Is PDP declining in Bayelsa?

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Former president, Goodluck Jonathan would be represented in he next four years in the senate by an man from opposition party in his state, APC. This development has attracted attention of analysist. Samuel Ese reviews the scenario.

Details:

There is no doubt that something has changed in Bayelsa State politics going by the outcome of the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) conceding more ground to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP won two senatorial seats and three House of Representatives seats while the APC won one senatorial seat and two House of Representatives seats.

In Bayelsa West Senatorial District, former Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo of the PDP defeated Matthew Karimu of the APC and PDP’s Douye Diri who is representing Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency beat Festus Dawemiebi of the APC in Central Senatorial District while Degi Eremienyo of the APC won against PDP’s Blessing Izagara in East Senatorial District.

In the race for the House of Representatives, Sunny Goli of APC won in Brass/Nembe Federal Constituency, PDP’s Fred Agbedi won in Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, APC’s Preye Oseke won in Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency, Stephen Azaiki emerged winner in Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency and Obua Azibadu of PDP won in Ogbia Federal Constituency.

The figures also show a remarkable improvement over the past as the margins of victory, in some cases, were far narrower than in previous elections, which should belie the erstwhile bragging right that Bayelsa State is a PDP state.

From the above, it is becoming crystal clear that the usual belief that a PDP ticket is a sure path victory in any election in Bayelsa State has changed due majorly to a growing feeling of discontent among party stalwarts and electorate who continue to fault the process of emergence of candidates.

That does not, in any way, take anything away from the strong showing of the APC as the party that was clearly the underdog has proven itself a strong contender in Bayelsa State, something that was strange a few years ago.

The election has been trailed by allegations and counter allegations by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson and the APC over killings, violence, rigging and other irregularities that took place at Bassambiri in Nembe Local Government Area, Oweikorogha in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and Agbere in Sagbama Local Government Area among others.

In the last governorship election, the PDP won though there were violent confrontations in some parts of the state, particularly Brass, Nembe, Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor local government areas, but this time, it was not the same for the umbrella carrying party.

Perhaps, the PDP would be asking once again, what went wrong?

From the protest votes in the last House of Assembly election in 2015 where opposition political parties clinched four seats out of the 24 seats, it was evident that stakeholders were getting fed up over the imposition of candidates by those at the top without regards for the feelings of the electorate.

At Opokuma in Kolokuma/Opokuma where the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) won, the people stated clearly that they were PDP, but decided to vote their choice: they complained that the party’s choice did not share in the challenges of the constituency.

It was the same in Brass I where Sunny Goli won while at Ogbia II and III, the PDP lost at the Court of Appeal and most political observers felt the party had learnt its lesson, but as it stands, obviously, no lesson was learnt.

The greatest electoral losses of the PDP have been in Bayelsa East Senatorial District while those of Bayelsa Central Senatorial District are following closely if the development in the past four years is anything to go by.

One may wonder why the heavy losses are coming from Bayelsa East Senatorial District where former President Goodluck Jonathan comes from.

It is no longer a secret that there is a bitter rivalry, a power tussle between Governor Henry Seriake Dickson and the former president over who controls the politics of the area in question even before he lost the presidency in 2015 although both men have tried to play it down.

BusinessDay reliably gathered that prior to last Saturday’s poll, the Ogbia people had decided to vote PDP only in the presidential election and against it in the National Assembly election due to the ongoing differences between both men.

The grapevine had it that Dickson had unilaterally decided on all the candidates without any consultations with other stakeholders ever before the party organised the primary elections.

It also has it that Jonathan had called Dickson’s attention over the choice of candidates in the area and pleaded for just one, but the governor blatantly refused to give in to his demand hence the angst of the people against the party.

One thing that is indisputable in Nigerian politics is that governors virtually own political parties at the state level and this is no different in Bayelsa State; here it is no longer news that Dickson controls the PDP and his fear is the beginning of wisdom for anyone who seeks the party ticket in any election.

So, while the losses could be blamed on the absence of internal democracy in the party, they could equally be blamed on the governor who had chosen his preferred candidates before the party primaries and all the delegates had to do was return them.

Will the game get messier for PDP?

In their latest salvo in reaction to Governor Dickson’s call on Nigerians to discountenance the votes polled by President Muhammadu Buhari and APC candidates in the just concluded election, the APC state publicity secretary, Doifie Buokoribo stated that Dickson is not Bayelsa State.

On Wednesday, Dickson had stated through his Special Adviser on Media, Victor Soriwei, “There was no election, no vote, yet Timipre Sylva and David Lion, and his thugs backed by the Army commandeered electoral officials and materials to non designated locations and held them hostage to allocate fake figures.

“In the case of Brass, Army officers further compelled collation officers at gunpoint to allocate figures to their party, the APC, from votes that were never cast, votes that were never captured by card readers.

“We are calling INEC to announce cancellation and discountenance itself from this charade and investigate and punish all its officers who are complicit in this.

“We call on the Army authorities to do the same.

“Nigerians should discountenance the purported figures allotted to President Buhari and the other APC candidates based on which they are declared winners of House of Reps and Senate seats.”

Buokoribo’s reply on Thursday read in part: “The APC in Bayelsa State considers the government statement as baseless, ill-advised, and reckless. Dickson is not Bayelsa State.  Bayelsa State is not Dickson. Bayelsa State is not a party to the general elections. Bayelsa State Government must not be confused with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“As a narrow-minded and petty politician, Dickson seems not to realise that he is governor of all, not just PDP. Or are we to assume that APC members in Bayelsa State are from Sudan?

“The 23 February 2019 elections have taken place, the results collated and winners have emerged. No amount of threat, psychological warfare or fake news can change the results as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The only option open to any aggrieved party is a democratic court of law. As a lawyer, or even governor who has access to a myriad of lawyers, Governor Dickson should know this basic fact.

“Working in concert with Governor Dickson is the amorphous Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) in Bayelsa State. Created by the PDP, CUPP is demanding fresh elections in Southern Ijaw and Nembe Local Government Councils won by the APC. Our advice to CUPP: go to court!

Following from the APC assertion, could the people be surreptitiously sending a message to the governor through the ballot that he alone does not constitute Bayelsa State? Time, and the forthcoming House of Assembly election could tell.

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