As Bayelsa, Kogi Governorship Elections Close In…


Emmanuel Addeh and Ibrahim Oyewale give an update on the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi State respectively

With November 16 staring the nation in the face especially given the high stakes, it sure promises to be one interesting election in the two states of Bayelsa and Kogi, certainly with differing peculiarities defining each state.

Although it is going to be a two-horse race in both states, in Bayelsa, for instance, the two leading political parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – have their peculiar challenges with the PDP dealing with the most complex situation.

Kogi isn’t quite distinct, indeed, the ruling APC in the state, with all its federal might and support, has a lot more difficulties to contend with than the opposition PDP – a majority of them self-inflicted.

However, with less than three weeks to the elections believed to be crucial to both parties, the political equations in both states are not entirely fluid anymore as positioning and extrapolations are fast taking shape. This is why this update comes instructive, preparatory to the D-day.

Bayelsa: A Chaotic Walk to November 16
Campaign trails are routinely cancelled without prior notice. In some instances, when they hold, they are queerly chaotic – a pure mess. There’s rarely any conscious effort at ensuring that things are orderly.

Muddy or ill-prepared campaign grounds, disorderly traffic and general lack of organisation have been the hallmarks of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa, almost looking like the date is crawling upon the actors like a thief, who probably does not know the weight of the task before him.

Both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) look like the process was foisted upon them. With roughly three weeks to the polls, community and voters’ engagements are still far and apart. The most prominent feature in the entire process has been untamed mudslinging.

APC remains reclusive, even colourless, PDP looks like it’s falling apart. Boredom seems to have set in so early. Citizens appear disinterested or worse still, uninterested in the entire process, one that will determine what happens in the oil-rich, but poverty-stricken state in the next four years. Even the media savvy residents of the state, it appears, do not know what the clear plans and programmes of PDP’s Douye Diri and APC’s David Lyon are. One is vowing to continue the incumbent’s ‘legacies’, the other pledges to blot them out. It’s almost like both major political parties are waiting for voters to figure things out themselves. The political atmosphere remains hazy, looking like how not to run campaigns.

For instance, the opposition APC vaguely promises to provide 24-hours power supply when they take over the governance of the state, without telling the people how they intend to achieve it. The ruling PDP jeers at them, telling them how much of jokers they are by not understanding the burden and intricacies of governance. Then the back and forth continues. No movement, just motion.

At best, it looks like a circus show. A politician announces that he was defecting from the PDP to the APC, creates a lot of social media buzz. Three days later, he is seen with Governor Seriake Dickson, being patted, like a father to an angry son. He issues a statement that he has returned to the PDP, citing a breakdown in communication. All hot air, no substance!
APC, through its stooges insist that the PDP candidate, Diri, is a serial lawbreaker, going as far as petitioning the Code of Conduct Bureau that the senator, many years back, as Deputy Chief of Staff and Principal Executive Secretary to Dickson, failed to declare his assets.

One Joseph Ambekederemor and Tony Ile appear to be in the forefront of the groups pushing for Diri’s prosecution for breaking the law. In return, the PDP describes the APC candidate, Lyon, an Agip contractor, of being responsible for many unexplained crimes using funds from his oil surveillance contracts.

The infighting within both parties continued to fester. For the APC, former Minister, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who was tipped to win the party primaries and Preye Aganaba, a businessman may hold the key to whether Lyon, pronounced Lion by his Ijaw folks, is eventually declared valid candidate of the party or not.

Both are urging the court to quash the primaries that produced Lyon as the APC standard bearer. Many fear that if the court heeds their plea, APC could be in for another Rivers or Zamfara treatment.

On the other hand, the problems within the PDP too are taking too long to resolve with just about 21 days to the election. Mr. Timi Alaibe, former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and frontline governorship aspirant, who has just succeeded in moving his case from a Yenagoa court to Abuja for ‘security reasons’, is praying the judiciary to declare that Diri’s election was not valid.

He maintains that many of the delegates to the primaries, where he emerged second, were not qualified to participate. Alaibe says he believes that the process was rigged against him ab initio by the governor and his ‘restoration’ team. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, who perhaps feels wounded by his inability to have any input in who emerged the PDP’s candidate as well as his running mate, Lawrence Ewhrujakpo, continue to stand aloof, refusing to campaign for the party. A peace committee set up by the party at the national level led by former Kwara Governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, seems not to have made much progress as feelers are that both Alaibe and Jonathan remain adamant.

While the bickering continues, the major power brokers in the PDP and APC appear to have moved base to Abuja for uncertain reasons instead of mobilising the seemingly docile electorate for the important poll, throwing jibes at each other from the country’s capital.

False alarm or not, the PDP continues to insist that the APC government at the centre is doing everything to undermine the credibility of the election by unleashing terror on its people and attempting to forcibly take over the state. The party then listed instances where the APC had violently muzzled the loyalists of the PDP and without consequences.
PDP chairman in the state, Moses Cleopas, stated that in other climes, the police would be parading the criminal elements to use it as deterrence to others during the election.

Cleopas was reacting to an allegation by the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, that the PDP in Bayelsa had begun stockpiling arms to unleash mayhem during the November 16 governorship poll.
But Doifie Buokoribo, Bayelsa APC Spokesman maintains that the allegations by PDP are the “ranting of a panic-stricken party rocked by greed and fear of failure owing to its own poor performance.”

But if anything, not a few hold the view that if the election is to be wholly owned by the people, both the PDP and the APC must wake up and rev up their almost lethargic campaigns in the last couple of weeks, review their strategy and run a more colourful and decent campaign.