On November 16, the people of Bayelsa will file out to vote for the person that will succeed the current governor, Seriake Dickson. Our correspondent, JOHN ODHE takes a look at each of the eight local government areas and how each of the candidates-Douye Diri of the PDP and David Lyon of the APC- will fare at the election
Sagbama, with a total of 87,242, is the local government area of the outgoing governor, Seriake Dickson and the running mate to the PDP candidate, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor. Dickson has not pretended about his vested interest in the outcome of the polls. The incumbent governor has repeatedly advised those who think he would be indifferent because he is not on the ballot to have a rethink. He said in one of the PDP stakeholders meetings that in case some people don’t know, “l am on the ballot”. Indeed, Dickson is quite interested in who succeeds him. As a result, the governor will ensure that a higher percentage of the votes in that local government would be delivered to the PDP. Diri’s running mate is also from here. The PDP is very likely to win here.
Kolokuma/Opokuma is the smallest local government council in the state. For now, it has 39,748 registered voters. KOLGA, no doubt, will be a focal point to many political observers during the polls for some peculiar reasons that may shape the results from the local government. Diri, the PDP governorship candidate is from KOLGA. Under normal circumstances, the ruling party is supposed to clear very large percentage of the votes in this local government. However, the party has some forces to contend with if it must record a successful outing at KOLGA. For insurance, a very influential politician and one of the favourite governorship aspirants under the PDP, Chief Timi Laibe is from KOLGA. Pundits are of the fears that like a wounded lion, Alaibe may use his influence in the LGA to play the spoiler game. Another worrisome factor that may work against the chances of the PDP in KOLGA is the recent impeachment of Mr. Tonye Isenah as Speaker of the State House of Assembly. A native of Odi, the largest community in KOLGA, lsenah may work underground against his party, the PDP. The APC may benefit from the confusion within the camp of the PDP, in this local government,
Ekeremor is in Bayelsa West, the same senatorial district of the incumbent governor and the running mate to the PDP candidate. Therefore, the ruling party stands a better chance to garner more votes out of the 93,774 registered voters in the local government. One factor that may work for the PDP in Ekeremor is the internal wrangling between Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and his party, APC. Lokpobiri, who was one of the highly ratied governorship aspirants of the APC, is currently in court, challenging the outcome of his party’s primary election. He might as well work against his party at the polls. But again, Chief Afred Agbedi who is from Ekeremor, is also angry with the PDP over the outcome of the primary election. It is not clear where Peremobowei Ebebi, another chieftain from Ekeremor, really stands. But he is equally angry with the PDP. The APC and the PDP is likely to share votes from this local government, perhaps in the ration of 50:50.
Southern Ijaw is the local government area of the gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Chief David Lyon. As the November 16 governorship election is concerned, the people of SILGA are said to have made up their minds to give bloc votes to their own irrespective of party affiliation. The reason, it was learnt, is to allow development reach the hinterlands of the LGA which is seriously suffering from lack of accessibility due to lack of roads. With 129, 827 registered voters, Southern Ijaw is expected to be an APC stronghold with near hundred percent result and this is largely because of the heavyweights from the party, in that local government. Virtually all the ex militants are from this local government and they have not hidden their support for the APC. The APC will win here.
Brass, local government area, with a total of 56,634 registered voters, is home of the former governor and leader of the All Progressives Congress in the state, Chief Timipre Sylva who is now Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. Sylva, who is highly respected and loved by his people is expected to deliver a larger chunk of the votes to his party to brighten its chances of wrestling power from the ruling PDP that has ruled the state since the inception of civilian government in1999. In 2015, it was only in Brass that the APC was able to win. This time, nothing will change. During the last general election, the APC made a serious impact. The APC will clear the votes in Brass.
Nembe local government area is yet another comfort zone of the APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial election. Different factors point to this assertion. For insurance, the running mate to the APC candidate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo is from the local government. He is very highly respected and revered. He has a very large followership in Nembe. Added to this is the fact that Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange is also from Nembe and he has already sworn to deal with thePDP in his local government. He joined the APC a few weeks ago. Also going to play an advantageous role for the APC is the frosty relationship existing between the deputy governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John-Jonah and his party. It is not clear whether the deputy governor, who is said to be aggrieved with the process in which the PDP primary election was conducted, would wholeheartedly work for the success of his party . John-Jonah was one of his party’s governorship aspirants but fell out of governor Dickson’s favour. Another determinant that would work in favour of the APC in Nembe is the recent defection from PDP to APC of the immediate younger brother of the deputy governor, Mr. Gabriel John-Jonah popularly referred to as the Otita Force. The junior John-Jonah is said to be politically very influential with a large followership. APC is therefore expected to run away with greater percentage of the total votes that will emanate from the 66,384 registered voters in Nembe. There are speculations that many top members of the PDP will soon defect to the APC. The APC is likely to win here.
Ogbia local government council has been a stronghold of the PDP, being home of the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. However, the political permutations in recent times are suggesting a different ball game altogether. The average Ogbia indigene is said to be expressing some level of displeasure over what they describe as the state PDP’s disregard and disrespect for the former president in times of decision making. Ogbia, which has a total of 69,253 registered voters, is also reportedly divided over the choice of governorship running mate of the PDP which most of them thought should have been appointed from the LGA. From the foregoing, it is possible that there could be protest votes against the ruling party in Ogbia local government council which may give the APC an edge over her arch rival at the polls.
Besides, many of the hitherto PDP chieftains here are now openly or secretly in support of the APC. Besides, the recently appointed executive director, finance and admin, NDDC, Mr Maxwell Oko is from here and he has a wonderful followership. Ogbia is likely to fall for the APC.
Yenagoa is the largest local government area in the state in terms of voting strength with a total of 139,777 registered voters. As it were, Yenagoa, which is the state capital, is a no man’s land. The individual popularity of the candidates will play a key role in determining the party that will score the highest votes in Yenagoa. YELGA remains a battle ground for both parties. Meanwhile, the Epie/Atissa ethnic group is somewhat unhappy with the PDP for denying them the governorship slot this time around having supported the PDP all through but yet to occupy the Creek Haven since Bayelsa was created. They are said to be gearing up for protest votes. If that happens, the APC may have upper hand in Yenagoa, otherwise, the votes may be shared in the ratio of 45:55, in favour of the PDP.
Though the campaigns have just begun, the electorate have already started aligning themselves with the candidates of their choices. If the observations of political watchers in all parts of the state are anything to go by, then the candidate of the APC may be far ahead of his counterpart. The name, David Lyon is reportedly on the lips of most of the electorate, resonating in all nooks and crannies of the state, ahead of the polls.
However, the PDP has equally proven to be a party to beat in the forthcoming governorship election in terms of mobilization and existing political structures across the state.