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Peace returns after volatile electioneering


RELATIVE peace has returned to Bayelsa the only homogenous Ijaw-speaking state in the federation regarded as the flashpoint of the troubled Niger Delta region.

Anxiety and fears that the 2011 general election would be bloody given the fierce rivalry between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) as well as the series of violent skirmishes that rocked the political landscape in the build up to the 2011 polls  were doused by the Court of Appeal verdict that governorship election will not hold in Bayelsa and four other states.

The court ruling though a political tsunami for the opposition parties could be described as a temporary victory for the PDP, which went ahead to consolidate its dominance in the predominantly riverine state.

With the governorship election postponed the sail was taken off  the wind of the opposition parties, leaving their army of supporters demoralised.

Consequently, the ruling PDP had a roller coaster ride by clinching virtually all the seats leaving the Labour Party, KOWA Party and Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) to share the three remaining slots apiece.

Though the April polls had come and gone with the ruling party brushing aside the opposition parties, the state may once again drift into its past infamy as the 2012 governorship polls approach as according to analysts, the issue of party will not be a factor in who wins the poll but the individual that can fast track the desired development in the state.

The opposition parties, it was learnt, are perfecting their strategy with a view to producing a consensus candidate to dislodge the PDP from the Creek Haven  seat of power in Yenagoa.

But the ruling party is also not prepared to concede ground and is ready to use the resources at its disposal to prosecute the election.

According to analysts, the outcome of the April polls adjudged free and fair in spite of noticeable irregularities, has turned out to be an eye opener for the opposition parties and as such they are perfecting their strategy on how to tackle the PDP in the coming election.

They have described as laughable the PDP attribution of its victory at the polls to its overwhelming acceptance by the people, saying the outcome of the elections was not the true reflection of the will of the electorate and called for the disbandment of the state special security outfit Operation Famou Tangbe before the governorship election.

“How do you expect an outfit that led some thugs to cart away evidence submitted before the election petition tribunal to provide security in the coming election without being biased?,” an analyst queried.

The state governor had through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Doifie Ola, described the concluded polls as demonstrating conclusively that the PDP was on ground in Bayelsa State, “while the so_called opposition parties are merely building castles in the air”.

The governor declared: “I am comfortable with one so-called party winning on the pages of newspapers, while we are winning in the hearts and minds of our people. Unfortunately for the opposition, newspapers do not vote, only the people do. What the results clearly show is that elections are won on the strength of political structures built around the people, not on the basis of configurations erected around the media.”

He advised Bayelsa electorate to continue to vote PDP as it was the only party with the capacity to address the myriad of socio- economic challenges facing the state.

Interestingly, prior to the April polls some contractors who had left their project site were mobilised back to site and there was a flurry of activities in the state.

Jobs were given and old projects were hurriedly completed to the admiration of many.

However, things have since changed with some describing the state as a car in backward motion.

There is a feeling of despondency especially among the ordinary people. Some traders have since relocated to neighbouring states because of hardship while most government projects have grinded to a halt due to alleged none funding. Also, the 60-day promise by the government to provide uninterrupted power has turned out to be a mirage as the situation has further deteriorated.

If the complaints of some ordinary people on streets of Yenagoa were anything to go by, the days of the PDP in Creek Haven are numbered.

But the leadership of the party appears to understand the psyche of the people and may deploy another strategy to win the electorate.

It is however left to be seen how the opposition parties with only three seats in the state assembly will exploit the despondency of the ordinary people to dethrone the ruling party.

Whichever way the Bayelsa situation is viewed, postponing the governorship poll is like putting off of the doomsday. This is because guns may boom again in the days ahead as the gladiators rekindle their rivalry.


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