Former President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State are locked in a struggle to patch up their alleged strained relationship ahead of the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the State.
Each of them wants his own candidate as the next occupant of the Government House,Yenagoa.
Jonathan, who was appointed chairman of the State Education Endowment Fund on Friday, is believed to have lined up six aspirants to choose from as PDP candidate while Dickson prefers someone from his administration to ensure continuity in government policy and programme.
Sources told The Nation that the ex-president is considering picking one of the following: a former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Timi Alaibe; the Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Mr. Reuben Okoya; Senator Emmanuel Paulker; the pioneer Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), Dr. Franklin Osaisai, and the Group Chief Executive of KDI Group, Mr. Keniebi Okoko and a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, Dr. Godknows Igali.
Alaibe is said to be Jonathan’s top favourite.
The cold war between the two leaders is believed to being aggravated by an alleged deal between Jonathan and the National Working Committee of PDP to allow the ex-President have his way.
However, Dickson is not having any of that and is insisting on due process and transparent primaries because he controls the party’s structure in the state.
A source familiar with the development said:”The next November 16 governorship poll is causing disquiet in Bayelsa PDP with the emergence of a cold war between ex-President Jonathan and Governor Dickson. Although Dickson has been a dependable ally of Jonathan for over 20 years, they are treading different paths on the choice of the party’s governorship candidate.
“As the highest ranking PDP leader in the state, Jonathan wants to be allowed to anoint the party’s candidate. Already, six aspirants have been shortlisted from among whom Jonathan wants to pick one. The aspirants are Chief Timi Alaibe, Mr. Reuben Okoya, Senator Emmanuel Paulker, Dr. Franklin Osaisai, Mr. Keniebi Okoko and Dr. Godknows Igali
“The ex-President believes he anointed Dickson and his choice brought good fortunes to Bayelsa, he should be honoured by PDP to do so again.
“But the governor is embittered that Jonathan is putting forward all the aspirants who worked against his re-election in 2016. He is also insisting that his successor must come from within his Restoration Government for continuity.
“The ex-President is already working in concert with ex-First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan to mobilize women in the state against any candidate anointed by Dickson.
He has also reportedly recruited Governor Nyesom Wike to help mobilize support for him in his quest to produce the next governor of Bayelsa State.”
Another source confirmed that the disagreement between Jonathan has been taken to the PDP headquarters and a former President.
The source added: “Jonathan is selling the credibility of all the aspirants as a decoy to prove that he is after a right choice but he knows who he wants to anoint. Though all the aspirants are close to the Otuoke born former president his preferred candidates remain Alaibe and Okoya. While Alaibe is a veteran aspirant and a latter day ally of Jonathan, Okoya, a well- known architect, is Jonathan’s business partner.
“Jonathan has allegedly presented Alaibe and Okoya to some of his trusted friends and the National Secretariat of the PDP for support.
“He is equally believed to have appealed to his colleagues, including a former President to persuade Dickson to concede the governorship slot to him.
“But the ex-President was non-committal. He faulted him for not condemning the senseless killings during and after the last elections in Bayelsa State. The thinking in the Jonathan camp is that in the event that none of his candidates sails through the PDP primary election, Jonathan promised to back any other candidate but Dickson’s in the November 16 polls. The former president was said to have dropped the hint at a meeting in faraway South Africa when he recently led Election Monitors to the country.”
A source in Dickson’s camp vowed that they would stop Jonathan.
He said:”We shall stop Jonathan and his men from producing the next governor both at the level of the PDP guber primaries and the election proper in November. In this year’s general election, they fielded candidates in the opposition parties particularly in the African Democratic Congress (ADC) against the PDP and we defeated them
“They wanted to undermine the governor and humiliate the PDP but we proved to them that Bayelsa is PDP and PDP is Bayelsa. In the upcoming PDP guber primaries, we shall not allow those who did anti-party against PDP to win election in Bayelsa State. President Jonathan and his anointed candidate (s) will be defeated squarely.
“The leader of the party in the state is Dickson, not Jonathan. The governor has directed the PDP State Working Committee to conduct a free and fair election. We are confident the primary will throw up somebody from Governor Dickson’s system because we have the delegates and he that controls the delegates is actually the one in charge of the electoral college.”
But a source in the Wadata Plaza said the PDP NWC will not interfere with the congresses and primaries of any state.
A PDP chieftain who spoke to The Nation on the condition of anonymity said: “PDP wants to retain Bayelsa State and we shall not manipulate the process or outcome of whatever happens there. We are good students of history, the party has learnt its lesson in a hard way . We are here to deepen internal democracy not to deepen imposition of candidates on people.
“We know the influence of Governor Dickson in Ijaw land and the Niger Delta region and we cannot impose a candidate on him or undermine him in any way.
“Both the governor and the former president are very important to us and we shall ensure that we reconcile them so that we go into the election as a united party.”
But Jonathan in some recent tweets appealed to Bayelsans to allow peace to reign.
He said aspirants should seek power for the purpose of improving the livelihood of the people.
He said his comments were extracts from some of his thoughts at the workshop on “Credible Governorship Election and Good Governance in Bayelsa State organized by Ijaw Elders Forum
He said: “My message to all those who desire to govern us is that we shouldn’t seek power for the purpose of enjoying privileges and entitlements but for the purpose of improving the livelihood of the people.
“We need peace to develop as a state; to develop as a state we need to work together and ensure that peace is sustained during and after elections. The Ijaw Charter and Ijaw Nation Code of Ethics, Leadership & Governance is a welcome development.
“Our society will be better if all political players commit themselves to this Charter.”
Jonathan, Dickson in strange romance ahead of guber poll
The sight of the former President and the Governor walking, sitting and laughing together in a state function at the weekend surprised many.
Most people described the romance between the two political leaders ahead of the November governorship election as strange following reports hitherto suggesting that they were cold to each other.
Jonathan hardly attended state functions. He was conspicuously absent at important state functions including ceremonies for inauguration of critical projects, which had former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon and former President Olusegun Obasanjo in attendance.
Besides, Dickson’s and Jonathan’s paths hardly crossed in public as each of them would either send representative or find a reason to be absent at events that could bring them together.
Speculations of frosty political relationship between them became rife at the build up to the last general elections especially after the primary elections that produced the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The duo were said to have worked at cross purposes with Jonathan and his foot soldiers reportedly working against the candidates of the PDP in Ogbia, his local government area, following misgivings that Dickson frustrated Jonathan’s preferred aspirants at the primaries.
But the atmosphere at the launching of the Bayelsa Education Development Trust Fund at the Banquet Hall, Yenagoa, on Friday betrayed all the speculations as the two leaders worked harmoniously throughout the programme.
Jonathan and Dickson including the governor’s wife sat together, constantly engaged in whispering and cooperated with each other.
In fact, Jonathan stunned the guests when he praised Dickson’s achievements in the educational sector. A day before the event, Jonathan at another function organised by Ijaw elders in search of peaceful election, also poured encomiums on Dickson.
In his goodwill message at the launch of the fund, Jonathan said: “Let me just say that I appreciate what the governor and government of Bayelsa State are doing regarding education and we all know, and I tell people that the only way you can liberate people, you can uplift people is through education.
“Only on Wednesday when our elders, from Lagos came up with a programme, though our governor was not there himself, the deputy governor was there. I did mention that we must all commend what the state Governor was doing regarding education.
“The governor has gone much higher than we projected in 2006 in terms of the expansion of educational web. I have to thank you sincerely and for today, for this initiative because most problems we have in governance, is to come up with a good idea but how will that endure in most cases, immediately you leave the system collapses.
“By setting up a board, established by law for the educational development trust fund , he has made this to endure beyond his eight and that really makes me very happy, I have two meetings with the board and I promised that even my foundation as little as we are will continue to partner with this trust fund board”.
Dickson after speaking had earlier invited Jonathan to the podium to make his remarks and stood beside the former President throughout his speech.
Jonathan also accepted an appointment from the governor to serve as an Honorary Special Adviser to the board on fund donations and promised to use his contacts to attract funds to the board.
Many people, however, believe that unfolding events in the build up to the November governorship election especially in the PDP will determine whether the cordial relationship between Jonathan and Dickson will last beyond the launch of the trust