The Battle for Bayelsa State Government House

David Lyon and Senator Douye Diri
David Lyon and Senator Douye Diri

As the battle for the Bayelsa State Government House rages, political analysts believe that victory belongs to the ruling PDP in the state. But judging by the large number of contestants in the state, the winner of the contest between the APC and the PDP is the candidate who pulls a simple majority of the votes cast by the electorates

By Anayo Ezugwu

THE battle for the successor of Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State is gaining momentum. In the battle for the plum job in the state, there are 45 contestants. On Saturday, November 16, the people of the oil-rich state will elect a new governor. As a rule in every contest, there must be a winner, who will take over from Dickson, whose mandate ends on February 14, 2020.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the battle for the governorship seat in Bayelsa State is heavily dominated by the males. Of the 45 parties fielding candidates for the election, there are only three parties with female contenders. The parties with female candidates are the Mega Party of Nigeria, MPN; Democratic People’s Party, DPP, and Democratic Peoples Congress, DPC.

That notwithstanding, of all the candidates for the November 16, governorship election, only a handful of them really have a chance. As politics in Nigeria has shown, the chances of each person in the race are dictated by the party he or she belongs and how well the person is equally well acceptable by the electorate. So, the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the main opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, are regarded as the leading parties in the state, thereby making their candidates favourably positioned to lead in the race.

Political analysts in the state agree that the race is mainly between Senator Douye Diri of the PDP and David Lyon of the APC respectively. Unlike in the past governorship elections in the state, anxiety is thick in the air and is visible in the nook and cranny of the state, especially among the supporters and leaders of the two major political parties. Traditionally, Bayelsa is a known PDP state and political observers and watchers of political events in the country would give any election in the state to the party.

However, the result of the 2019 general elections in the state, mostly the National Assembly elections, where the APC made great inroads into the state, has thrown permutations on the result of future election in the state open. As the election draws closer, APC leaders are boasting that they will consolidate on the gains of the March 2019 election. While PDP leaders and supporters on the other hand, are girding their loins, and assuring their supporters that the party had never lost a gubernatorial election in the state since 1999 and that, such will not happen this time around.

Senator Diri, PDP’s candidate, who hails from Kolokuma/Okpokuma Local Government Area, is a Senator representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, and before his election in 2019 as a senator, he had served as a member of the House of Representatives. He had also been a commissioner for youth and sports in the state, when former President Goodluck Jonathan was governor of the state. Aside from politics, Diri has been a teacher, which he is always proud to mention; and a businessman. Besides, he was the organising secretary of the Ijaw National Congress, a position that drew him closer to the grassroots.

The APC Candidate, David Lyon on the other hand, apart from being a successful oil magnate, little is known about his public life. He was a youth president in his community, Olugbibiri, between 1996 and 1998, and has been involved in politics from the days of the National Republican Convention and the Social Democratic Party in the Third Republic.

Lyon, who hails from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, is a big time player in the oil sector. He reportedly owns six ocean liners that lift oil for multinationals, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

As the election draws near, the question on the lips of political observers is whether it is possible for the APC and its candidate, Lyon to dislodge the PDP from the Bayelsa Government House.

As the debate rages on, the recent protest by some group that Lyon was a former militant leader might also be a minus for the APC and its candidate in the coming election. Most APC leaders are of the view that dislodging PDP in Bayelsa during the November 16 governorship election is not going to be a tea party, considering the visible achievements of the incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson, and his predecessors who were PDP members.

Philip Odua, political affairs commentator, said for APC to defeat PDP in the forthcoming governorship election is an uphill task. He said the only party the Bayelsans at the grassroots are aware of is PDP. “Forget what happened in the last general election, this is governorship election and the people understand what it means when you talk of continuity. I am talking of continuity of more than 20 years. The party has governed the state since 1999, with established structures at far-flung creeks,” he said.

It was reported that while the primary election that produced Diri was adjudged by most of the aspirants as keen, free and fair by other aspirants except Timi Alaibe, former managing director, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, who complained of procedural defects, the primaries that threw up Lyon has become a bitter pill for other aspirants in the party to swallow.

Findings have showed that most of the aspirants that contested against Lyon are unhappy with the conduct of the election and the result declared. There is therefore fear that some of them may work against the party. So to brighten APC’s chances, watchers of political events in Bayelsa are of the opinion that the national leadership of the party must reconcile aggrieved aspirants.

Lyon’s critics also believe he has little experience when it comes to politics and that he only rode on the back of Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources. They believe that Sylva settled for him for his own selfish reasons. This is even as it has been alleged by some analysts that his emergence has thrown up fresh issues of disagreement and possible re-alignment within and outside the main opposition party in the state.

However, some observers in the state agreed that Lyon’s candidature is the best for the APC as they believe that he will enjoy the support of many former militant leaders in the creeks and that his stupendous wealth may also be a weapon to fight PDP to a standstill.

But, if there is anyone who is not afraid of the PDP winning the November election, that person is Governor Dickson. He has maintained that the APC is “a toothless bulldog” that lacks the capacity to win any free and fair election in the state.

Many PDP leaders who spoke to us believe the party has the chance to win the election, but they are calling for caution. Joseph David, a PDP leader in the state, said the party has a better chance to win the election, but we need to be cautious. There should be urgent reconciliation. “If we go to the election as a divided house, we will be defeated. The crisis in the House of Assembly should be resolved on time if we want to win. We should also placate the aggrieved aspirants. We need to be careful and we should not take the APC victory in March election as a play,” he said.

But whether all this will be a determinant in the election is another kettle of fish. The state electorate will speak with their votes on November 16, but whether the power that be will allow their votes to count is another issue. The world is certainly going to pay attention as the electorate in the state go to the polls.

– Nov. 8, 2019 @ 17:56 GMT |

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