Bayelsa 2018: Sylva, Lokpobiri in messy battle for APC ticket

Minister of State Petroleum , Mr. Timipre Sylva

Former Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva and the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, have fallen apart, following their ambition to clinch the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the governorship election.

Prior to the election timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Sylva and Lokpobiri had gone their separate ways as each worked individually to deliver results for the APC in the last general elections.

Their disagreements were said to have sharply divided the APC chapter into three camps ahead of the November 2 poll, with a neutral camp led by a founding member of the party and governorship, Preye Aganaba.

Sylva was angry that the minister was nursing a governorship ambition instead of supporting him to pick the ticket and complete his second term in office.

But, a source, who spoke in confidence, said Sylva should be blamed for the internal crisis rocking the party, alleging that the former governor was running the party as his private estate.

He said Sylva was nominating his supporters for the juicy positions in the party without considering the interests of other loyal members of the party.

The source said: “Sylva is behaving as if he is the only one in the party. He wants to be an NDDC managing director. He wants to be a minister in the coming cabinet of President Muhammadu and he wants to be the governorship candidate of the APC. His thinking is that he can clinch an appointed position and resign to contest the governorship election.

“Besides, Lokpobiri is eminently qualified to contest the governorship ticket of the party. I don’t see anything wrong with the ambition of the minister. People in Sylva’s camp are saying that the minister’s candidacy will not fly because he is from Ekeremor in the same senatorial district with the incumbent Governor, Seriake Dickson.

“They have forgotten that zoning is not sacrosanct in the state. Former President Goodluck Jonathan from Ogbia, Bayelsa East was at the Presidency the same time Sylva from Brass in Bayelsa East was made the governor of the state.

“Heavens did not fall. At this point in the state, APC needs a new face capable of challenging the PDP in the forthcoming election. Sylva bungled his chance in 2015 despite all the efforts of Lokpobiri to make him realise his second term ambition. So, he should allow the minster to to fly the flag of the party”.

He, however, said that the national leadership of the party was monitoring the bad blood between the two party leaders and would take a decision for the best interest of APC in the state.

It was further gathered that some close associates of Sylva were already considering Lokpobiri as the best option for APC at the election.

A known loyalist of Sylva, who spoke in confidence, said he was in support of Lokpobiri, adding that it would be a Herculean task for Sylva to win election again in the state.

But the camp of Sylva through its loyalists has continued to attack Lokpobiri for constituting himself a thorn in the flesh of Sylva describing the minister as an ungrateful politician.

A member of Sylva’s camp, Gesiye Newman, suggested that the minister was making case for the governorship ticket as a bargaining for a fresh ministerial nomination.

He said:  “While it is within his fundamental human right to aspire for the ticket of his party, it is my humble opinion that Lokpobiri should be gracious enough to reciprocate the magnanimity of Sylva, who threw a ministerial position at him on a platter of gold. He should consider the overall interest of the party and support Sylva’s bid to clinch the coveted seat of power in the state.

“Lokpobiri has, in all honesty, enjoyed an unmerited goodwill from Sylva, who handed him a ministerial position shortly after dumping the PDP for the APC in 2015.

“As it stands, the odds are not in favour of Lokpobiri, who even as a serving minister failed to deliver President Muhammadu Buhari, in both his polling unit, ward, local government and senatorial districts. His performance even during the 2015 governorship election was unimpressive, and these are facts.

“Lokpobiri isn’t known to command any tangible followership within his party that could be leveraged on, if he throws his hat into the ring for the governorship ticket. The same can be said about him even at the state level. It would therefore be quite an onerous task to get his party’s adherents behind him, if he wants to push through with his aspiration”.

“Another odd against Lokpobiri is the fact that he comes from the same senatorial district as the outgoing governor, Henry Dickson, who has ruled the state for about eight years. This factor would certainly work against his aspiration, as other senatorial districts would sure frown at Bayelsa West retaining the governorship seat of the state after its eight years spell”.

Also, the Timipre Sylva Support Organization (TSSO) attacked a group of stakeholders, party elders and state executive committee, who reportedly met and endorsed Lokpobiri for the ticket.

The Director of Media/Strategic Communications, TSSO, Wilfred Frank- Ogbotobo, said as major stakeholders, they were not aware of a meeting of the party members to endorse Lokpobiri.

He said: “As major stakeholders, and interested parties, we wish to inform the State Executive Committee, APC members and the public that we are not aware of any such meeting held to endorse a candidate or nominee for ministerial appointment.

The Timipre Sylva Support Organization believes in one united APC in Bayelsa State, which must work in harmony, through a free and fair primary process, to produce an acceptable candidate to fly the party’s ticket and win the November 2 governorship election”.

 

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