PDP Can Retain the Keys to Creek Haven

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Stanley Nkwazema predicts an overwhelming win for the PDP in Saturday’s governorship contest

The Niger Delta state of Bayelsa has a terrible terrain. It is swampy which makes structural development in the state not only expensive but difficult.

It may not be out of place to state that the people of the state easily referred to as the Jerusalem of the Ijaws are equally difficult to govern which may not be unconnected to the environment they have found themselves. They seem to know so much and demand so much. Whoever comes in as governor of the state must be on his toes, strong enough to meet the demands of this group of people.

The people of Bayelsa state just like Kogi have found themselves boxed in another election which is the first of the off-season elections, following the last national elections held seven months across the country.

On Saturday, November 16, voters in the two states are expected to turn out to decide who will govern the states in the next four years and also decide on a rerun in a Senatorial Zone of Kogi, where Senators Smart Adeyemi and Dino Melaye lock horns in a contest, while a state house of assembly seat will also be contested for in Bayelsa after INEC decided it should be sorted out through the ballot

This is coming just as a Federal High Court in Abuja, Tuesday disqualified the All Progressives Congress (APC), Deputy-Governorship Candidate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, further throwing confusion to the camp of the party.

The court had disqualified APC Deputy Governorship candidate four days to the election for providing false academic information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The suit was filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), accusing Degi-Eremienyo of telling a lie on oath. The court further ordered INEC not to recognize any nomination from the APC.

Although the APC has carried on their campaign after the court ruling giving their supporters hope that there is still a flicker of hope. And indeed, hanging on and dependent on chance and uncertainty, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear on this. “Section 187 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), says that a candidate for the office of the governor of a state shall not be deemed to have been validly nominated for such office unless he nominates another candidate as his associate for his running for the office of governor, who is to occupy the office of deputy governor.”

It is also worthy to note that according to the provisions of section 31, 33 and 34 of the Electoral Act, the time for nomination of a new running mate has lapsed, to further inflict more harm on their chances. Even if they come out unscathed tomorrow their chances of getting the keys of the Government House Yenagoa is precariously not possible.

Interestingly, if viewed against background that the PDP had campaigned vigorously and never left to chance, and if crowd at political rallies win elections, perhaps there won’t be any contest tomorrow. Elections are about numbers and politicians can never be sure till the last minute when votes have been counted and declared.

Many predicted the outcome of the rallies in those areas as being the flash points that may mar the smooth conduct of the actual election to further confirm the fact that the opposition party in the state may have perfected a game plan that is not democratic. Though APC has made forays into Bayelsa, winning a senatorial and House of Representatives seat in the at national Assembly elections, but the Deputy Governorship candidate who is a beneficiary of that election now disqualified by the courts in Abuja for lying under oath after he was found to have presented fake certificates

No doubt the governorship election is a different ball game and the Governor Seriake Dickson is throwing all his arsenal to ensure total victory, if truth be told. The PDP in the state always finds it difficult fully capturing those areas believed to be stronghold of the former Governor and Petroleum Minister Timipre Sylva due to the violence and other forms of thuggery evidence in the last election where many were killed and an Assistant Commissioner of Police abducted and tortured.

To close observers, even as it appears the PDP lost some members, it is funny to note that the gale of defections helped the loyalists. Most of the PDP members who ran to APC to pitch their tents have returned in droves, some meeting the Governor to pledge their loyalty.

Though, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe who contested but lost the party primaries he is now in court contesting the outcome has told everybody who cared to listen that he is not moving from the party. His campaign DG and former Speaker of the House Chief Ebebi who left the party may also have been meeting PDP members to retrace his steps. In actual sense last minute realignments cannot be totally ruled out.

If the law enforcement agents, the INEC are transparent and conduct a free and fair poll, and without recourse to violence during the elections on Saturday, the PDP may clear all but only two local government areas- Nembe and Brass.

The confidence of Governor Dickson that the PDP will emerge victorious despite the challenges was hinged on the overwhelming support shown by the people during the constituencies-based campaigns of the party.

The Governor who serves out his two terms in February 2020 is of the opinion that the dominance of the party in the state could be attributable to what he calls the ‘exceptional performance of his administration’, especially in the area of enthroning a tolerant political culture. To Dickson, the people of Bayelsa should cast their votes for Senator Douye Diri in order to sustain the prevailing peace, stability and other enduring legacies of his administration