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2019: State, NASS Contests Resurrect Old Rivalry In Bayelsa

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In Bayelsa State, the build up to the forth coming 2019 polls is generating serious controversy, Osa Okhomina writes

Unlike the past elections, where the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had the upper hand over the All Progressive Congress (APC)  due to proper preparedness, structure and candidates for the State and National Assembly polls, the 2019 will witness a very stiff contest during the polls.

Leadership observed that inspire of the show of strength and verbal contest by the leader of the PDP in the state, Governor Seriake Dickson and the Leader of the APC and former Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, the popularity, might and wealth of the candidate presented for the poll will play a huge role.

At the last count, over 200 aspirants have indicated interests to contest the forth coming primaries of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)  and All Progressive Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State.

Leadership investigations showed that most aspirants for the various positions include incumbent members of the State House of Assembly, past and present members of the umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC)  including the Chairman of the IYC, Central Zone, Barr. Tari Porri and the immediate past president of the IYC, Udenz Eradiri. Eradiri is seeking to become member of the Federal House of Representative.

Also indicating inetrest in the state and National Assembly seats are the member of the State House of Assembly for Brass Constituency 1, Hon. Isreal Sony-Goli, who is seeking to contesting for the ticket of the APC to represent Nembe/Brass Federal constituency at the National Assembly.

Also contesting for the Assembly seat of Brass Constituency 1 on the platform of the APC is the Director General of the New Face political group, Mr. Robert Desmond.  A University lecturer,  Dr. Michael Ayibanua Amaegberi,who defected to the PDP recently is contesting for a seat in State Assembly slot of Southern Ijaw Constituency 4.

The duo of two practising Journalist, Comrade Stanley Imgbi and Tonye Yemoleigha are also running for State Assembly tickets in Southern Ijaw and Brass respectively.

Leadership gathered that Governor Seriake Dickson at a PDP stakeholders meeting in Yenagoa, insisted that only popular candidates will be fielded by the party during the State and National Assembly elections.

Governor Dickson at meeting underscored the need for PDP members to work together, in building a cohesive and united PDP, rather than engaging in anti-party activities that, could undermine the party’s fortunes ahead of next year’s general election.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Francis Ottah Agbo quoted Governor Dickson as stating that, if the PDP must win all elective positions from the state to the national levels, members must learn to build consensus with the party’s leadership in the state.

Describing the meeting as a family affair, Governor Dickson maintained that, the party remains supreme and called on all to place the party’s interest above personal ambitions to enable them succeed in the  forthcoming elections.

The Governor, who also pointed out that, they needed to take great care in selecting candidates that could win elections at all levels, however, acknowledged the fact that, only God chooses leaders.

He stressed that, the way of politicking for members of the PDP  has to change, as they are a party in opposition, noting that, the party’s success or failure depends largely on their actions and comments about their government back home.

“So it is amateurish for you to start politicking by attacking your own government and a government that everyone is celebrating. In what area have Earlier, the State Chairman of the Party, Mr Moses Cleopas expressed optimism about PDP’s victory in the 2019 general elections and urged political appointees, who are prospective aspirants to resign on or before 15th August, 2018.

According to Mr Cleopas, 4th to 24th August is slated for the sale of forms for state and national assembly elections, while screening of aspirants would hold on the 27th of this month.

The PDP Chairman, who called on would be aspirants to exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship before, during and after the elections, announced the 15th and 19thof September this year, as dates for the primaries for the state and national assembly elections.

For the Former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva,the All Progressive Congress (APC)  will emerge victorious at the State, National Assembly and the Presidential elections.

Sylva, who made this known during his 54th birthday party, in Yenagoa, marked with Bayelsa Indigenes and party faithfuls, witnessed the performance of musical artiste such as Kingsley Chinweike Okonkwo, better known as Kcee, and Enitimi Alfred Odom, better known by his stage name Timaya, noted that a bigger celebration will be held on the State after the APC record successes during state and national elections.

According to him, the APC will record majority at the Bayelsa State and National Aseembly elections.

Sylva also quickly reminded the people of the State that the victories may not come easy except the people of the State are ready to reject the PDP administration of Governor Seriake Dickson that he tagged “Kleptocratic” in nature.

Sylva advices that the people should know what they want during elections,”You must know what you want for yourselves. You must know that we (APC)  must take over Bayelsa State. Everything you do, remember that the purpose of it all is to take over the government of Bayelsa State. And it is easy and we are ready. “

On the alleged frivolous spending by the Governor Seriake Dickson administration, former Governor Sylva reiterated that the present administration has received over a trillion in allocation and other monies with an alleged debt profile of over N750billion.

He said “this administration in Bayelsa, which I called “Kleptocratic” has received over a trillion naira in allocation. What you see in Bayelsa is Hunger. That is why am saying they are rats and they eat everything. And yet they are owing over N750billipn. Howhat have they done with all those monies? “

Sylva, who purportedly lost the last Governorship election in the state based on the politics of tribe based on “core Ijaw” strategy adopted by the PDP candidate, Gov. Seriake Dickson, explained to the crowd of guest and party faithfuls, that his ancenstral history showed that he has paternal affiliation with Tumgbo people of Sagbama Local Government Area of the State where the incumbent hails from.

He said he is a True Blood of Bayelsa State,”I am one of you. A proud Ijaw man and a Bayelsa. I am proud of my history. Since you know me, I have been one of you. And a proud Bayelsa. “

Defections/re-alignment

Already, the coming State and National Assembly elections is giving both the APC and the PDP in their toes. Both parties have started poaching on members of opposition parties.

While the APC have secured the defection of two aides to the Bayelsa Governor, Hon. Ibarakumo Otobo and Hon. Asari Bagite, State Commissioner for Youths Development and the Special Adviser on Grassroots mobilization respectively.

The PDP has secured the membership of many APC faithfuls, including the expelled State Chairman of the Party, Chief Tiwei Orunimigha, the Former Secetary to State Government (SSG)  during the Sylva administration as Governor, Chief Gideon Ekeowe. Also listed as probables is the Former Managing Director of the NDDC, Chief Timi Alaibe

Also cross carpeting to the ruling PDP as a means of securing re-election in Brass constituency, is the member of the State Assembly, Hon. Alfred Belemote. Brass constituency 2 is the home of the APC leader, Chief Timipre Sylva.

For the two Former aides of Governor Dickson that defected to the APC, they cited issues of domancy and none appreciation of Political worth within the fold of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Former Governor and leader of the APC in Bayelsa, Chief Timipre Sylva, while speaking at the State Party Secretariat in Yenagoa during the welcome reception for the two Dickson’s aides, noted that the defection is the begining of the end of the ruling PDP in the State.

Sylva, who was represented by the APC member of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Isreal Sunny Goli, congratulated the defectors and their teeming supporters for making the right decision.

In his remark, the defected Commissioner for Youth Development, Hon. Barakumo Otobo, said he has resigned his appointment and have joined the APC,  “I have the right to choose political party as a citizen of Nigeria. I am not afraid of anything or anybody. I am for APC and bye bye to PDP.  I don’t go anywhere that is a failure. I have come to the APC to succeed. “

For the defected special Adviser on Grassroots Development, Hon. Asari Bangite, since his appointment into the PDP administration in the state, “I don’t a have a work schedule and redundant. If you have car and it needs to be fueled.but in PDP it is not like that. “

Arrest and security personnel postings

The All Progressives Congress (APC) kickstarted the banter over alleged arrest and abduction of a PDP Chieftain, Bibi Oweifa, that had wanted to defect to the APC to contest the State Assembly seat in Yenagoa constituency.

The APC in Bayelsa State accused the authorities of the Joint Military Task Force code named Operation Delta Safe of complicity in the abduction of a PDP chieftain, Bibi Oweifa less that 48 hours before his defection to the Party. (APC)

According to the APC, through a brief statement issued via email by its Publicity Secetary, Doifie Buokioribo, alleged that some military personnel attached to the Joint Military Task force allegedly carried out the kidnap after being paid undisclosed amount of money and took their victim to the State Government House..

The APC, alleged that the PDP led state government sponsored abduction of Hon. Bibi Oweifa was carried out to stop  his defection alongside hundreds of his supporters, to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), scheduled for saturday, 21st July 2018.

According to the statement, “Once again, we have confirmed that the PDP led administration in Bayelsa in its desperation, have started sponsoring the abduction of the PDP members planning to abandon their sinking ship of failure. They have paid the military to kidnap Hon.. Bibi Oweifa to avoid the massive defection in Yenagoa Local Government. “

“We also have it in good authority that a kidnappers den have also been opened at the Bayelsa Government house to hide those kidnapped to stop defection to APC.”

“We are calling on the Chief of Army Staff to investigate this incident and bring to involves to justice on alleged kidnapping and criminal activities in the State. “

The PDP led administration were however not left out in the game of politics being allegedly employed by the APC.

The PDP through some groups, the Pro-democracy group, Bayelsa Good Governance Watch (BGGW) and the Umbrella body of Ijaw Youths, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) raised dust over the deployment of Four Commissioners of Police (CP) to the State in the last fourteen days, describing it as worrisome and alleged attempt to caused confusion in the state by the frequent and irregular deployments.

While the Pro-Democracy group, Bayelsa Good Governance Watch (BGGW) took a swipe at the police hierarchy over the frequent changes of the Commissioners of Police in Bayelsa State.

The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) raised the alarm through the Secretary General of the IYC, Mr. Alfred Kemepado, that, it was indeed suspicious for the Force Headquarters to post four commissioners of police to one state, within such a short period of time.

The Pro-Democracy group, Bayelsa Good Governance Watch (BGGW) in a statement issued and signed by the Convener of the group, Comrade Ebitimi Igori, expressed concern that no fewer than four new CPs have been deployed to the state in less than two weeks.

Convener of the group, Ebitimi Igori, said it is worrisome that the police administration was causing confusion in the state by the frequent and irregular deployments.

Igori raised the alarm that the frequent change of guards was part of a plot by APC leaders in Bayelsa State who are envious of Governor Seriake Dickson’s Giant stride in the security of lives and property,  to cause panic and destabilize the state.

“It is becoming clear that the police has become partisan in Bayelsa. From all indications, the police authorities have pandered to the whims and caprices of desperate politicians in the state. Their aim is to foment trouble and destabilize our state ahead of the 2019 elections. These politicians have no future in our state and as far as they are concerned, they must destabilize the state and return it to the old days of the swarming locust when Bayelsa was like a killing field”

The group urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Inspector General of Police to order so as not to ignite another round of crisis in the state.”

It said the state government working with the security agencies has succeeded in ensuring peace across the state, which ought to be enhanced and not allowed to be scuttled by the interest of selfish and violent politicians who have been rejected by Bayelsans.

The Secretary General of the IYC, Mr. Alfred Kemepado, said in a statement on Saturday that, it was indeed suspicious for the Force Headquarters to post four commissioners of police to one state, within such a short period of time.

The IYC Scribe said that, the action of the Force Headquarters, under the leadership of the IGP smacks of a surreptitious plot by the All Progressives Congress (APC), to use the police authorities to politicize the Security architecture of the state, with the sole aim of causing instability and destabilize Bayelsa State.

Kemepado called on the police authorities not to allow themselves to be used by politicians, pointing out that, the removal of CP Don Awunah after working so hard in collaboration with sister security agencies to safeguard the state within a short period of his deployment to the state and the frequent change of guard in the leadership of the Bayelsa State Police Command within two weeks, points in the direction of politicization of security in the state.

He listed the police commissioners, who have been posted to Bayelsa State in the last two weeks to include,  Joseph Mukan, Ahmed Bello, Ahmad Abdulrahman and Austin Iwar.

He recalled the repeated warnings by critical stakeholders in the polity against the politicisation of security, which could cause insecurity in the society.

Kemepado said that, since the transfer of CP Don Awunah to the headquarters, the Police Headquarters had left Bayelsa without a state Police Commissioner.

According to him, information at the disposal of the IYC indicated that, no police commissioner had taken over from Don Awunah, almost two weeks after his redeployment from the state to Force Headquarters, Abuja.

He said, “The Ijaw Youths Council has observed with concern the frequent and curious deployment of police commissioners to Bayelsa State in the past two weeks.

“At the last count, the Force Headquarters has transferred five police commissioners to Bayelsa State, including the former commissioner, who was moved to the Force Headquarters.

“These are CP Don Awunah, Joseph Mukan, Ahmed Bello, Ahmad Abdulrahman and Austin Iwar.

“While it is the duty of the Force Headquarters to determine the posting of police officers to formations within and outside the country, we find it troubling that, four commissioners of police have been posted to Bayelsa State in the past two weeks.

“We in the IYC, the umbrella body of all Ijaw youths across Nigeria are inclined to believe that, this frequent deployment of police commissioners to Bayelsa might be traceable to political desperation and tendency to cause instability in the state.”

“We wish to make it clear that, instability in Bayelsa, the only homogenous Ijaw State in Nigeria, could cause instability across the Niger Delta.”

“It is on this note that, we call on the Force Headquarters and the IGP to exercise restraint and resist the plot by desperate politicians to use police authorities to politicize the security in the state.”

He warned that the IYC would mobilize against any attempt to cause instability to score cheap political goals in the state.

As the game continues,political observers agrees that the mixture of elected representatives at the State and National Assemblies will provide a virile direction for the State in 2020.



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