The crisis rocking the Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressive Congress, (APC) has deepened as two contending factions in the state have produced separate executive committee members.
While the faction of the party led by the former Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva and the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri produced Jonathan Amos, as state party Chairman and camp of former Acting Governor, Nestor Binabo also held a parallel Congress in the state with Deacon Joseph Fafi as Chairman.
Binabo’s faction held its congress at the Azikoro Primary school in Azikoro village and was supervised by Secretary of the State Congress/Appeal Panel Committee of the Party, Ambassador Soni Abang while Sylva/Lokpobiri faction which was supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Chairman of the State Congress/Appeal Committees of the Party, Col. Ahmed Usman held theirs at Party Secretariat.
It was gathered that the parralel Congresses held in state by was due to the disagreement on a shift to Monday to avoid division.
Speaking at the congress, the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, and Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, accused the Seriake Dickson administration of squandering a whooping N1.8tn in six years.
Sylva, who is the state leader of APC, told party members that APC is a party formed to look after the needs of the masses, saying that unfortunately, the government in Bayelsa is a kleptocracy.
He said, “Over N1tn, nothing to show for it. I came into Bayelsa State yesterday, the darkness I saw, I have not seen it in the darkest place around. What is happening in Bayelsa State? The stench from the garbage I could not believe it. Now on top of over N1tn, the government has borrowed another N800bn, yet it cannot pay salaries, it is sacking people.
“What is happening in Bayelsa State? Now, on top of all this, this government has also received about $164m from Paris Club Refund, yet this government is owing another $216m. “Are we going to continue to have a state like this? A state that has made it a state policy to improverish the people; a state that has decided to make hunger a weapon of war against its own people. Where are we going?
“Only the APC can change this situation. Only the APC can help Bayelsa State to get out of the mess that we find ourselves. This congress we are doing today is the early process of salvaging this state from this imminent disaster and calamity that is awaiting us.”
He thanked members and leaders for the peaceful conduct of the ward congress, of the local government congress and now the peaceful conduct of the state congress.
On his part, Senator Lokpobiri said there is no alternative to the APC, averring that the party stands against corruption.
He noted that Bayelsa had got about N1.8tn in six years, yet the same government had taken loans of about N800bn without anything to justify the huge amount.
The minister said, “This is the opportunity to tell the good people of Bayelsa that there is no alternative to APC. APC stands against corruption. Bayelsa today has got over a trillion naira in six years.
“The government has taken loans of over N800bn and all of us come from the smallest state of Nigeria. I want you to reflect from this moment, what has been done in your community, what has been done in your local government that can justify N1.8trn. What Bayelsa has got, all the 19 northern states put together by way of allocation have got less than that in six years.
“That is why I said it is only we Bayelsans that can save ourselves from this poverty; it is only we Bayelsans that can save ourselves from this oppression, it is only we that can save our jobs. Everyday, we hear about job losses in the state.”
But in a swift reaction by Governor Dickson through the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, the government asked Sylva and Lokpobiri to bury their heads in shame for running the state aground and leaving huge debts in its trail.
Dickson accused Sylva in particular of collecting a total sum of N847bn from the Federation Account in five years he was governor as against N599bn his administration received less than four years and as such Sylva had no reason to have under-developed the state as he met it.
The governor said, “This amount was in addition to the bond and bank loans secured by the Sylva’s administration but were not utilized for the purposes they were collected.
“So, rather than develop the state, Sylva fleeced the resources of the state, acquired over 48 choice houses in Abuja and around the world.
“Sylva should thank Dickson for coming to repay his loans and to salvage the state. In spite of the challenge of the repayment of the loan, bond and other financial commitments by the Sylva administration, eating deep into the state’s finances.
“The present administration has been able to put in place enduring legacies in terms of infrastructure such as the ongoing three senatorial roads, even the road to Sylva’s Nembe for which he once described economically unviable.”
Story by Julius Eras-Olabowu