There were signs on Saturday of a new crack within the fold of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa state following the conduct of parallel local government congress in the eight local government council areas of the state.
The parallel congresses were, however, conducted in a peaceful and non-violent manner with huge turnout of party delegates and supporters.
In the congress held by party leaders in the Yenagoa local government area, under the supervision of the former acting governor, Werinipre Seibarugu, Tonye Daniel Okokuro emerged chairman and Ebenezer Gwegwe as Secretary.
The result, which was declared by the returning officer, Inabaraton Ebi, showed that Tonye Daniel Okokuro emerged the Yenagoa APC chairman with a total vote of 350 out of the 370 votes cast.
While the former Governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Timipre Sylva, led a five man national panel of local congress committee to supervise voting in the eight local government councils and affirmed that it was peaceful and signified the beginning of good steps for the party.
Some party leaders led by Prince Preye Aganaba, former Speaker and Acting Governor, Hon. Nestor Binabo, the Bayelsa representative on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Professor John Brainbaifa, former member of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Billy Indiamowei and Dr. Allison declared that the local government congress conducted by Chief Timipre Sylva and others fake and carried out without genuine delegate lists.
Hon. Nestor Binabo, who read a speech on behalf of the aggrieved leaders of the party, accused Chief Timipre Sylva of setting a dangerous precedence within the APC by single handedly hijacking the party for his personal interest.
According to him: “APC congresses were held in the eight local government area of Bayelsa with video clips as evidence in Sagbama, Kolokuma/Opokuma and others. It has also come to our notice that parallel congresses were in the state which did not follow laid down rules and procedure of our great party.
“A fake ward congress list of the state was pasted at the state party secretariat and was not approved by the national working committee of the party. And as such the public should discountenance such list. Our congresses were supervised by a 7-man panel sent by the NWC to supervise the conduct of the congress.
“A man cannot be in Brass and determine the ward chairmen in Kolokuma/Opokuma.”
But the former Bayelsa governor and leader of the party, Chief Timipre Sylva, who arrived the party secretariat in company of the five man panel congress committee led by the chairman, Dr. Ebikeme Dawodu, commended party members for the peaceful conduct during the congress across the state.
According to Sylva: “All I have to say is thank you for conducting yourselves very peacefully, that is to the APC members in Bayelsa state, you have really been very exemplary not only in Bayelsa state but in relation to the rest of Nigeria, I believe that no other state has conducted congresses more peacefully than Bayelsa state.
“It was very peaceful last week, ward congresses came and went and this week, we have even improved on the record of last week. Of course in a political family like ours there will be a few disagreements and that is why I personally came here with the honorable minister to resolve all those issues, so as we speak the congresses are going on very peacefully in all the eight local governments and my phones are open.
“I have not heard of any problem from any local government. The APC more than ever before in Bayelsa state is poised to take over the reins of government in this state. As I told members of the APC at the stakeholders committee meeting yesterday, the APC belongs to all of us but the only way the APC can win is for us to stay together and be united.
“I’m happy that these congresses have shown clearly that the APC has achieved this unity and if we are so united then I don’t see how any party can deceive us in any election in this state.
“I told APC members yesterday that this is just the first step in a long journey but of course if we take this step right, then the journey would be easier for us and happily I’d like to announce to the press that we’ve taken this step right and therefore our journey in taking over Bayelsa state will be much easier for us than it has ever been.”
In his speech, the chairman of the ward and local government congress committee, Dr. Ebikeme Adebayo Dawodu, said though he was skeptical of coming to Bayelsa for the supervisory role for the ward and local government Congresses, “I came here with the notion that we’re coming to a problematic state and some of us nearly said no to putting ourselves in danger but we summoned courage, spoke to people and decided to make the journey. We came here and I’ve never found a more peaceful people in any part of the world, so accommodating and pleasing.
“I want to say and the most important part of it is that we stayed together as one united family. Don’t let anyone deceive us, this is the land of the riches and there are so many hungry people in the land of the riches, I’m so emotionally touched by this because I can see that no ijaw man needs to go hungry by the chances there are.
“We have the chance now to correct things and it is to stay united behind our leaders, there will be difficult times ahead. We’re going to be infiltrated by the outsiders, people with no interest of the APC at heart will come and cause trouble.
“If we stay united then we’ll end up having a very better state, a state that cares for everybody, a state that makes sure that everyone gets quality education, healthcare and infrastructure. Last week, we started the journey and it’s a long one but there’s prosperity at the end, let’s stay together and be united.”