With horse-trading and poaching of delegates continuing in Bayelsa State between two of the leading All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidates for tomorrow’s primary election, an important voice has urged delegates to shun corruption and vote wisely.
Former Governor Timpre Sylva and Timi Aliabe, a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), are two of the main contestants in a crowded field of over 19, and their camps appear to be locked in a tight race
Kpodo, a former Special Adviser on Security Matters during Sylva's administration, said in an interview in Yenagoa on Thursday that the choice of candidate would make or mar the chances of the APC in the governorship poll on December 5.
He advised the delegates to vote wisely, saying they should not be persuaded by whether the aspirant is a leader of the party or not.
"The delegates should go all out to get a sellable person that can lead the party to victory,” he said. “We are going to a battle and we are fighting an incumbent, so, they should vote for a trusted person."
He, however, warned against voting for Sylva, describing the former governor, who is also the leader of the party in the state, as a "bad product."
In his view, APC would lose the forthcoming election woefully if Sylva was fielded as the party's flagbearer.
He said his position was predicated on the fact that Sylva could not be trusted, coupled with the albatross of the charges of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission hanging on his neck.
"Sylva has a lot of skeletons in his cupboard,” Kpodo said. “One, he is not truthful and second, he has nothing to offer except lies and deceit. What has he done for Bayelsa people? A man who was governor for five years does not have a single structure in Bayelsa, even in his village. He hates Bayelsa.”
He said he would not like Sylva to be the candidate of the APC because he would not like Bayelsa State to be mortgaged, adding that anybody who is supporting the former governor as the future governor wants Bayelsa to be mortgaged.
He accused Sylva of betraying him and his followers, saying that he risked his life and business to support Sylva during the most trying moments, yet the former governor ended up maligning and blackmailing him.
Describing his relationship with Sylva, he said, “I risked my life for him. In the state, I was declared wanted by the Department of State Security Service and the police because I stood by Sylva. Loyalists of former President Goodluck Jonathan were looking for me all over the place. I was distraught.
"At a time, we had no money to pay for hotel bills again. We and Sylva had to go to some people to solicit for money. Even at that, we did not realise enough and I had to sell some of my property to raise money to pay hotel bills and other logistics to continue the struggle because we believed that backing out then was dangerous.”
Restating the need for a credible APC candidate, Kpodo noted that Sylva has been boasting that he built about 50 internal roads in the state during his reign, but noted that the roads to not add up to 20 kilometres.
In addition, he underlined, the report of the EFCC shows that hundreds of buildings have been recovered from him in Abuja, but none is in Bayelsa.
“Where is the love that he claims to have for Bayelsa and its people?” he asked.
Drawing attention to President Muhammadu Buhari’s war on corruption, he noted that Sylva's case is in the court, and urged the national body of APC to listen to the great mobilisers and people on ground."
Kpodo commended the APC national chairman, Chief Odigie-Oyegun and members of the National Working Committee for resolving the crisis in the party by lifting the sanctions placed on him and other members by the Tiwei Orunimighe-led State Executive Council.
He, however, advised the national leadership to impress it upon state chairmen to always abide by the party's constitution before taking punitive measures against members.
He said he remained a committed member of the APC, noting that he was one of the people that brought the APC to Bayelsa.
“I am committed to the APC,” he said. “It is my party. I brought APC to Bayelsa. I was the first person who mounted the party flag in Bayelsa. I was the only man campaigning for President Muhammadu Buhari during the presidential election, as the rest were in Abuja.
“They were not in Bayelsa,” he recalled. “I stayed put in Bayelsa damning all the threats. So, we are working for the APC. We have our people on ground to deliver APC during the governorship election in Bayelsa."