In this concluding part of our analysis of the chances of the various aspirants vying for the PDP ticket, JOHN ODHE takes a look at other contenders who are also seeking to be selected by the party delegates.
Senator Emmanuel Paulker is a freeborn of Opolo community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state. Opolo is one of the Epie-Atissa communities that form the Yenagoa metropolis. Paulker is also a frontline contender in the race for the PDP ticket and many factors may speak in his favour. One, the principle of equity and fairness may be the joker for the former commissioner for lands and housing. It is on record that Epie-Atissa where Paulker comes from, which is also the where the headquarters of the state is located, is yet to produce the governor.
Secondly, Paulker is from Bayelsa central senatorial district whose turn it is to produce the next governor in line with the PDP's power sharing formula. Third, Paulker remains the longest serving senator in Bayelsa state. He spent 12 years in the upper chambers of the National Assembly and is deemed to be very popular among his people. What that implies is that the former national legislator has acquired the needed leadership experience to govern a state.
Apart from gathering experience, his constituents have testified that Paulker did not only attract projects to Bayelsa central which he represented between 2007 and 2019, but also touched individual lives positively in the senatorial district. "There is no community in the whole of Bayelsa central senatorial district where you will not see a project initiated and executed by Senator Paulker. Paulker is a selfless leader. He touched the lives of many of his constituents both the elderly and the youths," said the paramount ruler of Yenaka community in Yenagoa Local Government, Chief Ovie Omeleh. Paulker is also known to be Goodluck Jonathan's man Friday.
Those who should know believe that he is a grassroots politician and having paid his dues in the party and in the state generally, he has the ears and heart of most of the delegates. His simplicity and friendly disposition is said to another plus for him. One of his fans described him as a man who keeps to his words.
Nonetheless, his greatest challenge will be the number of aspirants coming from Yenagoa. As it stands, Yenagoa has three other aspirants excluding, Paulker, on the platform of the PDP, out of which one is a restoration caucus anointed.
Friday Kombowei Benson,Ph.D, is the immediate past speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, from Korokorosei in the Southern Ijaw Local Government area of the state. Benson is another bosom friend of Governor Seriake Dickson. At the party level, Benson is unarguably a committed party man. He served for 12 years in the state legislature as member representing Southern Ijaw Constituency 1V. Out of this, he spent seven and a half years as speaker.
But the former speaker has popularity and acceptability issue. Benson needs to convince the delegates to vote for him despite and overlook what his critics call his abysmal performance at the 2019 general election where he contested for the Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency seat and failed. He contested on the platform of the PDP against his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Mr. Preye Oseke. The former lawmaker was roundly trounced by Oseke who is considered a political neophyte. The former speaker's defeat at the polls even in his own local government, by the APC, is being construed as a sign of his unpopularity.
Already, the national leadership of the PDP has vowed not to gamble with the gubernatorial ticket of the party, considering the emerging strong opposition in the state. The party has said that it will settle for nothing less than the most popular and accepted candidate that would win the general election for the party without much stress. This might pose a serious threat to Benson becoming the standard bearer of the PDP. Analysts say he has no chance at all.
Talford Ongolo, a lawyer, is not a neophyte in the game of politics. He is politically mature and experienced. Far back in the old Rivers state, Ongolo was elected a lawmaker and became speaker of the then Rivers State House of Assembly. In Bayelsa State, the legal practitioner has held many political positions including chairman, Bayelsa state civil service reform committee, among others.
Ongolo is the current Chief of Staff, Government House. He is not only a bosom friend of the governor but a key member of the restoration caucus. That is why many people were not surprised when he found his name on the three-man list of aspirants that found favour in the eyes of the restoration team and were asked to go to Abuja and pick up the PDP interest form.
Many factors are speaking for the governorship ambition of the Bayelsa State Chief of Staff. One, he is from Southern Ijaw, the largest local government area of the state. Secondly, Southern Ijaw is in Bayelsa central senatorial district from which the PDP is most assuredly going to pick its governorship flagbearer for the 2019 gubernatorial race. Thirdly, he is one of those Dickson wants as his successor.
However, Ongolo should have some reasons to be worried following recent happenings within the PDP. From critical observations, political analysts say it seems that the restoration ship steered by the 'Oforumapepe' is about to anchor on a different seaport other than that of Ongolo. There are strong indications that the governor and his team are looking a different direction though within the restoration caucus, to pick who they will support.
'General' Joshua Maciver is a former Niger Delta freedom fighter. He ventured into politics lately and was appointed caretaker chairman of Southern Ijaw local government area by Dickson. Though he is being considered a political underdog in the race, Maciver is banking on his philanthropic works and his friendliness with the youths in the state and his ability to reach out to clinch the party ticket.
On the other hand, the former militant's chances to get the PDP ticket, according to political thinkers, are slim. First, the former Niger Delta agitator is not a mainstream politician that would be able to galvanize the party delegates to vote for him at the primaries. Moreover, Maciver and Dickson have become two strange bed fellows of recent. That means he won't get any support from the governor, neither would Dickson consider his aspiration for anything.
Meanwhile the state governor and leader of the PDP in the state, Mr. Seriake Dickson has not reneged on his resolve to ensure that the PDP flagbearer for the forthcoming governorship election emerge from his political camp, within the party.
He has vowed to do anything humanly possible to produce his successor. He is not pretending about it. His recent comments had said it all. He said few days from now, he would make a statement that would make everyone to understand his own direction clearly. More intrigues are expected as the party primaries draw closer.