The crisis rocking Bayelsa State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over who should be running mate to Timipre Sylva shifted to Abuja on Tuesday, with the state chairman of the party, Chief Tiwe Oruminigbe and an ex-militant leader, General Africa, allegedly physically assaulting Sylva in his Abuja home.
Sources said that a meeting held in the Abuja palatial home of Sylva was characterised by hot verbal exchanges and in the process, “Sylva was said to have received a hot slap on his cheeks for what said to be a result of his “deception and betrayal”.
Since the APC primary where the former governor emerged as candidate, there have been a relentless battle over who becomes his deputy as the jostle for the slot kept shifting from one supposedly anointed person to the other.
Sources privy to the development said that Sylva had all along promised no fewer than six persons who would be picked as his running mate but none of them has so far been named.
The Bayelsa APC state chairman, Tiwe Orumingbe, was one of those initially favoured as Sylva was said to have repeatedly told him and members of his inner caucus he will be his running mate.
The source, who craved anonymity, however, said Sylva only cajoled all those he promised the deputy slot but never meant his words as he only used the promises as bait to elicit their support to get the governorship ticket at the primary election.
Oruminigbe as party chairman reportedly mobilized all delegates to vote for Sylva at the primary which he won.
It was gathered that the Abuja clash was fallout of the struggle on the part of Oruminigbe to challenge Sylva over his refusal to name him as running mate despite his repeated promises and “unalloyed support” for him at the governorship primary election.
To demonstrate his seriousness, Oruminigbe was said to have gone to Sylva’s Abuja home with ex-militant leader, General Africa, to confront Sylva on the issue but the open confrontation soon resulted into heated argument and in the process, General Africa was said to have slapped Sylva and a full blown fight erupted.
An eye witness account informed that the ensuing fight caused destruction of some household items.
Following the attack, a reliable source has hinted that Sylva as the leader of the APC in Bayelsa State was already plotting to remove Tiwe Oruminigbe as state chairman.
To achieve this, it was gathered that at the instigation of Sylva, some key members of the state executive were making moves to suspend him (Tiwe) as chairman.
The move was also said to be causing fresh ripples within the exco as members were said to be divided on the implication ahead of a crucial election in the state.
In a related development, following the fight in Abuja, party members and recruited political thugs and street urchins popularly known as “Area Boys” loyal to Tiwe Oruminigbe have reportedly taken to the streets in Yenagoa, the state capital, pulling down Sylva’s posters and billboards to vent their anger and disappointment that the party chairman was not named deputy as earlier promised.
A top sources in APC also informed that as a clever way of pacifying the embittered individuals who were promised as running mate but disappointed, Sylva has begun another round of promises to the effect that they will be made minister and other federal appointments.
“It’s all a huge joke. Sylva is deceiving them all over again and this is unfortunate, His repeated empty promise is what is tearing the party apart right now. Certainly things can’t be the same again in APC in Bayelsa State”, the source said.
In its reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, condemned Sylva’s action, noting that ‘deceit, lies and subterfuge’ were political tricks of the APC candidate over the years.
In a statement by the PDP state secretary, Keku Godspower, the party accused Sylva to have deceived PDP members into joining APC with promises of the governorship ticket and collected huge sums of money from them without fulfilling his promise.
“It is an unfortunate situation indeed but we know Sylva to be such a notorious liar. His politics revolves around lies, deceit and subterfuge and he can never change. It’s that bad for APC in Bayelsa State.
“It is the same way he deceived our members to join APC with promises to make them governor by collecting so much money from them only to use their money to finance his own ambition. That’s Sylva for you in his usual deception as the latest deputy saga demonstrates”, Keku stated.
Keku has also called on PDP defectors to return to the party in the face of current realities in the APC, assuring them that they will be welcomed with open arms.
He stated: “We earnestly want our members who decamped to APC to return without further delay because it is now too clear that they were misled. The PDP umbrella is big enough to accommodate everybody.
“Now, if a man like Sylva will be so cruel and deceptive to his fellow party men, what it shows convincingly is that he cannot be trusted to be governor of the state. He will run a government of deception as he did as governor for five years in the past. That will be sad for our collective future”.