POLITICS : SDP Threatens PDP’s Hold On Bayelsa

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa state is presently facing a wave of defections. Prior to the recent wave, the PDP has largely been a dominant force with other parties simply on the periphery. However, a new narrative is being written in the politics of the state with party members now romancing the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Notable members of the PDP across the three senatorial districts: Bayelsa East, West and Central are leaving the party in droves, blaming their exit on the perceived divisions among the members. The party has been factionalised along the restoration and prosperity lines.

The immediate past governor of the state and now a member of the National Assembly, Senator Seriake Dickson, is the leader of the restoration caucus while the incumbent governor, Senator Douye Diri, is the leader of the prosperity caucus.

The incumbent governor is a product of the restoration divide, having served as an executive secretary to Senator Dickson. Also, the caucus facilitated his election as a senator representing Bayelsa Central, as well his election as the executive governor of the state.

However, the tide reportedly changed shortly after his emergence as the governor of the state. Some of his appointees are alleged to have labelled some people as representatives of the immediate past restoration government.

This development snowballed into major crisis during the last party primaries in the state. Notable politicians in the state who are said to belong to the prosperity caucus reportedly mounted pressure on the governor to ensure that Senator Dickson is not returned to the National Assembly. Similarly, the ambition of some of Dickson’s loyalists seeking election into offices in 2023 was also under threat.

The issue of rotational formula was thrown up, especially in Sagbama and Nembe local government areas of the state. A member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Fred Agbedi from Ekeremor local government area was touted to take over from Dickson at the red chamber of the National Assembly.

However, Governor Diri reportedly stood his ground ensuring that Dickson secured the party ticket to return to the National Assembly, noting that one good turn deserves another. However, this development was said not to have gone down well with some followers of the governor.

They argued that it was high time Diri detached himself from the apron strings of Dickson and build his own formidable structure in order to ensure that he gets ticket for a second term in office in 2024.

They also held that Dickson was becoming too powerful politically in the state, and that it was time to clip his political wings. It was rumoured that Dickson will support the candidacy of the immediate state chairman of the party and now a member of the National Assembly, Cleopas Moses as the governorship candidate of the party in 2024. This development was the greatest undoing of Moses as he was denied ticket to return to the National Assembly in 2023. A former Speaker of the House of Assembly and the immediate past Secretary to the State Government, Honourable Kombowei Benson won the party ticket for Bayelsa Central. Benson is highly favoured by the leadership of the prosperity caucus.

During the party primaries, reports were rife that delegates were directed to vote for the governor’s preferred candidates. The same scenario played out in Ogbia, Nembe and Nembe local government areas where perceived opponents of Diri’s administration and notable members of restoration government: Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Jonathan Robinson Obuebite and Bruno lost to the governor’s preferred candidates.

This was evidenced in Diri who, in a statement, directed candidates who heeded his advice not to contest against his preferred candidates to go back to their various offices while other who were indirectly referred to as recalcitrant were left in the cold.

This development did not go down well with some of them, who are now romancing the ‘beautiful bride’ in the state, the Social Democratic Party, (SDP)

The immediate past Commissioner for Information, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, in a letter addressed to the party on his decision to quit, said he decided to leave the party because of unfair treatment.

The letter read: “this signifies my decision to officially quit the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). As it is customary, I am writing to inform you and also state the reasons behind my action which was well thought out.

Recall that on May 23, 2022, I contested for the ticket of the PDP for Ogbia Federal constituency. The process of the outcome of the election even though not satisfactory was swept under the carpet. Ordinarily, it was expected that the PDP leadership will reach out and make certain overtures to assuage the feelings of people like me but more than a month after, nothing has been done.

“Rather, the party has continued as if all is well even when it is glaring that it is not. I consider this as an act of disregard and disdain especially against the likes of me that has contributed so much to the success of party since 2012. My record of service and loyalty while in government to both the party and the state cannot be denied and even when things went bad, I remained not minding the threats.

“Although, I had moved on after the primaries despite how unfair the party treated me but yet was inundated with calls and messages on the need to be on the ballot for the 2023 election. Those who have reached me gave very valid reasons on quality that bothers on quality representation which they believe I can offer.

“Their argument was robust, rich, very compelling and I accepted. I have therefore decided to pursue my ambition to go to the House of Representatives on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Also, same argument was advanced by the Deputy Chief Of Staff, Deputy Governor’s office, Barrister Dumbo and the former chairman of Brass local government, Isaiah.

However, pundits are of the view that same scenario played out during the just-concluded Osun state governorship election where the All Progressives Congress (APC) lost to the PDP due to internal wrangling may be witnessed in Bayelsa in 2024. The pundits argue that there is need for Diri to look inward by calling the aggrieved members together and resolving the lingering crisis before it is too late.

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