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How four ‘outsiders’ are dictating tempo of Bayelsa State guber poll

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Dickson

With one clear month to the November 16, 2019, gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State, the undercurrents in the state point to the reality that some four political actors that would not be on the ballot are influencing the various dynamics.

Divided unevenly between the two main political parties, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), these four political giants namely, former President Goodluck Jonathan, incumbent Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva and embattled governorship aspirant, Timi Alaibe, could determine the outcome of the Guber poll.

While it is commonly believed that the former President did not have his preferred candidate as the standard-bearer of PDP, Mr. David Lyon, who is believed to be the anointed candidate of the Petroleum Minister of State, has not been having it easy with some stakeholders, who would rather have the party taste the Zamfara and Rivers’ fate.

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Yet having succeeded in investing his power of incumbency to field Senator Duoye Diri as PDP’s candidate for the election, Governor Dickson and the party have not literally known peace due to the political clout and legal torchlight being beamed on the governorship primary election that threw up Diri.

When some PDP stakeholders hoped that a semblance of reconciliation was on the horizon, the case instituted by Alaibe received a sort of boost. This followed the decision by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, to grant Alaibe’s request for his matter to be transferred to the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.

Even when the PDP’s counsel, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem wanted to protest the sudden transfer of the case, Justice Jane Iyang of the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, declared in a curt manner, “I hereby transfer the case.”

Enoidem was left to sulkily bemoan the declaration, saying: “We are surprised that a man who wants to be governor of Bayelsa State is running away from the state on account of insecurity…This is not how to be a good governor.”

Some observers wondered whether indeed mischief was planned against Alaibe and his legal challenge, which warranted the PDP’s counsel’s regrets. However, counsel to the plaintiff, Alaibe, Ayodele Adedipe, maintained that his client decided to transfer the case according to his choosing, adding that the CJN found merit in the prayer.

Apart from Alaibe’s court case, the PDP candidate, Diri, had another legal huddle lined across his path to the election. This time around, an anti-corruption group that calls itself, Bayelsa Coalition for Good Governance and Accountability (BCGGA) petitioned the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) alleging that Diri failed to declare his assets between 2012 and 2013 as stipulated by the law.

The group disclosed that within the time Diri served as the Chief of Staff, Bayelsa Government House as well as when he occupied the office of Principal Executive Secretary to Governor Dickson, he did not fulfill the intendment of the law that public officers should declare their assets.

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According to the Executive Director of BCGGA, Joseph Ambakaderimo, the decision to drag Diri to CCB was in a bid to ensure that things are done the right way and uphold the rule of law for good governance of Bayelsa State.

Although Ambakaderimo denied that his group was being sponsored by those opposed to Governor Dickson, some observers wondered why the petition did not come when he contested the Senatorial election.

It is however believed that those orchestrating the litigations are not only against Diri’s emergence but also especially against speculations that the governor wants to swap positions with the Senator by contesting a by-election in the event that Diri wins the November 16 governorship.

Dismissing those insinuations, Ambakaderimo stated: “We are being sponsored by any person; whoever is faulting the petition on the grounds of timing is ignorant. Many of us are being threatened daily and we are already filing a petition to the Inspector General of Police on these threats to our lives.”

Lyon ‘killers’
FOR the APC candidate, it is not as if he is free to loom large after getting the stout backing of Timipre Sylva. He has his own dish garnished with some legal distractions.

Irked by what he called irregularities, rival candidate for the APC ticket and former Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, challenging Lyon’s emergence at the primary election.

Similar to Alaibe’s case, the court recently granted the plaintiff leave to deploy substituted service on the respondents, including APC, candidate Lyon and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In granting the plaintiff’s prayer for substituted service, Justice Jane Iyang, however, refused to sanction the plea for abridgment of time, stressing that Lokpobiri lacked the power to unilaterally abridge the time of response of counsel to the defendants.

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The plaintiff’s counsel, Fitzgerald Olorogun, had argued that the respondents were adopting evasive manouvres to avoid service, knowing that time was of the essence in the matter.

Justice ordered that while Lyon should be served by pasting the summons on his campaign secretariat along Isaac Boro Expressway, INEC”s copy should be posted on its secretariat along Swali Road, Yenagoa.

However, despite Lokpobiri’s challenge of his nomination, Lyon continues to bounce in the combined euphoria of assumed federal might via Sylva’s support and the crisis within the camp of his main rival, Diri.

Diri’s dream of succeeding Dickson received a major boost recently when some 10 former appointees of the incumbent defected from PDP and joined the Lyon campaign train of APC.

The wind of possible victory blew further when the wife of former President Jonathan, Mama Peace, showed up at the campaign of the event of the APC candidate, fueling speculations that the former first family may have resolved to hunt with the Lyon’s team.

Coming barely a week after his husband showed up at the Presidential Villa, some Bayelsans sold the dummy that the former President has agreed with the powers that be in Abuja to requite his former political godson, Dickson, for refusing to back Alaibe’s quest to succeed him.

But, dismissing the insinuations, especially the defection of former appointees of his Restoration Administration, Governor Dickson said those atmospherics were so infinitesimal to hamper PDP and Diri’s impending victory at the November 16 poll.

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In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Fidelis Soriwei, Dickson declared: “Those who are talking about the defections from our party, let them know that we have more than 3, 000 appointees. The resignation or defection of 10 out of these appointees is too small a number to register a negative effect on our party and its chances in the election.”

The governor recalled that despite the desperation and use of federal might and other agencies of government in 2015, APC failed in its bid to wrest control of political power from the PDP.

As the electioneering nears the crucial days, it is becoming clear by the day that the intrigues by outsiders to the governorship ballot are influencing what could end up as possible determining factors in voter preferences on November 16, 2019.

Could it be that Jonathan, Sylva, and Alaibe have found a common political adversary in the person of Governor Dickson? Has the governor’s speculated ambition to succeed Diri in the Senate more to do with the gang-up or his refusal to bend over backward to indemnify Alaibe’s sacrifice in 2011?

Why Nigerian politicians betray the trust
IT could be perhaps on account of the warp and woof currently playing out in the Bayelsa polity that the immediate past lawmaker that represented Rivers South-East Senatorial District, Senator Magnus Abe, concluded that Nigerian politicians no longer trust each other because they believe that everybody is a cheat.

Senator Abe, who waged spirited political supremacy with his former ally and Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi in neighbouring Rivers State, explained that the absence of trust among politicians and even among their followers was responsible for lack of internal democracy and under-development in the country.

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While describing democracy as the solution to the country’s under-development, Abe asserted that Nigeria couldn’t experience internal democracy without the common agreement of the participants and the citizens.

Abe made the remarks in Port Harcourt while delivering a lecture titled; ‘Importance of Internal Democracy to the Development of Democracy in Nigeria, in a programme organised by the state chapter of the APC visionary media team.

Abe said: “In our politics, nobody trusts another. In any contest you are going into, everybody believes that you are going there to cheat. So, if you do not have the plans to cheat, you have lost already, because if you don’t cheat, the other person will cheat. So you cannot have internal democracy without the common agreement of the participants.”

He blamed the enormity of challenges bedeviling the country on god fathering in politics, describing it as a situation where politicians play by the rules without the common interest of the masses.

“As politicians do not play the game according to the rules, they only complain when the rules do not favour them. But you also realize that if you are in the position to decide how the game should be played, the same thing you would have complained about is the same thing you will do,” he stated.

The APC chieftain, therefore, counseled his colleagues, saying, “let us always learn not to play by the rules, because if we do, we will get the same bad results over and over again because you don’t trust me and I don’t trust you. To achieve internal democracy we have to live by what we preach.”

According to him, to regain public trust, politicians must learn to live by what they preach by giving priority attention to the needs of the citizens, even as he maintained that Nigerians can only live meaningful lives, if the leaders create a society that provides for everyone, including those without access to government at any given point in time.

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