By Mike Odiegwu, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday accused Governor Seriake Dickson and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of blackmailing traditional rulers ahead of the November 16 governorship poll.
APC said the governor and his party were desperately ambushing palaces of kings and traditional stools and coming out with reports that such revered institutions adopted their candidate for the forthcoming election.
The Chairman of APC Contact, Reconciliation and Integration Committee, Chief Dikivie Ikiogha, in a statement in Yenagoa, said the people of the state were taken aback when Dickson in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Fidelis Soriwei, claimed that the PDP candidate was endorsed by the Epie-Atissa monarch, King Malla Sasime and his Council of Chiefs.
Ikiogha, who is also a member of the Epie and Atissa councils of chiefs and member of Epie-Atissa Joint Council of Chiefs, said it amounted to desecration of traditional values for the governor to twist a normal traditional protocol in a courtesy visit to score cheap political points.
He said Dickson and the PDP suddenly realised their failures in the state and the imminent harsh judgment reserved for them at the polls and resorted to outright lies and propaganda.
Ikiogha said with the high level of disconnect between the people and Dickson’s government, no traditional institution apart from the Council of Chiefs in Toru-Orua, Dickson’s community in Sagbama, would identify with the PDP’s candidate, Senator Douye Diri.
He said following the reports of the adoption, he contacted his king, who denied endorsing Diri, saying he only performed his traditional duties of giving his blessings to any visiting candidate.
Ikiogha said the Councils of Chiefs were angry at the report of purported endorsement and appealed to the public to disregard it.
He said even if the council would go to the extreme of endorsing any candidate, the Epie-Atissa would adopt the candidate of the APC, Chief David Lyon, because he is a son of the king and a loved resident of the area.
Said he: “I am a member of the Epie Council of Chiefs and a member of Epie-Atissa Joint Council of Chiefs. I am a political leader in Epie-Atissa and being a member of the Council of Chiefs, I was supposed to be there when the governor visited the Council of Chiefs. But I was unavoidably absent.
“Nevertheless, it has never been in history that a courtesy call by a governor to a Council of Chiefs would amount to adoption. So, the Epie-Atissa never adopted the PDP candidate at all. When I got the information, I called the king because I know that this one will never happen.
“I know that the APC candidate, David Lyon, is a son to King Sasime. I wanted to know from the king and he said there was nothing like that. I asked the secretary of the council and he said there was nothing like that. They only received the governor and his team as the tradition demands.
“People contesting election in the state visit the palace to introduce themselves and tell them they are contesting election and the usual traditional matter is to bless the person. That was what was done.”