Many factors will determine who wins today’s Bayelsa State governorship election. The contest is between the incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson who is flying the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) flag and former governor, Timipre Sylva, as candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Analysts say the contest is going to be a fight between the two political gladiators and by extension between President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC-led federal government and former president Goodluck Jonathan who is from Bayelsa State.
The state appears to be Jonathan’s only PDP surviving state and will do everything humanly possible not to concede it to APC. It is believed that a loss of the PDP in today’s election will be a very big slight on Jonathan of which he will use everything at his disposal to ensure PDP clinch the contest.
Thousands of Bayelsans drawn from the three senatorial districts of Bayelsa Central (Yenagoa, Southern Ijaw and Opukuma), Bayelsa West (Ekeremo and Sagbama) as well as Bayelsa East (Ogbia, Nembe and Brass) will decide today, between Sylva and Dickson, who will be their governor. Dickson hails from Sagbama while Sylva is from Nembe.
One of the factors that will determine who wins the election is personality influence and the impact of the two politicians to the grassroots. Pundits say today’s poll will be the first time a real election will be conducted in the state as previous governorship ticket in the state was issued from the government house. They add that the people of Bayelsa will have a say on who will become the governor as every vote will count.
The first challenge Dickson will face is from thousands of Bayelsa civil servants who are owed arrears of salaries. Another group of people that will challenge the governor at the poll are political jobbers and hangers on whose ‘stomach infrastructure’ benefit he stopped. Unlike Sylva who is noted to be ‘open handed’ and created ‘stomach infrastructure’ where so many Bayelsans benefited, Dickson shut his doors against ‘stomach infrastructure’ policy. As soon as he came into power he stopped the policy on the ground that Government House vault is not an ATM machine where every Dick and Harry would come to withdraw money.
The governor according to analysts believes that for one to earn money such a person must work for it given the reason why not much was given out to the people. He was said to have impoverished the people through his harsh policies which is considered alien to Bayelsans ‘come and chop’ policy.
Another factor that will work against him is his alleged highhandedness and despotic tendencies which forced many of his supporters to abandon him. Some of his cabinet members resigned from a few months to the election and pitched their tent with Sylva.
“This election will be an acid test for Sylva and Dickson. It is going to be payback time for Dickson who sees himself as a demi-god. He did not see anything good in anybody apart from himself. You need to see how he presides over our monthly transparency meetings where he shoots everybody down. You cannot give your opinion in that meeting and where you do you are in for trouble,” a top civil servant who spoke with our reporter in Yenagoa said.
“In that meeting nobody talks. You only attend the meeting and listen to him throughout the meeting and go home at the end. This is what we passed through with the governor. Many of his aides do not like his style of leadership and that is the reason why so many of the cabinet members resigned at the dying minute,” he added, asking not to be named.
The top government official also alleged that the governor converted Government House into his private property where family members were appointed into key political positions. He said all these factors will work against Dickson.
Another factor that will determine who wins the election is the personality of President Buhari and that of ex-president Jonathan. Jonathan is a strong supporter of Dickson who he installed as governor in 2011 against Sylva who was denied the PDP ticket despite the fact he won the party’s primaries.
Jonathan during PDP grand finale rally in Yenagoa told supporters not to be deceived by any politician but vote for Dickson. The ethnic sentiment that beclouded the presidential election may play out in this poll as the Ijaw may like to take their pound of flesh against the north for voting against their son. Majority of Ijaw believe that a vote for APC is a vote for Buhari and northerners who voted against their son during the presidential election.
APC leaders are not relenting in their effort to take Bayelsa State. Their campaign direction tilted on the premise that the state cannot afford to be in the opposition hence the need to vote for a mainstream party.
The two candidates will have to test their popularity at the hinterland where majority of Ijaw reside. The hinterland has a large chunk of Bayelsa’s 1.7 million population. Despite the difficult terrain of the area and coupled with its volatile nature, the two governorship candidates will stage a fight for the finish in the hinterland.
Source: Daily Trust