BAYELSA GUBER: WHERE ARE THE CANDIDATES?
By Samuel Oyadongha
BAyelsa State is about the most endowed but among the least developed states in Nigeria. With one of the highest revenue profiles in the country, it has had the misfortune of witnessing some of the most violent elections in the country.
But for the first time in a decade, Bayelsans will be going to the poll to elect a governor without the usual violent skirmishes associated with the governorship elections in the predominantly riverine state except for the Tuesday incident in which a life was reportedly lost at Oporoma in Southern Ijaw council area as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP rounded up its electioneering campaign. It was gathered that the supporters of the chairman of the council and that of his vice who are locked in bitter feud were engaged in a free for all.
A total of thirty five political parties will be going for the Saturday governorship polls, 34 of which are poised to dislodge the PDP from the Bayelsa Government House which it had monopolized in the last twelve years.
Surprisingly, in spite of the large number of parties vying for the governorship, the state has witnessed an usually calm campaign unlike the past when dynamites were thrown at campaign grounds.
Undoubtedly, the peace has been helped by the increased security checkpoints manned by men of the Nigerian Police Force in the capital city in the run up to the election causing gridlock and discomfort to residents.
The relative calm in the state may not be unconnected with the amnesty programme which succeeded in mopping up thousands of arms in the hands of the ex militants some of whom were in the past easily manipulated by the politicians.
Although the field may appear rowdy given the number of the parties in the trench most of them could best be described as paper tigers only existing in name without any tangible structure on ground to be taken serious.
The PDP towers above the other parties in terms of organizational structure. The integration of the state Acting Governor, Nestor Binabo into the campaign train of the party candidate is a further boost to the party as he is expected to rein in members of his state of House of Assembly into supporting the PDP candidate, Seriake Dickson.
Dickson, an indigene of Sagbama Local Government Area in the West Senatorial District is like his running mate Rear Admiral John Jonah (rtd), has a background in security, having served in the police force while the latter from Nembe council area was a former commandant at the Nigeria Defence College.
Aside the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Change Advocacy Party, CAP and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC that are visibly on ground and canvassing for votes, the others are nothing but existing in name with no structure on ground. The ACN governorship candidate, Barrister Kemela Okara, has been passionate about his readiness to serve.
He has promised to introduce the Bayelsa Integrated Development Strategy, BIDS, which according to him is a holistic approach to development based on the pillars of health, jobs, education and environment to give each Bayelsan dignity, prosperity and well being.
CAP guber candidate, Dr. Imoro Kubor; ACN candidate, Barrister Kemela Okara and PDP guber candidate, Seriake Dickson
He promised to introduce affordable primary health care through government backed community health insurance schemes, local government area customized micro finance institutions in each LGA of the state, qualitative education tied to the MDG goals, rapid infrastructural transformation especially in the water transportation sector and upgrading environmental protection for the benefit of all stakeholders in the state.
Dr. Imoro Kubor of Change Advocacy
Imoro Kubo, a retired permanent secretary is the hope of CAP in the Saturday governorship election. An indigene of Lobia in Southern Ijaw, one of the biggest local government areas in the state, his choice of Rev Obegha Oworibo, the immediate past Head of Service in the state as his running mate has been hailed as a political masterstroke to woo the state civil servants given his robust relationship with the workers during his meritorious career in the civil service.
Kubor had told a gathering of Bayelsans at a rally, 'The two of us are technocrats from the public service. We shall be bringing our wealth of experience into politics to ensure the transformation of Bayelsa State. We have been tested in a cultured civil service with a lot of discipline.'
Though blessed with two tested technocrats, the party's undoing is finance. It could not be compared to the PDP which controls the state resources and also parades some of the money bags in the state who had benefited at one time or the other from the ruling party in form of contract execution as well as holding juicy positions in government. Kubor has also come under criticisms for jumping from one party to another. But he has defended himself, saying that he abandoned ACN and PDP for strategic reasons.
Party bringing development
'The party does not bring development to a state, but the individual elected as governor. That is what the PDP is lacking that the CAP has. In Akwa Ibom, it is not PDP, but Akpabio that is working.
CPC: Mr. Famous Daunemighan
The governorship candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) is Mr. Famous Daunemighan; a former Special Adviser on Mobilisation in the state enjoys the support of the youths, having served as former National Deputy President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide.
Daunemighan, who hails from Ekeremor in the West Senatorial District, picked Alaowei Opukeme, a politician from Yenagoa Council as his running mate. The CPC candidate, often described as a 'man of the people' is known to have assisted several youths and elders in the state right from his day as an IYC chieftain.
His administration if elected he said, would focus on job creation to cater for the army of unemployed youths in the state and massive infrastructural development.
'What we are telling the people is to look at the individual candidates and forget the party. Since 1999, the PDP has claimed to be ruling, but they have negative effects on the governance of the state. It is our time to take Bayelsa to a new level.'