APC, PDP in final push for Bayelsa, Kogi

Posted by News Express | 10 November 2019 | 1,320 times

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•Photo shows Diri and Lyon

The All Progressives Congress (APC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and 67 other political parties are in the final push for Saturday’s governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

The parties and their 69 governorship candidates have till Thursday to try to convince 2,375,136 voters in the two states to align with their manifestoes and give them the mandate on November 16.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) fixed November 14 as the last day for campaigns.

From house to house, door to door, market to market, the parties and their candidates are all out trying to outdo one another in the battle for the coveted seats in the two states. Various means and strategies, including sharing of gifts such as cars, motorcycles and clothes to voters have been adopted.

While the PDP is the ruling party in Bayelsa, the APC controls Kogi.

The two polls, though far away from the 2023 polls, are seen by the two main political parties in the country as a litmus test for the next general elections, and they have thus activated all weapons in their political armories to achieve victory. In Bayelsa, though 45 political parties are fileding candidates for the election, the contest seems to be practically between the PDP and APC.

While the candidate of the PDP, Senator Douye Diri, is believed to have adequate experience to govern the state, having served as the commissioner, House of Representatives member and presently a senator, his main challenger, the APC candidate, David Lyon, is banking on his philanthropic gestures over the years which have endeared him to the people. Lyon, the oil surveillance contractor for multinational companies working in the state, has used the contract to empower many people in the state through provision of jobs and empowerment of youths, women and other people, attracting enormous support and admiration across the state.

When the idea of Lyon contesting for the governorship seat first emerged in August, there was excitement among the people, most of who believe that making him the governor would help reduce their many years of suffering. On the other hand, Senator Diri, the candidate of the PDP who has enjoyed the full support of incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson, having emerged from his ‘Restoration Caucus Family’, is facing some daunting challenges of scaling through during the election. Aside the complaints of Bayelsans that the eight years of Dickson’s administration have brought suffering to the people, they also complain about non-payment of salaries to civil servants, retirees’ benefits, decay in infrastructure and epileptic power supply, thus, the people believe that voting Diri would be a continuation of Dickson and by extension, an addition to their problems. Going by ongoing campaigns of the two major parties, the chances will be equal for both, while the other parties just seem to be in the contest. While Diri enjoys about 80% support from Sagbama, Kolokuma/Opokuma, the APC candidate is very popular in Southern Ijaw, Nembe and Brass. Both candidates may share votes from Yenagoa, Ekeremor and Yenagoa local governments, while the ongoing strife between Dickson and Jonathan’s kinsmen may give Lyon 60 to 70% of the votes in Ogbia LGA. Last week, the mother of former President Jonathan, Eunice Ayi Jonathan, received the APC candidate in her Otuoke home where she prayed for his success.

This caused some confusion for the PDP. APC, PDP on the scale in eight LGs Brass: Before now, Brass was not a favourable ground for the PDP, right from 2012 when the Jonathan-led federal government stopped a son of the area, Chief Timipre Sylva, from continuing his second tenure as governor of the state. In 2014, when other parties merged to form the APC, Sylva led his people to the new party and worked for its success during the presidential election and also delivered one seat in the state assembly for the party in the area. By 2019, the APC had penetrated Brass where they produced a House of Representatives member  and two state assembly seats.

With the brilliant outing in 2019, it is believed that the APC will poll 80% of Brass votes. Ekeremor: In Ekeremor LGA, the contest is still open for both major parties with seeming equal chances. A former deputy governor of the state, Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi, who crossed over to APC and a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, are from the area and they will certainly work to deliver the APC in the poll. Kolokuma/Kolokuma:

In Senator Diri’s local government, the PDP is sure of 80% of the votes, despite the fact that the area has the least voting strength in the state, but they will most likely vote for their son to become the next governor, having not produced a governor since the creation of the state.

The recent removal of their son, Tonye Emmanuel Isenah, as speaker of the House of Assembly is a minus for the PDP in the area. Nembe: Traditionally the stronghold of the APC during the last presidential, national and state assembly elections, Nembe delivered almost all the APC candidates including Senator Degi, the deputy governorship candidate of the party.

The local government which is one of the areas with high number of voters will put their votes in bulk for David Lyon and the APC. Obviously, based on the observation, it will be difficult for the PDP to garner 20% of votes from there. Ogbia: Before now, the local government was a stronghold of the PDP, the party that produced all political office holders in the area.

But the narrative changed during the last National Assembly election where the people rejected a senatorial candidate allegedly foisted on them by Governor Dickson and opted for the APC candidate, a situation that made PDP to lose Bayelsa East Senatorial seat to the APC. A repeat of the same scenario is imminent. 

Ogbia people are already sympathetic to the APC because of how Dickson overrided Jonathan to bring in Douye Diri as the governorship candidate. Most of the political actors in the area have already decamped from the PDP to the APC while others are still in the PDP working for the APC. Lyon is sure of at least 60% of votes in the area. Sagbama: This is Governor Dickson’s home local government.

The deputy governorship candidate of the PDP, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, is also from the area. Here, the PDP may not have any opposition, and is sure of at least 90% of votes. For now, Sagbama is the stronghold of the PDP.

Southern Ijaw: David Lyon’s home local government, where the APC is very popular. During the National Assembly election earlier in the year, the party’s candidate, Preye Oseke, defeated the then Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Konbowei Benson, for the House of Representatives seat.

The APC at the moment has taken over all the villages of Southern Ijaw, and it is sure of at least 90% of the votes there. The area has the second highest voting strength. Yenagoa: The state capital, it has the highest concentration of people and highest voting strength, but the two dominant parties have equal chances here.

No candidate  from Yenagoa is contesting the election and the local government area does not have much stake and interest in the election. INEC’s preparation in Bayelsa INEC has been working round the clock to ensure a hitch-free election in the state. It  has been engaging stakeholders and other interest groups to ensure a credible and peaceful election,

Daily Trust on Sunday’s findings revealed. During the week, the commission carried out a series of trainings for people that will be involved in the election. Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting in Yenagoa, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, reiterated the commission’s readiness to conduct a free, fair, credible and conclusive poll for the people of the state.

He said the commission had delivered all non-sensitive materials to its office in Yenagoa.

He said: “The materials have been sorted out, categorized and batched, ready to be delivered to the LGAs, wards and polling units.

“The sensitive materials are also ready and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is delivering them to Bayelsa State this weekend.

“Voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units is a violation of the law. The ban on use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force and will be strictly enforced and monitored.

“I urge all stakeholders to continue to eschew violence and maintain peaceful conduct during the election. It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the process and protect all election duty staff, including youth corps members who serve at the polling units which is the basic level of the voting process.”

Bello, Wada, 22 others scheme for Kogi In Kogi State, 23 candidates were earlier cleared by INEC to contest the election. 

However, with Thursday’s judgment by a Federal High Court directing the electoral umpire to include Barrister Natasha Akpoti of the SDP who was earlier disqualified, 24 candidates are now going into the contest.

The contest promises to be very keen, especially between the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello of the APC who is seeking a return  to “do more” and Engr. Musa Wada of the PDP who is seeking “a fresh start.”

Both candidates have been meeting with various stakeholders and mapping out strategies for clinching the coveted seat. Some of the political actors and their associates have been carrying out  “empowerment programmes” in various communities to get popular support. Some of them gave out motorcycles, vehicles, food and clothing materials to the electorate.

A lot of mobilisation is in progress across the state ahead of the election. Perhaps, one of the candidates who could also pull some weight after the two is Natasha, who was cleared barely a week to the poll. APC’s Yahaya Bello Incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello is the flag bearer of the ruling APC. Bello who hails from Okene LGA in the Central Senatorial District, has picked Edward Onoja from Olamaboro LGA in the East Senatorial District as his running mate. 

Both, as well as their supporters, have been moving round for campaigns across the state. The campaign which was flagged-off in Idah amidst mammoth crowd, had in attendance, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and governors of Ekiti, Niger, Kwara, Nasarawa and Yobe states, among others. Bello’s campaign train has been to Ankpa, Ajaokuta, Kabba-Bunu and Yagba where he urged the electorate to vote for him massively to enable him consolidate his achievements and “do more” for the people. Bello will certainly be banking on the power of incumbency and federal might to clinch victory. Besides that, he will be banking on political godfathers such as the APC national leader Ahmed Bola Tinubu and APC national chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who have expressed their determination to win the election.

Bello would equally be counting on the support of his fellow APC governors who would be ready to give both moral and financial back-up to enable him emerge victorious. In terms of voting strength, Bello would bank on Kogi Central Senatorial District as one of his staunch strongholds, being a native of the area.

But with the recent clearance of Natasha who is also from the same zone, votes from the area might likely be divided, ar least to some extent. Kogi Central comprises five local government areas namely; Ajaokuta, Adavi, Okene, Okehi and Ogori-Magongo with 409,120 registered voters representing 25% of the registered voters in the state. In the the same vein, the governor would make inroads into Kogi East, having picked his running mate from the area, in addition to the goodwill he enjoys from some key figures and people of the area. Kogi East would however be a battle ground, given that majority of the votes come from the zone and the governorship candidate of the PDP is from the same senatorial district.

This is more so that the Igala nation which lost grip of power following the demise of Abubakar Audu, is said to be more determined about finding their way back to power. There are nine local government areas in Kogi East, namely; Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina, Ibaji, Idah, Igalamela/Odolu, Ofu, Olamaboro and Omala with total of 804,715 registered voters representing 49% of the total registered voters in the state. Kogi West Senatorial District, on the other hand, is the zone of the running mate of the PDP, Sam Aro, and this could likely influence the voting pattern in favor of the PDP, according to pundits.

That notwithstanding, Bello has got a retinue of “political foot soldiers” and key personalities in Kogi West who are working for his victory. Recently, a former acting governor of the state and stalwart of the PDP, Clarence Olafemi, joined the APC with a pledge to work for Bello’s re-election. Also, James Faleke, the running mate to the late Prince Abubakar Audu, recently handed over his political structure to Bello and that is likely to work for him (Bello) in the election in Kogi West.

A business mogul, Jide Omokere, and other influential people including traditional rulers in the area are said to be working for Bello. Kogi West which has seven local government areas has a total of 432,515 registered voters representing 26% of the state’s voting population. PDP’s Musa Wada Engr Musa Wada, the flag bearer of the main opposition PDP, hails from Dekina LGA of Kogi State.

He is a brother to former governor Idris Wada as well as an inlaw to former governor Ibrahim Idris. Wada and his teeming supporters have also been moving round local government areas to campaign.  His campaign which was officially flagged-off at the Lokoja Confluence Stadium, attracted mammoth crowd of supporters and equally had in attendance, the national chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and the deputy governor of Taraba State, among others. Ever since, his rallies have been witnessing swelling massive crowds of supporters across the state.  Wada’s campaign train has been to virtually all the local government areas in Kogi East Senatorial District and is currently touring local government areas in Kogi West after which they would move to Kogi Central. In terms of voting strength, Wada would bank on Kogi East Senatorial District as one of his foremost strongholds, being a native of the zone. The apex Igala socio-cultural group, Igala Cultural and Development Association (ICDA) recently urged the people of Igalaland to queue behind Engr. Musa Wada in the election. In a statement signed by Shuaibu Mohammed, the acting president and Saba Alex Amuda, the secretary of the association, it  said the present administration in the state  led by Bello had “deliberately sidelined the Igala speaking people in all schemes of things”.

The umbrella body of the Igala nation maintained that it strongly believes in fairness, justice, and equity, and would support any qualified, credible and resourceful candidate from any part of the state, but that  the eight year rule should not be mandatory and automatic in the face of “this absymal performance”.

The ICDA further stated that its decision to support Wada for the seat was not on “primordial or divisive tribal sentiments but was based on critical assessment of the current situation in the state that is not heart warming.” Besides, Wada’s local government area, Dekina, happens to be the LGA with the highest number of registered voters in the state, and that could be an aspect of strength for him if well harnessed.

For Wada, Kogi Central Senatorial District might be a hard nut to crack, given the hold Bello currently has on the area. On the other hand, Wada would most likely make some significant outings in Kogi West in view of the fact that his running mate hails from the area and the district has been  home to the PDP prior to the recent political realignments.

SDP’s Natasha Akpoti Barr. Natasha of the SDP who was recently cleared by the court to contest the governorship election would perhaps be the third force in the election.  Natasha hails from Okehi LGA in Kogi Central Senatorial District, same place as Bello. Although, the coast for her to contest came clear barely a week to the poll, pundits believe she could make some political statement, if not for anything, her doggedness and tenacity in ensuring that she was not shut out of the contest.

From all indications, ethnic considerations, monetary inducement of voters, violence and manipulations would all play major roles in who emerges victorious at the end of the day. INEC, police ready in Kogi INEC says it is fully ready for the conduct of a free, fair and credible  election in Kogi. INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Prof. James Apam, said all non-sensitive materials have been deployed to registration centres across the state. 

He said the commission had also recruited and trained ad-hoc staff to be used for the election. Apam said the commission had held sensitisation forums for various groups and stakeholders on the need to ensure a peaceful atmosphere for the election. Also speaking on its level of preparation, the commissioner of police in the state, Hakeem Busari, said adequate security provision would be made for the election, urging the electorate not to entertain fears but come out to exercise their franchise.

He said the Inspector General of Police would be deploying 35,000 policemen for the election in the state. “We are battle-ready. We have put a programme in place to raid all criminal hideouts so that those would-be troublemakers will be arrested before the election.

“A lot of logistics will be coming from the Force Headquarters to assist us. The people should rest  assured that the police with other sister security agencies will provide adequate security. “We have more than enough hands to police the election so people should not entertain any fear. A lot of security measures have been put in place. “The IGP recently sent us some special forces to assist us in tackling violent crimes such as kidnapping and armed robbery on our highways,” he said.

He urged the political actors to play the game according to the rule and avoid “do-or-die” attitude in the election and advised the youth not to allow themselves to be used by politicians to perpetrate violence.   What we’re doing to make polls  successful – INEC The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr. Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, told Daily Trust on Sunday that preparations for the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections began with the issuance of the timetable and schedule of activities on May 16 this year, comprising 14 activities that would culminate in the election proper.

Oyekanmi said so far, 12 of the 14 activities have been successfully carried out, with the last two being the last day for political campaigns which is November 14 and the election proper on November 16. According to him, on the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) in Bayelsa, 889,308 PVCs have been collected, representing 96.3 percent of the total number of registered voters; In Kogi, 1, 485,828 PVCs have been collected representing 90.2 percent.

“With respect to uncollected PVCs, in Bayelsa it is 33, 874, representing 3.7 percent of the total number of registered voters. Whereas in Kogi it is 160, 522, representing 9.8 percent of the total number of registered voters,” Oyekanmi said.

On the ad-hoc staff, he said in Bayelsa, INEC requires 9,945 ad-hoc staff, while in Kogi, it requires 15,868 ad-hoc staff. He said, “In all, for the two states, the commission requires about 26,000 ad-hoc staff to conduct the elections.

But in addition to the governorship elections, we have a supplementary election into the Brass II State Constituency in six polling units. We also have the court order to hold a re-run election in the Kogi West Senatorial District. We are combining the two elections with the governorship elections.”

Speaking on party primaries and nomination of candidates, Oyekanmi said for the Kogi and Bayelsa elections, parties conducted their primaries and the commissioned monitored them. He said only 52 parties nominated candidates for the Bayelsa governorship election, while 49 did in Kogi, making a total of 101 parties for the two elections. He however said out of the 101 parties, only 46 in Bayelsa and 41 in Kogi, respectively, made nominations, making a total of 87 valid nominations.

He said, “In other words, the nominations complied with the constitutional requirements for qualification for election into the office of governor. These requirements are one: The candidate has to be a Nigerian citizen by birth; two: He or she has to be 35 years of age minimal; three: He or she must be sponsored by a political party, we have no independent candidacy; and then four: The candidate must be educated to school certificate level. “Some parties nominated candidates that were 30 years, 31, 34 and in one exceptional case, even a 27-year-old.

So, we said that the nominations were invalid. Here, I think it is important to make the clarification. The commission did not reject or disqualify any candidate because there is nothing to reject or disqualify. In our opinion, once the constitutional requirement is not met, we can’t see an individual who has not met the constitutional requirement for age contesting.

“For this category of invalid nominations, six parties were involved in Bayelsa, and eight in Kogi, making a total of 14 parties. Out 101 parties, 87 have made valid nominations. We have no problem with them. But 14 parties submitted invalid nominations and we informed them accordingly.

But out of the 87 parties that made valid nominations, one party in Bayelsa withdrew from the election during the period for withdrawal and substitution of candidates and in Kogi, 18 political parties withdrew, making a total of 19 for the two states.” He said logistic arrangements had been concluded with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NUTRW) and NARTO for land transport based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

He added that in Bayelsa, because five of the eight local governments are riverine, the commission had also made arrangements with boat owners. He said all non-sensitive materials for the elections for the two states had been delivered and the commission’s staff have batched the materials by local governments, by registration areas and ultimately down to the level of polling units.

He said Smart Card Readers (SCRs) would be deployed for the election for the purpose of voter accreditation and INEC had made arrangements for the configuration and deployment of the SCRs. He also said the manual register would also be printed, with one to be pasted at the polling, units while the other would be held by the presiding officer and that is the one that will be ticked-off on election day.

He said the commission have completed the process of recruitment and training of ad-hoc staff, including those that are going to perform the tasks at the polling units, mainly drawn from the NYSC. He said, “We have also concluded the master training, the train-the-trainer programme for security personnel and we have also conducted the refresher training for electoral officers and assistant electoral officers for the two states.”

On security situation, Mr. Oyekanmi said the commission works with the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to ensure that adequate security is provided for all elections. According to him, the commission conducted a risk assessment for the two states and shared its findings the security agencies that also conducted their own risk assessment.

He said deployments will be derived from these assessments, saying in a place like Bayelsa, the commission has not only hired boats, it was also working with the security agencies including the marine police, Navy and the Army to get gun-boats to escort the boats carrying personnel and materials for the election. He also said INEC has been proactively engaging with stakeholders in the two states.

“For the first time in any governorship election, we decided to hold two stakeholders’ meetings in the two states. Already, we have met with stakeholders in Bayelsa twice – the first meeting took place on October 15 and the second took place a few days ago, November 7 in Yenegoa. The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, was there and it was a successful meeting.

“We have already held the first meeting with stakeholders in Kogi and we are going back on 12th November. So far, all candidates have pledged to conduct themselves well on election day and we are quite excited about this.   We’ve strengthened our structures to win – PDP  The PDP said it had strengthened its grassroots structures as the final push to winning the Kogi and Bayelsa elections.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, told Daily Trust on Sunday that PDP members and supporters have nothing to fear as reconciliatory efforts in the two states had yielded fruitful results following the aftermath of the primaries. The party said it had activated its structures, strengthened its formation as one big, united and formidable family ahead of the two elections.

The PDP added that it had already galvanized all segments of the voting population across the two states as part of efforts to win the polls, adding that its campaigns were vigorous and issue-based.

“No shenanigan by the violence-prone All Progressives Congress (APC) can stop our coasting to victory in the two elections. “The PDP assures that it is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that our party faces the elections as a family. “The party commends the understanding and the spirit of sportsmanship being exhibited by critical stakeholders in the two states as well as their commitment towards the success of the party at the elections,” Ologbondiyan said.

He said the PDP was concerned about “bad governance” in Kogi State and was well-prepared to seize power from the APC in the state, adding that the election meant a lot to both the PDP and the people of the state.   APC’s plans for Kogi, Bayelsa To win the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States, the National Chairman of the ruling APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, deployed all party governors, some former and serving ministers, as well as senators and members of the House of Representatives to participate in the campaigns.

Oshiomhole also inaugurated separate national campaign councils for the two states. Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State chairs the 56-member campaign council for the re-election bid of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, while Governor Mohammed Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State leads the 56-member team for Bayelsa State governorship candidate, David Lyon. Oshiomhole, who said the team would complement the local campaigners in the two states, added that Kogi deserved continuity at higher level instead of trying a “new roadside mechanic”.

He said Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and the PDP were already “troubled” by the emergence of a “real lion” as the APC candidate, stating that Lyon has strong connection with people because of his philanthropic lifestyle. “For us in the APC, we take these elections very seriously.

We believe in the power of the ballot and not gunshots which have been the power of the opposition. That change will come on the 16th of November. “We are ready for contestations and campaigns. Bayelsa is not used to votes being cast. I want PDP to take note of that.

They should learn new tactics of winning votes,” he also said. Governor El-Rufai, in his response during the inauguration ceremony, said Kogi would be delivered with a wider margin of votes as the APC currently controls the state House of Assembly. He said issues on the “funeral” of the PDP before its final burial would be discussed at an inaugural meeting of the campaign team.

Also speaking on behalf of Governor Badaru, his counterpart from Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, said real democracy instead of aristocracy would be witnessed during the coming election in Bayelsa State.

Ganduje voiced the commitment of the team to achieve success with the support of the national leadership of the party. To show the seriousness attached to the Bayelsa poll, Oshiomhole met with the chairman of the campaign council for Bayelsa, Governor Mohammed Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State on Thursday.

The closed door meeting was attended by an aggrieved APC governorship aspirant and a former Minister of State, Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri. The governor voiced optimism that the party’s governorship candidate, David Lyon, would emerge victorious, stressing that the “APC is doing wonderfully well in Bayelsa today”.

Lokpobiri, in his remarks, urged all his supporters to vote for his party. He, however, insisted on pursuing his case against the party for which the court had already fixed November 14 as judgement day.

He said he had never condemned the party’s flag bearer, Lyon, as an incompetent candidate.

(Daily Trust)

Source: News Express

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