Close to the Finishing Line

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Nseobong Okon-Ekong, Emmanuel Addeh and Ibrahim Oyewale write that with the conclusion of balloting, all that is left for a decisive conclusion in the governorship race in Bayelsa and Kogi states is for the umpire to lift the hand of the victor

The people of Bayelsa and Kogi states trooped out in their number on Saturday to choose their preferred candidate between the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Douye Diri and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mr David Lyon. There were 45 parties in the contest, but these two were ahead of the pack, in terms of the stature and reputation of their political parties.

In Kogi, the leading contenders were incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello of the APC and his main challenger, Dr. Musa Wada of the PDP.

With the conclusion of balloting, which is a significant part of the process, collation of result has since started. The runners are almost at the finishing line. All that is left now is for the umpire to lift the hand of the victor.

Both in Bayelsa and Kogi, as things stand, there is no doubt that some have suffered irreversible loses, while others stand on the threshold of history. Be that as it may, there is a good chance that the last has not been heard on these elections, since several cases are still pending in court.
But on the steam of the current situation, here’s a list of those who are thanking their lucky stars and those who may have suffered a setback.

Winners
David Lyon

The dark horse in the political space in Bayelsa. Until the last day of the collection of nomination and expression of interest form, when he stepped into the ring, David Lyon is unarguably the biggest beneficiary of the entire process that started a few months ago.

Handpicked by Chief Timipre Sylva, who himself, lost to Governor Seriake Dickson four years ago in the governorship election, Lyon seems to have been at the right place at the right time.

Though he had no pedigree politically, a lot of the ordinary folks appear to have heard of him through his philanthropic works. He started quite slowly, but in less than one month, he gathered a lot of momentum.

 Lyon’s story sounds like a political fairly tale. He was born poor, struggled through childhood in riverine Olugbobiri, Southern Ijaw until he was made rich through his pipeline protection contract with a foreign oil firm. Now, he will become governor, convinced to run, almost against his will. A story of grass to grace.
Timipre Sylva

Chief Timipre Sylva was believed to be down and out after his inglorious exit from the Creek Haven in 2012 brought about by a coalition of forces beyond his control. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) picked him up a little after that , announcing that they had made several seizures. Not many gave Sylva a chance to rise again.

But a glimmer of hope arose when he was made the chairman of the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta state, and put in charge of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) before he was appointed the Minister of Petroleum a few months ago by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

He has kept faith with the All Progressives Congress (APC) since building it from a five percent votes garnering party in Bayelsa to an election winning machine in 2019. With the victory of the APC last Saturday, Sylva has turned full circle from almost losing hope in 2012 when he was booted out as governor to becoming one of the most powerful men in the APC and in Buhari’s cabinet. Sylva is now the apparent leader of the party in the South-south, for achieving what the likes of Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio failed to do.

The All Progressives Congress (APC)

The PDP has been the ruling party in Bayelsa since the return of democracy in 1999. There was virtually no opposition to the PDP’s rampaging force. The best the party ever attained was getting a State House of Assembly member, Mr Israel Sunny-Goli who hails from Brass.

All that came to an end in February/March this year when for the first time, the party won a senatorial seat in Bayelsa East, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s area. It also won two House of Representatives positions and  three state house of assembly seats. Now, the APC has added the governorship of the state to its bag of goodies. For the party, good times are here.
In Kogi, the APC also consolidated its hold in yet another victory for the party, which a surprising recovery from the brink bitter factionalisation. Pundits believed that the party could not win election in Kogi State .

With wisdom of the leadership of the party , they were able to put their house in order and worked tirelessly for unity and success of the party .

Yahaya Bello

The incumbent governor of Kogi Staye, Yahaya Bello looks good to with results from 19  out of 21 local governments already collated and weighing in his favour, he is set to retain his seat at Lugard House.

It was double victory for Bello in the sense that many forces had ganged  up against him for one reason or the other and vowed not to support his second term bid .How with the victory in last Saturday election Bello will take another oath of office by January 27,  2020.

Senator Smart Adeyemi

In few weeks, he  will smile to National Assembly after the declaration of the winner Kogi West Senatorial Election .

Smart Adeyemi is not knew to the Red Chamber who also contested against Senator Dino Melaye in 2015 and after long court battles ,Dino was declared winner . Also in 2019, ,Adeyemi contested on the platform of All Progressive Congress, but Dino was declared winner again.  The Court of Appeal over turned the decision of tribunal that earlier affirmed his election.

Today Adeyemi is coasting home victory and will laugh to National Assembly again .

Losers

The PDP

Since 1999, this is the first time the PDP will be defeated in Bayelsa. If the victory by the APC stays, the PDP will have a lot of challenges ahead some defections are expected from the party in the next few days. The winning party will also work in the coming months to weaken the PDP further to pave the way for a thoroughfare in 2023.

A similar fate of defeat is the lot of PDP in Kogi. Hving lost to the ruling Party in 2015, the story was  no longer the same in the annal of political history in Confluence State .The PDP was seen as alternative party to emancipate the people from shackles of poverty in the land . But alas!  This was not to be

Governor Seriake Dickson

Governor Seriake Dickson has put in everything at his disposal to ensure that Senator Diri Douye emerges as his successor. He defied all criticisms of his decision to back the PDP candidate who hails from Kolokuma/Opokuma, easily the smallest local government in the state.

Against all odds, he picked the running mate to Diri from Sagbama, his own local government. Having fallen out with several key figures, including former President Jonathan, Timi Alaibe and some influential ex-militants, who are key to winning elections in the state, for many, the result wasn’t surprising.

For Dickson and his political allies, their fate now lies with the court which is expected to make pronouncements in the coming months concerning the election.

If those pronouncements go against the governor, then tough times lie ahead as he will battle to defend his stewardship in the state and ward off all the mud thrown his way.

Musa Wada

A new entrant into murky water of Nigeria politics are already had been in last 48 hours recount his first experience in political landscape in Kogi  . Victory is said to be very sweet, but loss is bitter.

It is a bitter experience for for him considering the crisis that rocked the party shortly after his emergence as PDP flag bearer. This is also coupled  with the the litigation that trailed his coming as candidate.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan

It is difficult to place ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in just one of these two divergent categories of losers and winners.

It is believed that this is a personal victory for him, having decided not to work for the PDP candidate, Diri or to congratulate him after his emergence as the party’s standard bearer, due to unresolved issues with Dickson.

His rumoured preferred candidate during the primaries in September, Mr Timi Alaibe failed to emerge as the party’s standard bearer during the election. He was said to have felt slighted by the alleged decision of the governor to singlehandedly handpick all both the candidate of the party and his running mate.

On the other hand, it is a loss for the former President since the loss of his party at the state level somehow diminishes his political clout at the national level.

Although the former president did not officially endorse the APC candidate, many people read political meanings to the reception granted Lyon by Jonathan’s mother when he visited her during the campaign.

Unless the APC chooses not to perform in the next few years, the chances of the PDP returning to govern the state may get slimmer as the years go by.

Douye Diri

Many people were shocked when Diri was picked by the governor as the preferred person to succeed him. Close watchers of the politician’s journey in the political space doubted the political clout and public popularity for Diri to make the necessary impact on voters from the state.

The major theme in the entire period of the campaign was his alleged remoteness from the people he represents and his rumoured stinginess, which his loyalists describe as prudence.

The serving senator , who was also in the House of Representatives, surprisingly did not even perform excellently during the polling , against predictions that he would win at least 90 percent of the votes in his Kolokuma/Opokuma local government. The low margin win even in his home is something to be debated.

APC Defectors

In the run-up to the Saturday, November 16 governorship election, a number of politicians left the APC which at best looked like a struggling party, rather than one ready to win election. Some of the returnees may receive a cold shoulder if they decide to go back to the APC

Among those who defected to the PDP were a returnee former State Chairman of the party, Dr. Tarila Tebepa; former Chairman of the Bayelsa State Civil Service Commission, Engr. Monday Karibo; former Leader of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Stephen Erebo; former member of the House of Assembly, Hon. Francis Otele; and a former key chieftain of the party, Hon. Iro Kominibo.
Others are former Commissioner, Hon Geseye Isowo; a former member of the House of Assembly, Hon. Johnson Alalibo; returnee former chieftain of PDP, Chief Victor Awala; and former House of Assembly member, Hon. Ayiba Duba.
The defectors also included former Majority Leader of Yenagoa Local Government Council, Hon. Leader Stanley; and Chairman of Education Authority in Ogbia, Chief Alfred Eto Egesi.