Posted by News Express | 12 November 2019 | 854 times
The political terrain of Bayelsa State has become tensed as the November 16 governorship election approaches. Already the state is locked down with all manner of campaigns including propaganda on the social media.
The governorship election on Saturday undoubtedly is a two-horse race between the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Senator Douye Diri and his All Progressives Congress (APC) opponent, Chief David Lyon.
Some Bayelsans have been clamouring for change on the ground that the PDP-led administration has not done enough after 20 years, while some are rooting for the ruling party to continue on the account that PDP has not done badly. But despite being a ruling party in Bayelsa in the last 20 years, the election is not going to be a walk over for PDP as APC is not only relying on federal might, but has a candidate most Bayelsans say has impacted on the lives of many.
Unlike the 2015 governorship election, which was mainly between Governor Seriake Dickson, who contested on the platform of the PDP and former Governor Timipre Sylva, who ran on the platform of the APC, Saturday’s election has gone beyond the 2015 event as both of them are battling to install their anointed candidates in Bayelsa State government house come February 14, 2020, when Governor Dickson is expected to bow out of office after two terms in office.
Expectedly, the poll is not going to be a tea-party as some political gladiators in the state will do everything possible to ensure victory for their favourite candidates.
Among the gladiators, who will shape the poll are former President Goodluck Jonathan; his wife, Patience; Governor Dickson and Sylva, among others.
There is no doubt that the former president is one of those who will shape the gubernatorial election. Jonathan is not a novice in Bayelsa State politics. He has seen it all in Nigeria politics, having served at both state and federal levels as number one citizen.
Within 16 years (1999-2015), Jonathan served the people of Bayelsa State as deputy governor and governor before moving to the federal level to serve Nigeria as vice president, acting president and president against all odds.
By the virtue of his position as a former president, Jonathan is a leader in the PDP, but due to political tussle in Bayelsa, he seems not to be in control of affairs and structure of the ruling party in the state. Therefore, some people believe that he is not keen to see PDP win Saturday’s poll. The former president has been absent from all the campaigns of the PDP.
His absence is hinged on his disagreement and disappointment over the outcome of the PDP governorship primary that produced Senator Diri as the party’s flag bearer.
Jonathan was believed to have supported the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe, but the power tussle between him and Governor Dickson during the primary led to the emergence of Dickson’s candidate, Senator Diri, who is a member of Restoration Caucus, as PDP’s governorship candidate.
Given the controversy over the primary, it has been alleged that Jonathan is working behind the scene to see that APC takes over the state. Of course he had suffered a lot of humiliation from the incumbent governor in the time past and it is believed that he doesn’t forgive in a hurry. So, all the pleas by Governor Dickson may not yield any fruit in convincing Jonathan to work for Diri’s victory in Saturday governorship poll.
Governor Dickson is another force that cannot be brushed aside in Bayelsa politics. He is the leader of the PDP in the state and from every indication; he has succeeded in shoving everybody, including former President Jonathan to a corner.
Dickson dictates what happens as far as the state and PDP are concerned and that is the reason why he is called Ofuruma Pepe (Great White Shark) because he has dominated the political landscape of Bayelsa State.
He is also not a novice in Bayelsa State, having broken many political jinxes in the state. He was the first member of House of Representatives to represent his constituency for two consecutive terms and also serving as governor for two terms.
Governor Dickson dictates who gets what in the state. He was instrumental to the emergence of 19 out of the 24 members of the state House of Assembly. He installed all the chairmen of the eight local government areas of the state as well as their 105 councillors. He even succeeded in ensuring that the local government chairmen, who were not up to 90 days in office to be delegates in the PDP primary governorship primary.
Recently a new speaker, Monday Bulou Obobo from Southern Ijaw emerged in the state Assembly because the former number one, Tonye Isenah, was impeached courtesy of the governor because of his bid to make sure that there won’t be any challenge for Diri to emerge as his successor. The former speaker is from the same local government with Diri and that was not right as far as Bayelsa State politics is concerned.
Also, Governor Dickson picked Senator Diri as the PDP candidate against the decision of many PDP stakeholders. This has made many to leave the ruling party and pitch their tent with the opposition party. In fact, Dickson has dominated the political landscape of the state and he is leaving no stone unturned to make sure that his candidate wins the election.
Sylva is the current Minister of State for Petroleum and former governor of Bayelsa State. He is the undisputable leader of APC in the state and he contributed immensely to the nomination of David Lyon as the party’s governorship candidate.
The plan, according to political pundits is for Lyon to hold brief for Sylva until he serves put his ministerial appointment and come back to take over from him.
Most Bayelsans believe that things were easy during Sylva’s time as almost all the internal roads were done by is administration, but most of the roads are bad now. Things were also moving on fine contrary to now that many businesses have left Yenagoa.
It was against this backdrop that some residents, who spoke with New Telegraph, said that they may vote for APC because of Sylva. They averred that Sylva empowered many Bayelsans when he was governor people and that those people still believe in him till today.
In the last few weeks, many people have defected to the APC because of Sylva. So, the minister is a political force that cannot be overlookedin Bayelsa politics. Of course, he has been around for the the APC campaigns, showing total commitment and surely all his supporters will pitch their tent with him.
Sylva hails from Brass Local Government Area, which is a stronghold of the ruling party at the centre.
The former First Lady from all indications is also a force to reckon with in Bayelsa State politics as her political prowess cannot be underestimated, considering the roles she played in the past to install successive governors of the state.
Though she hails from Okirika in Rivers State, Dame Jonathan’s network cuts across her state of origin as she has used her political influence, especially when she was First Lady to determine who gets what at both the state and federal level.
In recent times, Dame Jonathan has not been seen around the Bayelsa first family unlike before when Sylva was the governor and she really had a good relationship with Alanyingi, the wife of the former governor.
Governor Dickson’s wife, Rachael, is not seen anywhere around the former Nigerian first lady even as reports have it that the former First Lady is supporting Lyon’s candidature and that she has already endorsed him.
Gboriobiogha John Jonah
Rear Admiral Gboriobiogha John Jonah (rtd) is the deputy governor of Bayelsa State, but he has not been seen in any public function since he lost out in the PDP’s governorship primary.
He fell out his principal over the governorship poll. He believed that his principal will hand over power to him, having served as deputy governor for eight years, but was disappointed as Governor Dickson endorsed Senator Diri.
Already, the deputy governor’s younger brother, Gabriel Jonah of Otita Force has dumped the PDP for APC. However, nobody knows the stand of the deputy governor as he is yet to speak.
It is more than two months that the primary took place and the deputy was yet to sort out his differences with the governor. Already there is tension in Nembe, the hometown of the deputy governor as the PDP campaign team is yet to visit the local government as at the time of filling in this report.
Alaibe, a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), is also among those who will determine the outcome of November 16 governorship election in the state.
He is a popular in the state and has contested for the number one seat on many occasions, but is yet to actualise his aspiration.
During the PDP governorship primary, many Bayelsans clamoured for Alaibe, but he came second in the exercise. He didn’t actually feel satisfied with the outcome of the exercise and he headed to the court.
Although the matter is still pending, Alaibe said he is not going to leave PDP but nobody is sure whether he and his supporters are working for party or they are sitting on the fence. For now, nobody knows what the outcome of the suit would be.
Senator Diri is the PDP governorship candidate, therefore he will do everything within his power to ensure that he wins the election and inaugurated as Dickson’s successor come February 20, 2020.
Though Diri is getting support from many gladiators in Bayelsa State, some people have described him as a stingy man, who may not deliver the PDP, considering the opposite nature of his APC counterpart.
Political pundits have said that he is not marketable despite being a current member of the Senate, representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District and one-time member of the House of Representatives.
Diri may be stingy to some people but definitely he must have impacted on the lives of others and his people are not likely to abandon him.
The gubernatorial candidate would be throwing all he has to the battle for the number one position of the oil-rich state.
Lyon was not known in the political arena of Bayelsa before now, but almost everybody is clamouring for him as almost every household acknowledges how he empowered either their brother or sister.
Definitely those people would be forced to vote for him. So, if his political popularity doesn’t deliver him, his philanthropic gesture may work for him.
Senator Ehwrujakpo, the PDP deputy governorship candidate is a former commissioner for Works in Bayelsa State and he currently represents Bayelsa West in the Senate, serving as Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on National Planning and Economic Affairs.
Though his emergence as Diri’s running mate generated some concerns as some people believe that the deputy governorship seat should have been zoned to Bayelsa East or another local government since Senator Ehwrujakpo is from the same local government with Governor Dickson.
Despite this, some Bayelsans have confidence in him and that will go a long way to help advance the cause of the PDP.
Senator Degi-Eremenyo, who is currently representing Bayelsa East in the Red Chamber, is the running mate to David Lyon. He is Vice Chairman of Senate Committee on Special Duties.
Many believe that he has something to offer in determining who wins the governorship election. For instance, members of his congregation- Brotherhood of the Cross and Stars will want to vote for their member. Of course the population of that church is overwhelming.
Senator Lokpobiri has been an active participant in Bayelsa State politics since 1999 till date. He was a member of the state House of Assembly between 1999 and 2003, and while in the House, he served as speaker between June 1999 and May 2001.
He also represented Bayelsa West in the Senate between 2007 and 2015. He was also a one-time Minister of State for Agriculture and contested in the last APC governorship primary but lost the party’s ticket to Lyon.
Although higher powers chose Lyon, he wasn’t comfortable with that and he also headed to court. But, he has been canvassing for support for the APC.
Governor Dickson’s wife, Rachael is not left out as she has her own way of wooing the women. She organises prayers every Wednesday, where she always prays for the success of Restoration Government and tells the women to support her husband’s choice of candidate so that all his achievements would be consolidated.
The women also believe in their “Madam” and with her level of sensitization on these women, definitely PDP will surely get votes from them and it is expected they will persuade their relations to vote for the party.
The Amayanabo (King) of Twon-Brass, His Royal Majesty Alfred Diette Spiff is also a force to reckon with in Bayelsa politics being the chairman of Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council.
The retired naval officer was appointed military governor of old Rivers State in May 1967 at age 25 during the military administration of General Yakubu Gowon and was at the helms of affairs till July 1975.
As a royal father, some of his subjects are likely to listen to him by voting whoever he chooses.
Hon. Ebebi is regarded as one of the powerbrokers in the oil-rich state. He was a former Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly as well a former deputy governor of the state. He was in PDP before he decamped to the APC. Ebebi has a lot of supporters and they will definitely follow him.
Okoko was one of the PDP aspirants during the party’s primary. Although he came third, he has decided to support Diri and has told all his supporters to work for him.
Others who may not have been satisfied with the outcome of the primary have gone back to their bases, as most of them are not being sighted at the campaigns.
Aganaba also aspired to govern Bayelsa State on the platform of the APC, but was aggrieved that he was not given a level playing ground to test his popularity as an indirect primary option brought in Lyon. He however headed to court to challenge the outcome of the exercise.
No doubt, the political gladiators will shape the outcome of the poll, but the electorate will be the ultimate decider. Already, some have said that they are going to vote for the highest bidder at the election ground, while others said they will vote for change.
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