The crisis rocking the Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC seems far from abating as the state chairman of the party has pointedly told the minister of state for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri that he is not a member of the party yet.
The state chapter of the party has been enmeshed in crisis of suspension and counter suspension, with the chairman’s faction suspending Timi Sylva, the party’s candidate in the last governorship election and the de facto leader of the party in the state.
In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja Tuesday, the party’s state chairman, Chief Tiwei Orunimighe called the Agriculture minister “a serial election rigger.” He maintained that the state chapter of the party stands by the statement that the minister paid former Governor Sylva for the ministerial slot of the state, he is occupying.
“We read with relief, the response of the Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development Senator Heineken Lokpobiri – a serial election rigger who is incompetent and only good at snatching and hijacking ballot boxes – to the effect that he did not pay for his ministerial appointment. His response was not unexpected because no one expected him to admit paying for the appointment. Bayelsa APC stands by our statement.
“The suspended APC guber candidate Timipre Sylva should explain to the world what criteria he used to select him above the other competent loyal party members? If not payments for appointment can anyone defend the choice of Lokpobiri? Heineken lacks the integrity or the technical ability to contribute meaningfully to his ministry and our government. It is unbelievable that he is in our cabinet of change.
“It is common knowledge that the minister has still not resigned from the PDP. We challenge him to produce a dated resignation letter from his party the PDP. He remains an outsider as no organ of the party has issued him a party card as at this moment. No wonder he continues to be a mole for a South West PDP governor.
“We are aware that the federal government understands the risk of keeping a mole at the highest level of government. We urge both the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the minister for Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbeh to be cautious with sensitive information in his audience as he is merely an opposition fifth-columnist bent on espionage on the federal government of Nigeria under the APC. We also ask him to deny his various negative statements calling our presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari ‘a Boko Haram sponsor of a Boko Haram party’ before the 2015 presidential elections.
“We urge Mr. President to save the Bayelsa state APC chapter from ridicule by sacking Heineken Lokpobiri.
“Sometime in August/September2015, it’s on record that Heineken Lokpobiri tried to join the APC with the intent of blackmailing our suspended guber candidate Chief Timipre Sylva in other for the party leadership to surrender our guber ticket to him. He paid several visits to the state deputy chairman to canvass for his support and later besieged the residence of the state chairman for the same reason. He was turned down and asked to join the party first, work for the party before being considered for any form of compensation. So we were surprised when he made cash inducement to our suspended guber candidate to get appointed as minister.
“Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri also claimed that he has been working for President Buhari since 2003. This is laughable because Sen. Lokpobiri was a PDP Senator, representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District from 2007-2011 and 2011-2015. He only lost the PDP Senatorial primaries to the current occupier of the office and ran to Chief Timipre Sylva barely a month before he was appointed minister.
“The question Sen. Lokpobiri should answer is; at what point did he work for the President to become the President of Nigeria? Are we talking about support for President Buhari in 2003 or the 2015 election that produced President Muhammadu Buhari as President of Nigeria?”
On the allegation that the crisis in the state chapter of the party is being fuelled by external forces, the party Chairman said it was baseless and ridiculous. Chief Orunimighe said the party was not fighting for any external force (s). “The party is only asking for the right things to be done as it is not a sole proprietorship where one man would be unilaterally dictating who gets what, when and how. It is collective effort of people who risked everything that brought about the APC in Nigeria and Bayelsa state, only for our traducers to come and hijack the benefits that ordinarily should go to those who labored for the party.”