John ODHE, Yenagoa
As the 2023 general elections beckon, with barely eight months to go, surprises are abound as to what the outcomes of the polls would be especially as it concerns the five Federal Houses of Representatives in Bayelsa State.
Gone are the days when candidates of the major political parties would go for thanksgiving in their respective church denominations and organize lavishing grand receptions immediately after picking their party tickets. That era is no more. Political consciousness among political actors including the electorate has outgrown that uncivilized era.
Just as the biblical injunction rightly puts it, politicians who wish to clinch elective positions must work out their political salvations with fear and trembling. As it stands now, winning party ticket is just the very first step of a race to political history. Indeed, there is an evolution in our electoral system. Kudos to the new electoral Act as amended by the National Assembly which now allows for electronic transmission of election results from the polling units INEC’s server.
It is based on the foregoing that Bayelsans are expected to witness some astonishing results from the forthcoming elections. This analysis has special focus on the chances of House of Representatives candidates of the two major political parties to emerge victorious at the end of the polls.
Nembe-Brass Federal Constituency
The Nembe-Brass Federal Constituency is made of Nembe and Brass local government areas. The House of Representatives seat is currently being occupied by Mr. Israel Sunny-Goli of Brass local government area.
Sunny-Goli, who is of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is also the candidate of the APC for the next election on the same position while Mrs. Marie Ebikake also of Brass LGA is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ebikake was also the candidate of the PDP during the 2019 election for the same position but lost to the incumbent who happens to be her rival again come 2023.
The PDP Reps candidate, Ebikake, was quoted recently as saying that her 2019 supposed victory was ‘stolen’ by her archrival, Mr. Sunny-Goli and that she was now ready to reclaim her allegedly stolen mandate.
The incumbent Reps member and candidate of the APC on his part is said to be confident that he is going to replicate his 2019 victory against the PDP and its candidate. The moment of decision shall come in a matter of few months when candidates of all the political parties would go to the polls to test their popularities.
Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Fed Constituency
The Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency comprises two local government areas namely Yenagoa LGA and Kolokuma/Opokuma council areas.
Some of the candidates to look out for during the forthcoming polls are Mr. Oboku Oforji of the PDP and Mr. Ebipade Fekoweimo of the APC.
Oforji, who is the current member representing Yenagoa Constituency 1 in the Bayelsa state House of Assembly is also a former Mayor of Yenagoa Local Government Area. The PDP flag bearer is said to be banking on his deep pocket, his achievements during his short reign as caretaker chairman of YELGA as well his support base in his constituency, which comprises the state capital, to sweep the polls to victory. The odds also favour Oforji to an extent in the sense that the state governor, Senator Douye Diri is from the same federal constituency.
However, political analysts are of the view that having performed optimally as LG chairman, Oforji has not done the same as a lawmaker in terms of vibrancy in the legislative chambers, a factor they said may somewhat affect his chances to proceed to the green chambers since it is a higher legislative task. Another odd factor against the Epie born politician is that he is from a minority in the federal constituency he intends to represent.
On the other hand, Fekoweimo, the APC candidate, who is the current state secretary of his party, had been a state legislator. Although he cannot be said to be one of the moneybags in town, but he is said to be depending on his relationship with the state leader of the APC, former governor and now Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva for support, being and in-law to the Okpoama born politician.
Fekoweimo is also believed to be confident of victory, relying largely on his Ijaw speaking electorate who are in majority, spanning through the whole of Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA and larger part of Yenagoa local government.
Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency
Southern Ijaw LGA has the political liberty of being a federal constituency in the National Assembly. The coveted lower chamber seat is currently being occupied by Mr, Preye Influence Oseke, who is also a candidate of the APC ahead of the 2023 polls. Oseke in 2019 defeated the then Speaker of the Bayelsa state House of Assembly, Mr. Kombowei Benson of the PDP.
As an incumbent, Oseke looks bright to replicate his 2019 outing to retain his position at the National Assembly following his reported fair performance at the green chambers.
Meanwhile, Oseke’s major obstacle may be coming from his PDP rival candidate, Engr. Rodney Ambaiowei, who had been a serial contender for the past two decades but unable to clinch party ticket to stage a general contest with other political parties. Could this be the golden opportunity he had been waiting for? Time shall tell.
Ogbia Federal Constituency
Like the Southern Ijaw council area, Ogbia local government is politically advantaged to be a federal constituency. The people of the area have been rotating the House of Representatives seat amongst the three clans that make up the LGA. This time, the race for the lower house is mainly between the immediate past chairman of Ogbia council area, Mr. Ebinyo Turner of the PDP and a former state representative at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Edi Orubo of the APC.
Political observers say the Reps race in Ogbia will be too close to call because according to analysts, none of the candidates has popularity advantage
over the other. Turner, according to reports from the area, is said not to be enjoying huge support from the electorate following what the people describe as his unimpressive performance as chairman of council for the past three years. It is, however, believed that the PDP standard bearer may have gathered enough cash to prosecute the electioneering process.
By-and-large, the APC candidate is believed to be enjoying the full support of the minister of state for petroleum, Sylva, which may be of great advatage for him in terms of mobilization of the electorate during the campaigns.
Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency
The Sagbama/Ekeremor federal constituency election promises to be quite intriguing. This is owing to the existing sentiments in the minds of the people going to the polls and which may shape the outcome of the election.
The major contenders are the incumbent member, Chief Fred Agbedi of the PDP and a native of Ekeremor LGA and Mr. Michael Olomu of the APC who hails from Sagbama. The underlying sentiment surrounding this particular contest is that many of the electorate from Ekeremor are said not to be pleased with Agbedi for relinquishing his senatorial ambition for Senator Seriake Dickson who is currently representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Senatorial District as against an existing zoning arrangement which, according to them, favours Ekeremor to produce the next Senator.
If the people insist on zoning going into the polls, then Agbedi might be the sacrificial lamb in the event that the people decide to vote a senatorial candidate from Ekeremor and vote a House of Reps candidate from Sagbama as it had always been.
In that situation, it is the APC candidate that may benefit hugely from the seemingly pending political intrigue that is likely going to play out in Sagbama/Ekeremor federal constituency come 2023. Watch out for the surprises.