By Stanley Nkwazema
After the 2019 national elections, the Independent National Electoral (INEC) has revealed November 16 as the new date for gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
Interestingly, as the date gets closer, the battle for the soul of the seat of government in the two states is indeed becoming more of who gets to take over the within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa and the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) in Kogi.
The situation in the heart of Niger Delta particularly Bayelsa is generating more than enough public attention when viewed against the background that the two leaders of the party in the state, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson and former President Goodluck Jonathan, may decider who takes over.
Both men are chieftains of the PDP but hirelings and politicians are now bent on causing disquiet, rocking the table to warm their hearts to both leaders in the guise of sampling who will be the choice of the two.
In the past two years, the position of the two leaders looked hazy and it was all an apprehensive situation when the names of Jonathan and Dickson who is incidentally the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum props up at discussion tables within and outside the state. Events of the last two months are gradually giving a lead as to the position and shape of things to come concerning who of the two leaders should have the final say.
To the Governor, when the time comes, he would consult with Jonathan and other major stakeholders in Bayelsa state. Dickson says he is not fighting Jonathan over who emerges the next governor. The governor disclosed this while reacting to recent reports of a serious friction between him and the ex-president. He said, “Let me say that that events should have shown you that there is no problem between us. Jonathan is my elder brother and my leader and will continue to get his due respect. We know what to do quietly. In this transition, if there is one person I am going to sit down with; it is going to be Jonathan. When I am ready after all these prayers, I will visit him because he is an elder and we will compare notes,” he said
Dickson explained that any of the aspirants that has the experience and capacity should make their case to the party and Bayelsans. “I led a party to victory against a vicious opposition. I can lead PDP to victory. I have done it repeatedly. In the primary election, there will be no form of manipulation. People talking about manipulation are anticipating that they should be imposed. I’m not going to impose any of them. Any of them who feels they have experience and capacity should go and make their case to the people of Bayelsa State.”
One is that is dear to Dickson’s heart is to sustain his legacy projects in Bayelsa. “I hope that the right person with competence and capacity emerges to build on the foundation I and my team have laid over the last seven years plus. I have no doubt that the right person would emerge with my support, The PDP is the most prepared party. I have in the last few years built a solid, formidable and all-inclusive party such that even those who left found it as the most attractive platform to return to.
“I have made it very inclusive and everybody will be consulted. Every person that has a role to play would be allowed to play that role. The party leaders will play their role and delegates ultimately will decide who the candidate shall be. I take this opportunity to call on those who are interested in the platform that we have worked hard to create to tell the state and us how farther they can deepen what has been started. The PDP is an all-inclusive, big and strong platform backed by concrete performance on ground with credible leadership.”
The choice of who decides the flag bearer for PDP in Bayelsa State has become part of the odds facing party faithful as if only the two leaders will go to the polls to elect the new governor even as the APC struggles to put its house in order to pick an acceptable candidate.
It is not a hidden fact that the former president who is also a former governor, may not be coming out openly to challenge or direct Dickson, a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state and a parliamentarian on some of his programmes. There seems to be a new rapport existing between the two prominent party men.
By February2020, Dickson will bow out of office after serving two terms of four years each. Although he may not be exhibiting worries over who takes over, Dickson is worried about who will be the preferred candidate of the party and even his eventual successor.
According to INEC “The official notice for the elections will be issued on August 1, 2019, while political parties that intend to sponsor candidates are to hold their primaries for the nomination of such candidates from August 2 – 29, 2019. Campaigns by political parties in public shall commence on August 2, 2019 and end on October 31, 2019.”
Only recently in Yenagoa, Dickson announced the appointment of the former Nigeria leader as His Honorary Special Adviser on the Bayelsa Education Trust Fund Board, explaining that the gesture was in recognition of Dr. Jonathan’s educational strides when he laid a solid foundation for the state’s education system as governor.
While acknowledging the former president as “our leader,” the governor pleaded with Jonathan to use his influence to attract donations to the fund, adding that he would sit on the board of Bayelsa State Educational Development Trust Fund as a former teacher.
Perhaps, as a result of his simplicity and desire to be of service to the state, the former president accepted the appointment, assuring that he would do his best to persuade all Bayelsa people to support the trust fund.
But, no sooner had the exchanges been completed than words started making the rounds in Bayelsa and the federal capital, describing the appointment as part of the shadowboxing by the two leaders to cleanse the negative image being spawned about their perceived political differences.
Sources disclosed that while Jonathan’s disposition favours sorting out the various political players who were aggrieved in the bid to make Dickson governor in 2011, the outgoing governor prefers a successor who is in tune with the dictates of his Restoration Agenda for the state.
Some of the names that are being touted to fly the PDP governorship flag in Bayelsa include; Kombowei Benson, the current Speaker of Bayelsa House of Assembly and Dr. Nimbofa Ayawei, chairman of Bayelsa Inland Revenue Board. Other key players are Senator Douye Diri and the Director of Protocol, Dr. Joseph Akedosu who is the Chairman of the Land Use Allocation Committee. Kemela Okara, the current SSG is also one of the many choices before Dickson.