John ODHE, Yenagoa
A former governor of Bayelsa State and current senator representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Senator Seriake Dickson appears to be setting the senatorial district on fire, with his insistence on re-contesting for the seat against a reported zoning arrangement in the area.
The people of Ekeremor LGA believe that it is their turn to produce the next senator in 2023 in the spirit of peace, unity and equity, since Sagbama has enjoyed the seat for the past eight years.
Stakeholders of the district comprising Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government Areas of Bayelsa state have already warned Dickson to respect the existing zoning arrangement and drop his ambition.
They have vowed to revolt and mobilize the electorate against the candidacy of the former governor, Dickson, if he goes ahead to re-contest the senatorial election come 2023.
Some of the stakeholders under the aegis of Concerned Indigenes of Bayelsa West Senatorial District maintained that there had been an existing zoning formula in the district since 1999 with the senatorial and House of Representatives seats being alternated between the LGAs, noting that it was the turn of Ekeremor to produce the next senator.
One of the conveners of the socio-political pressure group and former security aide to the governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Perekeme Richard Kpodoh, who is from Sagbama, noted in a meeting in Yenagoa that he wondered why Dickson who claimed to be a proponent of zoning would turn to be a champion of no zoning.
“We don’t want the selfish interests of a few to jeopardize the existing peace between the people of Sagbama and Ekeremor local government areas.
“Why are we now dragging the senatorial position? It is greed that is leading us to this situation now. We are hearing that some people have contributed money to buy form for Dickson. You and I know that these are gimmicks and it is time for us to speak out.
“How can only one person, you brought your Personal Assistant from nowhere and made him commissioner for works. It did not end there, the game was still on. You made that man again a senator to hold that seat for you.
“When the time was due, you pulled him out and made him a deputy governor and you now occupy the senatorial seat. He made a statement that he was coming to complete the tenure of Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.
“Today, you are fighting to go back. I ask a lot of questions; one, what are your contributions to Bayelsa State? For eight good years, we don’t have anything to show. We are in debt. What about the N1 billion he was saving every month? Do you know how much it is for eight years?
“Let them give us the account of their stewardship. Let them tell us how much they left behind for the new government that is there now. It is not by being arrogant and pompous, claiming what you are not meant to be.
“The truth is that in Bayelsa West, there is a zoning system and that zoning stands. Let me also remind you that the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party has concurred on zoning. So, who are you to challenge the party?
Also speaking, another co-convener of the group, Prince Bodi Arerebo of Sagbama LGA said “Sagbama and Ekeremor remain united. Our unity cannot be overemphasized. We will not allow anybody to divide us.
“The issue of elective positions in Sagbama and Ekeremor is based on zoning. We should not allow any one of us to cause catastrophe and acrimony within the brotherhood and love that we have shared over the years.
“We will not allow unscrupulous, barbaric set of beings; those who want to make themselves semi-gods to come and destroy the peace that has been sustained over these years between Sagbama and Ekeremor.
“If any man wants to play God and undermine the people, what we are talking about is justice, fairness and equality, the people of Sagbama and Ekeremor will support what we call total revolution because power is in the hands of the people and we will do everything humanly possible to stop him.
Another co-convener of the group, Emiemokumor Michael said “if Dickson insists to re-contest the senatorial election, power lies in the electorate and they will decide on whom to vote on the day of election because the electorate in both Ekeremor and Sagbama know that there is a zoning system.
They made references to when Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who hails from Ekeremor, was stopped by the then governor, from-contesting while attempting to continue after doing eight years in the red chamber in adherence to the said zoning pact.
They also alleged that those claiming to have donated N10 million to buy Interest Form for Dickson to re-contest were sent by their pay master to set confusion and fan the embers of disunity in the zone, calling on the state governor, Douye Diri who is the leader of the PDP in the state, to address the issue to avoid pending implosion in the party.
Penultimate week, some persons from Ekeremor including the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Michael Ogbere and the Ekeremor LG, Dr. Betula Perekeme claimed that they had raised the sum of N10 million to buy the senatorial form for Dickson, maintaining that the constituents should consider competence rather than zoning.
Meanwhile, the residence of Chief Fred Agbedi who is currently representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency and a senatorial hopeful from Ekeremor LGA has been reportedly vandalised by unknown thugs, making political observers to imply that a battle line may have been drawn.
A source close to the MP told TNN that barring any change of plan, Agbedi would soon pick the senatorial form to contest for the red chamber, stating that “the MP is ready to defend the people of Ekeremor because it is our turn.”
To this end, the Ekeremor Elders Stakeholders Forum have met with executives of the State Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and insisted that the zoning agreement between the Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government Areas be strictly followed in the next rounds of election.
Chairman of the Forum, Chief Martins Agbede maintained that under the said zoning arrangements, it is the will of the people that the Senate and House of Representatives seats be shared between the Sagbama and Ekeremor and be alternated after eight years, in the interest of equity and fairness.
Agbede, who is one of the Bayelsa Founding Fathers, presenting a copy of the zoning agreement to the party executives, warned the party against throwing caution to the wind as it is the turn of Ekeremor for the Senate, noting that an attempt to undermine the agreement would not receive the blessings of the Ekeremor people.
Also in support of the zoning system is a former chairman of Sagbama LGA, Chief Barnabas Edure who posited that greed and lack of integrity were the reasons any one from Sagbama may want to flout the zoning system which had come to stay in Bayelsa West, calling on all lovers of the district to resist such tendencies capable of causing violent political crisis in the area.