The Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) has fixed July 27 for the conduct of the local government election into the eight councils in the State. OSA OKHOMINA examines the intrigues it has generated within the PDP ahead of the November 16 governorship poll
Ordinarily, the announcement by the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral commission (BSIEC) that it would hold local government elections on July 27, 2019, would have triggered jubilation among political actors in the state and their political parties.
The decision which was taken after years of appointed caretaker chairmanship of the councils under the Governor Seriake Dickson administration is considered suspicious and politically motivated.
Some key actors in the PDP view the conduct of the local government elections by the Dickson administration, few weeks to the conduct of the party’s primary election as a political strategy to garner statutory delegates needed to sway votes for his anointed successor out of the over 16 governorship aspirants of the party so far.
Others believe that despite the intended use of local government chairmen and their councilors to secure over 203 “sure” delegate votes ahead of party primaries, they see the elections of local government chairmen and councilors as compensation for some party faithful who worked for the PDP. It would reinforce the loyalists base for Dickson’s political family known as “the Restoration”.
The reactions recorded were different and based on the different political parties and interests in the state. In PDP, the announcement triggered a ripple effect that has increased the tempo of internal political horse trading, interests and possible ploy to win delegates ahead of the party primaries sometimes in August of this year.
PDP aspirants intent on becoming council chairmen and councillors have since emerged. Checks by LEADERSHIP Sunday showed that most of those aspiring are political appointees in Dickson’s administration.
In some council areas, some regarded as “home boys” are squaring it out with those considered “Dickson boys”. But in most council areas, PDP leaders are conducting stakeholder meetings on issues of consensus and zoning of areas to produce chairmen.
Dickson, while warning the leaders of the party in the state against acts that will cause rancour and wasteful spending by aspirants for the various positions ahead of the July 27 local government elections, listed the conditions that qualifies those interested in the elective positions of the Chairmanship and Councillorship of the local governments.
He insisted that they must be screened based on party loyalty, sacrifice, dedication and contributions to the party with special regards to the principle of rotation especially for chairmen and councilors.
Dickson, through his Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, called on the PDP leaders in the state to deepen consultations for the actualisation of smooth rancour free local government polls.
According to the statement, “The Governor urged party leaders to return to their communities to intensify the consultative meetings for the forthcoming local government elections in consonance with the PDP’s unique style of leadership which has brought stability both to the state and the party.
“He advised all aspirants for various positions to consult their leaders in the various local government areas who should ascertain their level of loyalty, hard work and contributions to the party in the state.”
The governor who stressed that there would be no room for rancourous primaries warned aspirants to avoid unnecessary expenditure as a result of the forthcoming primaries and elections.
“That there will be no rancourous contest and primaries. To build on the well known capacity for managing the politics of the state which has brought stability to the state and the party.
“All those who want to aspire for various positions should consult with their leaders. The leaders should meet, ascertain their record to loyalty, hard work and contributions to the party and then shortlist them for the final ratification by the party leadership.
“So there will be no rowdy contest and those who want to contest should go and make their case to their leaders.”
Dickson also directed the leaders of the party to identify two persons, a male and a female in each of the wards and seven other names comprising four men and three females, some of who would go for the Rural Development Areas, the Supervisory Councilors and councilors.
He advised party members and aspirants to refrain from acts inimical to the interest of the party and to hold consultations with their leaders.
Sensing a possible implosion of the party ahead of the governorhip election due to the selection processes for the party’s local government election, the PDP state chairman, Hon Cleopas Moses called on its members to remain united ahead of the July 27 and November 2, 2019 local council and governorship elections.
Moses said the party has the spread and capacity to win any election that is freely conducted in the state, but that will be more realistic if it sustains the current peace and togetherness within its fold.
Moses disclosed that the stakeholders meeting became imperative in view of the release of the guideliness for the forthcoming elections by the electoral umpire.
He explained that the party leadership saw the need to engage the stakeholders to brainstorm on the best approach for the elections which includes mass mobilisation of support across the state.
The PDP chairman who announced tentative dates for the conduct of the party’s primaries for the local council election said the dates will be confirmed after the national Secretariat has given its nod.
Hon Cleopas urged intending chairmanship and Councillor aspirants to legitimately go about their aspirations and consult widely as well as engage in consensus building in order to have a rancour free electoral process.
“Today we met in view of the coming elections. The meeting had in attendance the leadership of the party, the political desk and some critical stakeholders. It was mainly to brainstorm on how to go about the election.
“Like you all know the PDP is one big family and we have the capacity and spread to win elections provided it is freely and fairly conducted. We call on our members to continue to maintain the peace and oneness that is currently within the party.
“What we discussed here will be transmitted to His Excellency the governor by the deputy who directly is supervising whatever we are doing. We have rolled out a tentative plan of activities for the elections but because we are a very organised party, we are waiting for our national to approve it and give us the go ahead. So by this weekend everything will be clear.
“Like our leader the governor will say, all legitimate ambitions are welcomed. However, we don’t want any rancour so we advise all aspirants to consult widely and engage in consensus building. The time for the local government election is short so we want to see how we can if possible have single chairmanship and Councillor aspirants before the election”.
As the members of the ruling PDP are putting their house in order ahead of the Local Government poll, the Chairman of the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) Dr Perekeme Bertola has promised to uphold the tenets of democracy and conduct free, fair, credible and conclusive elections.
The chairman said he would synergise with all stakeholders and hold regular consultative meetings to ensure a hitch-free polls.
Most of the stakeholders present at the meeting including some political parties described the move as a welcome development expressing their readiness to mobilise voters to participate in the elections.
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