By Ayo Kehinde
The Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson and the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe, have engaged in a war of words over the conduct of the campaign for the emergence of a flag bearer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the December 6 election in the state.
Dickson alleged that Alaibe cynically manipulated a version of the addresses he delivered during political meetings and other fora with the intent to blackmail him.
His Special Adviser, Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, quoted the Governor as saying that “the former NDDC was resorting to blackmail out of desperation to win the gubernatorial primaries of the PDP at all costs.”
He said that 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.
The statement reads in part “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. Acceptability and popularity, rather political desperation and manipulative action, would make one of the 21 gubernatorial aspirants under the PDP to emerge winner at the forthcoming primaries.
In a swift reaction, the Timi Alaibe Campaign Organisation stated it would not take the veiled smear campaign of calumny contained in the governors’ statement.
In a statement signed by Professor Seiyefa Brisibe, administrative secretary of the campaign organisation, the group said:
“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.
“At the point of expressing interest in this race, we were enjoined by the party leadership to run a clean campaign. We have been faithful to that directive and will continue to be. This is an internal contest in which the eventual choice of the party would need the support of other contestants to win the governorship election.”