By Sampson Boroh
The seemingly cold war between Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe, has deepened ahead of governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over an alleged controversial audio in circulation in the state.
Alaibe is one of the leading governorship aspirants battling for the ticket of the PDP for the November 16, 2019 gubernatorial election in the state.
The alleged recorded audio had reportedly captured the voice of the sitting governor and chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Dickson, addressing some party faithful ahead of the party’s governorship primaries that he had rejected the choice of Alaibe as his successor.
In the alleged audio tape, Governor Dickson could be heard boasting that the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Former National Security Adviser, Col. Aliyu Gusau had approached and begged him on to support the candidature of Alaibe for the PDP ticket but he had rejected their pleas and vowed not to betray those that had worked for him in the past.
But the Bayelsa State governor on Wednesday reacted to the alleged audio tape and berated the former NDDC Managing Director, Alaibe, of allegedly circulating the audio, which claimed was manipulated, to score cheap political gains.
Governor Dickson, in a statement by the Special Adviser, Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, accused Chief Alaibe of “a cynically manipulated version of addresses he delivered during political meetings and other fora with the intent to blackmail him for assumed political benefits.”
He stated, “the former NDDC was resorting to blackmail out of desperation to win the gubernatorial primaries of the PDP at all costs.It was absurd that Alaibe would go to the extent of manipulating audio recordings of his speeches for distribution to respected Nigerians with the intent to blackmail him.”
He maintained that he regards all the aspirants including Alaibe as his brothers and friends and would not do anything to destroy any one of them.
The statement added, “It has come to the attention of the government that the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Chief Timi Alaibe, has been spreading manipulated audio recordings of Governor Dickson’s public utterance during meetings.
“It is curious that Alaibe would rather dissipate energy to the propagation of mischief rather than focusing attention on his gubernatorial campaigns.
“We wish to reiterate for the umpteenth time that the Governor as a major stakeholder in the issue of the governorship primaries is entitled to his own political views and decisions. That does not preclude any politician with genuine interest from testing his popularity with the delegates.
“It is important to stress also that the Governor’s decision not to reward disloyalty with the candidacy of the party is an informed decision of conviction.
“Alaibe would do well to focus on the campaigns to actualize his aspiration rather than the spreading of a campaign of calumny against a man whose name is not on the ballot. Nigerians and leaders of the PDP should expect more of this blackmail as we move closer to the primaries.”
Reacting to the Governor Dickson’s statement, the Timi Alaibe Campaign Organisation , said they would not be distracted at winning the ticket of the party in the September 3, 2019 governorship primaries of the ruling PDP in the state.
The statement titled “we are too focused to be distracted” was signed by its administrative secretary, Prof. Seiyefa Birisibe.
It pointed out that the allegation by Governor Dickson against the Chief Timi Alaibe, was aimed at inciting the public against him.
It read, “’For the records, let it be stated that we as a campaign organisation, take serious exception to the wrong use of tar-brush loaded words and gutter language to describe the person of our Principal with the intent to incite the public against him; particularly over an issue he knows absolutely nothing about. This is unacceptable.
“Neither Alaibe nor any member of his Campaign Organisation was at the meetings referred to in the public statement issued on Wednesday. If any of us has access to the recorded discussion mentioned in the public statement, such access can only be traced to the originators of the statement.
“Our focus is to conduct our campaign on issues that will lead to the development of Bayelsa State through a shred economic prosperity and not waste energy and time on commonplace matters.
“Since the beginning of the search for a successor to Dickson, and in spite of provocative and insulting statements by certain individuals and groups, including serving commissioners in the state, this is the first time we have decided to say enough is enough.
“Our silence should not be misconstrued to mean timidity, fear or any such thing. It was basically and still a measure of the respect we and our Principal have for the person and office of the Governor. Unfortunately, that respect has not been reciprocated.”