AN attempt by members of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to intervene in the controversy over eligibility of Governor Timipre Sylva to take part in the governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scheduled for next week, has provoked the ire of some Bayelsa State elders who yesterday asked the forum to stop meddling in the affairs of their state. Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the group, Bayelsa Elders and Opinion Leaders, led by Col. Sam Inokoba (rtd), expressed displeasure with efforts by the governors to plead with President Jonathan Goodluck to allow PDP clear Sylva to take part in the primary election. The group alleged that there had been meddlesomeness in the affairs of Bayelsa by people outside the state, saying it was uncalled for.
Reading from a text titled “The fire within”, Inokoba said: “We have viewed with grave concern, the ongoing debate concerning the upcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa State and would like to state the following that there has been undue meddlesomeness by various groups in the internal matters of Bayelsa State and the PDP.
“The PDP should be allowed to utilise its internal machinery to determine the right candidate for the party for the gubernatorial election. Likewise, Bayelsans should be allowed to determine who governs them at all levels.”
According to the elders, “what appears very disturbing about the Bayelsa situation is the attempt by the Governors’ Forum to interfere in the PDP governorship candidacy by putting pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure the return of Sylva.
“It is worrisome that the entire PDP governors will leave important state duties in their various states to converge in Abuja to lobby the president en-masse and try to convince him to ensure the return of Sylva irrespective of whether he has performed well or not in the eyes of Bayelsans.”
The group noted that Bayelsa affairs should be left in the hands of the people of the state, saying: “The future of Bayelsa State should be left in the hands of the people of that state and not in the hands of other elected governors who in the name of camaraderie want to push at all cost the electoral fortunes of their colleague.
“There is nothing wrong if the PDP governors give a helping hand to a colleague through campaigning for him if he is the party’s candidate, but until that decision is made, they have no moral right to influence his adoption by the party.”
“The crucial acid test must be based on the performance of Governor Sylva over the past four years and the decision must be left in the hands of the people who are the best to decide the extent of his performance during that period,” they said.
The elders alleged that the governor is spending huge state resources to ensure his clearance by the party. “We are aware of the huge funds dedicated by the Bayelsa State government to lobby various persons involved in this matter. We wish to thank all dedicated members of the party who have rejected these offers, and call upon Bayelsans all over to rise up against the squandering of their resources by the State Government in pursuit of personal agenda.”
To the group, “such funds should be used for the development of the state which is in dire need of development after five years of impoverishment by the administration of Timipre Sylva.” They equally appealed to governors of South-South extraction and National Assembly members from the region not to interfere in the matter.