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Bayelsa polls: Jonathan battles to save face

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…Deploys Otuoke factor

By Samuel Oyadongha & Agaju Madugba

There are indications that the outcome of today’s governorship election in Bayelsa State may go a long way in determining the future political relevance of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan, an indigene of Bayelsa State from Ogbia council area was defeated at the last presidential election by the candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari.

DECLARATION: Immediate past President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan(2nd left); making a remark while his Wife, Patience(3rd left); former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha(right) and Kingsley Otuaro, Deputy Governor of Delta State, (left), watch at the declaration of Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State to run for a second term, yesterday, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
DECLARATION: Immediate past President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan(2nd left); making a remark while his Wife, Patience(3rd left); former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha(right) and Kingsley Otuaro, Deputy Governor of Delta State, (left), watch at the declaration of Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State to run for a second term, yesterday, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Though Jonathan has lived a relatively quiet life since leaving office, shuttling between his Otuoke country home and Abuja and appearing twice at PDP events, such as the party primary where the incumbent Governor, Seriake Dickson, was affirmed as the party candidate for today’s polls and the mega rally where Dickson was presented the party flag, he is expected to lead some other members of the party from his Otuoke ward to cast their votes.

For Jonathan, combating the APC challenge may prove to be a Herculean task, the same challenge that sent him packing from the Aso Rock Presidential Villa last May.

Saturday Vanguard investigations showed that unlike in the past when the Ogbia people voted en bloc for their preferred candidates, the scenario may be slightly different today based on sharp divisions among his kinsmen, a development said to be linked to Jonathan’s alleged neglect of his home front.

It is the contention of the people that for the years he was away in Abuja, he did not do much to transform the Ogbia Kingdom.

The people argue that the only road leading to their council headquarters in Ogbia main town was riddled with potholes when he could have used his position to influence the development of the area and also empower his people.

This is the sad reality from the home front, according to a source who pleaded anonymity. “While some are sympathetic and are ready to support his party, the PDP, some others prefer to vote for the opposition APC.

Accordingly, the outcome of the election may decide the political future and relevance of the man who was once adored by his people many of whom were optimistic that he would use his botched second coming to make up for his failure to meet their developmental needs.

Jonathan’s political survival, according to observers of the unfolding event in the state, will be dependent on the success of his political godson, Governor Seriake Dickson.

However, some staunch supporters of the party are confident that Dickson will triumph at the polls citing his performance in the areas of critical infrastructure and the education sector.

According to them, it is unthinkable to think of PDP defeat in the governorship polls as anything contrary may spell doom for the status and personality of the former President.

PDP losing the election will be one defeat too many for Jonathan, who is already trying to recuperate from the loss of the last presidential election. Another defeat at the home front will signal the end of his domination in the political affairs of the state and indeed, the country.

Since the end of 2005 when he became the governor of Bayelsa by a twist of fate, Jonathan has since come to assume the role of a major power broker in the state.

Jonathan favours Dickson against the candidacy of a former governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, of the APC.

Jonathan who attended Dickson’s re-election kickoff campaign last September at Otuoke had explained that, “when he told me that he wanted to declare for second term, I said he should go ahead and I told him that I would be here when he would be presented with the flag of the party.”

Jonathan who was at a time Deputy Governor and later Governor of Bayelsa State is believed to have vowed to unleash his wealth of political experience to ensure that Dickson secures the governorship seat.

Addressing PDP supporters during a rally last week, Jonathan described Bayelsa as a stronghold of the PDP even as he argued that Dickson had performed well and qualified to be given another chance. According to Jonathan, “for the past 16 years, being a pioneer Deputy Governor and Governor at the state level, Vice-President and President of our country, I am in a position to say that Dickson has tried and he is still trying.

“You can see that within this short period, Dickson has been able to build a flyover and dualize a number of roads in Yenagoa. He has been able to build Toru-Ebeni Bridge.

“These are signs of development in a town that is growing to be a city. We should all be concerned about what Bayelsa will be in the next 25 years and beyond, and not what we want to gain today.

“I have looked at his policies and programmes and I am convinced that he is visionary. He is preparing Bayelsa State for tomorrow.”

 

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