BAYELSA GUBER: HOW DICKSON WON
By Samuel Oyadongha
Despite the uproar that heralded the exclusion of the former Governor of the state, Mr. Timipre Sylva from last November's governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State and his subsequent sack by the Supreme Court, there was little doubt that the PDP would win the governorship election.
Although the poll was marred by voters' apathy, as the results of the election conducted last Saturday distilled yesterday it was clearly evident that the PDP was forging towards consolidating its hegemony over the politics of Bayelsa State.
Surprisingly, less than 18 hours to the poll, 25 out of the 34 parties in the governorship race threw in the towel and endorsed the PDP candidate Seriake Dickson.
Remarkably, most of the parties listed for the poll did not do any campaign. They did not print posters and their manifestoes were unknown to the majority of the electorate.
Only the Change Advocacy Party, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC demonstrated the zeal to challenge the ruling party.
But the ease with which the PDP crushed its main challengers did not come as a surprise to many as unlike others it had the resources to penetrate every nook and cranny of the predominantly riverine state.
The PDP, conscious of the clandestine move by some forces within its fold to rubbish the Seriake Dickson/John Jonah ticket orchestrated robust campaign strategies such as the Keme-to-Keme (person-to-person) approach, mass rallies and use of the mass media to propagate its message.
Dickson casting his vote during the election
It was the thinking of some that the internal wrangling within the ruling party in the wake of the disqualification of Sylva would impact negatively on the PDP but true to its umbrella symbol it was able to accommodate its diverse interests and forge ahead to clinch the poll.
Vanguard findings, however, reveal that the party's campaigns was not just the magic wand as it was learnt that a combination of factors worked in his favour.
Aside enjoying the backing of the political class, Dickson also enjoyed the support of majority of the PDP.
Though the governorship poll was characterized by poor voters' turn which some blamed on the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the exercise others insisted that it was a pointer that the people were tired of a system where votes don't really count.
Their anger they argued is an overflow of the results of the April House of Assembly and National Assembly election. The poor turn out notwithstanding, many were of the view that it was a day the people of the state demonstrated a great sense of commitment towards ensuring a peaceful poll.
Indeed, recent elections in Bayelsa have been characterized with violence. But in this case except for a member of the ACN identified as Tustom Ogai, who was shot dead on the eve of the election at Obirigbene in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state and the fracas between the supporters of the PDP and CAP at Trofani town in the Sagbama local government area caused by alleged misunderstanding in which six persons were injured, the campaigns and election could be adjudged as the most peaceful in recent times since 2003.
Though INEC, the body saddled with the responsibility of conducting poll had its teething problems, but for the first time in the history of the state, residents were overwhelmingly surprised that they could exercise their franchise in a civilized manner.
President Goodluck Jonathan who voted at his Otazi playground polling unit, Otuoke, in Ogbia local government area while reacting to the poor turn out said the large turnout during last year's polls could be attributed to the special interest the people had in the presidential election which equally attracted Nigerians in Diaspora.
He said, 'You know that in Bayelsa state there has been some kind of challenges as to who the candidate is and who is not a candidate. And up to yesterday, Bayelsans were confused as to whether election will go on or not and this affect the turnout of voters.
Jonathan, however, said he was satisfied with the conduct of the poll, saying it was generally peaceful across the state. He was also confident that the votes of the people will count.
He said, 'The exercise has been very calm and in the whole state I have not heard of any ugly incident, everywhere is calm and am quite pleased. I am very hopeful that the votes of the citizens will count and clearly manifest in this election.'
In the result released so far, the PDP again asserted its dominance by clinching all five out of the eight local government council results so far announced.
The councils won by the PDP include Ogbia, the local government area of President Goodluck Jonathan, Seriake Dickson's own Sagbama local government, Kolokuma-Opokuma local government area, Yenagoa local government area and Nembe council area, the base of the immediate past substantive governor, Sylva.
However, the commission as at press time yesterday was yet to release the results from Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw and Brass council areas which are far flung and can only be accessed by water.