Mass defection looms in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bayelsa State, following a plot by the party to retain Senator Lawrence Erwujakpor as the running mate to its governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri.
The nomination of Eweujakpor, who hails from Dickson’s Sagbama Local Government Area, has kept the PDP on edge ahead of the November 16 governorship election with many party members kicking against it.
Governor Seriake Dickson lived up to his promise to convene stakeholders meeting to review the controversies surrounding the running mate and explore possibility of substituting Ewrujakpor’s name before the September 23 deadline of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for candidate substitution.
Party members were, however, in dilemma that despite holding the meeting, the stakeholders made no public statement on the running mate crisis.
Besides, it was observed that many key PDP stakeholders failed to attend the meeting, which appointed Dr. Nimibofa Ayawei as Director-General of the Senator Douye Diri Governorship Campaign Organization.
Dr. Ayawei, who is Chairman of the Bayelsa State Internal Revenue Board, was a frontline aspirant of the PDP in the last gubernatorial primaries which produced Senator DIri as the party’s candidate for the November 16 election in the state.
A statement by the State Secretary of the PDP, Chief Godspower Keku, said that Dr. Ayawei’s appointment was part of the key resolutions of a meeting of the Gubernatorial Campaign Advisory Council of the State Chapter of the PDP.
Though the stakeholders maintained sealed lips on Diri’s running mate, it was gathered that the governorship candidate briefed the stakeholders on the issue.
A party stakeholder said Diri was under intense pressure of some powerful forces to insist on Ewrujakpor adding that while addressing the stakeholders, the candidate said there was no need to substitute his running mate.
The source, who spoke in confidence said: “Most of the party members are waiting for the decision to be made public. If the party leadership fails to make it public and the name remains till the expiration of September 23 deadline, there will be mass exodus in the PDP.
“The only way to save the party is to move the running mate to Bayelsa East. We need their votes in the election. People are not happy at the development and they have communicated their grievances. We are asking the governor and other party leaders to save the PDP”.
Following the emergence of Diri as the candidate, some party leaders abandoned the PDP with their supporters and aligned with the APC.
A member of the House of Assembly representing Southern Ijaw Constituency 2, Target Sekiibo recently moved to the APC with his supporters.
Also, Gabriel Jonah, the younger brother to the state’s Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah (retd), led thousands of his supporters in Nembe Local Government under a political movement, the Otita Force, to the APC.
Similarly, a grassroots mobiliser and Dickson’s Special Adviser on Urban Crime Management, Abednego Don-Evarada dumped the party in Ogbia with his supporters to the APC.
Following the running mate crisis, Dickson sacked his aide, Hellen Bob, who had reportedly pitched tent with the APC.
The source added: “Many people are warming up to leave the party but they are waiting for last decision of the party leadership on this running mate palaver. Some PDP lawmakers have traveled to Abuja to meet with the leadership of the APC and negotiate their ways out of the PDP. We are still begging the party leadership to listen to the voices of its members and resolve this issue”.