Lokpobiri will win Bayelsa for APC, says Oboro

Lokpobiri will win Bayelsa for APC, says Oboro


Former Secretary to Bayelsa State Government and one-time Nigerian Ambassador to Venezuela Senator Felix Oboro spoke with Correspondent MIKE ODIEGWU on the preparations for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary and the party’s chances at the November 16 poll.

As one of the founding fathers of Bayelsa State, what are your expectations about the governorship election?

You know the PDP has been ruling this state for the last 20 years. APC is just trying to break through; that’s why is it not very easy for the APC. But, we have our own strategy. We need to inform our people of the need to patronise the APC and to vote the APC. Everybody agrees that PDP has been a disappointment to Bayelsa state for the past 20 years. All the governors that have come and gone have not really done anything. I may not blame the governors. I blame the party at the national and state levels because if the national is effective; if the president,  who have been PDP presidents, had been very effective, most of the things that have gone wrong wouldn’t have gone wrong because the governors and the ministers are under the president.

Let me give you one specific example. When Timipre Sylva was the governor, he wanted to contest for his second term. they told him that he introduced the Famotangbe and Famotangbe  killed many youths. because of that, many people were opposed to his coming back because he introduced Famotangbe  when he was a governor under the PDP. Famotangbe was in the state for years and the then President Goodluck Jonathan knew about it. but he did not do anything until when one of his commissioners was able to tape Timipre Sylva, and played the tape to Goodluck’s wife who took the man to Goodluck.

The tape said Timipre Sylva planned to kill the president and his wife with Boko Haram. It was when he heard that that he decided to disband Famotangbe in the state and worked to ensure that Dickson replaced Timipre Sylva. So, when the youths were being killed, the president was aware of it, but he did not do anything to stop the Famotangbe. maybe, it was in line with the PDP arrangement, but when his life and that of his wife were threatened, instantly, he stopped the Famotangbe. So you see a president at the center has ability to control what is going on in the state.

So, how do we ensure accelerated development in Bayelsa State?

Bayelsa must belong to the party that controls the centre. Historically, Ijaw people are not known for playing opposition politics. Bayelsa state has never been in a minority party. The party that controlled the center also controlled our state. We found things very easy until when accidentally, Goodluck became the President of this country. Goodluck was able to influence the governors  of the East and the Southsouth. We see that virtually all the Southeast and the Southsouth are PDP and the Southwest and the North were APC.

When the APC was founded, I was still an Ambassador. I came back in 2013. I observed that, for the first time in the politics of this country, the north and the west decided to form one party. All the time, the north and the east and the south south we voted together. When I saw that this two geographical areas have come together to form the APC, when I considered that the voters population in the north when you  divide it into two, you will find out that one is more than the southeast and more than the Southsouth. The west put together is more than the Southeast and the Southsouth, then I knew that Goodluck would not stand a chance of getting elected again.

I told a few of my friends that this coming election President Jonathan would not win but they asked me to show them where an incumbent President lost an election in the country. I told them that this one would lose. In the first place, as a president, Jonathan was not the charismatic type. Because he had a Ph.D, many people, particularly from the west, they had support for him, but when they saw the way he addressed people when he appeared on TV, some doubted whether he really read for his PHD. So, when politics came, it was easy for people to abandon him because his performance did not encourage people to believe that if they followed him he would succeed.

So, I declared for the APC when I decided to join politics in January 2015. But, since that time to this time, PDP has been ruling this state and this state has been a minority. Our governor here hasn’t the tact to interact with the federal level. Even if a a minority party is ruling your state, a tactful governor can interact with the federal. Our people in their comments initially were against the federal government. It has not paid us well because everything Ijaw man has got, we got them from the northern political leaders.

Bayelsa state was created by the northerners. Rivers State was created for us by the northerners. Our military governors were appointed by heads of state from the north. Our observation has been that even things in our own state like federal institutions; if it is headed by somebody from the southeast or the southwest, they give their people employment because they have enough educated people. But because of this last pattern of voting in the last general election and because the governors influenced the Igbos it is very unlikely that the southeast and the southsouth will produce the president for quite sometimes. The voting system will not allow them.

But Bayelsa was aligned with the party at the Centre till 2015. What difference will it make if the state is governed by the APC now?

That’s why I’m accusing the PDP. The PFP has been at the federal. For example in 2007, Timi Alaibe and Goodluck contested for the primary. We had concluded arrangement for a delegate election. I was Timi’s campaign manager. Timi Alaibe had his own delegates and Goodluck had his own. So, a panel was set up. The panel was to hear from all the stakeholders and to determine which of the delegates were authentic. I represented Timi on the panel. The panel even if it was clear that it was under directives to give Goodluck approval, found it very difficult to make such declaration.

They recommended that Goodluck should bring 50 per cent of his delegates while Timi should bring 50 per cent of his and that they should all go to Bayelsa to pick their governor.  This recommendation was sent to the national secretariat of PDP.  Obasanjo  was the President. At the end of the day, PDP national invited Goodluck and Timi to come with their supporters. We all went and I was among those who went to Aso Rock. The National Chairman, Obasanjo,  the then Secretary took the two of them up. By the time they came down, we saw that Timi Alaibe’s face was not okay. We asked what’s the problem was and he told us that Obasanjo directed that he should step down for Goodluck and that Goodluck should nominate 60 per cent of the delegates. Obasanjo said there would be no congress in Bayelsa.

That type of thing is never done. If Timi had gone to court, he would have a case. but, because he was in the PDP, he accepted it and that was how Goodluck won. I will tell you that between both of them, Timi was more competent, but that time in PDP, once you  are a candidate from the PDP, automatically you have won an election. That’s how he became governor. We knew that Goodluck doesn’t have that capacity. but, they made it so and Goodluck became the governor and he moved to be Vice-President and then to be President and at the end, what did we get in the state? Nothing, not even a single road.  All other presidents at the center at least did a wonderful thing in their states, but in Jonathan’s case,  he didn’t even do a road to his community.

Some of us who were close to him saw his manifest incapacity and he later embarrassed the whole of Niger Delta. So, PDP has done a lot of damage to this state. That’s  why I’m saying we should open our eyes. Let’s us try another party. We have been with the PDP for 20 years  and everybody can testify that there is no development. The non-development is not because of the governor alone, but because of the party policies at the centre. So, why can’t we try the APC? Thaat’s what I am advocating.

So what kind of primary are you expecting from the APC?

The primary has to be decided by the national APC. But for us at the Heineken Lokpobiri campaign, we prefer indirect primary. However, even if the national says it is going to be direct, we know how to go about it. We prefer indirect because at least we know the delegates. We know the party executives from the wards to the state level. The general members of the party in the state, including me, were given a piece of paper as a party card. Many of them have lost their own. So, if we are going for direct primary and you want the party members to be there, you may not be able to identify the party members because many of them have lost the pieces of paper they gave to them as party cards.

But, if it is indirect, all the officials at the ward level, state level and local government are known. They have a register. So, the election will be held at a central place, maybe, the state headquarters and security will be there. Anybody that wins will be convinced that he has won; anybody that loses will be convinced that he has lost. So, that is why we want indirect primaries. But, we are still waiting for the directives of the national secretariat.

What kind of candidate do you think the APC needs now to win Bayelsa State?

A candidate who will be prepared to listen to advice because one man cannot be a dictator to get things done. We need a person who will listen to, at least, his followers; his cabinet should be able to advise him. I was the SSG in Alamieyeseigha’s time. I was his campaign director and in the first two and half years,  the late Alamieyeseigha listened to me when he wanted to do anything. In the first two and half years, he listened to me; that’s why you see in his first two and half years, he was so respected in the state that if you insulted the governor in a bus back then, an Ijaw man could slap you.

But, after those years he, was not consulting me any more. When I saw that things were going bad, I resigned. After that, he was impeached and jailed. So, we need a  governor that will not see himself as a Mr. know all. I know that Heineken Lokpobiri fits that description. The way he approached me that we should support him, I knew that he was ready to listen to my advice. If you listened to his campaign since it started, he has not insulted anybody and he has been very careful in attacking the PDP. So, we don’t need a Mr know all.

Your preferred aspirant is from Ekeremor, the same senatorial district with the incumbent governor and people are talking about zoning. How can you convince Bayelsa to abandon zoning and vote for your candidate?

Zoning policy is based on the three senatorial districts in the state and all the senatorial districts have produced governors. Do you know what is called Osusu? Maybe in an office 10 persons decided to make contributions  of say maybe N10,000 a month. The first person will take, others will follow till the last man and there is a need for them to start again. It doesn’t necessarily mean the first person must start again to take. Anybody can take even the last person can take first. If you stop the last person from picking the governorship, you may lose the best candidate because the best may come from the last senatorial district. We thought of it. Apart from that if you enter into an agreement  reasonable people should follow the agreement but taking the agreement aside zoning is actually a PDP thing. It is not a constitutional thing so if people see reasons to do a thing that is not in consonance with verbal agreement they should tolerate it.

Former President Jonathan said the APC has no capacity to win the election. How do you respond to that?

I understand that APC has not been well-organized in the state these few years. Many of us have been lukewarm because of what the party has been doing in the state. Heineken has briefed many of us. We have not brought out our campaign strategy yet because he has not won the primaries yet. If he wins and we go out, you will hear us. The former President Jonathan has nothing to give this state. Just discard that his statement. Let Heineken just win and as an acceptable candidate we will come out with programmes that will make them say these people are ready.

Were you close to Lokpobiri when he was a minister? What would you say about his performance?

He performed well. But you know, Heineken was an adherent supporter of the leader of the party in the state and I have not been a supporter of the leader of the party but when I interacted with him closely,  I realized that if he could have a good adviser which he is having now if I was close to him then he would have done better.



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