Ahead of the November 2023 governorship election in Bayelsa state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) stakeholders in State have fallen apart.
There are about 10 political parties fielding candidates for the poll, but the incumbent Governor Douye Diri, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Minister of State for Petroleum resources Chief Timipreye Sylva of APC are the main contenders .
A challenged Diri is said to have made incursions into the divided APC fold to woo key members into the PDP camp.
Dependable source told our correspondent in Yenogoa that Diri has lured prominent APC leaders who have issues with Sylva, including the Minister of State for Petroleum (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, and 2019 governorship candidate, David Lyon, into his camp.
Informed sources alleged that Lokpobiri and Lyon are believed to be working behind the scene for Diri’s re-election.
This accounts for why Lokpobiri and Lyon have distanced themselves from the campaigns and political activities of Sylva in the countdown to the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the oil-bearing state.
The misgivings between Lokpobiri and Sylva it was gathered manifested when Sylva allegedly declined to support the ministerial bid of the former.
Lyon, who was defeated at the primary by Sylva felt short changed on the ground that he should have been giving the right of first refusal .
Lyon, who was sacked as Bayelsa state governor-elect by the Supreme Court in February 2020, had expected an automatic ticket in the consideration of the gubernatorial candidate of the party in the November election.
Even the intervention by the National Chairman of APC , Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, and other top leaders of the party for the warring chieftains to work together did not assuage them.
Diri is said to be capitalising on the crisis to woo the opposition members and promising them political patronage .
Chief of the governor’s promise is to hand over to Lokpobiri as governor with Lyon as his deputy ” if the duo can fully abandon Sylva and team up with him to consolidate his hold on the oil-producing,South-south state”
Besides , Diri is said to have promised 50 slots of Senior Special Assistants (SSAs) each to Lokpobiri and Lyon as well as other largesse in due course .
Inside source stressed: “This alliance between the governor and APC top chieftains implies that the two may have to defect to the PDP after Lokpobiri has served his term as minister in the Tinubu administration ahead of the battle to succeed Diri in 2026.”
Meanwhile, Governor Diri is said to be uncomfortable with the silent and lukewarm attitude of his predecessor, Senator Seriake Dickson, who has distanced himself from his administration.
“In Bayelsa, the former governor and his loyalists are feeling alienated and marginalized in the scheme of things .
Dickson was said to be disenchanted that Diri was running the show especially with the opposition elements without his inputs.
Diri has not limited its ‘succession promises’ to Lokpobiri and Lyon and APC family alone; he has extended it to other big wigs in his party.
A source hinted that the governor has also promised Senator Benson Agadaga (Bayelsa East) the succession opportunity. Agadaga is from Ogbia, the home base of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The source said: “Diri is promising succession across party lines by making overtures to APC and PDP. He also promised the Director General of his campaign council, Hon. Mitema Obodor, who is a member of the House of Representatives ,representing Ogbia Constituency of succession.
“So, also is Robert Enogha, a former Commissioner and two-time member of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, who also hails from Ogbia.
“The three of them, Diri has made succession promises to – Obodor; Agadaga and Enogha, are all of Goodluck Jonathan’s stock in Ogbia. This succession promise for Ogbia guys is a ploy to secure Dr. Jonathan blessing and support in the November poll.
“He (Jonathan) is supporting Diri’s election because of dummy the governor has sold to him that one of his kinsmen from Ogbia is going to succeed him after his second term in office. ”