As the campaign for the November 16 off-cycle governorship poll in Bayelsa State enters its last lap, it is apparent that the high-octane political project of the two front-running parties – PDP and APC – to ‘capture’ the Creek Haven, Yenagoa, coupled with significant misalignments in both combatants’ ranks make the Niger Delta state a potential flash-point. Stanley Nkwazema reports
In the mega-decibel political intrigues foreshadowing the off-cycle governorship election in Bayelsa State, next Saturday November 16, two parties have clearly emerged front-runners – the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). The plots to literally capture Creek Haven, Yenagoa, are going into over-drive mode and the stakes are indisputably high.
In less than seven days, as it were, the successor to Governor Seriake Dickson who exits executive power after an eventful two-term, eight-year tenure, should emerge after polling in all the wards of the eight local government councils of the state. The capital city of Yenagoa was practically shut down on Wednesday when the PDP held a mega rally at the Oxbow Lake Pavilion.
This is coming even as former President Goodluck Jonathan, Deputy Gov. Rear Admiral Gboribiogha, retired John-Jonah and Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers were markedly absent at the party’s mega rally. It also confirmed that the former President, who on so many occasions explained that he will not leave the party, to support APC, has failed to congratulate the party nor the candidates (Douye Diri and Lawrence Ewhurudjakpo) – apparently unhappy that the party in the state looked the other way by not picking his alleged choice(s) during the primaries held on September 4, 2019.
The outgoing Governor Dickson has never failed to convince observers and party loyalists that he would still go ahead and present the flag bearers to Jonathan either in Yenagoa or Abuja before next Saturday’s election in the state.
If attendance at political rallies or observable sea of heads, win elections, perhaps the candidate of the PDP in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri and his running mate Lawrence Ewhurudjakpo could as well go home to sleep and wake up days later as the governor and deputy governor of the state and equally move into the Creek Haven.
It is not always the story in that clime that voters turn out at every rally, collecting money, souvenirs, only to appear at the oppositions gathering, doing same. To many, it has become a norm. You go there and collect the ‘things’ and continue with your life, because it could be the last time you will get closer to the candidates till they leave office.
Politicians can never be sure till the last minute when votes have been counted and declared. It’s only when the logs are cleared that the winners could celebrate and losers gnash their teeth.
As the PDP members gathered in Yenagoa, the APC flag-bearer, Chief David Lyon, was equally keeping the trail busy, traversing the nooks and crannies of the state. He made a brief stop at Otuoke, Ogbia, home town of former President Goodluck Jonathan, to boost his crowd of supporters. He was lucky to have met Madam Eunice Jonathan, the mother of the former President.
Of course, the old woman could not have turned him back. The APC loyalists see this as a major boost coming the way of Lyon. Madam Eunice was equally touted to have showered him with her blessing to go and conquer in the exercise.
Translating what the mother of Jonathan, who spoke in Ogbia dialect, told Lyon, a kinsman of Jonathan in the entourage, Wisdom Ikuli said: “David my son, on behalf of my entire family, I have blessed you. The Almighty God wants to use you to change the story of Bayelsa State.”
Interestingly, Lyon promised to prioritise reactivation of the water project if voters elect him governor and to bring the Imirigi gas turbine back to life. His said: “The abandonment of the gas turbine had thrown the Otuoke community into perpetual darkness.”
He also vowed to restore light in Jonathan’s Local Government Area, noting it was unacceptable that there were no good roads leading to Otuoke and other communities in Ogbia. He promised the Local Government Area would witness tremendous development under his administration.
According to the APC flag-bearer, “They have kept you poor and have concluded that you can be easily bought during the election. If they give you money, collect it and vote them out. I assure you that I will use the resources of the state judiciously to develop Bayelsa.”
Meanwhile, speaking at the Ox Bow Lake rally of the PDP, the National Chairman of the party, Chief Uche Secondus, who stormed the mega-rally with former Senate President Adolph Wabara, Governors Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Emeka Ihedioha, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Aminu Bello Tambuwal of Sokoto, Umahi of Ebonyi, Ikepazu of Abia and Gov. Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, who was the special guest, among others, warned security agencies against being used to rig election for the main opposition party.
Secondus warned that the PDP would resist any attempt to hijack electoral materials for any party or group of politicians, while urging Bayelsa people to vote for the PDP as the only political party that can take them forward.
Speaking on behalf of other PDP governors, Governor Tambuwal of Sokoto State said Bayelsa belongs to the PDP and boasted that no other political party can defeat them. Tambuwal stated that Dickson had done very well for the Bayelsa people and noted that no other political party could win any election in the state.
Governor Dickson, who hands over to a winner in February next year after serving out two terms, explained that the PDP has been the only platform that had given people face and voice in Nigeria. He said: “PDP is the only Ijaw-man party that all can feel and be carried along. Sen. Douye Diri is the only one that can consolidate on the restoration government to take the state forward. I want to appeal to our people to vote massively for the PDP as we do not know any other party.”
The party’s candidate for the November 16 elections, Senator Douye Diri, after collecting the PDP flag from Secondus, pledged to continue with the good works of the Dickson administration to take the state to enviable heights, if elected. He equally promised to build the Brass Nembe road, build the Agge Seaport and other laudable projects that he plans to initiate. It’s game on.