the winner of the November 16 election may have further strengthened their resolve to see the matter to the very end.
In his inauguration address, Diri declared that he would always work to achieve peace, love and prosperity for the people. He described the swearing in day, as “a day made by God and marvelous in the eye of the people of Bayelsa.
I have been sworn in today as your new governor, my advice is that we have to be magnanimous in victory. We have to forget the bitterness and acrimony, because if we kill ourselves, who are we going to lead?
“Of course, we are not going to lead animals. I therefore, bring to you message of love, hope and prosperity for Bayelsa. Let us eschew all the bitterness and acrimony and learn to love ourselves irrespective of political parties,” Diri stated.
Reliable PDP sources claimed the new governor is not hiding his readiness to support Dickson’s call for widespread reconciliation within the party.
“If you know Senator Diri very well, you will know he is a man of peace. He is a devoted party man who will do anything and sacrifice anything to give peace a chance,” a close aide of the new governor said.
It is still unclear when and how exactly Dickson or his men will be reaching out to Governor Wike. Just weeks ago, Wike had rejected the offer of the PDP leadership to intervene in the conflict with Dickson.
The Rivers state Governor, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, had said he would have nothing to do with the then Bayelsa State helmsman.
Instead, Wike insisted that the right thing for Dickson to do was to resign from the PDP, so that PDP leaders in Bayelsa State can rebuild the party.
“I am not going to sit down with anybody to discuss anything as it relates to Governor Dickson. I have no business with Governor Dickson,” he had said.
Wike accused Dickson of working with the opposition APC in Rivers state during the 2019 governorship election. “They know that Governor Dickson betrayed and sold out the party.
They know that during the 2019 election in Rivers State, what happened in the state. That Dickson worked with my opponent.
Throughout that period, the National Chairman himself knows that people were calling from all over the country to know the situation. Dickson never called one day.
This was because of his alignment with the opposition. I can show proof that Dickson had already made up his mind to go over to APC,” he claimed
On his part, Dickson had accused Wike, of executing “a clandestine ethnic supremacist agenda” to undermine the interest of Ijaw people in the politics of Rivers State.
He said part of Wike’s political plot was to fan the embers of hatred between the Ijaw people in Rivers and their kith and kin in Bayelsa State with a view to stoking the fire of disharmony in Ijaw land.
He criticised Wike for using the disputed Soku oil wells between the two states as a mere subterfuge to achieve his interest.
Dickson noted that the Rivers governor was playing up the Soku oil wells dispute as a ploy to create disunity among the Ijaw ethnic nationality and also cover up “the deliberate underdevelopment of Rivers Ijaw communities” by pretending to be their champion.
He further described Wike’s comments as “reckless, childish and uncivilised,” stressing that the Rivers governor should have known that the dispute over the Soku oil wells predated his (Wike’s) administration.
But reliable sources within the camp of the former Bayelsa governor confirmed ongoing moves by Dickson to reconcile with Wike. “Dickson, as the leader of the PDP in Bayelsa state will do anything in the interest of the party.
He is a politician who understands how to promote common interest over and above personal interest. He has made it clear that the need to rebuild the party in Bayelsa and ensure that it remains in government must be pursued vigorously by all and sundry. He is ready to make peace with anybody and everybody to achieve this,” our source claimed.
APC insists on fresh polls in Bayelsa
The National Chairman of the APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole has petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) asking it to conduct fresh polls in Bayelsa State.
Oshiomhole, in the February 14, 2020 petition addressed to the INEC Chairman said that the Supreme Court, in its ruling on the Bayelsa governorship election petition “did not void the votes that our party polled at the election and the implication of this is that the votes of the All Progressives Congress must be reckoned with in determining whether any other candidate polled majority of lawful votes cast in on one quarter of at least two-thirds majority of the state.”
He added: “We have reviewed the judgment of the Supreme Court and we are of the firm opinion that the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party cannot be issued Certificates of Return and/or sworn in as Governor and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State respectively.”