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Battle for Bayelsa: How the aspirants stand
Tomorrow is the day all leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had looked forward to. The governorship primary is scheduled to hold in Yenagoa, the state capital. President Goodluck Jonathan forces are pitched against Governor Timipre Sylva’s troops.
It was in Abuja on Wednesday. Seven persons gunning for the governorship seat in Bayelsa State were cleared by both the PDP Zonal Screening Committee (ZSC) and the National Working Committee (NWC). Hence, they got their Certificates of Clearance to go into the contest next year.
They include Fred Ekiyegha, Francis Doukpola Amaebi, Christopher Enai and Seriake Dickson, all from Bayelsa West Senatorial District. Others include Youpele Kalango from the East Senatorial District; Austine Febo and Bolubo Orufa, from the Central Senatorial District.
With the number of aspirants coming out of the West Senatorial District, the people of the district have clearly shown that it’s their turn to produce the next governor of the state.
Most of the aspirants had worked with President Goodluck Jonathan; thus, they are all banking on this advantage to clinch the ticket.
With the relationship, he made it to the National Assembly and he is still very hopeful that the President would give his blessing in the coming election.
Seen as one of the Jonathan ‘boys’ who is backed by henchmen and close associates of Jonathan, notably Chief George Turner and almost all the former chairmen of the PDP in the state including Chief Fred Agbedi, Chief Dorgu and Chief Rufus Abadi, he is already being described as the anointed one. Besides, he is the only aspirant among the seven cleared that has gained so much popularity especially since after his declaration last week.
Observers of the unfolding scenario in the state believe that since leaving Labour Party for the PDP, Mr. Ndutimi Alaibe has lost grip of his political structures.
Dickson had already been seen as the man to beat until recently when his fellow aspirants called for his disqualification over his alleged anti-party role during the party’s Ward Congress.
Replying those claiming that there was no ward election, Seriake described them as liars, and agents of a failed system, while insisting that the election held.
Another hopeful is Amaebi who almost became governor in 2007. It is believed in many quarters that since Jonathan could not install him at that time, it’s now the most auspicious time for him to effect his agenda for the Agbere-born politician who had battled severally for the governorship position.
A prominent politician who craved for anonymity fervently prayed that “God should touch Jonathan to give Amaebi the ticket because the man has acted like Abraham Lincoln of America who contested for the Presidency severally”.
There are equally feelers that he may enjoy the sympathy of the present government in the state because he is a major contractor in the Sylva-led administration. And besides the fact that only his campaign jingle is being aired on the state FM radio, his brother is also heading a major parastatal under the government.
Being the Chairman of Bayelsa State Elders’ Forum, Amaebi is also well respected by the people across the state. Observers are of the opinion that the President has enormous sympathy for him.
A four-time governorship aspirant in both Rivers and Bayelsa states, Amaebi narrowly missed the governorship slot of the state as he was placed third in the primaries that later ushered in Sylva as governor.
Seen as a matured mind that could pilot the affairs of the state, Amaebi is being supported by most elders in the state.
Chief Fred Ekiyegha is seen as another aspirant that may spring a surprise in the race to Yenagoa Creek Haven. He is reportedly close to Aso Rock in recent times. Having also contested several times for the exalted position right from Rivers State like Amaebi, Ekiyegha has grassroots appeal. And as determined as he has been to clinch the seat, his slim finances have not helped his ambition. Seen as a gentleman to the core, his quiet and focused struggle to lead the state has continued to draw sympathy from many across the state.
Sources have hinted that the presidency is also interested in him as a person who does not make so much noise in his bid to clinch the governorship position.
With his campaign slogan, ‘a divine mandate, on the rescue mission,’ Ekiyegha who hails from Angalabiri community in Sagbama Local Government Area believes that politics must not involve guns, cutlasses and axes.
“You use words to show what you can do and what you have done. Anybody who wants to do more than this is insulting your consciousness and sensibilities,” he noted, while advising Bayelsans to accept peace to salvage state, adding: “If you kill for Fred Ekiyegha, it is a sin between you and the righteous God on the day of judgement. Fred Ekiyegha won’t be involved because he did not kill.”
As a delegate to the Constituent Assembly, Abuja in 1988/1989, he advocated for the direct allocation of funds to the LGAs among other things.
An admirer of former American president Franklin Roosevelt, who laid a new foundation for the growth of, development and pride of the Americans, he said he’s one among the aspirants who can take Bayelsa state to the Promised Land.
Christopher Fullpower Enai, a one-time chairman of Ekeremo LG contested and clinched the Sagbama/Ekeremo Federal Constituency ticket for the House of Representatives.
Enai, among other things, relies on his achievements during his tenure as chairman of the council, which he said, witnessed massive youth employment. He said that thousands of jobs were created while youths were empowered.
Besides, according to him, the transformation of the hitherto rural Ekeremo community, headquarters of the council commenced during his tenure.
If given the chance to rule the state, he has pledged to put God first in all his functions as governor, saying: “With God, all things are possible.”
Kalango is the only aspirant from same East Senatorial District with incumbent governor Sylva. He hails from Nembe Gbasambiri community and was a one-time federal lawmaker who represented Brass/Nembe federal constituency.
He was among the aspirants in the last aborted governorship elections in the state.
Observers see him as another aspirant to watch especially if the incumbent governor is eventually out of the race.
Stakeholders from that senatorial district, it is being may go for block vote for him to clinch the ticket to complete Sylva’s second tenure.
Austine Febo was a Commissioner for Lands and Housing under Jonathan. Febo who hails from Opukuma Community in Kolokuma/Opoukukma LGA, is also seriously banking on Jonathan’s support.
As commissioner then, Febo had to his credit, housing estates built during the period including the Okaka and the new Azikoro estates.
He has been a manager of a micro-finance bank that made lots of impacts on market women, youths and traders of various categories.
Now, he has promised to concentrate on massive development of infrastructure in the state, encourage the establishment of micro-finance banks in most parts of the state to enable people get easier access to finance for available business opportunities.
Bolubo Orufa, who hails from Gbarain Kingdom in Yenagoa Local Government Area in the Central Senatorial district, has ‘Redemption Movement 2012’ as his campaign structure.
Believed to be a ‘boy’ to Senator Emmanuel Paulker who is a close associate of Jonathan, he has the vision to usher in a people-oriented administration that will restore and transform the political, social and economic landscape of the state.
A one-time chairman of Yenagoa LGA, Orufa who has served as Special Adviser in various capacities to a minister, said the mission of the Redemption Movement is to mobilise for good governance, social justice, peace, security and team work geared towards sustainable political, socio-economic and cultural growth.
The thrust of the movement, he said: “Underscores our desire, resolve and determination to lift Bayelsa to greater heights.”
As it is now, the controversial circumstances leading to the emergence of delegates at the ward delegates’ elections may be a major problem. But the chairman of the party in the state has assured that all was ready for the primary elections as security and other logistics had been put in place.