John ODHE, Yenagoa
The political space in Bayelsa West Senatorial District is tense following alleged surreptitious move by Senator Seriake Dickson to return to the Nigerian Senate when his first term expires in 2023.
A group under the aegis of Ekeremor Local Government Elders Forum, believed to be spearheaded by member representing Sagbama/ Ekeremor Federal Constituency, Chief Fred Agbedi has vowed to fight Senator Dickson to a standstill if he insists on continuing in the red chambers beyond 2023.
Dickson who is the immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, is currently occupying the Bayelsa West senatorial district seat which comprises Sagbama and Ekeremor local government areas on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The two local governments have maintained an unwritten zoning agreement for the two National Assembly seats, the Senate and House of Representatives, since 1999.
The two local governments had been alternating the two National Assembly seats, in that, if Sagbama produced the senatorial seat, Ekeremor would therefore occupy the federal constituency slot.
The two LGAs had been maintaining the zoning pattern for the period under review, hence the current scenario where Chief Fred Agbedi of Ekeremor has been occupying the green chambers for two terms while Sagbama on the other hand is also in the senate serving a second term through senator Seriake Dickson who succeeded Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo halfway, through bye-election.
Going by the zoning arrangement which was circumstantially introduced by the PDP and maintained since 1999, the Bayelsa West senatorial seat which is currently being occupied by Sagbama local government will automatically go to Ekeremor when the eight years being enjoyed by Sagbama expires in 2023.
However, there seems to be some underfoot political moves which suggest to pundits in the senatorial district that the current occupant of the red chambers, Senator Seriake Dickson, may not voluntarily relinquish power at the end of the day.
TNN gathered that signs that the Torou-Orua born former governor may be nursing plans to stay in the National Assembly beyond 2023 started emerging some weeks ago when Dickson came from Abuja to open his Senatorial District office in Sagbama, headquarters of Sagbama LGA.
During the inauguration of the district office, Dickson hosted elders of Bayelsa West mostly of the PDP extraction to a lavish dinner.
We gathered that two days after the dinner, a group under the auspices of Concerned Stakeholders and Youths of Bayelsa West Senatorial District went on air and made radio announcement, calling on Senator Dickson to re-contest the Senate position.
The group opined that for the fact that Chief Peremobowei Ebebi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who hails from Ekeremor LGA contested against Dickson during the last senatorial bye-election, the zoning arrangement had been nullified.
Not long, another group christened Concerned Patriots of Bayelsa West Senatorial District replicated same on radio, calling on Dickson to re-contest for the exalted legislative office.
Meanwhile, Senator Dickson did not oppose or condemn any of the sponsored radio announcements calling on him to throw his hat to the ring for another shot at the Senate, thereby fuelling presumptions that he might be the fire under the smoke.
Since those sponsored radio bulletins made mockery of the existing zoning patter in Bayelsa West and also called on the incumbent senator to re-contest, the political space has been charged with vexations from political leaders, elders and youths of the area especially the Ekeremor axis.
Recently, some political leaders from Ekeremor local government area, including former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Boyelaifa Debekeme and Mr. Famous Daunemighan were reportedly beaten up by thugs allegedly sponsored by a top government official, on their way to a meeting to reaffirm the zoning arrangement.
A statement issued by a group under the aegis of Ekeremor Local Government Elders Forum warned that any attempt by some ‘selfish’ politicians to undermine the existing zoning arrangement would spell doom in Bayelsa West come 2023.
The political bigwigs who signed the statement include the serving member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Chief Fred Agbedi, member representing Ekeremor Constituency 1 in the state House of Assembly, Mr. Tare Porri, Chief Martins Agbade and Chief Thompson Amule.
Others are Fedude Zimughan, Chief Marcus Oloye, Chief Benedict Gwembe, Pastor Donald Daunemighan, Mr. Philippine Egbemor, Mr. Sukeme Bekekeme, Mr. Ken Kaiama, Mr. S.G. Ogiriki, Barr. Brown Kirikariaye, Mr. Angos Dide and Barr. Japan Udoji.
The statement reads: “At the end of a critical stakeholders meeting of Ekeremor Local Government Area on the 22nd July, 2021, attended by leaders from the twelve wards, the following resolutions were reached:
“That the leaders express appreciation to His Excellency Senator Douye Diri, Governor of Bayelsa and His Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo to have stood by them in the 2020 Senatorial bye elections in maintaining and sustaining the zoning of the two National Assembly seats jointly shared by Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government Areas and appeal to them to continue to assist the leaders to consolidate the existing zoning as it was done by previous Governors and Administrations.
“That the leaders are very appreciative of the leadership of the following parties: PDP, APC, APGA, NNPP, APM, ADC, Labour, NPM that attended the Bayelsa West all Political Parties Summit on Saturday 18th July, 2020 at Model Primary School, Sagbama, for the roles played in the 2020 Senatorial bye elections for respecting the decision of the people in the Senatorial District in reaffirming and upholding the existing zoning affirmation in 2014 between Sagbama and Ekeremor regarding the National Assembly seat.
“That the leaders also extend gratitude to stakeholders of Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government Areas for their firm
believe in the zoning and stood by Senator Henry Seriake Dickson in the 2020 Senatorial bye elections.
“That the leaders urge the two National Assembly members representing the Senatorial District and the federal constituency who are beneficiaries of the zoning namely, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson and Hon. Fredrick Agbedi to galvanize support to sustain the existing zoning between the two local government areas as patriotic leaders.
“That the critical stakeholders strongly believe that no patriotic citizen from the zone will do anything unreasonable to cause disunity between the Local Government Areas with a view to truncating the zoning.
“That those who are interested in contesting for any of the National Assembly seats should confine themselves to complying with the existing zoning arrangement i.e. Sagbama – House of Representatives for the next 8 years from 2023 while Ekeremor for Senate for the next 8 years from 2023.
“That it will be morally indefensible for any politician to allow the future of our children to be mortgaged. Posterity will not forgive us.
“That the leaders strongly reaffirm the existing zoning formula as regards the two National Assembly seats for the two Local Government Areas and shall vehemently resist any politician who intend to truncate this beautiful and harmonious existing arrangement over the years for the good of all.
“Finally, the leaders unanimously agreed to convey the above resolutions to His Excellency, Senator Douye Diri who is the leader of the party in the State and pledge their total loyalty and support for the prosperity administration.”