By Preye Wenipreimo

With the conclusion of the gubernatorial primaries to determine the candidates of the political parties in the November 16, 2019 governorship election, the die is cast. The choice before Bayelsans is crystal clear. While there are several political parties interested in fielding candidates for the gubernatorial election, that of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PD) in the state and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) were more interesting as the two political parties attracted the highest interests. This is understandable. The PDP has continued to hold sway in the oil and gas rich stated since the advent of democracy in 1999 while the APC which has so many former PDP members in its fold is also positioning itself to take the reins of power in the November 16, 2019 governorship elections.

Senator Douye Diri emerged the candidate of the PDP after he pulled 561 votes to beat his closest rival, Mr. Timi Alaibe who got 365 votes in the primary which took place at Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre, Yenagoa. The results were announced by the Chairman, Party’s Electoral Committee for the state, Chief Darius Ishaku who is also the governor of Taraba State.

Diri was a member of the House of Representatives from 2015 to 2019 where he represented the Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma federal constituency. He was later elected as the Senator representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District during the 2019 general election. 

On the other hand, Mr. David Lyon of the APC was declared winner of the primary in Bayelsa State after he was said to have scored 42,138 votes to beat his closest rival, Mrs. Diseye Nsirim who scored 1,533 votes. The Chief Coalition Officer, Senator Dangana Emmanuel made this known in the state capital, Yenagoa.

Emmanuel who made this known on behalf of the Returning Officer for the Bayelsa APC Primaries, Mr. Mai-Mala Buni who is also the governor of Yobe State also revealed that the mode of election was direct primary as agreed by Bayelsa stakeholders and confirmed by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.

To say the least, there is an uneasy calm in the wealthy but poor state since the outcome of the gubernatorial primaries in the two major political parties was made public. This was contrary to the expectations of the people because voting did not take place. Those who came out to vote went home disappointed because there were no officials to attend to them and where officials were available, there were no results sheets. The reasons for this are not farfetched. It was a well calculated plan to achieve a pre-determined outcome.

Diri’s mother hails from Isanpou in Sagbama Local Government Area while his father is from Sampou in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with his candidature because he is from a local government that is yet to occupy the number one seat in the state in spite being home to the late fiery Ijaw nationalist fighter, Isaac Adaka Boro and the erstwhile Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete who were instrumental to the creation of the state by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

However, Bayelsa State unlike other parts of the country practices the matrilineal system where one’s rights and privileges are determined by where one’s mother comes from rather than where one’s father comes from. In essence, Diri by birth hails from Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area which is yet to get an opportunity to occupy Creek Haven, the state seat of power but by the matrilineal system he seen as an indigene of Sagbama Local Government Area where Governor Dickson also come from. This is one of the reasons his preference for Diri rather than Mr. Timi Alaibe, a more popular candidate has created apprehension in many parts of the state. This is due to the fact that Dickson hails from Toru Orua, Sagbama Local Government Area where Diri’s mother also hails from. In other words, head or tail, Sagbama Local Government Area will continue to hold unto the governorship of the state which prides itself as the glory of all lands after the completion of his eight (8) years in office. This is to say that if Diri wins and subsequently go for a second term of office, Tarakiri clan alone where both of them come from will be spending 16 solid years in power to the detriment of people of Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area who are yet to taste the governorship of the state.

The case is even worse by the choice of Diri’s running mate in the person of Senator Lawrence Orujakpor who hails from Ofoni, Sagbama Local Government Area. Orujakpor who is presently the senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly was for many years, the Commissioner of Works in Dickson’s administration. As it is, left or right, the governorship of the Bayelsa State is firmly in the grips of Sagbama Local Government Area to the detriment of other parts of the state. In fact, not a few Bayelsans see the scenario as an injustice to the people of Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area who since the creation of the state over two decades ago are yet to have one of their own as governor. 

While the people of the state were yet to recover from this injustice, another bombshell came from the APC. In fact, their expectations to get relief from the APC were dashed when Mr. David Lyon was declared winner of the primary in Bayelsa State a few days after that of the PDP. They were waiting for a relief from the APC but that did not happen. There was a sense of disillusionment everywhere.  

To say the least, Bayelsa State APC primaries was a charade. Reports were rife that the political gladiators in the party led by the former governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva who is presently the Minister of State for Petroleum met in the house of Hon. Preye Oseke who represents Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in the lower chamber of the National Assembly on the platform of APC and merely allocated results to the six governorship aspirants after they have given the highest number to Mr. David Lyon. They were said to have used the old membership register of the party to allocate results and submitted it to the committee set by the National Working Committee (NWC) to conduct the gubernatorial primary in the state. Not a few have opined that it was the inability of the Yobe State governor to stomach the anomalies that made him to abdicate making the result public to Senator Emmanuel. Even the elements were opposed to their actions as a dark cloud hovered over the state from the day the primaries of the two parties were made public.

It must be noted that the former governor was the sole determinant of the scores allocated to each aspirants and to that extent the positions they got in the primaries. The outcome of this exercise is not predicated on the need for APC to win the election but on their own vested interest. Just as Sylva, the man selected as the running mate to Mr. David Lyon, Senator Degi Eremieyo is from the same area with him in Bayelsa East senatorial district. The incumbent Deputy governor, Commander John Jonah (retired) is also from the same area. Senator Deg Eremiyo is presently representing Bayelsa East in the National Assembly. To actualise their vested interests in the game plan, some militants led by one Mr. McCaver have been mobilised into the political calculation. Those who have been following the politics of the former governor said he is used to using stooges to achieve his goals and did not see his support for Mr. David Lyon and Senator Degi Eremiyo as his running mate differently. They asserted that this was the reason why he is backing Mr. David Lyon who submitted secondary school testimonial instead of his WASC certificate as his credential. This is besides the fact that he is said to have a National Certificate of Education (NCE) as his highest qualification. 

We will therefore ask National Working Committee of the APC to investigate his certificates to avoid embarrassments in the governorship elections.

The former governor’s political calculation is that if his stooge eventually wins the Bayelsa State governorship with his Senator Degi Eremieoyo as running mate by violence since analysts believed that he cannot do so in a free and fair contest, he can take over the governorship of Bayelsa after his first term of office since he cannot go for a second term.

Though Mr. David Lyon is from Olugbobiri, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, which is one of the LGAs that make up Bayelsa Central, the others are Yenagoa and Kolokuma/Opokuma, he cannot gather the mass support that would have rose if he had hailed from Yenagoa or Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Areas. The calculation is that if Mr. David Lyon is impeached or completes his first tenure, then Sylva will work with his deputy, long-time ally, friend and compatriot to get to Creek Haven in 2023 so as to accomplish his long time ambition of completing his second term of office as governor of Bayelsa State. 

To make matters worse, Senator Heineken October Lokpobiri who is presently angling to profit from the present anomalies in the party primary is not better. He is from Ekeremor Local Government Area which together with Dickson’s Sagbama Local Government Area share the same senatorial district (Bayelsa West). Bayelsa West Senatorial District cannot continue to hold unto the number one seat in the state to the detriment of other senatorial districts. It will not only be unfair to do so but also tantamount to a great injustice to the people, especially those from Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.

This is to say that Sylva and Dickson are neck deep in furthering their political interests to the detriment of their political parties and the people of the state without minding whose ox is gored. Incidentally, in both parties, there were better and far more credible candidates but these two political leaders choose to select the aspirants that would be pliable to their inordinate ambition without regards to the delivery of the dividends of democracy to Bayelsans.   For Bayelsans, the choice is clear and the die is cast.

Preye Wenipreimo, Concern Bayelsans Network writes from Yenagoa

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