From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
MINISTER of State for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has opened up on the bribe-for-ministerial post scandal which reared its head last week.
Lokpobiri declared he did not pay Timipre Sylva, former governor of Bayelsa State and candidate of the All Progressives Council (APC) in last December’s governorship poll to be a minister.
Suspended Chairman of the Bayelsa chapter of the APC, Chief Tiwei Orunimighe had alleged that Lokpobiri bought Sylva’s slot for the state.
However, in a formal reaction, yesterday, in a statement signed by his Special Assistant (Media), Mr. Donald Ojogo, Lokpobiri said the crisis within the Bayelsa APC was “orchestrated by an insignificant few within the party and oiled by some external forces who feel threatened about their political future, especially as the APC challenges the outcome of the last governorship election at the Election Petition Tribunal.”
Lokpobiri dismissed Orunimighe comments that he did not believe in the APC, stating that he had been an avid supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari since 2003.
“It is a clear case of misrepresentation of facts to insinuate that Sylva collected money from Lokpobiri before his appointment as minister. This is an outright fabrication.
“For the records, Lokpobiri’s political affinity with President Muhammadu Buhari dates back to 2003 when he was the senatorial candidate of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party ( ANPP) from Bayelsa West Senatorial District. He had vigorously campaigned for him to be president then.
“The assertion by Orunimigha can only be a fictionalised sermon heightened by defeated expectations. It is, therefore, a blackmail that cannot stand the test of time.
Meanwhile, two groups are at loggerheads over the crisis engulfing the APC in the state.
A statement by Niger Delta Peoples Movement (NDPM), signed by its Director of Communications, Mrs Ibifuro Tatua, described the three suspended executive members as agents of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bent on destroying the APC in the state.
“Chief Timipre Sylva has never acted against the interests of the party. Chief Tiwei Oruimighe and Marlin Daniel are agents of the PDP in the APC with the motive to destroy the party by provoking crisis.
“They represent everything that must not be seen in democratic organization. They do not mean well for APC.
“Sylva remains a democrat who values the unity, stability and orderly development of the APC. Chief Timipre Sylva has never acted against the interest of the party.”