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27 DAYS TO BAYELSA POLL Amid defections, Dickson, Sylva renew rivalry

By Daniel Markson

Politics is  a game of  possibilities. It is a game of intrigues engendered by the critical factor of interest. Yet, all politics is local. In all social formations, political tendencies are largely shaped by these parameters, accentuating the dynamic nature of politics and its outcome.

seriake1To many followers of the currents in the Bayelsa State political equation, the above summation speaks to the validity of an engaging, pulsating scenario where the political allure of the All Progressives Congress (APC), before the controversial primary election of August 22, has now become a painful memory. The initial promise of an alternative, which the APC brandished to the people, has now been jettisoned as hope has given way to dejection and rejection. It is arguably a tragedy that may be difficult for the opposition party in the state to grapple with, barely 27 days to the  December 5  governorship election.

Pointedly, the Chairman of the botched primary and Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, is likely nodding his head, muttering some serious but reflective words to the effect that he has been vindicated.

It was Oshiomhole, as the  Chairman of the governorship primary election, who vehemently rejected the coronation of Timipre Silva as the party’s candidate on the grounds of the allegation that the process was undemocratic as majority of those who thronged the Samson Siasia Stadium on that day were disenfranchised.

However, in the rescheduled primary election of Tuesday, September 29, 2015,  Sylva won but it was a pyrrhic victory because he has alienated a strategic part of his political base. Actually, not a few believed that Sylva’s emergence was improper because it was no contest as the other promising contestants like a  former NDDC boss, Timi  Alaibe, were prevailed upon by the powers-that-be in Abuja to step down for Sylva.

And this is the trouble with our democracy: Internal democracy remains an issue. But we cannot run away from the basic ethos of democracy which made it  one of the ultimate ideals of modern civilization. In this system, election, as a fundamental ingredient, must not only be free and fair but credible. The sanctity of the process must be inviolable. Democracy also places  high premium on inclusiveness. These are irreducible parameters in order to achieve legitimacy, otherwise it is a charade and the people as the spirit and soul of democracy could resort to protest to express their grievances.

This was exactly what happened on  October  31 when about 1,000 key members of the APC gathered at the Peace Park in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, to defect  to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They were the disenfranchised delegates at the ill-fated APC governorship primary. It was an affirmation of the popular will of the people in a democracy.

Very early in the day, the aggrieved defectors had gathered at the venue, filling up the entire space. It was an opportune moment seized by PDP faithful who came in large numbers to add pomp.

The defectors, mostly youths, assembled under the umbrella of Forum of Authentic APC Delegates (FAAD) and led by Mr. Amos Soko, as the Chairman.

But they were all led back to the PDP by Senator John Brambaifa and Chief Alex Ekiotenne, prominent politicians who hitherto were in the vanguard of  Alaibe’s governorship aspiration.

Just before the event begun at about  11.45 am, the heaven opened with downpour but was defied as the event went on. It was at this moment that Governor Seriake Dickson entered the venue with his entourage and, sensing the mood of the people, he came down from his vehicle and joined them in the rain, dancing and waving his traditional victory sign, moving spiritedly with the crowd round the venue to express his appreciation.

In his address, Soko  raised issues on the conduct of the  August 22  primary election, saying it lacked  transparency.

He came hard on the APC leadership for conducting a “sham primary” which, in his reckoning, had Alaibe as a leading aspirant but prevailed upon by the powers-that-be to step down for an “anointed candidate” in the rescheduled stanza, following the nullification of the first exercise.

The politician had some kind words for  Alaibe, whom he said was humane and realistic enough with his counsel to tread the path of peace by boycotting the rescheduled election to avoid a blood bath considering the earlier tension soaked exercise.

Delivering the clincher, Soko said:” Following this unacceptable travesty of internal democracy and in view of the fact that the so-called winners see every other person as conquered people, we have decided to support Dickson in the governorship  election”.

In his remarks, Ekiotenne rued the treatment meted to them by the APC, noting that they actually made the opposition party to have a semblance of vigour and popularity in the state, proclaiming that with their defection, APC was dead in Bayelsa State.

“Some of you here are aware that we made the APC. From a dog that was sleeping, we wake it from its slumber. Then they now say there’s APC but today, we have buried APC in Bayelsa State”, he said.

Ekiotenne, who is from Ekeremor, the same senatorial zone as Dickson, claimed that he would deliver 90 per cent of votes to the PDP in the  December 5  election.

“This is not a speech making day, when you come to Ekeremor, we will tell you that 90 per cent is for Dickson”.

On his part, Brambaifa said the defection was a home coming, having been a leading member of the PDP before he and others decamped to the APC, adding that he felt very proud that the aggrieved APC delegates were at the event to endorse the governor for re-election. “I stand here to say, I Senator John Brambaifa support that decision. I have no doubt in my mind that this is the beginning of good things to come”, he stated.

On hand to receive the defectors back into the PDP was the National Vice Chairman, South- South, Chief Cairo Ojugboh, who, on behalf of the national leadership, promised to restore them to their former positions.

He said that the PDP family across the nation was behind Dickson and would work assiduously to ensure  his re-election bid. The PDP zonal leader also used the occasion to call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure its integrity by conducting free and fair elections across the country. The judiciary, he also said, should protect the people.

Also speaking at the occasion, the Acting PDP Chairman in Bayelsa State, Chief Serena Dokubo-Spiff, affirmed the unity of the Ijaw  just as he claimed the defectors got a raw deal while in the APC.

Dickson, while welcoming the defectors, expressed his appreciation that they returned to the PDP, noting that they were  strategic members who gave the APC the clout of a seeming viable alternative while it lasted.

He had earlier called for a minute of silence in honour of the late first civilian governor of Bayelsa, Diepreye Alameyeseigha, who, he said, was harassed to death.

He informed the crowd of the winding up of APC in the state, adding that they should join in the “Operation reject APC and Sylva” by dissociating from them. “We have launched operation wind up APC in Bayelsa. This is just the beginning of the winding up exercise. We will continue to receive our brothers and sisters who were misled”.

Dickson also urged the state PDP executive to receive them with open arms and involve them in all their campaigns in the wards, communities, units and the local government areas.

“I want to assure you all that I will do my best to ensure that all of you and several others yet to come are fully integrated. Our doors are always open”, he said.


*Markson is the Chief Press Secretary to the Bayelsa State governor


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