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Mass defection looms in Bayelsa APC over choice of Sylva’s running mate

Timipre Sylva
Timipre Sylva

All Progressives Congress (APC) Bayelsa State governorship election candidate, Timipre Sylva’s choice of running mate for the December 5 poll may be causing friction among party loyalists as they threaten to defect if the matter is not resolved amicably.

Shortly after winning the party’s ticket for the forthcoming election, former governor Sylva had promised in his address to name his running mate by last Saturday but it never materialized.

A source within the Bayelsa State chapter of the APC revealed that the matter had become so worrisome it could lead to a split ahead of the December 5 governorship election.

“It is now a fight to finish”, the source said.

It was gathered that the trouble with the choice of deputy governorship candidate was caused by Sylva himself who, it was said, had promised too many political associates in order to elicit their support to clinch the gubernatorial ticket during the primary election.

“Having gotten the ticket, however, redeeming his promise became a problem. No fewer than six persons were said to have gotten Sylva’s nod to become his deputy and who are all jostling for the slot now. This is why it had been a herculean task for Sylva and the party’s leadership to wade through since the primary was concluded,” the source said.

The source informed that among the lot, two names who are now “major political headaches” in the game of selecting a deputy, namely; the APC state Chairman, Chief Tiwe Oruminighe and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defector, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, have now become irreconcilable over the issue.

Sylva was said to have earlier settled for the party chairman but was dropped because of what was regarded as “pressure from Sylva’s inner circle”, warning that Oruminighe had become “too powerful”. The fear as narrated was that if he were made the deputy governorship candidate, he could plot against Sylva in case they win the election.

Orominghe is believed to be the brain behind Sylva’s emergence using his position as state chairman to ensure the delegates voted for him at the primary. He was also said to be Sylva’s political godson, having served under him as Chairman of Southern Ijaw Local Government. It was also gathered that Oruminighe played “strategic roles” in the controversial human rights record of Sylva as governor by virtue of his leadership of a dreaded cult group.

On his part, Senator Lokpobiri, who defected from the PDP and aspired to be governor but settled for the Director-General of Sylva’s Campaign Organisation, was said to be keen to become running mate but may have missed out due to similar reason against the party chairman.

Lokpobiri, the source said, would have been a good choice ‘but Sylva and his inner circle were not comfortable with him because in their estimation, he could be cunning and too independent-minded and alleged to be a violent politician who could match Sylva violence for violence.’

“You know politics is all about interest. Sylva played a fast one on these close associates and things may never be the same again. Mass defection may be inevitable”, the source continued.

Four other persons who were initially promised the slot but now dropped were also said to be considering their next moves since they felt betrayed by Sylva. They were said to have claimed that the former governor no longer has a mind of his own as some elements around him now dictate who gets what and how.

It was, however, gathered from a close source to the candidate that Sylva and his core loyalists were now considering “one of their own”, a former commissioner who played active roles in policy formulation during his first term as governor to be anointed for the slot of running mate.

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