Decision Day in Bayelsa, Kogi  

Mahmood Yakubu
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu
  • Diri, Lyon in intense contest in Bayelsa  
  • Wada tackles Bello in Kogi  
  • Lyon gets lifeline from Appeal Court  
  • IG Adamu assures voters of maximum security  
  • 35,000 policemen deployed in Kogi, 31,041 in Bayelsa  
  • Police withdraw officers from VIPs in Bayelsa  
  • INEC Chair promises free, fair poll

Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa and Ibrahim Oyewale in Lokoja

Tension remains very high as voters in Bayelsa and Kogi states file out today to decide who takes charge of the administration of their states in the next four years.

As at press time, tough-looking security agents were seen on the streets of Yenagoa and Lokoja, while residents and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) plead with the political parties for peaceful poll.

In Bayelsa State, the governorship election is a straight fight between Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Lyon, who had earlier been disqualified by a Federal High Court in Bayelsa State on Thursday, got a lifeline yesterday from an Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt, which ordered INEC not to remove him from the ballot. The court gave the order following an ex parte motion filed by his counsel on Thursday.

In Kogi State, incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello of the APC has Musa Wada of the PDP to contend with.

Incidents of violence and intemperate use of language have characterised the campaigns leading to today’s elections. In some cases, lives were lost.

Nevertheless, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu assured voters in both states of maximum security. Speaking on Tuesday in Lokoja, Adamu said security operatives on election duties would not hesitate to gun down any unauthorised person attempting to use firearm in any part of Kogi State during the ongoing electioneering process.  

Adamu gave the warning during a stakeholders’ meeting/signing of Peace Accord among political parties and candidates, organised by INEC.  

The police boss, who spoke after INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had delivered his address, also warned policemen on guard duties with politicians not to allow themselves to be used by politicians to perpetrate illegality on the election day.

He warned that any policeman caught roaming the street without proper authorisation would be arrested.

He assured the general public that the police would be professional and ready to provide a level playing ground for all parties and participants, adding that the police and other security operatives on election duty would protect all INEC and other electoral officials, as well as materials for the exercise, against attacks.

Bayelsa INEC, Police Fully Prepared

Institutions directly involved in the electoral process, including INEC, the police, the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) said yesterday that they were fully prepared for today’s poll in Bayelsa State.

The Bayelsa State Police Command also ordered withdrawal of policemen attached to high profile politicians.

The police, however, said in a statement that the withdrawal was temporary, stating that all persons who are affected by the instruction must comply accordingly.

Earlier, the police authorities had deployed several top officers and police commissioners to Bayelsa State, including Garba Baba Umar, Sanusi Buba, Bello Makwashi, Usman Sule Gomina, Mohammed Gimba, Bashir Makama, Habu Sani, Danladi Bitrus Lalas, Omololu Bishi, Joseph Mukan and an Acting Police Commissioner, Odumosu Olusegun, among others. 

At the headquarters of the Bayelsa State Command in Yenagoa, the police assured the electorate of adequate safety during the poll, adding that 31,041, had been deployed in various locations for the poll.

Several trucks and bus-loads of police personnel were still being deployed to various local government areas as at yesterday afternoon.

Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed, had also met with political stakeholders in Bayelsa ahead of today’s governorship election.

During the meeting, which held in Yenagoa, the INEC chairman maintained that the police would take over the primary duty of securing humans and materials, noting that any other function engaged upon by the security forces, including the military, will be secondary.

“The police force is the lead agency for election security in Nigeria and the IGP is here. In addition, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) provides the bulk of ad hoc staff for election duty at polling unit level in Nigeria,” he said.

He further added: “I want to reassure you that INEC is ready. We have so far successfully implemented two out of our 14-point plan for the election as required by law.”

In a related development, the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu, said that he had deployed 5,000 personnel from the national headquarters to ensure that there was peaceful, credible and hitch-free election in Bayelsa State.

The Bayelsa Resident Electoral Commissioner, Monday Udoh, yesterday told voters to come out in their numbers, assuring them that INEC had fully collaborated with the security agencies to ensure a smooth process.

“We are moving forward; we came on Wednesday and sighted them, took note and also yesterday they were here. There are enough boats, enough security escorts. We have no challenge at all; we have enough vehicles to escort the materials to the centres.

“We are asking everybody to go and vote; there’s enough security protecting every person going out to vote. The DIG just spoke to me now that they have taken control of the whole place nothing, bad will happen in this election. 

“We have enough security on ground to protect every voter. So, people of Bayelsa State, go out and exercise your franchise. Do not have any reason not to go out to vote,” he said. 

Udoh reiterated that no party had been barred from taking part in the election, following the two court injunctions on Thursday from the Federal High Court, Yenagoa and the Appeal Court in Abuja.

He stated that INEC lawyers were studying the rulings in Abuja, but added that no party has been barred from the Saturday poll. 

Also, INEC was continuing the movement of sensitive materials as at yesterday. INEC Head of Department in charge of Voter Education, Mr. Wilfred Ifogah, told journalists that party agents, INEC officials and other stakeholders, are at the CBN, Yenagoa branch to retrieve the sensitive materials.

He said that the boats being used went through the marine union and had been profiled by the Nigerian Navy to ensure that their boats were water worthy and that the drivers were trustworthy.

However, it was learnt that the difficulties in retrieving results from the riverine areas may be reduced as the Commission is likely to make use of helicopters so that where they used to have so much problem or running on the sea, materials will be airlifted.

How the Candidates stand in Bayelsa

Today’s election is likely going to be a tough fight, apart from the traces of violence that had trailed it. Bayelsa has 1,804 polling units, 105 wards and eight local governments. It has 923, 182 registered voters, with 889, 308 PVCs collected. It has a voter gender distribution of 424, 392 for female and 498, 790 for men.

Bayelsa Central, comprising three local governments – Yenagoa, Southern Ijaw and Kolokuma/Opokuma. Yenagoa and Southern Ijaw have the largest voting population in the state, with 199,895 and 165, 449 respectively, while Kolokuma/Opokuma has a voting population of 52,765.

With the population of Yenagoa, the state capital, that has a sizeable number of non-indigenes, especially Igbo traders with sentiments for the PDP, the party will likely take the state capital. Diri, the PDP senator is also currently a senator with Yenagoa as one of his constituencies. The council has never been the strong base of the APC.

For Southern Ijaw, despite the efforts of Governor Dickson to recently assuage them by supporting the removal of a Kolokuma Opokuma speaker with a replacement from Southern Ijaw, the APC will garner the majority votes since the party’s governorship candidate, Lyon is from there. Many of their sons and daughters are still in Dickson’s government. Whether that will make a difference, remains to be seen.

Bayelsa East has Brass, Nembe and Ogbia. The only senatorial seat won by the APC during the national assembly is from there. They also won a Reps seat there. Brass is where Timipre Sylva hails from and it remains a very volatile and contentious area. Brass has a voting population of 67, 804 with 65, 900 collected PVCs. 

With the Sylva and Israel Sunny-Goli, a Reps member’s factor, the APC will attempt to win Brass.

For Ogbia, the PDP will have an upper hand because of the Goodluck Jonathan factor. It has a voting population of 109, 903. Jonathan has refused to get involved in the electoral process after an aspirant reportedly backed by him failed to win the primaries in September.

The PDP may take Bayelsa West which comprises Sagbama, where Dickson and the running mate to Diri, Lawrence Ewhrujakpo, hail from. While Sagbama has a voting population of 109, 460, the other local government in the Western flank is Ekeremor, which would also likely fall to the PDP with voters topping 125,189.

Whether Senator Heineken Lokpobiri’s supporters will agree to vote the APC and boost their tally in the area is also debatable.

Kogi Stakeholders Set

Critical stakeholders in the Kogi State election spent most of yesterday putting finishing touches to their preparations.

Despite the persistent assurance from the Police to be on top of security situation before, during and after elections, there are still some danger signs.

Thirty five thousand police personnel have been deployed to Kogi State for this assignment.

The police warned the Kogi political actors who may want to cause violence during the election or disrupt electoral process that they would be made to full wrath of law if caught in the act. 

An Assistant Inspector General of Police, Abdulmajeed Ali, who spoke at a press conference at the Command Headquarters in Lokoja, stated that  this mandate was being exercised in close conjunction with INEC leadership and other sister security agencies under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).

At the forum in Lokoja, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu said he expects the political actors in the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi State to be of good behaviour before, during and after elections.

“For us in INEC, we are ready to conduct peaceful, free, fair and credible elections in both Bayelsa and Kogi States. We are seeking the partnership of political parties and candidates to ensure that the elections are violence free,” Yakubu said.

As at press time, Lokoja has been frenzy as many journalists, international and local observers have been trooping in for the election. Security personnel are visible everywhere in the state capital.

Today’s governorship election is no doubt straight fight between incumbent governor Bello of the APC and Wada of the PDP.

In the preceding weeks, the campaign had degenerated to ethnic biases as the Ebira vows to return their son, the incumbent governor, while the Igalas are routing for their own son too, Wada.

Bello is expected to rely on the people of Kogi Central, comprising Ajaokuta, Okene, Okehi,  Adavi,and Ogori/magongo local government areas.

While Kogi West has remained a beautiful bride, no political party can single handedly lay claim to control of the west. Their achievements and underground work of each party will decide who wins here.

Wada, though a green horn in the Kogi political terrain, is banking on the electorates in Kogi East to get into Lugard House. Kogi East comprises Ankpa, Omala, Olamaboro, Dekina Bassa, Ofu, Idah, Igalamela/Odolu and Ibaji local governments.

With block vote from East and at least 25 per cent in other 12 local governments areas, the PDP will be good to go. This is the calculations and permutations.

 INEC: Political Parties’ Names Not Individuals on Ballot Papers

As the controversy continue to rage over the eligibility of Lyon and his running mate to contest today’s governorship election in Bayelsa State, INEC yesterday clarified that the names of political parties and not candidates’ names are on the ballot papers. 

INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voters Education and Public Information, Festus Okoye said yesterday on a television programme that APC’s name is on the ballot papers as the commission does not include names of candidates on ballot papers. 

When asked whether APC’s name is on the ballot in view of the series of court orders against the governorship candidate and his running mate, the INEC National Commissioner said an emphatic Yes. 

He therefore went on to clarify why the name of the APC will be on the ballot papers on today’s governorship election in the state. 

According to Okoye, “Yes, the name of the APC as a political party is on the ballot papers because one, we have already printed the ballot papers. There is no restraining order against INEC that says that party A,B,C should not participate in the election.”

When asked what the court order said, and the INEC National Commissioner said: “What the court orders said was individuals and not the political parties. And we don’t have individuals on the ballot papers. What we have is the names of political parties and their logos. We have not received any court order stopping INEC from conducting the governorship election 

“We don’t have individual candidate’s names on the ballot papers. This decision is based on the judgement of the Supreme Court that says that it is political parties that contest elections and not individuals.”

Again, he was asked if this would not cause any trouble, Okoye said, “It is when we get to the returns and declarations that we will unveil the name of the candidate of the political party that is nominated for the election.”