Less than 48 hours to the Bayelsa governorship poll, the leadership of Labour Party (LP) have been torn apart as factions of the party consult with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) for endorsement.
Some members of the Bayelsa Executive of LP, led by the Financial Secretary, Chief Anthony Oboghor, and the Organizing Secretary, Chief Tovie Pelesai claiming to represent the executive on Thursday announced their endorsement of Gov Douye Diri of the PDP.
Meanwhile, another faction of the LP executive was, at press time, said to be in a crucial meeting with the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Timpre Sylva, at his Yenagoa residence for possible endorsement.
It was learnt, however, that the division among the Labour Party leadership over support for other major candidates, has pitted members of the party against the leadership.
The grassroots members of LP in Bayelsa have disowned some state executive members of their party for allegedly collecting N100m from the state Governor, Diri, to abandon their candidate, Mr. Udengs Eradiri.
The aggrieved members said they authoritatively gathered that some LP executive members hobnobbing with the governor collected the money with a promise to hold a meeting adopting Diri as their candidate instead of working for the candidate of the LP.
Speaking for grassroots members of the LP on the development, the Chairman of the Forum of Labour Party Local Government Chairmen in Bayelsa, John Toby, said they were not surprised because they had known some of the executive committee members as Diri’s moles in the party.
He said: “As we predicted, these exco members went to the Governor and collected N100 million to endorse him and disown our candidate, Udengs Eradiri in a press conference.
“But God has already thrown heavy confusion in their midst because as we speak they are fighting over the money. They came back and declared N50 million to others and claimed that they sent N50 million to the national headquarters of our party.
“Who did they send the money to at the national headquarters? We have called the national party chairman and he said such money was not sent to him. We have also called other national party executive members and they denied collecting such money.
“We want to alert members of the public to be wary of these characters and masqueraders. They are only after their selfish interests because they view each election as an opportunity to make money from the state government.”
He recalled that same individuals diverted and shared money meant for Peter Obi’s presidential campaign in the state and almost sabotaged the event if not for the intervention of the Obedient Movement.
Toby said Udengs Eradiri remains the only candidate of the party and that all grassroots members of LP and the Obedient Movement in Bayelsa were solidly behind him to emerge victorious on Saturday.
He said: “All grassroots members of LP hereby disown these so-called party leaders. They are on their own. We want to make it clear that no amount of sabotage and sellout will stop the massive grassroots support already garnered by our candidate.
“Our candidate, Udengs Eradiri, has ignited the spirit of Adaka Boro in the minds of our people and they are ready to free themselves from the political stranglehold of incompetent and selfish leaders mortgaging our future and the future of our children. The people are ready to speak and they will speak with their votes against these characters”.
Mr. Gideon Zidougha, while reacting to the developments in a telephone chat said he was taken aback by the turn of events among the party executives in Bayelsa.
“We have issues with the candidate of the LP who had been sidelining members of the executives, what they did by pitching their tent with a candidate of their choice lies within their powers but I did not authorise it as Chairman.
“The aggrieved members of the executive have complained of neglect and not being carried along by the candidate and I have been managing the crisis until it got to this level,” Zidougha said.
On the endorsement meeting between some executive members and Sylva, the APC candidate, the LP chairman said the move was by members of the Lamidi Apapa faction of the LP at the national level.
“We are aware that a group that claimed to be Bayelsa executives of LP came and met with the APC candidate, but they did it for money. The Apapa faction is not recognised by INEC and lacks the legitimacy to endorse anyone,” he said.