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I didn’t fight Sylva over running mate – Ex-militant leader


Ex-militant leader, Mr. Africa Ukpariasa, popularly known as ‘General
Africa’, has said reports about a quarrel between him and the Bayelsa
State Leader of the All Progressives Congress and the party’s
governorship candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, were fabricated.

Africa accused the opposition in the state of sponsoring the “fictitious and malicious story”.
He said the story was a
futile attempt by the opposition to score cheap
points ahead of the December 5 governorship poll in the state.

A statement by Africa on Wednesday read, “My attention has been drawn
to a story being circulated in the media by the opposition to the
effect that I was involved in an altercation or fracas with my party
leader and APC governorship candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva. The story is
fictitious and malicious. At no time did such an incident happen
between the APC leader and me or between him or any other member of the
APC.

“Chief Sylva is the APC leader and my leader, and he has the complete
loyalty and support of the entire APC family in Bayelsa State. I have
no reason to disrespect him or doubt his leadership of our great party.
Neither does our chairman, Chief Tiwe Oruminigbe, whose name was also
used in the lie circulated by PDP in their desperation to ridicule APC
and try to score cheap political points.

“The attempt to sponsor negative rumours about our governorship
candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, is, to all intents and purposes, the
only campaign message and strategy of the opposition and its jittery
candidate. But it is a huge joke that cannot save the drowning party
from a crushing defeat on December 5.

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“The distraction by the opposition will never succeed in dividing APC
in Bayelsa State or distracting its attention from the goal of rescuing
Bayelsa from a regime of deception.”

But a major crack occurred between the State Chairman, Tiwei Orunimighe, and Sylva over running mate on Tuesday.

Supporters of Orunimighe had staged a protest at party’s secretariat
in Yenagoa following speculation that Sylva had picked another running
mate instead of Orunimighe.

The protesters alleged that Sylva had reneged on his promise of
running with Orunimighe, whom they claimed made it possible for Sylva to
emerge as the candidate for the party at the primary election.

It was learnt that Sylva had allegedly picked a retired Principal,
Wilberforce Igiri, from Forupa community in Southern Ijaw Local
Government Area of the state to be his running mate.

The protesting supporters, drawn from wards and local government
areas of the state, vowed to sink the party instead of allowing Sylva’s
preferred choice.

The protesters, who destroyed Sylva’s billboards and posters in major
places, insisted that if Sylva failed to run with Orunimighe, he should
forget his ambition of running for the election slated for December 5.

The protesters shut down the state secretariat to prevent people from
entering and coming out, maintaining that Orunimighe had worked so hard
for the party’s survival that he should be betrayed now.

Some of the placards carried by the protesters read, ‘Monkey work,
monkey go chop’, ‘Tiwe Oruminighe is the choice of the grassroots, not
anybody else’, ‘Why monkey work, bamboo wan chop’, ‘No Tiwei no Sylva’,
‘Sylva is an ingrate to pick somebody else’, among others.

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When our correspondent visited the party secretariat on Wednesday, it
was discovered that Orunimighe was meeting with his supporters over
Tuesday’s incident.

It was learnt that the state chairman might have accepted his fate as
the party was said to have already submitted the name of Wilberforce
Igiri to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

However, some of the loyalists of Orunimighe were seen complaining
about the development, complaining that the party should rescind the
dscision or they would throw caution to the wind to ensure that
Orunimighe was reconsidered.

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