The massive poverty and disease, widespread unemployment and other development issues in Bayelsa is not the state’s biggest priority, the state governor, Seriake Dickson has said.
Rather the biggest preoccupation of the administration and the ruling party in the state is how to massively mobilise support for President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The most important challenge Bayelsa State has had to contend with is the issue of mobilising support for Jonathan, which is why we want to convene this meeting once every quarter,” Mr. Dickson said at a party meeting where Mr. Jonathan was adopted leader of the Bayelsa State chapter of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
At the meeting in Bayelsa on Monday, the party adopted a resolution appointing Mr. Jonathan as the leader of the party in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the decision was reached at an expanded caucus meeting of the party in Yenagoa.
The resolution followed a motion moved by Gov. Seriake Dickson, who declared total support for Jonathan as leader of the party in Bayelsa.
The motion was seconded by a former Governor of the state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, and was subsequently adopted by 28 members of the party’s caucus after a voice vote.
Mr. Dickson said the meeting heralded a new beginning in the state’s PDP, devoid of “mindless acrimonious divisions” between Bayelsa-based politicians and those at the national level.
He said that the divisions were unhealthy and projected the state in bad light, adding that the meeting was convened to close ranks and form a formidable bloc at the state level.
“The most important challenge Bayelsa State has had to contend with is the issue of mobilising support for Jonathan, which is why we want to convene this meeting once every quarter,” Dickson said.
On the forthcoming local government elections in the state, the governor urged members of the party not to act or do anything that would threaten the current peace and tranquillity that has “brought respect to our state”.
Mr. Dickson also said that such meetings would afford him the opportunity to exchange ideas with party stakeholders on development issues, particularly in the area of education.
Responding, Mr. Jonathan expressed gratitude to Mr. Dickson for his invitation to attend the meeting and pledged to attend subsequent caucus meetings.
Mr. Jonathan said that politics ought to be seen as tool for the development of the people and service to fatherland.
He described Mr. Alamieyeseigha as his benefactor in politics and called on the political class to learn to be supportive of one another.
The president urged party members to put aside their grievances in the collective interest of the state rather than creating undue tension in the polity.
He also commented on the selection of political candidates for elective positions in the state, and said, “I don’t want to be in Abuja and be seen as influencing political contestants”.
“I will not condescend to get myself involved in the selection of candidates.”
He expressed the belief that interference in candidates selection process would be unfair since leadership was all about hierarchy.
Mr. Jonathan stressed the need to respect the hierarchy of power, to build a strong leadership structure, adding that he would not stay in Abuja and dictate, but would rather appreciate if he was consulted.
The state PDP Chairman, Rtd. Col. Sam Inokoba, said that the party intended to organise a summit involving all its officials at the state, local government and ward levels.
“The party will also launch an appeal fund for the building of a permanent party secretariat, which would be christened, “the Goodluck Jonathan Complex” and 8 party secretariats at the local government headquarters,” Inokoba said.
The PDP chairman stressed the need for all political appointees to pay the mandatory five per cent monthly contributions from their salaries to enhance the party’s revenue drive and funding.
The high point of the meeting was the observance of a minute silence in honour of the younger brother of the president, Chief Meni Jonathan, who was buried on Saturday in Otuoke in Bayelsa.