The two polls, though far away from the 2023 polls, are seen by the two main political parties in the country as a litmus test for the next general elections, and they have thus activated all weapons in their political armories to achieve victory. In Bayelsa, though 45 political parties are fileding candidates for the election, the contest seems to be practically between the PDP and APC.
While the candidate of the PDP, Senator Douye Diri, is believed to have adequate experience to govern the state, having served as the commissioner, House of Representatives member and presently a senator, his main challenger, the APC candidate, David Lyon, is banking on his philanthropic gestures over the years which have endeared him to the people. Lyon, the oil surveillance contractor for multinational companies working in the state, has used the contract to empower many people in the state through provision of jobs and empowerment of youths, women and other people, attracting enormous support and admiration across the state.
When the idea of Lyon contesting for the governorship seat first emerged in August, there was excitement among the people, most of who believe that making him the governor would help reduce their many years of suffering. On the other hand, Senator Diri, the candidate of the PDP who has enjoyed the full support of incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson, having emerged from his ‘Restoration Caucus Family’, is facing some daunting challenges of scaling through during the election. Aside the complaints of Bayelsans that the eight years of Dickson’s administration have brought suffering to the people, they also complain about non-payment of salaries to civil servants, retirees’ benefits, decay in infrastructure and epileptic power supply, thus, the people believe that voting Diri would be a continuation of Dickson and by extension, an addition to their problems. Going by ongoing campaigns of the two major parties, the chances will be equal for both, while the other parties just seem to be in the contest. While Diri enjoys about 80% support from Sagbama, Kolokuma/Opokuma, the APC candidate is very popular in Southern Ijaw, Nembe and Brass. Both candidates may share votes from Yenagoa, Ekeremor and Yenagoa local governments, while the ongoing strife between Dickson and Jonathan’s kinsmen may give Lyon 60 to 70% of the votes in Ogbia LGA. Last week, the mother of former President Jonathan, Eunice Ayi Jonathan, received the APC candidate in her Otuoke home where she prayed for his success.
This caused some confusion for the PDP. APC, PDP on the scale in eight LGs Brass: Before now, Brass was not a favourable ground for the PDP, right from 2012 when the Jonathan-led federal government stopped a son of the area, Chief Timipre Sylva, from continuing his second tenure as governor of the state. In 2014, when other parties merged to form the APC, Sylva led his people to the new party and worked for its success during the presidential election and also delivered one seat in the state assembly for the party in the area. By 2019, the APC had penetrated Brass where they produced a House of Representatives member and two state assembly seats.
With the brilliant outing in 2019, it is believed that the APC will poll 80% of Brass votes. Ekeremor: In Ekeremor LGA, the contest is still open for both major parties with seeming equal chances. A former deputy governor of the state, Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi, who crossed over to APC and a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, are from the area and they will certainly work to deliver the APC in the poll. Kolokuma/Kolokuma:
In Senator Diri’s local government, the PDP is sure of 80% of the votes, despite the fact that the area has the least voting strength in the state, but they will most likely vote for their son to become the next governor, having not produced a governor since the creation of the state.
The recent removal of their son, Tonye Emmanuel Isenah, as speaker of the House of Assembly is a minus for the PDP in the area. Nembe: Traditionally the stronghold of the APC during the last presidential, national and state assembly elections, Nembe delivered almost all the APC candidates including Senator Degi, the deputy governorship candidate of the party.
The local government which is one of the areas with high number of voters will put their votes in bulk for David Lyon and the APC. Obviously, based on the observation, it will be difficult for the PDP to garner 20% of votes from there. Ogbia: Before now, the local government was a stronghold of the PDP, the party that produced all political office holders in the area.
But the narrative changed during the last National Assembly election where the people rejected a senatorial candidate allegedly foisted on them by Governor Dickson and opted for the APC candidate, a situation that made PDP to lose Bayelsa East Senatorial seat to the APC. A repeat of the same scenario is imminent.
Ogbia people are already sympathetic to the APC because of how Dickson overrided Jonathan to bring in Douye Diri as the governorship candidate. Most of the political actors in the area have already decamped from the PDP to the APC while others are still in the PDP working for the APC. Lyon is sure of at least 60% of votes in the area. Sagbama: This is Governor Dickson’s home local government.
The deputy governorship candidate of the PDP, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, is also from the area. Here, the PDP may not have any opposition, and is sure of at least 90% of votes. For now, Sagbama is the stronghold of the PDP.
Southern Ijaw: David Lyon’s home local government, where the APC is very popular. During the National Assembly election earlier in the year, the party’s candidate, Preye Oseke, defeated the then Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Konbowei Benson, for the House of Representatives seat.
The APC at the moment has taken over all the villages of Southern Ijaw, and it is sure of at least 90% of the votes there. The area has the second highest voting strength. Yenagoa: The state capital, it has the highest concentration of people and highest voting strength, but the two dominant parties have equal chances here.
No candidate from Yenagoa is contesting the election and the local government area does not have much stake and interest in the election. INEC’s preparation in Bayelsa INEC has been working round the clock to ensure a hitch-free election in the state. It has been engaging stakeholders and other interest groups to ensure a credible and peaceful election,
Daily Trust on Sunday’s findings revealed. During the week, the commission carried out a series of trainings for people that will be involved in the election. Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting in Yenagoa, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, reiterated the commission’s readiness to conduct a free, fair, credible and conclusive poll for the people of the state.
He said the commission had delivered all non-sensitive materials to its office in Yenagoa.
He said: “The materials have been sorted out, categorized and batched, ready to be delivered to the LGAs, wards and polling units.
“The sensitive materials are also ready and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is delivering them to Bayelsa State this weekend.
“Voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units is a violation of the law. The ban on use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force and will be strictly enforced and monitored.