After a grueling campaign that took him to the 105 wards of Bayelsa State, which is about 80 per cent riverine, Governor Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Monday, laughed best as he was returned as winner of the state governorship election.
Diri polled 175,196 votes while his closest and bitter rival and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Timipre Sylva, a former governor and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, scored 113,262 votes.
The PDP clinched six LGAs namely Kolokuma-Opokuma, Ogbia, Yenagoa, Sagbama, Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw while the APC won in Nembe and Brass, its candidate’s council areas.
The outcome of the governorship poll in the state is a manifestation of the ruling party’s wide acceptance among the people in the oil and gas-rich state where it has held sway since the return of democratic rule in 1999.
However, the t.tal number of votes cast during the poll is a far cry from the over a million registered voters.
The only upset recorded in the state governorship poll was in 2019 when the APC candidate, Chief David Lyon, won but was never inaugurated as his mandate was voided by the Supreme Court less than 24 hours to his being ushered into the Creek Haven over discrepancies in the name supplied by his running mate, Chief Biobarakuma Degi.
Diri’s victory did not come as a surprise, given his performance in the area of infrastructural development such as building roads to link up the hitherto inaccessible rural communities as well as deepening peace in the state.
These achievements that necessitated his endorsement by former President Goodluck Jonathan, who incidentally is from Bayelsa East senatorial district which is also the APC candidate, Chief Sylva’s zone.
The opposition APC which many had thought would leverage on its control of the central government and national instrument of coercion to swing the poll in favour of its candidate was routed by the PDP in six of the eight local councils.
Surprisingly, the Labour Party, LP, could not reenact the power of the nebulous ‘Obidient Movement’ as witnessed in the last presidential poll as it lacked the financial muscle to swing the votes in favour of its candidate, Engr Udengs Eradiri, in an election where voters were allegedly induced with money.
The ruling PDP which controlled the three senatorial districts, five of the eight House of Representatives seats in the state and 17 of 24 House of Assembly had more men on ground who were able to reach out to majority of voters.
Also, the incumbent governor was able to reach out to major stakeholders in the state who threw their weight behind his quest.
APC’s divided front
The APC on the other hand, which could have given the PDP the needed challenge by virtue of its being the party at the centre went into the poll as a divided house. The party was factionalized even before the primary that threw up Sylva was held.
The minister of state for petroleum (oil) Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, a formidable and tested politician from Bayelsa West senatorial district and former Speaker of the House of Assembly and Chief David Lyon’s lukewarm attitude to Sylva’s quest to return to Creek Haven partly accounted for Sylva’s poor showing at the poll.
APC’s failure to give Lyon first refusal option
Observers of event in the state had argued that the party should have given Lyon the option of “first refusal” for the APC ticket in the just concluded election given his maverick showing in the last governorship outing, insisting that he may have awaken the sympathy of the voting public because of the circumstances surrounding his sacking by the Supreme Court over the discrepancies in the name of his running mate.
It was learned that because of the way the duo were treated by the Sylva-dominated APC in the state they were indifferent to his governorship ambition especially as Sylva had once said that he would not contest governorship election again and would instead play the role of a mentor in his party.
The inability of the APC to resolve its internal wrangling before and after its controversial primary as well as the gale of defections of Sylva’s core loyalists to the PDP including Chief Werrinipre Seibarugu, his former deputy, Acting Governor and two-time Speaker of the House of Assembly; Hon Israel Sunny Goli, former member of the state House of Assembly and House of Representatives and a known field mobiliser for his erstwhile boss among others, few days to the election, also depleted the votes that could have gone to the party.
In all, credit should be given to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for abiding by its promise to use BVAS as well as the massive security presence without which armed non-state actors would have held sway especially in the riverine areas and stop voters from coming out to exercise their franchise. Vanguard News