The All Progressives Congress (APC) is emboldened by its relatively successful outing during the Presidential, National and State Assemblies election in Bayelsa State. But is it enough to defeat the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in theNovember 2, 2019 governorship election? OSA OKHOMINA, writes
For watchers of the political space in Bayelsa State, the performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the recent general election holds promise ahead of the November 2, 2019 governorship election in the state.
The APC, a party dominated by few heavy weights and dominated by young underdog politicians from the local government to the state levels, pulled the unimaginable during the last elections winning a Senate seat, two House of Representative members positions and clinching four State Assembly seats, from a state dominated and controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Pundits who share this optimism aver that with this feat, prospects of wrestling power from PDP is not so doubtful after all.
In spite of the cries and claims by the PDP and the state governor, Hon Seriake Dickson about the use of violence, killings and support of the Military, the APC has kept silent and left the matter to a yet to be constituted Election Tribunal to judge.
Unlike in the past, where moles allegedly planted by the PDP in the fold of the APC would divulge election plans to the ruling party before the polls, this time, there is less leakages from within there ranks so far, it seems, a situation which is heightening the level of suspense in the party about its candidate ahead of the November 2.
This is regardless of the notion that most members of the party are inclined to defer to the former governor and leader of the party, Chief Timipre Sylva as deserving to get the party’s ticket due to his strategy to secure not just the needed 40 percent benchmark for President Muhammadu Buhari during the presidential election but to also get the seats secured for the party in the National and State Assemblies.
But others argued that the body language of the people of the State, coupled with the propaganda launched against him over the years remain a potent concern.
Some party leaders, who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday on condition of anonymity, argued that Sylva from Brass area and a running mate from Southern Ijaw area would be difficult to sell to the people of the state.
They suggested that the APC leader should accept a juicy ministerial slot and become a kingmaker in the state and allow some new faces contend with any candidate the PDP decides to present for the election.
In this light some names have already surfaced including a former Secretary to the State Government under the interim administration of the former Speaker, Professor Millionaire Abowei.
Prof Millionaire Abowei, who was appointed by the former acting Governor of the state, Mr Nestor Binabo, is a University Don. Abowei is a professor of Chemical and Petrochemical Engineering and a lecturer with the Rivers State University of Science and Technology.
Although, many claimed Abowei may not be interested in contending with Sylva for the APC ticket, they claim that his close and long time friendship with President Muhammadu Buhari would be an advantage.
Another name that is rumoured is the House of Representative-elect from Southern Ijaw Federal Constitutiency, Hon Preye Oseke.
Oseke, a young and enterprising young politician, is the younger brother to Mr David Lion. Lion is an oil surveillance contractor and a dedicated APC member in the state.
Aside from these two who are close to Sylva, Prince Preys Aganaba and Prince Ebitimi Angbare are other candidates known to have shown interest in the past.
Aganaba is a member of the President Muhammad Buhari campaign Council in the state. However, he left no one in doubt about his disdain for the way and manner the party structures are allegedly hijacked by Sylva. He has put machinery in motion to realise his ambition.
Aganaba is known to be a close loyalist to the former Governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. He is quite popular in the Central Senatorial district.
On whether he has a grip on the party structure, controlled by Sylva, that remains to be seen. But he has started with a group.
Angbare is a known face in the Bayelsa politics with his popular election petition that annulled the Governorship election of Sylva and lost at the rerun.
Angbare who was the petitioner and candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), in 2007, said “As we work towards the governorship election of 02/11/19 I call on all well meaning Bayelsans to organise and not agonise,we must get INEC to deliver a credible and acceptable election. INEC must take advantage of the stand alone nature of this election to satisfy us, this should be our irreducable minimum demand.”
Also alleged to be nursing a governorship ambition is the minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.
How his name came up among many political analysts because of his supportive role in the party as a deputy leader. Many wondered why he should abandon his supportive role and run for Governorship, “ we don’t know how his name came up. But we heard that he is not happy with the leadership style of Chief Timipre Sylva,” said a party source.
Some party members have accused Sylva of not ensuring equitable distribution of election finances and strategy adopted at several meetings. They claimed that he is concerned about his area which has allowed PDP to grab others from the APC in Ekeremor and other areas.
But issues in the party seem more complicated. Unlike the PDP, the APC has not defined where the zoning arrangement will swing. But with Sylva perceived to be contesting from the Bayelsa East senatorial district, the party may leave the issue of zoning open to all districts.
Already, posters have adorned walls on streets in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital and the gate of the APC secretariat alerting the people of the state to be ready for the unveiling of Sylva as contestant for the Party Governorship ticket.
Sylva, who led the APC into the 2016 governorship race in a controversial manner, lost to Governor Seriake Dickson at the poll and the election tribunals.
While some APC members commended Sylvia for the improved fortune of the party during the last polls, others accused him of ensuring a “selfish” victory in his Brass area.
A chieftain of the party, who pleaded not to be mentioned said “When the push turn to shove ahead of party primaries, those that will be present to discuss vital issue of party tickets will be elected party members. And Sylva has a senator, a federal representative, three Assembly members. What do others have? He hoodwinked Southern Ijaw and David Lion with a House of Representative member. He has the cake now and can have it anytime. “
Even the PDP are aware that the coming election will be tougher than past ones. The Bayelsa governor, Dickson stated this much when he described as “enormous” the task before the PDP at retaining the governorship seat.
He warned party members not to shun any act capable of robbing the party of its deserved victory at the poll, noting that while some PDP members showed signs of ignoble act and anti-party activity during the previous elections in the state, there is need for members to put aside their differences and work for the success of the party in the coming election.
Dickson, who stated this in Yenagoa during an expanded State Executive Committee (SEC) meeting of the Party, cautioned against the repeat of such ignoble act, noting that the task before it is enormous.
A statement by the Director of Strategic Communication, Governor’s office, Chief Nathan Egba Ologo quoted the governor to have warned against anti party activities on the part of the members.
He stated that for Bayelsa to maintain her position as a stronghold of PDP, there is need for members to put aside their differences and work for the success of the party in the coming election.
Governor Dickson, while addressing the leaders of the PDP, in attendance at the meeting were: Chief Thompson Okorotie, Senator Ben Murray Bruce, Chief (Mrs) Remi Kuku Hon. Douye Diri, Senator- elect Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Hon Fred Agbedi, representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal constituency, members of the State House of Assembly, wards and local government chairmen, said that in the coming election the party would be contending against the so called Federal mights including security agencies and the opposition party, APC which has no structure in the state but known for thuggery and banditry.
According to him, “there are two systems that will clash again in this governorship election. The state system which I lead with our teaming supporters and the Federal system that will be deployed in this election. As a result, the old way of playing politics must change.
“Bayelsa is a stronghold of PDP. We are going to prove that again with our voters cards in the forthcoming governorship election. We can not be intimidated by heavy presence of security operatives and political thugs. They had failed in the past. They will fail again this time around.”
Governor Dickson who commended the activities of some of the party faithfuls during the last general elections said their efforts would be adeaquately rewarded.
He said appointments would be made at the grassroot level as a way of rewarding those who worked for the party’s success, adding that chairmen and members of the 32 Rural Development Authorities will soon be constituted.
In his remarks the State PDP chairman, Mr Moses Cleopas warned party members against anti-party activities, stressing that discipline is key in restoring order in any organisation that is desirous of advancing its cause. Cleopas called on members to sink their differences and work harder for the success of the party.
Also speaking, the Deputy Governor Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (Retd), underscored the need for the members to remain resolute in their quest to deliver the state in the coming election.
According to him, Dickson has performed brilliantly in repositioning the economy of the state, adding that for the present administration to finish strong, the governor needs the support of all and sundry, irrespective of the political divides.
In his contribution, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Konbowei Benson said he would seek legal redress in retrieving his stolen mandate at the last general election and solicited support from the party.
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