Mr. Moses Dickson, a lawyer and entrepreneur, in this interview with Olasunkanmi Akoni, speaks on the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa and why Bayelsans should vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri, among others. Excerpts:
What is your take on the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State?
Like any other Bayelsan, I am excited at the auspicious opportunity presented for us to determine who succeeds Henry Seriake Dickson, the first democratically elected Governor to serve out his two terms of eight years. I am delighted at the stability and growth the state has enjoyed these past almost eight years and the window the forthcoming elections provide to determine our collective future as Bayelsans. It is my sincere hope that this election produces a winner that will sustain and surpass the quantum leap the state has made in the last almost eight years.
I hope the electoral umpire will conduct a free and fair contest tapping from their experiences of this same exercise in this state and beyond and that security agencies will exude professionalism in support of a peaceful and credible election.
Having studied the candidates vying in the next elections, I have reached an informed conclusion to support the candidacy of Senator Douye Diri(SDD), candidate of PDP.I enjoin Bayelsans to do the same. The reasons for my choice are not far- fetched. Bayelsa needs a governor who will hit the ground running and not a novice coming to experiment with the position.
He is a man with a listening ear and an impressive and sustainable policy document, if implemented diligently.
What do you think Bayelsans will benefit if they vote for continuity of the ruling party, PDP?
In the immediate, Bayelsans can be assured of the completion of projects initiated by the Restoration government by voting for Senator Douye Diri. Educational Milestones like the University of Africa, Medical University, the life hanging Boarding schools in all the senatorial districts not to mention the Ijaw National Academy, the free school feeding and other massive and aggressive educational initiatives such as the school loans and scholarships at all levels being sustained and improved on.
Similarly, this election provides an opportunity for Bayelsans to, for the first time, enjoy the gains of sustainability in governance. The discontinuation of laudable policies and programmes by successive administrations has been identified as a major challenge to the development of any area. Bayelsans with this election should vote the Diri/Lawrence ticket to ensure the sustenance of the current pace development in the state.
Don’t you see the APC governorship candidate, Chief David Lyon stopping the PDP candidate?
It is important to clarify that there is just a single party on ground in Bayelsa and that is the PDP all along. Suffice it to say that the party has been in power since the return to democracy in 1999. In these years, the party to its credit has impacted positively on every household in Bayelsa. This, in turn, has translated to a viable and tested structure that ensures the mobilization of our people in support of the party.
The PDP as a party has immensely championed the course of the Ijaw nation over the years. A clear demonstration of the commitment of the PDP to the Ijaw people is the platform provided for the emergence of an Ijaw man as Nigeria’s president despite our “minority” status. The APC as it is today is but an assembly of disgruntled politicians driven more by an ambition to secure power than the need to foster the development of our dear state.
The good thing in all of these is that our people can see beyond the smokescreen and will again rally round the party that has shown the greatest commitment to the development of Ijaw land.
What about the influence of the Minister of State for Petroleum and former governor of the state, Chief Timpreye Sylva, who many see as heavyweight in Bayelsa politics?
Let me again affirm that irrespective of political differences, Chief Timipreye Sylva remains a leader and former governor of Bayelsa State. However, it is important to state that his rise to prominence today can be traced only to the PDP. The party afforded him opportunities to serve in different capacities which include five years plus stint as the governor. His foray into the APC like many others is on account of his inability to respect and abide by the internal administration and control mechanisms in the PDP, avoidable grievances, political intolerance and desperation to power.
The Minister knows that the APC is a hard sell here in Bayelsa on account of the unprecedented achievements of the successive PDP administrations till date. Our people remain resolute and steadfast in the support for the PDP and will not be swayed by empty promises from the APC. That aside, Chief Sylva like any other Bayelsan is entitled to one vote and he has a right to cast it in support of whosoever he desires. But it is clear that the overwhelming majority of Bayelsans are with the PDP and will emerge victorious in a free and fair contest come Saturday, 16th November.
How would you rate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) preparations for the poll and do you have confidence in the electoral commission?
Although preliminary information available suggests some level of preparedness on the part of INEC for this election it would be hasty to conclude on this basis. The commission has confirmed that necessary equipment and materials are already on ground.
However, we can only hope that they successfully implement the recommendations of the review committee set up after the last gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa where the worst electoral violence took place leading to loss of lives, security breaches, among others.
The onus is on the electoral umpire to make the best of this opportunity to prove their effectiveness by conducting a credible election come Saturday. I understand the importance of building structures than building people if you want a lasting and successful business. So I urge INEC too to be firm at building their institution because if they don’t, nobody will do it. I, however, commend them for the progress made in strengthening democracy.
How do you react to the ruling of a Federal High Court, which disqualified the APC deputy governorship candidate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo on account of presentation of false information to INEC?
The legal effect of the disqualification of the deputy governorship candidate of the APC in Bayelsa State under the Constitution and the Electoral Act (except reversed) on appeal, simply implies that the APC has no governorship candidate at all in the November 16, 2019, gubernatorial elections. Justice Inyang Ekwo disqualified the deputy governorship candidate of the APC, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, over false information given in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC for the November 16 gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa State.
The suit was instituted by the PDP against the APC candidate, David Lyon and his running mate, Biobarakuma, and the judge found and held that Biobarakuma gave false information in relation to his educational qualifications and went ahead to depose to an affidavit to correct the discrepancies. The judge held also that all his documents bore different names and therefore disqualified him from contesting the forthcoming governorship elections.
Under the Constitution and the Electoral Act (except reversed) on appeal, simply means that the APC has no governorship candidate at all in the November 16, 2019, gubernatorial elections. The reason is not far-fetched. By virtue of section 187(1) of the 1999 Constitution,’a candidate for the office of Governor of a State shall not be deemed to have been validly nominated for such office unless he nominates another candidate as his associate for his running for the office of Governor, who is to occupy the office of Deputy Governor and that candidate shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of Deputy Governor if the candidate who nominated him is duly elected as Governor in accordance with the said provisions’.
Therefore, any ticket devoid of a joint running mate is automatically invalid, null, void and of no effect whatsoever, because it is simply unconstitutional. The Constitution envisions and has deliberately made a governorship candidate to be a tied with the deputy governorship candidate in any election, sharing the same unbreakable fate for better and for worse. One without the other is not competent to contest. So where a governorship candidate cannot, therefore, produce his running mate, his candidature lapses into natural and immediate extinction. So my view is that the APC has no candidate arising from that judgement and I am happy that many of my senior colleagues also share the same view.
His advice to Bayelsans
I will ask Bayelsans to come out en masse to exercise their franchise via the ballot on Saturday. Furthermore, I would ask our people to reflect on the state of our nation at this time. Specifically, I would ask them to consider the promises the APC made to attain power at the federal level and what has become of those promises today and am asking my friends in the business community here to understand that our businesses rest on policies of the government which either help our businesses grow or Wind up.
So it will be regrettable if anyone believes the APC will achieve in Bayelsa, what it has failed to do with the enormous power and resources it controls at the centre and am more concerned about my state. We have made a lot of progress as a state.
We are having an airport that will boost our businesses and link up more opportunities for us all and our state, we are having a Brass NLNG, we are making giant strides towards stable power for our businesses, we are having a seaport that will drive all other sectors and many more all under a stable government under PDP in the last 7 plus years and we have to continue this stable and sustainable governance train.
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I will also ask Bayelsans to vote for Senator Douye Diri to ensure that the current peaceful and harmonious relationship is sustained in the years ahead. A vote for Diri is a guarantee that Bayelsans will continue to enjoy freedom of expression and association irrespective of their place of origin, religious or political persuasion.
I believe Bayelsans from all works of life will again affirm with their votes their preference for the party that has contributed immensely to the development of the state. I believe Douye Diri like Dickson, will leave behind a better Bayelsa than he met it.