The 2019 National Assembly election in Bayelsa state came with great surprises. From 1999 when Nigeria began her uninterrupted practice of democracy, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been producing all members representing the state at the National Assembly both in the upper and lower houses. No other political party has been able to challenge the ruling party to the point of losing any National Assembly seat.
As the 2019 general elections were approaching, the PDP and their teaming supporters, as usual, had the presuppositions that they would sweep the polls. Not many of them had the premonition of a possible political earthquak. At the end of the polls, the PDP was shocked. No thanks to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) whose political incursion into the camp of the ruling party in the state was unprecedented.
As the results trickled in from the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Bayelsans especially members of the PDP watched with consternations as the APC clinched three National Assembly seats, a feat that no other political party had been able to reach in the state. It's a sign that should worry the PDP. It's a sign that the PDP may have lost its claws of political hegemony which it has maintained over the years.
Out of the three senatorial districts in the state, the APC was able to grab one seat. Bishop Biobarakumo Degi- Erimienyo of the APC is the hero. He defeated the PDP candidate, Chief Blessing Izagara and other candidates to win the Bayelsa East senatorial district. It has never happened in the history of the state. The PDP, however, kicked against the outcome of that senatorial election and proceeded to the election petition tribunal now sitting in Abuja.
Also, it was the APC candidate, Mr. Israel Sunny-Goli who defeated the candidate of the PDP, Mrs. Marie Ebikake and others to become member-elect for Brass/Nembe Federal Constituency. It was a fierce political battle between the ruling party and the APC with the PDP alleging that there was no election at Bassambiri in Nembe local government area. The PDP has since approached the election tribunal court to challenge the outcome of the contest. But Sunny-Goli remains a hero here.
What is considered by political pundits as the greatest victory for the Bayelsa APC in the 2019 National Assembly elections is the triumph of Mr. Preye Oseke over the outgone speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Friday Kombowei Benson of the PDP. Both candidates contested for the Southern Ijaw federal constituency with regards to the APC candidate as an underdog.
Oseke's electoral victory over a sitting speaker of the state assembly did not come to many as a surprise. Some of the constituents are of the view that there was a disenchantment between the speaker and his people while he held sway as lawmaker for twelve years within which he served as speaker for over seven years. The speaker and his party are however at the tribunal court challenging Oseke's victory at the polls.
Meanwhile, many of his constituents believe that Oseke's good works worked for him at the polls. They believe that he had been in direct touch with his people who reciprocated his good relationship with them during the elections.
One of the constituents, Mr. Okele Preye who spoke to TNN over the telephone described the House of Representatives member as a man of the people and grassroots politician who could not have lost election to any opponents under a free and fair circumstance. He stressed that elections are won by majority votes and not by big names who do not want to impact their subjects positively but be blind to the plights of their people.
Okele said: "Hon. Preye Oseke is a man that is loved by his people. He did not win the election based on his financial strength but he is a young man whom the people love so much. Hon. Preye Oseke is a jovial man and a philanthropist. He can stand any day, anytime for his people and he is related to almost all the communities in southern Ijaw local government area.
"Hon. Oseke is not just limited to his father land. Anywhere he goes, he exhibits his philanthropic character, his uniqueness and humility. These are the traits that make his people love him and they exhibited that love during the elections at the polling units. He is a good man. He won his election un merit".
As Nigerians witness the 9th national assembly put in place for another session of legislative business, the APC in Bayelsa state are so happy that her members are part of those who will be discussing issues that concern the development of the state and Nigeria at both houses of the national assembly for the first time. It is heroic indeed
Dr Sandy Onor
This man can spring surprises. He got into the contest in a way that shocked many. One of those who contested for the Cross River Central seat with him even told people that Onor, an associate professor, will be contesting with contributions from friends, while he will be contesting the election with his own money. Onor won, he lost.
Within the PDP where he belongs, not many people gave him a chance that he could even pick the party's ticket. They wrote him off, largely because the person who sought the same PDP ticket was a personal, long time friend of the governor. It was inconceivable that Onor could get the ticket. But against all odds, he got the ticket. The other person lost out. Onor, popularly called the original caterpillar, is therefore a hero, bulldozing his way into the National Assembly, with the people's support.
Sandy Onor and Alex Egbona: Two friends, two parties, two arms of National Assembly, same vision
Anybody who knows Dr Alex Egbona and Dr Sandy Onor knows that the duo are inseparable friends. In fact, their close associates would always say that anytime you visit either of them and could not find them at home, your best bet is to reach either of them and you are very likely to locate them somewhere, together. They are just very close.
Which is why there was confusion when the duo, from same senatorial district, sought to go to the National Assembly under different party platforms-Egbona under the APC and Onor under the PDP. What it meant was that since Egbona's federal constituency was under Onor's senatorial district, it would be a difficult task for them to support each other to victory. But it happened. Political analysts call their victory a miracle. Two of them emerged victorious despite the torrents of opposition. And they are taking their friendship to the National Assembly.
It is very likely that two of them will always drive together to the National Assembly. While one will veer towards the left, to the red chambers, the other will go to the right wing of the National Assembly, to the green chambers. This is one friendship that could not be separated by politics. They are both heroes
He did not fly to the National Assembly on the wings of his political influence, neither did he bag his victory at the polls through the weight of a godfather. His journey to the National Assembly is tied to his success as a resourceful and succesful businessman and an amicable citizen, who has contributed significantly to the socio-economic and political advancement of Ukanafun Local Government Area, where he comes from, and Akwa Ibom by extension.
For one, Unyime Idem, Managing Director and chief executive officer of Idems Ultimate, a telecommunications business conglomerate, has employed about 70 per cent of his staff from Ukanafun, and has sponsored and supported many candidates to various public offices in the state.
A financial member of Akpabio/Nsima Campaign Organization in 2011 and a member of Udom/Moses in 2015, his wealth and social standing, not withstanding, Idem is humble and unassuming. Therefore when he finally yielded to pressure by political stakeholders from his local government to contest for the Ukanafun/ Oruk Anam Federal Constituency seat against a former special assistant to the Governor on Grassroots mobilization, Ndianabasi Nana Udom, the people rose massively behind him, hence, what pundits describe as the freest and most credible election in Ukanafun.
For one, the rotation and zoning of the seat favours him. As the seat is zoned to Ukanafun after the outgoing Emmanuel Ukoete. Who came from Oruk Anam. Again, the micro zoning also favour him as it is as it rotate to Afaha and zoned to ward 8 where he comes from.
After the party primary (PDP) , the loser demonstrated political maturity and sportsmanship by embracing the winner and consequently emptied his support base to Idem. And finally, when the general election came, the PDP won the election and cleared the coast to the National Assembly.
He was not actively involved in the political scene after his resignation from the office of the deputy governor, during the Obong Attah's administration, though he has always been a recurring decimal in the politics of Obot Akara, especially electioneering activities.
Chris Ekpenyong had long retired to his private life, where he manages his hospitality business, EEMJM Hotel along Dominic Utuks Avenue, Uyo, as well as his large farm in his village, until mid 2019, when he declared his interest to vie for the Senatorial Office.
To many, especially those familiar with the political terrain in Akwa Ibom, Ekpenyong appeared as another joker, as nobody thought he could wrestle power from the hands of Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, who, until recently, was seen as the most influential political masquerade in the senatorial district and even beyond.
Gradually, the coast became clearer when Akpabio defected to the All Progressive Congress (APC), in what pundits described as an uncommon defection, leaving him as the sole candidate in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District election in that party.
Ekpenyong's journey to the senate, can be described as both a product of a child of necessity and a child of circumstance. Necessity in the sense that political stakeholders in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District wanted to prove to Akpabio that he does not custody their political destiny.
For one, when he defected the APC, impeccable findings show that he did not consult his people, even those who made him a political god. Two, he did not also campaign for support from the grassroots, believing that his popularity and influence will sweep the Senatorial District for him. Therefore, miffed by what they described as humiliating arrogance, political elders in the senatorial district, even in his kinsmen, ganged-up against him and gave their support for Ekpenyong, who ordinarily could not muster the political war chest and resources to challenge Akpabio. His election was just like the fight between the biblical David and Goliath, with Ekpenyong representing David. He won. He is the hero..
Betty Okagua Apiafi
She did not only break a record but Betty Okagua Apiafi did the impossible by debasing a political juggernaut in his own jurisdiction.
During a gathering of a political caucus ahead of the 2019 general elections, the supposed flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Osinakachukwu Thankgod Ideozu, who was commissioner for finance during the first term of the then Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi, made a quick shift, dumping the Peoples Democratic Party for the All Progressives Congress, APC, alongside two other senators.
Report has it that the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, who was warming up for his re-election into the office of the governor for his second term did everything within his power to stop Osinakachukwu from joining the likes of Andrew Uchendu of Rivers East and Magnus Abe of Rivers South East into the APC. Little did he know that the “She” David was being prepared for the battle against Goliath. Ideozu's exit from the PDP turned out to be an advantage for Apiafi, who have had her second term in the House of Representatives.
Betty Okagua Apiafi's victory was described by members of the PDP as a heavy payback blow to her opponent, Ideozu, for dumping PDP for APC in October last year. She is the only woman who was able to trounce his male contenders to emerge winner of the senate election. Her fans call her heroine. And she is truly a heroine.