PRESS STATEMENT

BAYELSA SHALL WITNESS DAYBREAK

In response to media reports in which the Acting National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, was quoted as alleging that the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, had been told the reasons he was excluded from the governorship primary and that such “sins” would be made public in due course, the governor challenges Baraje to come clean on these “sins”, perhaps, for necessary “atonement”.

For the avoidance of doubt, Sylva says at no time did Baraje discuss the so-called sins with him. We are aware that the PDP national chairman has been giving different “reasons” to different people on the illegal exclusion of the governor. But at last, Baraje has exposed the fact that there was no reason known to law and commonsense for the exclusion of the governor.

With Baraje’s tone of voice, we fear that after having excluded Governor Sylva without any justification, there is now a desperate attempt to cook up reasons, how ever untenable and tenuous, as an afterthought.

Governor Sylva feels it is saddening that PDP is descending to this level and believes they are up to something sinister.

Sylva has served the PDP and the people of Bayelsa State creditably well. So, it is for the people of Bayelsa State to reject him at the poll if they do not want him as their governor anymore. It is illegal and unjust for PDP to exclude the governor from contesting without any cogent reason.

Baraje also alleged in the report that Sylva’s case is not the first time a sitting governor would be disqualified by PDP, saying it had happened in the case of the former Anambra State governor, Chinwoke Mbadinuju.

We wish to refresh the memory of Baraje, if he does not know or has forgotten, that Mabadinuju was never disqualified by PDP. He contested the party primary and was rigged out. But in the case of Bayelsa State, Sylva is not even given the opportunity to compete with whosoever has been “anointed”.

We feel sad that instead of drawing useful lessons from the Anambra debacle, the current leadership of the party, under Baraje, is celebrating it. Not only did PDP lose the state, so many lives were lost and a lot of odium was brought on the party because of power. None of those losses has been recovered till date. We do not wish this to happen in Bayelsa State.

Baraje’s behaviour reminds us of the former Communist Russia, where when the leader of the party did not want even a mere football match to hold, he would instruct the local commissar to lock up the football field. And the local commissar will never be able to give any reason for that course of action. But when the people persist and demand reason why the football match should not hold, he would simply retort that the football field is “sick”.

We challenge Baraje to come out with the reason why Sylva was illegally excluded from the contest.

Governor Sylva notes with grave disappointment the charade and odium that were orchestrated in Bayelsa State on Saturday in the name of PDP governorship primary. He calls the exercise a ridiculous imitation of democracy that insults not only Bayelsa State but also the Nigerian nation. He says the exercise cannot stand because, one, Mr. President and all the statutory delegates – seven members of the National Assembly from the state, all 22 members of the House of Assembly on the platform of the PDP, and all the eight local government chairmen – were not present.

He wonders the sort of primary that took place without 98 per cent of party members and party representatives.

The governor wishes to reiterate that he and his supporters are still in the PDP and he is still in the gubernatorial race. He thanks the Bayelsa people for the keeping peace despite the provocation. He also salutes the state’s statutory delegates who refused to lend their dignified presence to Saturday’s charade.

Sylva is in touch with his lawyers and they have assured him that the illegal primary cannot stand. The governor will not allow those who resorted to self-help to get away with their evil. The governor is a democratic and is committed to pursuing this matter through democratic means until justice is done and the ills of the last few days are undone.

The governor assures all Bayelsans and other Nigerians that their state would soon reclaim its democratic identity and emerge even stronger. As Ngugi wa Thiong’o says, “There is no night so long that it does not end in daybreak.”

Bayelsa shall witness daybreak.

DOIFIE OLA
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor