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Restructuring: Bayelsa Assures Atiku Block Votes, Gives Red Card To Opponents

By Enideneze Etete
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True to the campaign appeals made by Peoples Democratic Party's candidates from Bayelsa Central Senatorial District and others, Presidential Candidate of the Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has affirmed his pact with the Niger Delta on the thorny issues of restructuring the nation's polity and resource control.

The restructuring aspect of the PDP's campaigns, is a matter which the ruling All Progressives Party (APC), has toyed with. The APC at one time denies having it in its manifesto nor promising to restructure the polity, but at other times portrays itself as being keen about the issue, yet its El Rufai Committee's report on the matter is gathering dust.

Constitutional amendments so far made by the National Assembly under the APC, have not touched sections and subsections that will really create political and economic equity to make room for states to control their natural resources.

This ping pong game, besides the rising awareness about the cheating against the Niger Delta, seems to have made the PDP's restructuring mantra to resonate with the interest of Bayelsans as different groups and oil communities have declared to return the PDP to power at all levels.

Among such groups and communities is Epie/Atissa, host of the Bayelsa State Capital, Yenagoa, whose status is yet to match other cities in terms of federal presence, even though many states that are benefiting from the unbalanced polity are contributing less to the nation's coffers.

Considering these anomalies, Alhaji Atiku's unequivocal promise that he will within six months of being sworn into office, commence modalities for restructuring of Nigeria's lopsided and dysfunctional administrative and political systems to improve the social and economic wellbeing of the people, was received with thunderous ovation at the presidential rally in Yenagoa, despite the rains, characteristic of Bayelsa.

By that promise, he meant that the worrisome aspects of the 1999 Constitution, the biggest obstacle to progress and unity of the country, would be amended to pave way for resource control.

Atiku who spoke at the party's presidential campaign in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State Capital, has being a strong advocate for devolution of powers. He has been advocating for it since his days as vice president in 1999, up to his earlier attempts at Presidential elections, and now that he is PDP's candidate.

Political pundits say, Alhaji Atiku was merely using restructuring as a campaign gimmick to sway voters to his ambition, even as his Northern brothers are not disposed to any form of restructuring that could empower resource-rich zones, to weaken the Hausa-Fulani Oligarch's expropriation of other zone's resources.

But, the PDP, presidential candidate is rather seen by some elites, entrepreneurs and politicians and even foreign observers as a pragmatist, who is an investor and detribalised citizen, thus will match words with action on the promise to restructure the polity.

Already, Alhaji Atiku has articulated and published a laudable blueprint of economic plan, which successful implementation will depend largely on restructuring and resource control, as in developed countries. Believers of the Atiku's promises, the agendas of which are consistently presented to the electorates, feel that his campaigns have been issues-based, more than those of some other parties. They feel that, the articulated blueprint is vital for political and economic development in Nigeria, thus, the citizens need to take advantage and vote for Atiku and his running mate, Chief Peter Obi.

The duo, is an investment minded pair, assuring the revamping of the nation's economy and creation of jobs, agendas which they reiterated at the rally in Yenagoa. For these agendas, youths which formed the largest part of the crowd at the Yenagoa Galleria, near the Ox Bow Lake, applauded the candidate.

Lending credence to the PDP's restructuring agenda, former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, said that Alhaji Atiku understands the problems of the Niger Delta.

Dr. Jonathan who spoke at rally in Yenagoa, January 29, vouched for Atiku's commitment to resolve the political and economic imbalances in the country through restructuring, hence should be massively voted by the people.

Though applauded by the crowd, Dr. Jonathan's talk also rather reminded the people about the 2014 National Conference in his regime, which was unfortunately not implemented by him nor the President Mohammadu Buhari administration to lay the issues to rest. Notwithstanding, Bayelsa people are hopeful that an Atiku-PDP government, would adopt some of the recommendations of the 2014 conference.

When the candidates of the PDP in the Bayelsa Central Senatorial District were harping on restructuring and resource control to the people, during campaign tours to the area, it was like a mere refrain in a sweet song. But Governor Seriake Dickson, who Prof. Steve Azaiki often dubs as the Alamieyeseigha of the this era in terms of agitating for fair deal, also reaffirmed the common position of Bayelsa, Ijaws, Niger Delta, the South-South and even the South-East and South-West on restructuring and resource control.

Governor Dickson said at the PDP's presidential rally in Yenagoa that Alhaji Atiku understands the problems of Bayelsa State and the Niger Delta, hence is the one that should be voted for on February 16.

He stated that the stakeholders of Bayelsa State and the Niger Delta are in one voice with Atiku, on restructuring, thus that will be the paramount policy of a PDP-led Federal Government, as assured by the party's presidential candidate.

This plan according to Governor Dickson and the state chairman of the PDP, Barr Moses Cleopas was one reason why the party nominated qualified Bayelsans who will liaise with stakeholders as well as different levels and arms of government to realise the restructuring and resource control agenda.

Given this somewhat unanimous agreement, the oil rich but deprived communities in the eight local government areas of Bayelsa State, also appear to be in one voice. As in the other two senatorial districts of the state, the central area of Bayelsa, comprising Yenagoa; Kolokuma/Opokuma and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas, block votes have been assured for Alhaji Atiku and the other PDP candidates.

In Yenagoa, the state capital, the host, Epie/Atissa, have given red card to the candidates of the other political parties, as they say they will not vote for any party other than the PDP.

Politicians in Epie Clan of the Epie/Atissa Kingdoms, notably, former House of Assembly member, Hon. Johnson Alalibo; Hon. Parkinson Markmanuel currently representing them in the state legislature; Chief Natus Zebakeme; Hons. Keseme Wilson, Freedom Osain, a former commissioner; Chief Godson Torukuru and Chief Bokizibe Emmanuel spoke in like manner that Epie/Atissa has been a PDP territory since 1999 when democracy was reintroduced.

They said that the area has benefited from PDP, and assured their people that they will benefit more when the party regains power at the centre and retains control of Bayelsa State to facilitate the restructuring agenda.

The speakers who swayed the uncontrollable crowd at the Opolo Epie Central High school in Yenagoa, urged the people to vote for Alhaji Atiku and his running mate, Chief Peter Obi, to usher in more development in Yenagoa, the state capital.

They also urged them to vote for Hon. Douye Diri for Bayelsa Central Senatorial District's Seat; Prof. Steve Azaiki one of their own, for Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal House of Reps Seat and Hon. Oforji Oboku for Yenagoa 1 House of Assembly Seat, stating that they are tested and qualified candidates.

Speakers in Atissa Clan of Epie/Atissa Kingdoms, including Chiefs Fidelis D. Lott; Okulovie Obho, Lambert Ototo, Romeo Lott, Benjamin Ogbara and Mrs. Pulu Zifawei spoke in similar vein with their Epie Clan brothers and declared the peoples total support to PDP in all the elections this year. They spoke at a rally by the Bayelsa Central Senatorial District at Famgbe community in Atissa Kingdom, Yenagoa, stressing that they know no other candidates in the next elections.

At the Atissa rally in Famgbe, Paramount ruler of the community, Chief Fidelis D. Lott, a retired politician and former commissioner of Justice in the old Rivers State, decorated candidates of the PDP: Douye Diri, Bayelsa Central Senatorial candidate; Steve Azaiki, Yelga/Kolga Reps candidate and Oforji Oboku House of Assembly candidate with wrappers and machetes to fire them up for the electoral battle.

Presenting the aforementioned candidates to the Epie/Atissa Kingdoms at venues of the rally in Opolo and Famgbe, respectively, January 28, Chairman of the PDP in the State, Bar Cleopas Moses and Director General of the Bayelsa Central Senatorial District campaign team, Rt. Hon. Talford Ongolo, reiterated the capabilities of the candidates of the PDP, and beseeched the people to vote for them.

The Bayelsa Central Senatorial District's campaign train, had earlier berthed at the palace of the paramount ruler of Yenagoa, HRH Clarkson Kikile and the palace of HRM Godwin Igodo, King of Atissa Kingdom, counted the dividends of democracy to the area in the 16 years of PDP's rule.

They demanded palace buildings and facilities for traditional rulers councils as well as infrastructures for public's use.