Yenagoa – The expected visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Bayelsa State on Tuesday may have run into controversy as the state governor, Seriake Dickson, has threatened that the state government and its functionaries may not participate in the visit.
Dickson, on Monday, raised the alarm that leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, former Governor Timipre Sylva and Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, are trying to use the proposed visit of Buhari to Bayelsa to cause crisis.
He said in a statement in Yenagoa signed by Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, that the APC chieftains had reportedly scuttled the standard governmental procedure for receiving a visiting President to a state of the federation, irrespective of party affiliation.
Specifically, the governor accused the Bayelsa APC leaders of taking a decision to prevent Buhari from landing at the helipad within the Government House, Yenagoa, on Tuesday.
Condemning the decision, Dickson described the action of Sylva and Lokpobiri as “unimaginable and petty”, stressing that the helipad at the Government House was the most protected and safest location in Bayelsa.
He also explained that the Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers should play the traditional role as royal fathers in accordance with standard protocol and procedure in the society.
Dickson said that his administration did not hesitate to release the Samson Siasia Sport Complex in Yenagoa at great cost to the state government in addition to receiving the Vice President, who led the Federal Government delegation to campaign for Sylva, his main opponent in the state governorship election in 2015.
He said he had continually adhered to the standard protocol and behaviour as a governor, unlike Sylva who reportedly got thugs to stone and chase Buhari and his entourage out of Bayelsa during the 2011 presidential campaigns.
He called on Buhari to caution his party members so that the state government could play its traditional role in the visit of a serving President to Bayelsa.
The governor said that if the right steps were not taken to address the unbridled display of pettiness by Sylva, Lokpobiri and some elements who claim to be political leaders, the state government and its operatives would withdraw from the visit.
Dickson said, “I wish to alert Mr. President and the public that the so called APC political leaders are planning to take advantage of the proposed visit of the President to create crisis.
“It is the standard government procedure that when the President is visiting a state, he is a guest of the state government. The governor is his chief host, irrespective of party differences (When a serving president or Vice President visits a state including political campaigns.)
“As Governor of Bayelsa State, I am known for this kind of mature behaviour. In 2015, I personally received the entourage of the Federal Government led by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, even when they came to campaign against me.
“The Government of Bayelsa State has given public facilities to the President in 2015 when he was running against Jonathan, contrary to Sylva who, when he was governor, stoned Buhari out of Bayelsa.”
He continued: “It is part of the norm that the President is received by the traditional rulers’ council in the state.
“We condemn their childish and immature insistence that the President should land in a place other than the most secure and safe location which is Government House. This has been the practice for every visiting leader.
“If they continue to undermine the security of the state, the state government would have no role to play in this visit.
“We call on the President to call them to order. If he doesn’t, the government of Bayelsa State and its functionaries shall play no part in the visit.”
Efforts to get the reactions of Sylva and Lokpobiri proved abortive as calls to the mobile phones of their media aides could not connect as at the time of filing in this report.
The post Controversy Hits Buhari’s Visit To Bayelsa Tuesday appeared first on Independent Newspapers Nigeria.
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Author: Igoniko Oduma