Can APC Consolidate its Gain in Bayelsa?

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Segun James writes that the selection of the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in Bayelsa State tomorrow is an important step that can make or mar the party’s chances in the general election in November

What could have brought the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, the Bayelsa state leader of the party, Chief Timipre Sylva and the state governor, Mr. Henry Seriake Dickson together in a secret meeting, a few days before a crucial selection of its governorship its candidate?

Why should the leaders of the ruling party at the nation be having a ‘dinner with the opponent’ at this very serious period? Why was the outcome of the meeting never made public, giving rise to speculations?

Barely 24 hours before the governorship primary which will holds tomorrow at the party’s secretariat in Yenagoa, there is still no word from the National Working Committee of the party on the mode which the election will take. This, THISDAY gathered, has left all the candidates in the dark.

Following the March 2019 general election, the APC recorded a surprise that shocked the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. The combined team of former Governor Timipre Sylva, who is now the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and the former Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobri; succeeded in getting a senatorial seat, two House of Representatives seats and a House of Assembly seat to the party. Can the APC consolidate on this gain to score a major victory in the governorship contest in November?

Members of the APC in Bayelsa do not yet know the mode of selection that will be adopted to produce the governorship candidate of the party to battle whoever will emerge from the PDP next week.

What is sure is that one of these seven combatants will eventually carry the governorship banner of the APC in Bayelsa State.

 

Heineken Lokpobri

Heineken Lokpobiri

Until the last minute emergence of other aspirants, Lokpobri was the known aspirant for the APC governorship ticket. Still considered to be the leading aspirant, Lokpobri is the most experienced among all the aspirants. A lawyer, he was the first Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly in 1999. In 2007, he was elected the Senator representing Bayelsa West. In 2015, he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as a minister representing Bayelsa State in the Federal Executive Council

Strength…

The belief is that he is the official candidate of the party as he has the best political pedigree among all aspirants to give any PDP candidate a run for his money.

He knows the terrain and has participated in all the political process since 1999, Lokpobri has the contact, the charisma and the capability to take on the PDP and whoever it fields.

Weaknesses…

Lokpobri is headstrong and could be uncompromising once he makes up his mind. It was the attitude that made him challenge Governor DSP Alamieyeseigha, a situation which led to an all-out battle between them.

However, with support of the national leadership of the party on his side, this weakness may not be a big drawback for him.

Verdict…

Best among equals.

Prof. Mrs. Maureen Etebu

Prof. Etebu is the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Delta State. An engineer, Etebu was an academic until her venture into partisan politics recently.

Strength…

Nothing much is known about her political antecedent. This is a disadvantage which can be used to her advantage. Since last year, Etebu has successfully stirred the Maritime University away from the mucky waters of partisan politics to a successful take-off.

Weaknesses…

Her strength is also her weaknesses. Politically, the Professor is unknown without any political antecedent.

If she does not win the ticket, the university she heads may be in the eye of a political storm in a highly volatile state like Delta where the opposition PDP holds sway.

Verdict…

Little political experience.

David Lyon

A surprise entrant into the governorship race, Lyon was said to have picked the nomination form on the last day of sale. He is businessman who reportedly has ties with militancy in the past. Lyon who holds a National Certificate in Education (NCE) from the University of Ibadan and is a major contractor to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company as a pipeline surveillance contractor. He has no experience in politics.

Strength…

Lyon is said to have ties to former militants, a situation which was used to advantage in the last general election. A personal friend of the state leader of the APC, Chief Timipre Sylva, Lyon is believed to have a big war chest to sponsor the election if he wins the ticket.

Weaknesses…

Lyon does not have the capacity to go all the way in a political contest as he is not known in the politics of the state until he was allegedly drafted in by Sylva.

His supposed former ties to militants may be a disadvantage given the adverse attitude of President Buhari and the national leadership of the APC to such activities.

Lyon is a political neophyte who is completely at the mercy of Sylva. Many APC members in the state think he cannot take on any candidate that PDP may throw up. He is believed to have the least experience in politics.

Verdict…

Zero political Experience

Frankland Briyai

Frankland Briyai

The entry of Dr. Frankland Briyai, the former Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Cross River State, into the Bayelsa State governorship race on the platform of the APC, has raised an enduring controversy. His emergence has created a lot of jitters on all fronts and changed the game completely.

Strength…

Briyai’s only advantage is that he understands the political process and all the niceties that goes with progression of a political party and its members. He is likely to understand how to navigate the party away from gaping pitfalls.

Weaknesses…

Briyai’s party, the APC, has consistently poor performance in states that he supervised as electoral commissioner. It is not known why he is making his quest governorship of Bayelsa State on the platform of the APC. Briyai was not known until he made his political aspiration public.

Verdict…

Experienced umpire in the game of politics

Preye Aganaba

Aganaba has always been a political gadfly of sorts in the state. Though he never contested any election, he has been around for some time. This engineer and businessman is known to be close to some influential persons in the APC.

Strength…

He is known to be close to the political heavyweights in the APC

Weaknesses…

Aganaba has always been around the political scene in the state, but he has never contested any election neither has he used his political leverage to the advantage of anyone.

He is not seen as a serious candidate because he has been distant from the grassroots.

Verdict

Experienced but constrained

Ebitimi Amgbare

 

He is one of the candidates to watch. Amgbare has a lot of experience in politics. A cousin of the late Governor Alamieyeseigha who appointed him as the Commissioner for Sports, Amgbare contested the governorship against Governor Timipre Sylva in 2007. It was his petition that led to the annulment of the election of Sylva in that election.

In 2011, he was the Action Congress (AC) candidate that lost to Dickson.

Strength…

Highly experienced, Amgbare is believed to be close to the APC national leadership. Despite the odds, he has emerged twice as a governorship candidate in the state.

Weaknesses…

Though he has been around, Amgbare has not been able to pool enough force to make a difference in the political calculation of the state. In previous political contests, he could not convince influential power brokers to sponsor his aspiration. This often leads to a woeful loss.

Verdict…

Despite his experience, he can’t take the party to the next level.

Diseye Nsirim-Poweigha

A retired Commissioner of Police, this is Nsirim-Poweigha’s first foray into politics.

Not much is known about the police officer until she entered the governorship contest on the platform of the APC.

Strength and Weaknesses

Nsirim-Poweigha is the second woman in the race. If she goes all out to win the support of women, she may record a huge positive impression in the contest that may count for her in future.

Verdict

No experience in politics