Unarguably, Southern Ijaw is the most populated local government area in Bayelsa State. Political office seekers also know that a comfortable win here, could just do the magic. That was what happened in 2016, during the last governorship election. Southern Ijaw it was, that decided the winning governor.
About the end of next year, Bayelsans will file out again to vote for the person that will succeed Seriake Dickson. And, strong contenders from Southern Ijaw are already beginning to indicate the interest. Even though people from other local governments are also interested in the position, stakeholders from Southern Ijaw appear resolute to take the seat. Can they?
We begin a series today as we x-ray some of the contenders. In our subsequent editions, we shall look deeper into the contenders, with a view to making known how they stand in the eyes of the electorate.
Prof Erepamo Franklin Osaisai
Osaisai was born on October 1, 1958. He is a nuclear energy scientist. He had his secondary education in Bayelsa State, where he obtained the West Africa School Certificate (WASC) in June 1977. He attended the University of Port Harcourt where he obtained a Bachelor of science (B.sc) degree in Chemistry from the School of Chemical Sciences of the university in May 1981. He later received a graduate scholarship award that earned him a master's and Doctorate (P.hD) degree in nuclear engineering from the University of California. He started his career at the University of California as a lecturer before he joined the service of the University of Port Harcourt where he specialized in Nuclear Reactor Engineering. He later became the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) under the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He had served in several professional organizations. He is very well exposed. He once presented himself for this office in the early days of the current democratic experiment. But his country man, the late D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha eventually got it. Osaisai was to emerge the state commissioner for works. He used the position to prove his worth. Most of the roads constructed under that government were done under his supervision. He is level headed, a good manager of human beings. He served meritoriously as chairman of the atomic energy commission. He is of the PDP, a son of Southern Ijaw.
There is hardly anyone who has been involved in the running of the Bayelsa State government from inception till now, like Akedesuo. Akedesuo has been there from the days of Alamieyeseigha and has served as head of protocol, permanent secretary and all. His knowledge of the running of government will be an advantage if he decides to run. He belongs to the PDP.
Benson is currently the speaker of the state house of assembly. He is also a son of Southern Ijaw. If he decides to run, as it is being speculated, Benson will be expected to bring to bear, his experience in the running of the legislative arm of government. How far he can go is uncertain.
Ongolo is a lawyer. He got into political limelight when he was elected speaker of the old Rivers State house of assembly. Since then, Ongolo has been a major voice in the affairs of his state. At the moment, he is the chief of staff, Government House, Yenagoa. There are speculations that he is one of those interested in the office of governor. Ongolo is a member of the ruling PDP in Bayelsa State.
Dr. Godknows Boladei Igali was born in Oporoma town, headquarters of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State of Nigeria on 4 April 1960. He hails from Eniwari town in Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa State. He holds a Ph.D in Political and International Studies, from University of Venezuela, Masters in International Law and Diplomacy (MILD) from University of Lagos and B.A. (Hons) History from University of Port Harcourt. He also has a Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations and undertook professional studies at the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy and the Diplomatic Academy, Islamabad, Pakistan. He is an author and expert on Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, State Formation, National Integration and Sustainable Development. In 2005 he received the national honours of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON). He is married to Mrs. Tokoni Igali and they have four daughters and a son. He holds a chieftaincy title the Ibetariwei "Guardian of the Interests" of Izon. He underwent theological studies under late Bishop Harford Iloputaife at the Bible Faith Training Centre in Lagos in 1989. Igali is a career diplomat and has served all around the world since joining the Foreign Service in 1982. He is a member of the PDP.