In this exclusive interview with Abel Abel, the commissioner of information Bayelsa State and a close ally of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Esueme Kikile, reveals how Timipre Sylva chased President Muhammadu Buhari away from Bayelsa state with thugs. He also raised an alarm that one of the newly sworn in ministers is giving instruction to INEC and security agencies in order to rig the December 5th Governorship election in the state for the All Progressive Congress (APC). Kikile also discussed former President Goodluck Jonathan’s absence at the recently held PDP Conference.
How is election preparation going?
My brother. Preparations are going on smoothly. We are on community to community campaigns presently. We are believing God and the votes of Bayelsa people to win mightily
Are you confident that Governor Dickson will win the December 5th governorship elections?
Thank you. Yes, I am confident that Governor Henry Seriake Dickson will win the December 5th governorship elections in Bayelsa State. I say this for obvious reasons. One, the performance of Governor Dickson in the past three years plus has endeared him to the real grassroots where you find the majority of voters. Two, this election is a referendum on both Governor Dickson and former Governor Sylva. The people certainly know that they voluntarily rejected Sylva before and will do same now. Thirdly, the people understand the nature of Nigerian politics and do realize that their interests will be better protected under the PDP, which gave them an opportunity to be at the helm of affairs of this great country for more than five years. Finally, PDP has the widest grassroots support in Bayelsa State with well entrenched structures across the nook and cranny of the state.
To be direct, you believe Governor Dickson is more popular than Timipre Sylva?
Yes, I believe that Governor Dickson is more popular and accepted by the people than former Governor Sylva. This is demonstrated clearly in the massive attendance at every venue of the PDP community to community campaign across the State.
How supportive is former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife to Governor Dickson’s re-election?
Thank you. Former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife are fully supportive and committed to the re-election of Governor Dickson. As you may be aware, former President Jonathan is the leader of the party now. Therefore, he cannot do anything less than full support for the re-election of Governor Dickson. He has demonstrated this by endorsing Governor Dickson publicly at different forums before and after the PDP primaries in Bayelsa State.
The former president boycotted the recently held PDP conference. That could be interested to mean he has decided to stay away from politics. Does that worry Governor Dickson?
Unfortunately, that is not the correct position. The former President was in Tanzania as head of the Commonwealth Observer team to that country’s recent Presidential elections. He travelled for another earlier scheduled engagement to the United States immediately after the Tanzanian elections. He couldn’t have boycotted the PDP programme. And so there is no cause for worry for Governor and the PDP family in Bayelsa State
That means Goodluck Jonathan is in charge of the party and playing his role to ensure the success of the PDP within the state and a rebirth at the centre?
Absolutely. He remains the true face of what PDP represents in this country: liberal attitude, inclusiveness, democratic disposition and above all a firm believer in the unity of Nigeria
Recently the EFCC dropped the corruption case against former Governor Timipre Sylva. Will the issue of corruption play a big way in deciding who Bayelsans pick as their next Governor?
Again, I don’t think that is the correct position. The EFCC has brought fresh charges against Sylva and others.
Corruption will certainly play a big part in the elections because we are talking about managing the commonwealth of Bayelsa State. A man who is tainted with a whiff of corruption ought to first clear his name before coming to aspire to lead his people. That is what people in saner climes will do; unfortunately the opposite is what we do here. Again, since public office is a public trust, a person perceived to be corrupt ought not be given such huge responsibility to administer public funds.
So that should count as a bonus for Governor Dickson and the PDP?
Certainly. We are asking Bayelsa people to evaluate the record of performance of both Governor Dickson and former Governor Sylva, including how they managed state resources under their watch. While we uphold the constitutional provision relating to being innocent until proven guilty, the fact that such weighty allegations are made by the anti-corruption agency against former Governor Sylva is enough reason for Bayelsa people to be wary of his candidature. We believe that it is a ploy, assuming he is elected, to prolong his trial and possibly quash with same using the instrumentality of the office of Governor. That is why we question the present administrations anti-corruption posture; when it is on record fielding candidates in Kogi and Bayelsa elections who are all facing corruption charges by the EFCC
The last time Governor Dickson won an election, the PDP were in charge at the centre. Goodluck Jonathan who is a close ally of Dickson was the president. But all that has changed now. APC is in charge and Timipre Sylva is a close ally of President Buhari. Dont you think Governor Dickson and the PDP has something to worry about?
Not at all. Let me be clear about this. Sylva is not a close ally of President Buhari. The Last time I checked, Sylva actually hired thugs and cultists to chase President Buhari’s campaign team away from the campaign venue in Amarata, Yenagoa in 2011 when President Buhari came to Bayelsa under the CPC. Whereas in his last campaign to Bayelsa, Governor Dickson not only provided security but also made available the stadium for use by the APC team. We believe President Buhari as a man of honour and integrity. He has promised free, fair and credible elections in Kogi and Bayelsa, which we believe he will surely keep to his promise.
But dont you believe if same man should emerge as the Governorship candidate of a Party which President Buhari is in charge, that means he has the president’s support?
Though we would use this opportunity to request the President to call some of his aides to order as they are in sync with Governor Sylva to rig the elections in Bayelsa. We have credible information that a recently sworn in Minister (who conducted the APC primaries in Bayelsa) and another aide of the President are using their vantage positions to give counter instructions to INEC and the security agencies to help the APC to rig the election. We will resist such attempt as we are determined to protect our votes
Can you mention the name of this minister? And what instructions are they passing on to INEC?
We will be issuing a full statement on this very soon, whereupon we will make a full disclosure
If by any chance Governor Dickson loses the election, will he emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan and congratulate the winner?
That is within the realm of speculation. He is the person best suited to take a position in the event of such occurrence
How do you mean?
In the event of such occurrence. However, I must add that President Jonathan took that step to keep Nigeria as one united nation. He also trusted in the electoral umpire. We expect the umpire to be free of external influence, and the elections to be free, fair and transparent
Finally, a famous indigene of the state in person of Alison Madueke is reported to be down with cancer. Is the state Government playing a any role to ensure she is well taken care of?
We sympathise with Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke, a well respected daughter and princess of Bayelsa State, over her illness and join other well meaning Nigerians to pray for her recovery. Whatever we do, we will not bring to the public domain. She served this country meritoriously and therefore deserving of any support in this her trying moment. Our prayers will continue to go to her family to be strong in this trying times
Thank you for your time
You are most welcome
For reactions, Esueme Kikile can be reached on twitter @esuedan
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