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Bayelsa Poll: Can Opposition Create Upset?
Oluwole Ige writes on the festering crisis in the Bayelsa State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and why it constitutes an albatross for the party, ahead of the February 11 governorship election.
WITH the February 11 date for the governorship election at hand, it is yet hazy which direction the political compass of Bayelsa State is pointing
Since 15 years ago when it was created by the late head of state, General Sani Abacha, aside from the stints of administrators appointed by military regimes, the state has been ruled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, the bickering in the PDP, which has pitched Governor Timipre Sylva against the leadership of the party both at the state and national levels is raising fears that the acclaimed largest party in Africa might be losing its grip on the control of the government machinery.
Sylva is not taking lightly his travails, which culminated in his disqualification from the November 19, 2011 governorship primaries that produced Honourable Henry Seriake-Dickson as the party’s candidate. Though PDP national headquarters has submitted the name of Dickson, a lawyer, who is currently representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), there exists a suit over the matter.
But to the opposition in the state, this is a blessing in disguise. While the penultimate Saturday’s judgment by the Court of Appeal upheld Dickson’s election, it also affirmed that a federal high court in Abuja had jurisdiction over the application by Sylva last year which sought to compel INEC to recognise him as the genuine candidate of the party for governorship election.
Investigations indicated that the governor’s loyalists had already joined the ranks of the some opposition parties in the state in a bid to reduce the chance of PDP at the election. At the peak of his battle to remain relevant in the power game by the end of 2011, he was said to have held consultations with some opposition leaders, both within the state and Abuja to strategise on stopping the PDP standard-bearer at the poll.
The governorship candidate of the then Action Congress (AC), now Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state, Dr Imoro Goodrich Kubor, is the standard-bearer of Change Advocacy Party (CAP). It was learnt that he had become the bride of Sylva. Speculations were rife last December that the governor offered the CAP candidate the sum of N500 million to fund his campaign.
During his declaration ceremony held in Yenagoa on January 7, Kubor commended Sylva for his visionary leadership and implementation of laudable projects. Majority of those that graced the occasion were said to be loyalists and admirers of the governor.
Observers contended that despite the resolve of Sylva to seek legal redress to stop Dickson and turn the table in his favour, he might be out to rub PDP’s nose in the mud at the poll. An analyst said in Yenagoa that although Sylva’s government might have been rated lowly, the governor is reputed for fighting a cause he believes in fiercely, and one cannot take that from him.
“He is pursuing a ‘Plan B’ in his bid to remain afloat in the shark-infested political waters of Ijaw people. That is why he is backing the opposition to make Dickson’s ambition to rule the state a tall dream,” the observer alleged.
But some say it might take a miracle for the opposition to take over the reins of government in the state, as such a feat will be changing the course of history of Niger Delta politics. Others argue that the crisis rocking the PDP over the troubled second term ambition of Sylva might be just what is required for the opposition to create an upset in the coming election.
This is coming against the backdrop of the recent publication of the list of candidates for the election by INEC with the exclusion of Dickson’s name as PDP standard-bearer.
The electoral umpire cited the ongoing litigation as the reason for including neither Dickson’s name nor Sylva’s on the list.
Reacting to the speculations that Sylva was already bankrolling the campaign of Kubor, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr Doifie Ola, said that there was no iota of truth in them. Ola, who spoke in a telephone interview with Saturday Tribune in Yenagoa, affirmed that “the allegation that Sylva gave Kubor N500 million is unfounded, baseless and the figment of the imagination of those spreading such rumour.”
He said: “Governor Timipre Sylva remains a member of the PDP and will continue to be. Let me also state that he will contest election for his second term on the platform of PDP. Nothing is stopping him in this regard and he will continue to contribute his quota to the development of PDP, Bayelsa and Nigeria.”Share