Bayelsa PDP: In Search of the People’s Candidate
By Jacob Lloyd
As the people begin preparations to transit to another government in Bayelsa State, the intrigues and horse trading for the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has taken a new dimension. At the last count, 21 aspirants have bought the PDP nomination and expression of interest forms to contest for the party’s ticket. Some of the notable names in the race are Timi Alaibe, a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); Senator Emmanuel Paulker, a three-time senator and personal friend to former President Goodluck Jonathan; Engr. Franklin Osaisai, former Executive Secretary of the Atomic Energy Commission and Senator Douye Diri, Senator representing Bayelsa Central in the upper chamber.
Others are Dr. Nimibofa Ayawei, a former legislator and immediate Chairman of the Board of Internal Revenue; Keniebi Okoko, son to the former National President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof. Kimse Okoko, amongst many others. By all indications, the quest for the PDP’s ticket has become a three-horse race of Alaibe, Diri and Ayawei. In fact, there are signs that Timi Alaibe is struggling to convince the delegates to give their support to him. Many of the delegates, still view Alaibe from the prisms of unserious and untrustworthy person following his penchant for abandoning his ambition and dashing the hope of his supporters.
Most of the delegates are still living with the scars of Alaibe’s disappointment. The former NDDC boss is notorious for withdrawing at the last minute. The delegates after considering Alaibe’s antecedents especially his consistent defections to parties seem to be against the Alaibe’s option. Also, Senator Douye Diri has fallen below par in his rating. The PDP believes that Diri has a very poor performance index despite his years of serving as a legislator in the National Assembly.
Indeed, many people in the state including PDP members consider Diri unwilling to identify with the poor and assist the needy.
Diri’s unpopularity was clearly displayed during the last party primaries. He found it extremely difficult to win his senatorial ticket at the last primary election of the PDP. Delegates at that election rejected him and refused to cast their votes for him. It took immediate interventions from the governor and senior government officials to persuade the delegates before Diri got a slim victory against Prof. Seifa Brisibe, a first timer. Diri’s woes doubled at the general election as he lost Kolokuma-Opokuma, his home local government area to his sole opponent and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In fact, the senator’s poor outing in the last election dented his political career and became a sour point in his political history. There is no gainsaying that it will be an impossible task to sell a Diri’s candidacy to the entire state in the forthcoming governorship election.
While Alaibe and Diri are battling with credibility issues, the young Ayawei, who is a doctor of Analytical Chemistry has become the shinning star and beautiful bride of the PDP. With the support and popularity he has so far garnered, Ayawei has everything it takes to win the forthcoming election for the PDP.
Ayawei has risen to become an enigma. The party is surprised at his unprecedented popularity and general acceptance. His personality reveals that as a young man he has always assisted the needy and the poor. Little wonder, the youths and the common people in the state identify easily with him.
Ayawei, having risen from the creeks and lived his entire life in Bayelsa has become not only a household name but also a name synonymous with good deeds and philanthropy. He has been supporting the education of young people in the state. In fact, records have it that Ayawei has been involved in training undergraduate and post graduate students within and outside the country.
Also, coming from an oil-producing community, the young doctor is exposed to ills of oil exploration and understands the politics of the oil giants. He is mentally, educationally and physically prepared to tackle issues in line with the vision of Governor Seriake Dickson.
Ayawei has no ego problem. He is simple and easily accessible. Undoubtedly, Ayawei has become the only name that will give victory to the PDP.
Describing him, an ex-militant recently said: “Dr Ayawei represents the single entity that has touched uncountable lives that giving him the ticket will persuade some of us from the opposing APC to defect and work for his victory as the next governor of Bayelsa State.” Indeed, the clamour for Ayawei cuts across party lines.
Feelers are that should the powers that be refuse to give him the ticket as a loyal party man, who was also denied the House of Representatives ticket for the southern Ijaw federal constituency despite winning the party primaries but took it calmly , the delegates will revolt and work against the party in the general elections.
While this may be an option, other delegates may in disobedience to the desire of the restoration caucus vote for Ndutimi Alaibe, a non-restoration aspirant.
Jacob Lloyd writes from the creeks of Nembe in Bayelsa State.