We Must Move On
By Ndutimi Alaibe
As we are all aware, the election to determine the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the November 16 governorship race in Bayelsa State has been conducted. Even with all the inarguable inherent flaws bordering on crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines, a winner has been declared. The delegates—whether coercively or voluntarily—have spoken even if their voices do not represent the voice of the people.
My decision to seek election as Governor of Bayelsa State was based both on the collective opinion of respected stakeholders of our beloved state and a personal conviction that I have what it takes to make the difference in the economic development of our state. Having travelled the same route more than once, I took time to pray, plan my strategies and carry out wider consultations more than I had ever done in the past.
My sincere desire was to bring into governance my experiences and exposures both in the public and private sectors—spanning more than three decades. I came with a mission and a vision clearly articulated and made public. I was thrilled to see the Blue Economy Concept and Project Dolphin becoming household chants, especially among our vibrant youths.
When we finally picked the Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms, we chose to run idea-based campaign. We envisioned a state where electricity will run 24/7 in less than 18 months through planned utilisation of abundant but wasted gas resource. We looked forward to creating a permanent distance between our youth and violence by applying the same method we did in the Presidential Amnesty Programme—disarming, demobilising, rehabilitating and reintegrating them. We articulated programmes that would produce intellectual militants in place of violent militants. We thought of a booming economy based on sea-side industrialisation that would create jobs for our people.
We thought of extensive road networks and bridges, functional health facilities, among others. Drawing from my modest experience at the Niger Delta Development Commission, my vision was to assemble a team of experts that would conceive and execute a 25-Year Development Plan for Bayelsa State—a plan that would outlive my administration—for the good of our people. From all indications, these lofty plans may have to be put on hold because the opportunity to execute them has been put on hold.
We chose to run a decent campaign in line with the Constitution of our party, the PDP and the laws of Nigeria. We vowed never to engage or respond to acts of violence and abuse from any quarter. We did not envisage that the process would be smooth and easy; but we also could not believe the depth of desperation and deadly manoeuvring that we encountered along the way. We were called unprintable names and even labelled with criminal tags. But we were too focused to be distracted.
To my supporters and friends, let it be known that no one could have been more disappointed with the outcome of our governorship primary that held on Tuesday September 3 than me. I know you are awfully disappointed too. But our disappointment is certainly not that the outcome was against our wish to obtain the mandate of our great party, but because of the obviously flawed process that led to the primary.
We all know that the basis of our party is the Constitution in addition to the rules and regulations that we set for ourselves from inception in 1998, and the fact our party has become reformed. Consequently, for anything to be legitimate it must derive authority from our Constitution. Unfortunately, certain aspects of the processes of the just concluded primary election rudely violated the provisions of our Party Constitution.
For instance, by the provisions of Section 50(1) of the Party Constitution, the authority to formulate guidelines for all matters relating to the governorship primary is vested in the NEC of the PDP. The election of Ad-Hoc delegates is one of such matters. Strangely, the panel set up to undertake this exercise simply imposed on us a list of electoral and returning officers prepared by the state officers of the party who are avowed members of the orchestrated Restoration Team. Thus, the process was deliberately handed over to the Restoration Team. Our protest was ignored.
This issue of election of local council chairmen and councillors that were allowed to participate in the primary despite a court order was another setback. You would recall that we protested to the appropriate organs of the party. As it turned out, the national leadership of the party would seem not to have been persuaded by the strength of our argument for obedience to the supreme law of our great party. Even the powers that be in state unsuccessfully challenged the superiority of our position in court.
While we must put on record our disappointment with this wilful disregard to our Constitution, we must take no further steps that would merely equalize the disregard for the same Constitution. In the circumstances, we express our serious reservations about the process that led to the primary for its unconstitutionality and its outcome completely unacceptable because of its illegitimacy.
However; we must move on.
At the beginning of this contest, we made our objective very clear, that we are out to take the levers of power in order to use them to galvanise the economy of the state for the benefits of our people—who have been kept down for too long. We believe this could only be realised on the platform of this great party.
For us, therefore, this is simply a setback. We will remain focussed, believing that very soon we would be able to realise our aspiration.
We thank our great supporters, especially our delegates that backed us up to this point and ask them not to despair but stand firm in the belief that sooner than later, our just cause would prevail as the struggle continues. We thank you all.