The Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described environmental campaign, ‘Rise for Bayelsa’, and verbal attacks launched against activities of international oil companies by Governor Seriake Dickson as politically motivated.
The party in a press conference in Yenagoa, the state capital, on Thursday said the governor’s move was a dishonest political campaign targeted at key APC stalwarts in the state with environmental pollution as smokescreen.
Dickson recently inaugurated the Bayelsa State Environmental Degradation Commission of Inquiry with a mandate to investigate sharp practices of oil multinationals that had caused environmental degradation in the state and the Niger Delta region.
The governor named the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, as the Chairman of the Commission, whose members were dominated by global leaders and scholars.
But the APC State Publicity Secretary, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, dismissed the allegation as a move meant to mount pressure the oil companies, disengage APC members working as pipeline contractors in the state.
Buokoribo warned the oil companies against descending into the political arena in the state by succumbing to the pressure from Dickson to sack the pipeline surveillance contractors.
He said: “To the mind of the governor, the oil pipeline surveillance contracts awarded by the oil firms were key to the security threat in Bayelsa State. He specifically accused two chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who are oil pipeline surveillance contractors, of security breaches in the state.
“We neither hold brief for the international oil corporations nor do we speak in the name of the surveillance contractors. As a party, we have a responsibility to protect our members from political persecution.
“In point of fact, APC members are not the only people working as oil pipelines surveillance contractors in the state. Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are also doing the same job across the state.
“For example, Gabriel Jonah, younger brother to the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, has been an oil pipeline surveillance contractor for years. Yet, Dickson has made it his duty to focus only on APC members. He is using his offices to exert undue pressure on the oil companies to take the surveillance jobs away from our members. Clearly, this is a political project, and it will not stand.
“We would like the world to know that Dickson is on a mission to impoverish the people of Bayelsa State. This is a political strategy to ensure that no one can challenge him politically.
“Crime in Bayelsa State has reached phenomenal heights. The hunger in the land is so bad now that people even steal pots of soup on fire. Governor Dickson is disturbed that a few Bayelsa people have risen above the pain and penury to thrive through the oil companies as contractors. Hence his new ‘war’ with the oil companies.
Buokoribo explained that members of the party operating as pipeline surveillance contractors passed through due process to secure the jobs like their PDP counterparts.
He insisted that Dickson’s call on the oil companies to revoke the jobs of APC members under the excuse that they were breaching security was political, petty and improper.
“As a political party, we are saying that any oil company that listens to Governor Dickson, and decides to revoke the jobs of any of our members not in breach their contractual obligation, has entered the political arena. We will also respond to that oil company politically.
“Bayelsa State belongs to us all. Dickson is not Bayelsa State. He has been governor since February 2012. After more than seven years in office, with poverty, violence, crime, and terror as his most evident legacies, he is now telling everyone that cares to listen that oil companies are sponsoring terrorism in the state. The only explanation for this campaign is political anxiety.
“We know it as a matter of fact that due to the good work of the oil pipelines surveillance contractors; oil theft, pipeline vandalism, and the operation of illegal refineries are at their lowest ebb.
“This has resulted in a sustained increase in crude oil production. Consequently, the state’s revenue has risen sharply with more funds entering the state through the 13 per cent derivation. An estimated 10, 000 youths have also been employed through their engagement in the surveillance jobs across the state”.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a swift reaction said the APC was blackmailing oil multinationals not to stop surveillance contracts to guarantee continuous funding alleged terrorist operations.
The state secretary of PDP, Keku Godspower, said the APC was desperate to keep sponsoring political violence and brigandage with oil money to destabilise and undermine the peace of the state.
“Surveillance contracts give them the funds and resources to run a parallel government in the state”, he said.