Dickson, Sylva in proxy war
By Samuel Oyadongha
IT is less than three months to the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State. With the conclusion of the primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Congress, APC, political gladiators in the major parties are set for an epic battle for the control the state.
While some of the gladiators have already carved a niche for themselves in the murky waters of politics in the predominantly riverine state others could be described as political neophytes.
Nevertheless they are however poised to spring surprise at the poll.
While the PDP otherwise referred to as the ‘umbrella’ at its primary on Tuesday threw up Senator Douye Diri as its candidate, the APC known as the ‘broom’ on its Wednesday primary settled for Chief David Lyon.
Will power return to Bayelsa Central?
Interestingly, both are from the central senatorial district of the state which produced Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, the first executive governor of the state.
However, Senator Douye Diri is from Kolokuma-Opokuma local government. The area is yet to produce a governor and is also the smallest in the state with the least voting strength.
The fact that the area has not produced governor might work in favour of the PDP candidate.
Diri, who enjoys the backing and support of Governor Seriake Dickson and his vociferous Restoration political family, will also be banking on the wider reach of his party and the sagacity of his mentor, Dickson, to repel the APC tsunami at the poll. The APC has repeatedly boasted that Bayelsa State would be taken on November 16.
What is going for Lyon
On the other hand, the APC, which parades David Lyon, a renowned philanthropist and surveillance security contractor to one of the oil giants in the Niger Delta, is expecting his philanthropic gesture over the years to the poor and needy to rob off positively on its mission to snatch the state from PDP.
A native of Southern Ijaw Local Council, which is one of the biggest councils in the state, Lyon is believed to have the requisite war chest to successfully prosecute his election in a state where money, to large extent, plays a major role in influencing voters choice.
Though a new in politics, Lyon is not new to dispensing favour to the needy and the less privileged in the society. He is said to have taken out of the creeks no fewer than 6000 youths through his Darlon security firm, empowered several others, and has made it a custom to provide for the aged and poor during Yuletide seasons.
He also has the backing and support of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, the leader of the APC in the state. The latter was behind his getting the nod of the leadership of the APC to get the party’s flag.
The battle within
However, Diri and Lyon are facing disaffection in their parties on account of the primaries. In the PDP, Diri’s emergence has been pooh poohed by his major challenger for the ticket, Mr. Timi Alaibe. Alaibe, who came second in the primary said that the process was flawed. He asked his supporters to remain calm over the ”temporary setback” assuring that he would triumph at the end of the day.
Senator Diri polled 561 votes to beat 20 other aspirants for the party’s ticket.
His closest rival, Chief Timi Alaibe scored 365 votes while Keniebi Okoko came third with 142 votes. The state Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John-Jonah, retd, scored 62 votes. Former Speaker of the State House of Assembly Benson Kombowei polled 24 votes, and Arc Reuben Okoya scored 19 votes while Rep Fred Agbedi got 18 votes.
In the APC, Lyon’s victory has been rejected by his main challenger and former Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who said the primary processes were flawed and a mockery of internal democracy.
As it is, however, the election is going to be a straight fight between the ruling PDP and the main opposition APC in what some analysts have dubbed a “battle between Sylva and Dickson.”
Since the return to civil rule in 1999, Bayelsa has been dominated by the PDP and had produced all the governors with the result that its followers takes pride in describing Bayelsa as a “PDP State.”
However, the APC will be banking on building on the surprises it caused during 2015 governorship election, when it dislodged the PDP to clinch the East senatorial district, Brass-Nembe federal constituency and the Southern Ijaw federal constituency as well as four House of Assembly constituencies in a state hitherto regarded as PDP fortress.
The other smaller parties could best be described as paper tigers as they have no strong presence in the swampy state.
Accordingly, the November 16 poll is going to be another fierce contest between the rival PDP and APC. Only time will tell whether the ruling PDP will maintain its dominance in the state where it had been in control since 1999 or whether the APC with support of ‘federal might’ will upstage the PDP.