All seems not to be well in the Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as recent developments within the party have suggested a major crisis that may further divide it ahead of the next general elections.
This is coming barely a month after some heavyweights of the party defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), blaming the leadership of the APC in the state of high-handedness and indiscipline.
Some of the chieftains who left like, Ambassador Felix Oboro and Chief Perekeme Richard Kpodoh, said the APC had been hijacked by a cabal that has turned the party into their personal property at the expense of its members.
However, the brewing catastrophe waiting to manifest is the sudden termination of the pipeline surveillance contract of one of its leaders and a former governorship aspirant by one of the oil majors operating in the state.
It was gathered that the company had written to the APC chief, informing him of stopping the contract which he has been running for years now without any cogent reason or valid explanation.
While the APC chieftain who hails from Southern Ijaw was still trying to swallow the bitter pill of the company’s action, he was hit by a shocker that the same contract has been handed over to another chieftain of the party and serving lawmaker.
Upon investigation, it was revealed that the oil company acted on “orders from above” and for fear of industry sanctions and other corporate punishment, decided to carry out the instructions to the letter.
A source within the party who is privy to the happenings confirmed the development, saying it was a calculated attempt to reduce the influence and economic power of the affected chieftain of the party ahead of the next gubernatorial election.
The source said: “Our party is in crisis and it is unfortunate that it is the leaders themselves that are causing the problems. How can you take a contract from one member and give to another and you expect peace to reign? No, there will be no peace because they have murdered peace.
“Everything is because of 2023. The so called leader of the party is interested to run and he feels that he will be challenged for the ticket and he hates anyone challenging him for anything, hence he decided to use his usual tactics to frustrate others. But time will tell.”
Another prominent member of the party, Hon. Gabriel Jonah may have also been hit by the powerful forces in the state APC following the deliberate attempt to deny him an oil mining license which his company had won during a recent bid.
Hon. Jonah who is the leader of the popular political pressure group, Otita Force had applied for the OML 33 Igbomoturu Marginal Field License in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state with his Jabi Exploration and Production Company Limited.
We gathered that more than 600 companies also bidded for 57 Oil Marginal Licenses and at the end, Jabi Exploration and Production Company Limited qualified for the OML 33 whose validity and lifespan last between 5 to 20 years respectively.
Sadly, 56 of those companies will be issued their licenses soon, this is after the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) gave them directive to pay up their Signature Bonus but only Hon. Jonah’s company that is yet to receive the DPR letter to proceed and pay the mandatory signature bonus despite fulfilling all obligations.
A close ally of Hon. Jonah told our correspondent on conditions of anonymity that the strange occurrence should give every progressive member of the APC a huge cause for concern.
He said it is disturbing that even with the fact that Jabi Exploration and Production Company Limited was the only firm approved for OML 33 among the other companies that bidded for it, someone, somewhere was working hard to scuttle the success of the company.
According to the source, the matter has been on for some time and he alleged that there are surreptitious moves to hand over the license to another company that was never part of the process, neither was it among the companies that were approved by President Muhammadu Buhari who is the substantive Minister of Petroleum.
“This is purely dirty politics at play. But the question is should we play politics with everything? How can a company bid for an oil license among other companies, came out successful and because of personal hatred you deny the company the opportunity.
“It is worse to think because Gabriel Jonah is not just an ijaw son but a Bayelsan. How can he be treated that way? A man that has done so much for people. He has more than a thousand people on his monthly payroll. He has been a major contributor to the development of the APC since he joined in 2019.
“I’m appealing to well meaning members of the public, especially Bayelsans and all Ijaw progressives not to allow this great injustice to stand. If it happens to Otita today, tomorrow it will be anybody.”
A check reveals that the OML 33 alongside other fields in Nembe and Brass are meant to feed the proposed Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical Company Limited, with a huge prospect of massive job for the youths and a major economic turnaround for Bayelsa State.
Hon. Jonah who is the younger brother to the immediate past Deputy Governor of the state, Rear Admiral John Jonah (rtd), commands a lot of respect and followership in the state and is said to be eyeing a political office in 2023.