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Crisis rocks Bayelsa PDP over choice of running mate

The choice of running mate to the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has thrown the party into crisis ahead of the November 16 election.

The crisis assumed another dimension, following the insistence of Governor Seriake Dickson, to zone the slot to the West Senatorial District to pave the way for the incumbent senator representing the zone, Senator Lawrence Erwujakpor to emerge as the running mate.

Despite earlier denials, Dickson was said to have perfected the process of making Erwujakpor, who hails from his Sagbama Local Government Area, a running mate to enable him realise his senatorial ambition, if PDP wins the poll.

While many party leaders have warned the governor against the plot describing it as political suicide, stakeholders from former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Eastern Senatorial District said they deserved the position for a sense of belonging in the party.

The Bayelsa East Forum for Justice (BEFJ) said having picked the candidate from the Bayelsa Central, it was natural to select a competent party man with requisite political clout and popularity from the East.

Speaking in Yenagoa, its Chairman, Monday Eribo, described the zoning of the slot to the West as an attempt to deprive the people of the East.

Eribo said the plot was motivated by greed and warned that, was capable of handing over the state on a platter of gold to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He said: “So, we are therefore, condemning and rejecting it and calling on our beloved Governor Seriake Dickson not to fall for such grievous political mistake. We are also calling on party leaders at the national and state levels to wade into the matter and on time.

“We urge our flag bearer, Senator Douye Diri, to name his successor from the East. We understand he is under pressure at the moment but he should do the right thing if we must win the election and the right thing is what he knows.

“Let us state categorically that the man they are planning to use as running mate, Senator Lawrence Ewrujakpor is a bad market at this point in time because he hails from Sagbama Local Government Area. If Ewrujakpor is a true party man we urge him to come out now and disassociate himself from the plan to foist him on us.

“Let us remind our countryman governor that he must win the governorship election for our party first before talking about his senatorial ambition. Also, those clamouring for speakership from our zone should not forget that if we lose the election, their ambition of becoming speaker will hit the rock”.

Also, Concerned Bayelsa PDP Stakeholders (CBPS) condemned the decision to zone the running mate to the west.

They described the decision as an outrageous mistake that would work against the PDP in the November 16 election.

In a statement by Chief Ere Opukiri and Omonibo, the stakeholders rejected the governor’s action, saying it betrayed his earlier stance that he would not take the running mate to the West in the interest of justice and fairness.

They urged the governor not to zone the position to the West, especially Sagbama where he hails from.

They warned that there would be mass exodus of members, especially from the East, which would reduce the chances of the PDP to retain the governorship.

They said: “We are shocked that Governor Dickson who was opposed to the ambition of Fred Agbedi to take over from him because of zoning will now make a u-turn to favour his kinsman from Sagbama.

“The position of running mate we feel should go to Bayelsa East. This will balance the political equation and give the people of that zone a sense of belonging. It will be inappropriate to do otherwise.

“Governor Dickson had earlier denied that he will support someone from the West to emerge as running mate. We wonder what has changed. Those who are behind it should know that it is a suicidal political move”.

Another group, Youths for Douye Diri urged Dickson not to facilitate the emergence Ehrudjakpor as running mate to their principal.

The Secretary-General of the group, Comrade Beinbebo Akpiri, said the choice of Ehrudjakpor was a sad political development for the PDP.

Akpiri, in a statement in Yenagoa, warned against the imposition of Ehrudjakpor on the party, stressing that it would not fly because of the current political realities.

He said Dickson should bury his ambition to go to the Senate and concentrate on winning the governorship election with a more acceptable running mate.

Akpiri said the slot should be given to a loyal, popular and acceptable party man from Bayelsa East to strengthen the PDP’s chances at the poll.

The youth leader expressed displeasure that leaders of the PDP were keeping mute over the issue, although they were not comfortable with the governor’s decision.

The group called on the Prince Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee to prevail on Dickson to have a rethink.

But, the leadership òf the state chapter of the PDP said that it would stand by any faithful and loyal member of the party that might be nominated by its candidate, Senator Douye Diri as running mate.

The Chairman and Secretary of the party, Moses Cleopas and Chief Godspower Keku, said in a statement that since the party’s candidate came from the Central Senatorial District, Diri was at liberty to select any suitable person from either the East or the West.

They said that the party would be left with no option than to zone the speakership of the House òf Assembly and other offices in the party and government to the remaining zones for equity and fairness in accordance with the established tradition in the state since 1999.

The PDP State leadership stated that the party was not too concerned about a running mate which according to them was like a senior adviser to the governor, not different from marrying a wife which must be done by the candidate himself.

They stressed that the party had no reason to lose sleep over the issue of running mate.

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