As Bayelsans prepare to go to the governorship poll on December 5, the two main political parties, the APC and PDP are busy beating the drums of war writes OKECHUKWU JOMBO
With the release of the time table for the Bayelsa and Kogi states gubernatorial elections by the Independent National Electoral commission, INEC, attention has shifted to the two states.
The battle is also between the two main political parties; the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC. The PDP is the ruling party in these two states. But indications are that the PDP is fidgety going into these two elections in November and December.
The case of Bayelsa is more interesting and perhaps intriguing and all eyes will focus on the state on December 5. It is going to be more of a battle of supremacy and redemption than electoral victory. Battle of supremacy in the sense that with the gale of defections from PDP to the APC, PDP would like to preserve the bragging rights as the party that has called the shots in the state since 1999. Redemption because it is the state of former President Goodluck Jonathan and anything less that overwhelming victory for PDP in his home state will add to the heartbreaks of the supporters of the former president and vindicate those who shout that the ex-president was not popular even in his locality.
Perhaps for the first time in the life of the PDP in the state, it is going into the governorship election not with even any convincing degree of certainty of victory. PDP though the ruling party has started shouting about rigging accusing the opposition APC of hatching plans to rig the forthcoming election. This typifies the state of affairs in the PDP fold and it is novel.
In a press conference by Godspower Keku, PDP’s secretary in the state, the party accused former governor of the state, Timipre Sylva and a chieftain of APC of dropping the name of President Muhammadu Buhari to intimidate people of the state.
According to Keku, the APC leaders in the state, led by former Governor Sylva are currently engaged in a cheap recruitment exercise of wooing supporters to defect to the party by dropping the name of President Mahammadu Buhari.
The APC leaders are said to be assuring unsuspecting members of the public that President Buhari has given his word that he will deploy federal might in the forthcoming governorship election in the state as part of the strategy of the APC to wrest power from the PDP-led state government.
The former governor was reported to have summoned a closed door meeting involving some members of the security agencies and officials of INEC in the state, in what close sources described as a way of showing off to his hordes of supporters milling around that he actually has the backing of the Presidency.
The PDP scribe, in his statement further reiterated that the defectors are traitors and enemy to the Ijaw Nation. “We are all living witnesses to what happened in this state when these defectors and their leader, Timipre Sylva, plundered the resources of the state for five years.
“Clearly these defectors are opportunists, big time traitors, who left the PDP for the APC on account of their greed and nothing more. Essentially, they do not have anything good to add to the welfare of the people and good governance of the state except their insatiable appetite for corruption and ill-gotten wealth.
“But Bayelsans are no fools and they have spoken through recent elections that enough is now enough. All of us who are well meaning Bayelsans are all in agreement that our state must also develop like other well run states in the federation. This is the cornerstone of Governor Dickson’s leadership philosophy but regrettably some of the political elite are not happy because of the rent factor which benefits only a few of them at the expense of the people,” Godspower Keku.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council Central Zonal chairman, Comrade Bobolaiyefa Owoupele, in a separate statement said the youths had resolved to resist every attempt by the APC-led federal government to use federal might to rig the election in favour of the APC in Bayelsa State.
Owoupele said “We will resist any attempt by the APC-led federal government to interfere in the governorship polls in Bayelsa State. We are using this medium to send a clear message to President Buhari not to allow himself to be deceived because the consequences of a rigged election in this state will be met with very stiff resistance.
“No one, no matter how highly placed, should be used to cause political instability in this state. The peace and security that the current government has worked so hard to put in place should not be sacrificed on the altar of politics simply because some persons are hell bent in executing a sinister agenda of winning elections at all cost at the expense of the prevailing peace and security in the state.”
The PDP has also called on the security agencies to take proactive steps to place the leaders of the APC in the state on his watch list, warning that no one be allowed to perpetrate crisis in the state and go free, pointing out that election is not war or fight, rather it is supposed to be a contest.
However, observers say Governor Dickson through his high handedness played a devastating politics of non-inclusion thereby pushing many of the party’s stalwarts out of the party. In his bid to take firm grip of the party structure, he ended up booting out those who are foundation members of the party in the state, pushing them into the waiting hands of the APC.
PDP stakeholders say that what the party is suffering in the state today is the backlash arising from the outcome of the party’s primaries and battle of wits with the governor on one hand and some stakeholders including members of the National Assembly and some of the aides of the former President Jonathan on the other hand.
The governor is up against PDP personalities like the Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, Senator Emmanuel Paulker and the Senior Special Assistant to Jonathan on Domestic Matters, Wariponmowei Dudafagh. Already, the duo of Paulker and Dudafagha have been suspended from PDP over alleged anti-party activity.
This has led to scores of PDP members to defect to the APC. The defection saw two-time member of House of Representatives, Chief Warman Ogoriba, and many other PDP supporters, some former aides of the governor embracing the APC.
Expectedly, PDP’s loss has become APC’s gain. While receiving the defectors, former Governor Sylva boasted that APC would, on February 14, 2016, occupy the Government House, Yenagoa, as the ruling party.
On the other hand, even the APC on its own is not having it rosy as it has been torn into factions, with expulsions, counter expulsions and suspensions the order of the day.
The faction operating under the aegis of the Integrity Group declared that the state chairman of the party, Orunimighan, and his deputy, Julius, have been suspended, with the state secretary, Daniel Marlin, and the member of the Board of Trustees representing Bayelsa, Peres Peretu, suspended for anti-party issues.
Orunimigha said the action of the group is ridiculous as the suspension of a national officer can only be done by the National Working Committee of the party and the National Executive Council.
He insisted that the group known as Integrity Group is not recognized by the party, saying that the purported expulsion of party official is unconstitutional and should be disregarded by Bayelsans.
In Bayelsa, the die is cast; the election may be an avenue for Governor Dickson to consolidate. It is also an avenue for ex-Governor Sylva to revive his truncated political career. The time is not too far into the future.