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Bayelsa: State Where Opposition Is Lacking Presence

By Samson Ezea, who was in Yenagoa 
11 April 2015   |   1:57 am
Getting into Bayelsa State ahead of the March 28 presidential election, one would clearly observe the absence of the opposition parties in the state.

jonaGetting into Bayelsa State ahead of the March 28 presidential election, one would clearly observe the absence of the opposition parties in the state.

From the state capital, Yenagoa to President Jonathan’s hometown, Otuoke in Ogbia Council Area, the campaign billboards that adorned some strategic locations were those of the candidates of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

That of the opposition party’s candidates was nowhere to be found, not even their campaign posters were seen in most places in the state. The state, apart from being controlled by the PDP, is the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan; so it is not surprising that PDP has a dominant presence in the state.

Although the major opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state is being led by the former governor of the state and APC senatorial candidate for Bayelsa East district, Chief Timipre Sylva, the party’s presence in the state is clearly lacking.

Majority of the residents and indigenes of the state that spoke to The Guardian perceived the APC as alien party in the state.

Meanwhile, it appeared that the sign of what would eventually befall President Goodluck Jonathan in the March 28 presidential election occurred at his polling unit 039, ward 13 Otuabara, Otuoke in Ogbia Council Area of Bayelsa State on the election day.

On the fateful day of the election, President Jonathan accompanied by his aides, wife and mother had arrived his polling unit at about 9.20am for accreditation.

But unfortunately, the two card readers at the polling unit failed to accept his Permanent Voters Card (PVC), that of his wife, Patience and mother, Eunice.

Sylva

Chief Timipre Sylva,

While the INEC ad-hoc staff and official battled to activate the card readers, President Jonathan stood patiently for almost an hour. Along the line, he received a phone call that was brief.

The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Barito Kpegih later came at the polling unit alongside another INEC official, Mr. Andrew Ibeh. It was at this point that one of the card readers was activated. But even at that, the activated card reader failed to recognise the President and his wife’s data, but recognised that of his mother.

President Jonathan was asked to go home and come back before 12.00pm for accreditation. Before leaving the polling unit, President Jonathan appealed to Nigerians to exercise patience with the hiccups associated with the voting process.

He said he had received complaints about such hiccups in Edo and Jigawa states, stressing that the most important thing is for the country to have free and fair election.

Also at the polling unit 16, ward 13 Otuoke, just a stone throw to the President’s polling units, the INEC ad-hoc staff could not conduct accreditation as they were complaining of not having the voters’ register and the card reader.

They were running from pillar to post trying to explain to the angry voters, why the exercise is being delayed. As at 11.00 am, accreditation had not started at the polling unit, while it was ongoing at the President’s own. The people of the community were seen discussing the development.

Some of them who spoke to The Guardian on the condition of anonymity alleged that the failure of the card reader was pure sabotage aimed at embarrassing the President and his people.

When asked why the card reader failed to accept the President and his wife’s data, the State INEC boss said he didn’t know, but further stated that he has been in touch with the national chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega.

At around 11.00 am, President Jonathan and his wife returned at the polling unit where the incident form was used to accredit them. President Jonathan cast his vote at about 3.10pm and expressed optimism that he would emerge victorious in the poll, a wish that never come to pass at the end of the exercise as he was defeated in the contest by the General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).

While President Jonathan lost the presidential election, PDP won all the national assembly seats in the state. Announcing the result of the NASS election for Bayelsa Central in Yenagoa, the Returning Officer, Steve Nwabuzor, declared the incumbent Senator Emmanuel Paulker winner polling 129,254 votes to defeat APC’s Preye Aganaba (6,135) and Labour Party’s Bodisowei Adou (1,303).

For the Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency, also in Bayelsa Central, Douye Diri of the PDP polled 56,279 votes to win Iwo-Brown Maureen of APC 2,321, LP’s Oyowei Menifred Duenize 2,089 and Abraham Didekere of Progressive Peoples Alliance 66.

In Bayelsa West, PDP’s Foster Ogola was declared winner scoring 95,303 votes, Edi Julius of the APC 1,690, PPA’s Patience Peretu 184 and Epamowei Kakanda of the LP 211 votes.

In the election for Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, also in Bayelsa West, Fred Agbedi of the PDP was declared winner polling 94,236 votes to defeat LP 182 and APC 1,280.

Understanding the political implications of having State House of Assembly that is dominated by the opposition party members, Governor Dickson has in the last few days left no stone unturned to ensure that his party emerges victorious in today’s election. He has taken campaign and mobilisation to all nooks and crannies of the state like never before.

In Bayelsa East district, Ben Bruce of the PDP defeated Timipre Sylva of the APC. Reacting about the election results, the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state had rejected the declared results of March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state, alleging that it was characterised by widespread irregularities.

According to the APC, the Presidential and National Assembly elections was heavily compromised and characterised by intimidation of voters and arrests of APC members and agents in most parts of the state.

“Specifically, our party agents were intimidated and voters scared away by gunshots fired by the armed and security forces.

In Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area, Hon. Tariprebo Moses Aketi, APC candidate for KOLGA Constituency 1, and Campaign Manager, Imomoemi Odiowei, were arrested.

In Nembe Local Government Area, Mini and Ikensi Wards, soldiers using two new gunboats chased out APC agents, seized all the electoral materials and took them to the residence of a former Speaker of the Bayelsa Sate House of Assembly.

In the similar development, the national leadership of the United Peoples Party (UPP) has raised the alarm plot by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Joint Task Force (JTF) to rig the 11th April 2015, Brass Constituency 3 (Akassa Area) Bayelsa State House of Assembly election by colluding with the Independent National Electoral Commission officials to manipulate the result of the election.

According the national secretary of the party, Barrister Bello Umar, the party’s members, supporters and candidate in Brass Constituency 3, Mr. Yousuo Oberiakuna are concerned by this despicable conspiracy to undermine the electoral process and the wish of the people to elect their representative in the constituency.

Reacting to the allegation, the state leadership of the PDP had denied the allegations, stating that APC and UPP are bad losers. The Guardian investigation reveals that with the outcome of the presidential and national assembly elections in the state, it will take political intrigues and alignment for the opposition to make any meaningful impact in today’s governorship and state assembly poll.

Unfortunately for the opposition parties, there will be no governorship election in the state today. This development has given the governor of the state, Mr. Seriake Dickson, and the PDP stakeholders enough opportunity to mobilise support for their candidates in the House of Assembly election.

Understanding the political implications of having State House of Assembly that is dominated by the opposition party members, Governor Dickson has in the last few days left no stone unturned to ensure that his party emerges victorious in today’s election.

He has taken campaign and mobilisation to all nooks and crannies of the state like never before.