Ubas’ vanishing hold on Anambra politics

| November 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

Why PDP lost Bayelsa to APC

 

EMMANUEL MASHA reports on the political intrigues that led to the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has held sway in Bayelsa State since 1999 by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in last weekend’s governorship election 

 

 

T

o Nigerians, who reside outside Bayelsa State, especially those who do not follow the state’s politics, the victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over Senator Douye Diri of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) David Lyon, in last weekend’s governorship election in the state might come as a big surprise.

 

 

Some would be wondering who Lyon is and how he was able to defeat a serving senator, who was backed by an incumbent governor. They would also wonder why voters in a state, which has traditionally voted for the PDP, suddenly pitched tent with APC.

 

But, to residents of Bayelsa and those who really understand the state’s politics, the fall of the PDP after 19 years of dominance was caused by the party’s leadership at the state and national levels.

 

 

Starting from the state, where Governor Seriake Dickson calls the shot, the PDP lost touch with the reality that voters have the ultimate say in who wins an election, and not the power of incumbency. The party failed to realize that the fire brigade approach to election through empty promises or inducement, which is the norm in the country has its limits.

 

 

Across Yenagoa and other major towns and communities in Bayelsa State last Saturday, some voters were handed cash to influence their votes, but some of them still went ahead to vote according to their conscience.

According to some observers, Dickson as governor personally failed to read the mood and body language of the people. Some even concluded that if Dickson didn’t realize that majority of Bayelsians were unhappy with the way things had turned out in his second term in office and had been patiently waiting to pay him back.

 

Also, his appointees and aides, who are nearer to the people, and who are supposed to be his eyes, equally deceived him.

 

To realize the role “peoples power” played in this election, one only needs to move round the streets of Yenagoa to get the reaction of residents. From tricycle operators to market women and civil servants, there was a strong resolve to vote against Dickson’s anointed candidate – Diri.

 

For some of the tricycle operators, who have taken over the roads of Yenogoa, it was the failure of the government to provide employment opportunities that forced them into the business. Those who operate on hire purchase terms said they have to work till 10.pm to meet their respective targets and to take something home. Their biggest worry is that there is no single street light that works on Yenagoa roads.

 

So, they say that they are perpetually in darkness, while conveying their passengers at night, leaving them prone to attacks by hoodlums. Interestingly, Yenogoa is the only capital in the South-South geopolitical zone that goes for months without any blink of electricity.

 

Like most market women, and other residents had resolved long before the election, the tricycle operators, wore their resolve to vote against PDP like a badge of honour.

 

When the Dickson administration noticed that the state’s wage bill accommodated ghost workers, who only got salaries at the end of every month without doing anything and blocked the leakage, many commended him. But, when the state’s economy “collapsed” because government could not create employment opportunities and stopped the “sharing” system that thousands relied on, a major economic crisis ensued.

 

 

So, Saturday’s election for some was an opportunity to revolt against an “insensitive government.” The residents made good their promise to punish the PDP by taking advantage of the ultimate misstep of the party in the build-up to the election, which was complete disregard for internal democracy.

 

 

The emergence of an unpopular candidate to fly the party’s ticket not only extended the distance between the PDP and its supporters, including those that were supposed to sustain the relationship between the grassroots, it led to the defection of some prominent party members to the APC.

 

 

To most members of the PDP in the oil-rich state, their preferred candidate was a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe, who they say, boasts of a solid support base across the state. Alaibe is widely seen as a true and worthy son of Bayelsa, who despite never having occupied an elected office is accorded the kind of respect they accorded late Diepreye Alamiseigha.

 

 

According to a reliable source, two former presidents advised Dickson before the PDP governorship primary to ensure a level playing field for all the aspirants, when efforts to make him back Alaibe failed.

Alaibe was the choice of many Bayelsans, who were waiting to reward him for building leaders. From ex-Governor Timipre Sylva (now Minister of State for Petroleum) to Douye and Lyon, they all worked for Alaibe at a point in their career. So, Bayelsaans, who came out en mass to vote, would have opted for Alaibe irrespective of his party.

 

 

According to an insider, Dickson refused to back Alaibe because he was afraid that the former NDDC boss will not to do his bidding if he becomes governor.

During the PDP primaries, Diri, the senator representing Bayelsa Central, scored 561 votes, while Alaibe, scored 365 in a contest that had 21 aspirants, including the deputy governor of the state, Gboribiogha Jonah, who scored 62 votes.

 

 

According to observers, most of the contestants were sponsored to reduce Alaibe’s vote and to prevent him from emerging victorious. However, Alaibe faulted the outcome of the exercise on the ground that the result was affected   by “inherent flaws bordering on crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines.”

 

 

He also faulted the use of local council chairmen and councilors in the state as delegates in the primary.

 

 

He said in a statement: “For instance, by the provisions of Section 50(1) of the party’s constitution, the authority to formulate guidelines for all matters relating to the governorship primary is vested in NEC of the PDP. The election of ad-hoc delegates is one of such matters.

 

“Strangely, the panel set up to undertake this exercise simply imposed on us a list of electoral and returning officers prepared by the state officers of the party, who are avowed members of the orchestrated Restoration Team. Thus, the process was deliberately handed over to the Restoration Team. Our protest was ignored.

 

 

“We express our serious reservations about the process that led to the primary for its unconstitutionality and its outcome completely unacceptable because of its illegitimacy.”

 

 

By the time Diri spoke, he made it clear that Alaibe’s time has gone. He explained that when preparations were on for an Alaibe governorship years ago, he (Diri) was not even known. He added that he and others left Alaibe to forge his own political path and returned to the party to be appointed first as Deputy Chief of Staff and later Principal Executive Secretary by Governor Dickson.

 

 

His words: “We were in that sojourn for about 10 years, trying to see how we can make Chief Timi Alaibe governor. We are the people who even gave him that name, Principal. But that didn’t work out. So, at a point in one’s life, you have to take your destiny in your hands. I decided once again to take my destiny in my hands. I finally parted ways with Alaibe.”

 

 

Diri, however, called on Alaibe and others who contested against him, who are still not happy over the outcome of the primary election to “sheath their swords” and work with him to ensure victory for PDP.

 

 

While the PDP was in disarray after its primaries, APC capitalized on the situation. The game plan for APC to takeover of Bayelsa, spearheaded by Sylva was the political take-over of Southern Ijaw. His second journey to Government House, Yenagoa was cut short in Southern Ijaw in 2015 by Dickson. Victory did not come easy for Dickson, following the delay in the outcome of election in the area.

 

 

Sylva and his team achieved their plan early this year, when Hon. Preye Osake was elected on the platform of the APC to represent Southern-Ijaw Federal Constituency after defeating Hon. Ofongo Henry of the PDP.

 

 

Based on the voting strength of Southern Ijaw, Oseke was pressured by some to contest the governorship election before the APC primary, but he distanced himself from such, noting that he has four years to focus on representing his constituents.

 

 

Oseke added that he had no divided attention as a loyal party man and that APC leaders’ and major stakeholders in the state will decide on whoever will fly the party’s flag in the governorship election.

 

 

To seal the votes of Southern Ijaw, Sylva and his team drafted Chief David Lyon, who is from the area. This explains why APC polled 124,803 votes against PDP’s 4,898 votes out of the 165,449 registered voters in Southern Ijaw.

 

 

When results of the election was announced by INEC’s electoral officer, Prof. Faraday Oruwense, who is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, it was no longer news to Lyon’s supporters, who started celebrating shortly after the election on Saturday.

 

 

Another factor that contributed to APC’s victory was the several opportunities, which leaders of the party in Bayelsa leveraged on. Appointments into key federal agencies brought in a fresh crop of politicians that would mobilize voters and deliver their areas.

 

 

While the victors are savouring their triumph at the polls, Diri condemned the conduct of the election, alleging that results collated by his party’s agents showed that he won the election.

 

 

He also claimed that “members of the PDP were terrorized and arrested by soldiers on the orders of the General Officer Commanding the 6th Division of the Nigerian Army, General Sarham Jamil.”

 

 

Diri, who spoke in company of the National Chairman of the PDP Campaign Council and Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, and the National Vice Chairman of the party, Elder Emmanuel Ogidi, noted that what played out during the election, confirms the earlier red flag the PDP raised days to the poll about plans by the APC to use the army to rig the election.

 

 

He said that despite being posted out of the Niger Delta to the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, General Jamil still supervised the state’s election. He noted that critical stakeholders of the party were harassed and prevented from accessing the collation centre in Ogbia, which is former President Goodluck Jonathan’s local government area.

 

 

Diri added the chairman of the council, Hon. Ebiyon Turner and a serving member of the state House of Assembly representing Ogbia Constituency 11, Hon. Gibson Munalayefa, were all arrested and detained by soldiers.

 

 

He also noted that in Southern Ijaw, PDP members who were travelling to their communities for the election, including Dr. Michael Amaegberi, were apprehended by soldiers at Ogboinbiri, while their APC counterparts were allowed to go scot free.

 

 

“The collation centre in Ogbia was under siege by the Nigerian Army and as we all know that this is against the laws of our land. It is an anathema because the army has no business in determining who goes into a collation centre.

 

 

“In Nembe Local Government Area, materials for wards 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 13 never got to their destinations. Electoral laws are clear on hijacking of electoral materials and so we call on INEC to invoke the relevant laws so that the doctored results will not be accepted.

 

“We have very credible information that the Nigerian Army have been conniving with our opponent, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to hijack the process and manipulate the already known results,” the PDP candidate said during collation of results.

The complaints, notwithstanding, the biggest lesson over the Bayelsa governorship election is that the people wield the ultimate power and not the person they elected to serve them.


Culled from :Here

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