By By Samuel Oyadongha
For the ruling party, PDP the flag bearer is known, as all other aspirants have fallen by the wayside. Governor Henry Seriake Dickson is the candidate having muscled his way with the gospel that Bayelsa is not only a PDP stronghold, but also drawn sentiments to the party as the party that produced the first Ijaw man as vice-president and as president of the country which should not be forsaken by the Ijaws.
Another leading aspirant in the race to grab the PDP ticket, Arc Reuben Okoya, last week threw in the towel as the political arena became too hot. His followers were totally disappointed but he defended his action by saying that he was bowing to party supremacy.
Only three aspirants presented themselves for screening last week- Dickson, Chief Ebikitin Diongoli and Senator Emmanuel Paulker.
Though the duo of Diongoli and Paulker were reportedly disqualified, a source close to Paulker, however, told Vanguard that his boss was not disqualified as rumoured but that he was asked to go and correct the forms he wrongly filled and return same.
“The screening committee having noticed some mistakes made by Paulker, a ranking senator while filling his forms asked him to go and correct same, admitting that he may have made the mistakes due to the busy nature of his work as a serving senator saddled with enormous responsibility,” the source said.
But a PDP source who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the successful screening of Dickson.
This effectively makes Dickson the de facto flag bearer of the party and he has said that he stands every chance of being re-elected primarily because he has a record of outstanding performance. He reels out his achievements at the slightest opportunity. Besides, the state owned radio and television station have not failed in trumpeting his achievements. He has built roads, roads and roads. He has built bridges and changed the face of Yenagoa the state capital. It is on record that Bayelsa is one of the states that is not owing workers salaries.
Dickson is eloquent and is aiming to return to office on the strength of what he says are his achievements.
But critical observers say Dickson has derailed, as according to them “When he came on board on February 14, 2012, there was enthusiasm everywhere as he embarked on eye catching projects”.
He also claimed to have turned Bayelsa into a huge construction site. But a leading critic from the opposition, Chief Alex Ekiotenne says Dickson’s achievements are mostly on the pages of newspapers.
The defection of many PDP top shots to the opposing APC is not a threat to the incumbent says Chief Donald Evareda.
According to him, “those who have decamped lack electoral value as they are not interested in the overall good of Bayelsa but the perks of office.”
He added that it is for that simple reason that all the leading defectors want to become the next governor. “How is that possible?”, the governor’s aide on media queried. But the battle for Creek Haven will be Herculean as Bayelsans are not ready to be taken for a ride this time around.
The ruling party has repeatedly declared that the APC has no grassroots support and has no structures. “The APC are strange bed fellows and can never uproot PDP from Bayelsa, its stronghold,” supporters of the PDP have insisted.
Mr. Patterson Ogon, spokesperson for one of the leading aspirants in the APC quipped: “This was how the APC was dismissed as a ranting party at the federal level before President Muhammadu Buhari bulldozed Jonathan from Aso Rock leaving PDP faithful wondering what went wrong.”
With few days to the APC primaries, there are still 19 aspirants among them a woman contesting. That may look like a crowded field. However, findings show that the battle for the APC ticket is between former Governor Timipre Sylva and Chief Timi Alaibe.
Head or tail, a Timi will be the candidate of the APC. But who gets the ticket in the APC depends on the horse trading and the political suave of the two leading aspirants.
Interestingly Bayelsans want someone who they can trust. Can Chief Sylva defeat the incumbent? It is a big question. Some observers say the other Timi may be able to pull the strings having aimed at becoming Governor on three different occasions like President Buhari. Is Alaibe the “Abraham Lincoln” of Bayelsa?