Except for a last minute shift in the October 31 date of the bye-election into the two vacant seats of Bayelsa West and Central senatorial districts of Bayelsa State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) due to the rising flood that had sacked communities in the two senatorial districts of the state,
The APC and PDP leadership in the state have stepped up their games with intensified mobilizations, reconciliation, campaign, endorsements and show of readiness for the coming poll.
Like all other elections between the two leading political parties, it has become a personal battle for control and show of strength.
For a fact, readiness and show of seriousness by the PDP and APC for the October 31 poll, was shown in the ways and manners the candidates of the parties emerged. The disposition of the leaders of the two parties were same.
The APC presented Chief Abel Ebifemowei, who is a relative of the first executive Governor of the State, late Chief Diepreye Solomon Alameisegha, for the Central Senatorial district and Rt Hon Peremobowei Ebebi, a former speaker and former Deputy Governor of the State, for the Bayelsa West Senatorial district.
While the PDP presented the immediate past Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon Seriake Dickson and the immediate past State Chairman of the Party, Cleopas Moses.
Both the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and the State Governor, Senator Douye Diri agreed and declared that the style of primaries and caliber of candidates that emerged showed they were out to select their best.
According to Douye Diri, “We are presenting our best in the election. The former governor is highly experienced in the legislature and running of executive arm. A lawyer too. Our former chairman, is a good party man with oratory power and great leadership skill. They will be good representatives in the Senate and strong Bayelsa voice and Ijaw nation.”
For Sylva, who doubles as the State leader of the APC, congratulated the Party for a peaceful conduct of primaries, “I congratulate Chief Abel Ebifemowei and Rt Hon Peremobowei Ebebi for getting the confidence of our great party to lead the race for Bayelsa Central and West Senatorial zones respectively. I am confident they will be good ambassadors. They will represent the party well and, ultimately, our dear state.
“I am touched by the positive spirit other aspirants showed. The yearning for progress, the patriotism, the loyalty and love for party is a clear testament of their quality. They are a pointer that we, as a party, as a people are on course because we are made up of remarkable men and women.
Political observers, who had predicted a new crisis within the APC ahead of the Primaries, however made a u-turn and commended the party leadership led by Chief Timipre Sylva, for the election of known and tested politicians in Ebebi and Ebifemowei.
Sylva got it right this time as he got the nomination of Chief David Lyon right during the Governorship election.”
For many indigenes of the state, political stakeholders and observers, the conclusion of party nominations by the APC and PDP, signal the flag off of show time and battle royale to be witnessed during the bye-election fixed for October 31.
According to Political Analysts, despite the controversies over the power rotational agreement among stakeholders, from Ekeremor and Sagbama local government areas of the Bayelsa West Senatorial district, the issues of past achievement, tribal sentiments and past goodwill to the people of the state, may end up playing a vital role in who becomes the Senatorial candidate needed to fill the vacant seats in the state.
The members of the PDP from the Sagbama and Ekeremor decided not to pick the party’s nomination form, as a mark of honour to the former Governor who enjoys unprecedented acceptability and popularity in the area.
Speaking shortly after his return as the PDP Senatorial Candidate, Chief Dickson commended the people for their unflinching dedication, loyalty, support and prayers throughout his eight years as governor, and for finding him worthy of another serious mission.
The former governor, commended the party supporters from the senatorial district for the honour given to him to have the party’s ticket in spite of several top political leaders who are qualified for the contest.
Chief Dickson praised the people for leaving all their engagements trooping out in the rain to welcome him back to the senatorial district. The former governor who promised the people that he would not fail them, said that Bayelsa West, Bayelsa and indeed the Ijaw nation needed a very strong voice and representation at the National Assembly, especially at a time when controversial bills like the Water Resources bill were being reintroduced into the National Assembly.
He said that he had always been in the vanguard of the defence of the people on sensitive matters such as the water resources bill, restructuring, resource control, revenue allocation and others. Chief Dickson called on the people of Ekeremor and Sagbama, the two local government areas making up the senatorial district, to be resolute in defence of the long standing power sharing agreement between the two local government areas making up the district.
He advised the people to resist those who were out to destroy the prevailing peace and unity between the members of the two communities. “I am a proponent of the zoning. This will make Sagbama and Ekeremor become more united in the interest of posterity. I will spearhead it. We will defeat those who are working against the interest of the Ijaw nation. After the primaries, there should be operation deliver your unit, ward, your community.
“The unity of Ekeremor and Sagbama should be sustained. We should not subvert the unity of our people because of individual selfish interest of some persons. There are a lot of battles at the National Assembly, the voice of the Ijaw nation should be heard. This election is for the unity of our people, it is not about me. Sagbama and Ekeremor unity will triumph.”
Already, the Leaders of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), are engaging themselves and insisting that the party flag bearers will win the elections.
While the PDP insists that with the emergence of the Former Deputy Governor, Rt Hon Peremobowei Ebebi to breach an existing gentleman’s agreement between the people of Sagbama and Ekeremor Local government areas, on issues of power rotation of National Assembly positions.
The Special Adviser to Governor Douye Diri on Political Matters, Chief Collins Cocordia, while speaking in Sagbama Council Area on the emergence of Governor Seriake Dickson as candidate of the PDP, said with the deliberate breach of such agreement by the APC,” there is no contest in the bye-election. The APC candidate will be roundly rejected.’
“‘Why he wants to destroy the agreement between Sagbama/Ekeremor we don’t know. But the people of the two local government councils will vote against him. You can quote me on this and put me to test after the election. Ebebi signed the agreement and he wants to betray such agreement.”
But a chieftain of the APC from Sagbama, Chief Perekeme Kpodoh, faulted the claims of the PDP on issue of rotation, insisting that though some political stakeholders met and resolved to uphold the existing gentleman agreement between Sagbama and Ekeremor people,” but the issue which was raised recently was pre-planned by his former aides and PDP members to satisfy the whims and caprices of their pay masters. It cannot be binding on APC leaders.
“In the spirit of true rotation, when the former governor finished spending eight years as governor, the new deputy governor slot should have gone to Ekeremor. Why didn’t they replace a deputy to Ekeremor and get to complete the Senate Seat for Sagbama. Those who adopted the gentleman agreement at the meeting in Sagbama were PDP members and they hoodwinked those at the meeting with rhetorics.
“And they claimed it should be binding on all those that attended. They claimed Chief Peremobowei Ebebi was once a deputy governor. Ebebi’s emergence was not by the people but by the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. But it did not last. When Governor Dickson was governor, how many commissioner slots did he give to the Ekeremor people? He gave Sagbama over six slots and gave Ekeremor people less than three.”
But the Bayelsa State governor, Senator Douye Diri, who seems to be the special coordinator of the PDP campaign in the two senatorial districts, described his predecessor, Chief Seriake Dickson, as a perfect fit to represent Bayelsa West in the Senate.
Governor Diri noted that the Senate needs men with pedigree and character, qualities he said the former governor possesses, “the meritorious service of the immediate past governor to the state and the people of Bayelsa West also makes him deserving of the position at the red chambers”.
He expressed optimism that the former governor will deliver on his mandate, if given the chance and called on the people of Bayelsa West to rally round him to make his ambition a reality. Importantly, I believe that the former governor served his heart out and for that reason everybody that matters in Bayelsa West politically have decided that this is where we will remain come rain come sun”.
“For me, it is a period of reflection as our leader, the former governor, has done well serving our state meritoriously and the senatorial district. If he had not done well, I don’t believe that all these elders and leaders will gather today to be inaugurated for service again by our former governor at the National Assembly”.
The strength and weaknesses of the candidates of the APC and the PDP lies in the unity and strength of its membership.
In the words of a Chieftain of the APC, Chief Perekeme Kpodoh, the efforts of the leadership of the party is commendable. The leaders and supporters of the party in the state, are more prepared to win the two National Assembly seats of West and Central Senatorial districts, “APC is more organised than before. Am happy that the party is more united and focused.
“Coupled with the Reconciliation Committee set up by the Interim National Committee of the party, if well taken care of, it will prepare the party coming together. It will unify the party to have a formidable ground for any other elections in the state. But for now, they should come together and form a formidable force and form a party because if we are not divided, PDP will not take it from us.”
Already, a look at the Campaign Council set up for the Bayelsa Central Senatorial district, showed a re-alignment of all the political forces that worked for the lost victory of the opposition party during the last Governorship election.
Ahead of the October 31 Senatorial Districts elections, the All Progressives Congress – APC in Bayelsa State has constituted the Chief Abel Ebifemowei Campaign Council for the party, with Dr Parkinson Markmanuel as director- general and Hon Preye Oseke as Alternate Director General.
The campaign council also has Mr Diepreye Leghemo and Hon Preye Pius Ozori as director and secretary of Operations respectively; Finance and Administration has Dr Isari Peregbe as director and Hon Joseph Alakere as secretary; Security has Dr Ebikitin Sunday Diongoli as director and Hon Barafakumo Otobo as secretary.
According to the statement by the state secretary of the party, Alabo Martins, Honourable Allison Theodore is to serve as director – Media and Publicity and Mrs Isari Tari-Abadani as secretary; NGOs has Honourable Sonme Ogilogi as director and Ebi Alamieyeseigha as secretary; Dr Funwei Rowland is to serve as head of medical and Dr Agoro Nathan – secretary.
For the PDP, the same unity of purpose displayed after the Supreme Court handed them the Governorship mandate with Senator Douye Diri as Governor, has been a propelling force into the two bye-elections for the senate seats.
In the words of the state governor, Senator Douye Diri, while inaugurating the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) campaign council for the Central senatorial district, announced a veteran politician, Chief Diekivie Oboh, as director-general with a former speaker of the House of Assembly and current secretary to the State Government, Dr Konbowei Benson as deputy director-general (Administration) and Engr Ebiye Tarabina as deputy director-general (Operations).
Diri expressed the optimism that the PDP would retain the seat he vacated, after he was sworn in as governor on February 14. He described the candidate of the party, Moses Cleopas, as eminently qualified to represent the people of the district in the Senate.
Diri commended the party faithful for the peaceful and transparent conduct of the primary election, which he said proved naysayers wrong. He observed that over time, the PDP has proved to be a truly democratic party with a history of producing qualified candidates, stressing that politics was not about violence and imposition but about the people as was seen in the recent election in Edo State.
The governor charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to build on the gains of the Edo poll, by ensuring that the will of the people of Bayelsa Central prevailed over those of godfathers.
He said: “I want to thank the Central Senatorial District for the peaceful manner in which it conducted its own senatorial primaries and the democratic way we are trying to show the other party how to conduct elections. Internal democracy is very important in the democratic process and we have proved that as a party we are disciplined and ready to do what is right.
“I am not unaware that the other side was praying that at the end of that contest PDP will be divided. But as it stands today, we are more united and our candidate in the central senatorial district has all it takes in terms of experience, attitude and education. I have no doubt that he can stand tall in the red chambers.
“For those who think that politics is all about violence, there is a new dawn in Nigeria. We all saw what just happened in Edo State. We believe that with what INEC has done in Edo, it will do the same in this bye-election. We expect that the process will be fair and transparent.”
Already, the choices of the two leading political parties are being faced with litigations over issues of qualifications ahead of the poll. Even the former Governor of the State, Hon Seriake Dickson is not left out.
Also reported to have been dragged before a court of law is the candidate of the APC for Bayelsa Central, Chief Abel Ebifemowei. He is alleged to have a pending case with the Nigerian Air force where he initially served. But the writ of summon is yet to be made public.
A kinsman of a former Bayelsa Governor Seriake Dickson, had filed a suit at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja seeking his disqualification from contesting the forthcoming bye-election in Bayelsa West Senatorial District.
Owoupele Eneoriekumoh, who hails from Dickson’s Sagbama Local Government Area, is alleging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Form EC9, which Dickson, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the election, submitted to the commission, contained false information.
The suit, which named INEC, PDP, and Dickson as defendants, was filed by the plaintiff’s lawyers, P.D. Pius, E.A. Aluzu, C.I. Okorie, and M.M. Aliyu.
The kinsman is asking the court to make a declaration that the combined interpretation of the provisions of Section 31(1)(5)(6) of Electoral Act, 2010 as amended and Section 66 (1)(i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, Dickson’s INEC Form EC9 contained false information and forged certificate and that the former governor should be disqualified from the senatorial election scheduled for October 31.
The plaintiff is also seeking a declaration that the former governor lied on oath and should be disqualified from the election in line with the provisions of Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2010, and Section 66 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
He further asked the court to declare that Dickson’s presentation of various certificates and documents bearing different names such as ‘Dickson Seriake’, ‘Henry Seriake Dickson’, ‘Seriake Dickson’ and ‘Dickson Seriaki’, without any valid change of name amounted to giving false information under section 31(5) of the Electoral Act as amended.
He prayed the court to make a declaration that Dickson’s statement that he did not attend primary school and had no first school leaving certificate, is false and he ought to be disqualified for giving false information under section 31(5) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.
The plaintiff also urged the court to declare that since Dickson averred that he obtained the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) certificate in 1993, the presentation of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) statement of result issued to ‘Dickson Seriaki’ on 10/1/2006 for a 1993 examination amounted to giving false information to INEC.