The role played by former President Goodluck Jonathan to propel the All Progressives Congress (APC) to victory at the just concluded governorship election in Bayelsa State has divided the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
While most PDP stalwarts insisted that Jonathan should not be blamed for the defeat of the PDP, others believe that the former President authored the script that ousted his party from the state.
But party leaders said that the alleged greed, selfishness and autocratic leadership style of the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, compelled Jonathan to take a back seat in the affairs of the PDP before and during the last Saturday election.
A party leader, who spoke in confidence, described blaming Jonathan for the defeat of the PDP as begging the question.
He said: “Nobody should mention Jonathan’s name. We were all witnesses when Dickson and some of his co-travelers vowed to retire Jonathan from politics. Dickson took all decisions alone. He installed all PDP structures without consulting Jonathan. Meanwhile Jonathan brought him and against all odds made him the governor.
“In the 2019 general election, Dickson singlehandedly selected all the PDP candidates that contested the National and House of Assembly elections including in the constituencies of Jonathan.
“In the local government elections, Dickson installed all the chairmen and councilors in all the wards and local government area including Ogbia, the local government area of Jonathan. Jonathan doesn’t even know the councilor in his ward.
“When it came to the last governorship election, Dickson sidelined Jonathan even when Jonathan brought many senior citizens in the PDP to beg him to allow a former Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe, to fly the flag of the PDP. Dickson refused. He was arrogant.
“He went ahead to impose his preferred candidate on the people and organised a stage-managed primary to actualise his wish. As if Dickson was not done, he ignored all entreaties by different stakeholders to give the running mate slot to anybody from Jonathan’s local government area. Everybody begged him but he refused and took the last decision that finally buried the PDP.
“The governor went to his local government area to bring his kinsmen and imposed him on everybody as the running mate of the PDP. That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The move by Dickson justified insinuations that he nursed the ambition to replace the PDP running mate, Senator Lawrence Ewrujakpor, at the Senate.
“People saw greed, selfishness and highhandedness in what he was doing. There was nothing Jonathan could have done as an individual. Nobody should blame Jonathan. The singular reason why PDP lost is Dickson. He must take responsibility for this defeat.”
The source further said that as at the time Dickson made moves for reconciliation, the damage had been done as most foot soldiers of Jonathan and Alaibe had already left the PDP and vowed never to come back.
“The reconciliation should have come before September 23, the last day for substitution of candidates at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Most of the people, who left waited for the national party leadership to intervene and mount pressure on Dickson to make some concessions.
“The defections and resignations by political appointees started after the closure of candidate substitution. For instance, most of Jonathan’s foot soldiers who left the party vowed not to come back. Even Alaibe’s loyalists also moved on. Most of them left because they were disappointed at the choice of candidate and running mate.”
But an aide to the governor said there was no reason for Jonathan to have abandoned the PDP the way he did before and during the governorship election, adding that his decision to stay away from the activities of the party led to the loss of Bayelsa to APC.
The source, who spoke in confidence because of his relationship with the former President, said there was no sin Dickson allegedly committed that should not have been forgiven by Jonathan.
“For whatever it is worth, the PDP is the party that made Jonathan whatever he is today. From this party, he became a deputy governor, governor, Vice-President and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. No matter how angry he was, he should have stood by his party.
“In the interest of the PDP, Jonathan should have overlooked the errors of Dickson and work for the PDP to win the election. His absence was felt by the people of Bayelsa and his body language suggested that he wanted the opposition to win. We can now see that he supported the candidate of the opposition. What the former president did was anti-party,” he said.
But Dickson absolved himself of blame, saying he tried in vain 16 times to meet with the former President to decide on the choice of the PDP candidate.
Speaking on the meeting between APC leaders and Jonathan before and after the elections, the governor said: “In the midst of all of this, what I think the APC leaders are doing is strategic. They came to Bayelsa to take Jonathan’s state and his people by force. This was not an election. They knew. They are my colleagues and friends.
“The game the APC leaders are playing not just with that visit but with the comments they are making about Jonathan is to lay the foundation for this gross violation of the democratic rights of his people. His Ogbia people never voted. The votes they ascribed to them are false, his people, children of Bayelsa State, who stood with him through thick and thin.
“And I know that no politician has stood by him more than me. He is our leader and my boss any day. Because of what they have done, they had to lay a foundation using his name to legitimise the illegitimate. That is why they have to be taking David Lyon to him, visit him and appear to be celebrating the victory never earned.
“On the part of the APC, they are strategic. What they have done is to use the name of the president to expand the notion of a disagreement and justify the allocation of figures and then after the rigging, they now go to him. So, like Pontius Pilate, they have prepared a window by which they will wash off their hands strategically and put it at his doorsteps that he endorsed it, sanctioned and legitimised it. “