As the politicking ahead of the Bayelsa State governorship election begins, albeit subtly, a Bayelsan group has given insight into what may have been responsible for exit of some key members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State recently.
Speaking the defection of the PDP stalwarts to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Bayelsa for Good Governance, said the defection was to avoid their being probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
TheStreetReporters.com decals that prominent among the defectors last Saturday were a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ndutimi Alaibe, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and Colonel Sam Inokoba.
The group said its findings revealed that their decision was aimed at escaping the sledge hammer of the EFCC for atrocities they committed while in office.
The body’s position was contained in a statement signed by its Chairman, Perefini Ebiye, and made available to newsmen in Yenagoa.
The statement disclosed that the EFCC is currently beaming its searchlight on the activities of Alaibe as the Director of Finance and Managing Director of NDDC; Senator Lokpobori as former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports; and Inokoba as the Chairman of the PDP in Bayelsa State.
The statement maintained that in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption posture, the EFCC is investigating the activities of key defectors while they were in office and if found culpable may be charged to court.
“The allegations against Alaibe, according to our findings include the disappearance of the sum of N19 billion earmarked for the completion of some key NDDC projects which he diverted and used part of it to fund the third term project of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
“In the case of Retired Col. Sam Inokoba, the former Bayelsa State PDP Chairman, he is scheduled to keep a date with the EFCC over the misappropriation of party’s funds, following a petition written by some party stalwarts and made available to the anti-graft agency.
“Senator Lokpobiri on his part was alleged to have misappropriated the sum of N5 billion regarded as funds earmarked for the development of key projects in his constituency being the senator representing Bayelsa West senatorial district between 2007 and 2015”, the group alleged in a statement.
According to the group, “Sensing the danger ahead, the affected politicians decided to defect to the All Progressives Congress, in order to escape the sledge hammer of the anti-graft agency.”
This is coming even as the Transformation Agenda of Nigeria group, which is allegedly backed by former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, is set to dislodge the APC faction led by former Governor Timi Sylva in picking up the governorship ticket.
Consequently, the power game in the quest for clinching the APC governorship ticket ahead of the December 5 governorship election is generating a lot of tension in the state.
It is said that almost every one who decamped in last Saturday’s mega rally have governorship ambition.
TheStreetReporters.com reliably gathered that the APC in Bayelsa State will have a huge task in choosing its flag bearer, owing to the number of persons within its fold who are nursing governorship ambition.
If the party fails to conduct a transparent primaries to pick its candidate, that will automatically affect its chances at the polls.
A source disclosed that with the backing and influence of Dame Jonathan, the Transformation group has succeeded in hijacking the party structure from Sylva, who is regarded as the leader of the party in the state.
While the former First Lady’s alleged backing of the emergence Lokpobiri as the APC governorship candidate, with the choice of Werinipre Seigbarugu as his deputy, Sylva on the other hand is said to be favourably disposed to the candidacy of Nestor Binabor, former acting governor and Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
There are also speculations that Sylva is backing Warman Ogoriba for the position of deputy governor.
The new entrants into APC in the state, led by Alaibe, is also lobbying the party leadership at the centre to back him to clinch the governorship ticket, with the speculated support and backing of a National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Bola Tinubu.
It’s too early to predict where the political pendulum will swing ahead of APC gubernatorial primary in the state.