For days now, newspaper headlines have continued to compete for stories on the on-going tension in Southern Ijaw local government area, Bayelsa state.
Following indications that the political arena was thickening with hate and indifference, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) moved swiftly to nullify Saturday’s governorship election in the region.
According to INEC, the election was nullified due to violence in the area, the abduction of electoral officials and ballot box snatching. The election will be conducted in due date at the affected local government area which is one of the state’s eight LGAs.
However, results already announced have it that the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate Governor Seriake Dickson is clearly leading in the poll.
He has so far won six of the seven local government areas announced by INEC and has picked up 105,748 votes.
But with his biggest rival, Chief Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress (APC) securing victory in Brass local government area and with a total vote of 72,594, the race to state government House will down to the wire as a landslide victory in Southern Ijaw local government area will ultimately decide who emerges as the next Bayelsa state governor for either of these two.
The Southern Ijaw local government area has the highest number of voters in Bayelsa state and has a voting strength of 108,838 by the 2015 registration figures.
However, it is believed that the daring infiltration into the political landscape of the region by the main opposition, the APC looks to have created some panic in the camp of the PDP.
This may not be unconnected to why Governor Dickson applauded the electoral commission for the cancellation of the election in Southern Ijaw while Sylva lamented.
With that being said, it is worth noting that Southern Ijaw is the home council of the Elder Wilberforce Igiri, the APC deputy governorship candidate, and Chief Tiwei Timipa Orunimighe, the state APC chairman.
This draws Naij.com’s attention to question if these three strong APC chieftains listed below can turn the tide for Sylva In Southern Ijaw
Elder Wilberforce Igiri
The kidnap was not unconnected to the tensed political atmosphere in the state. However, ten days after, she regained freedom from kidnappers.
According to police public relations officer in Bayelsa, ASP Asinim Butswat, Madam Ebifieghe Igiri was released by her captors at about 10p.m. on November 9.
The many controversies that has clouded Igiri’s nomination as running mate to Sylva, shows that he is capable of swinging votes to APC’s favour in his home council, Southern Ijaw.
Chief Tiwei Timipa Orunimighe
The former chairman of Southern Ijaw local government council of Bayelsa state Chief Timipa Tiwei Orunimighe has a big role to play in securing victory for Timipre Sylva at the Bayelsa governorship poll.
Orunimighe, was one of the five council bosses removed by the Bayelsa state House of Assembly on July 26, 2012, and he will be seeking revenge against Governor Seriake Dickson.
Presently the APC chairman, the burden to overturn Dickson’s lead at the poll lies on Tiwei Timipa Orunimighe.
Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, the minister of state for agriculture and rural development, who also doubles as the director general of the APC campaign is one man that can turn the tide for Sylva in the Bayelsa governorship poll.
Lokpobiri had said before the cancellation of the result in Southern Ijaw: “That election must hold; all we need is peace and a non-violent exercise that will allow the will of the people to prevail as they file out to elect their governor. Our disappointment, however, has been the violence orchestrated by people who feel threatened that their time is up and would want to hold on to power at all cost.
“I am sure the whole world is aware of how my residence at Ekeremor was attacked by thugs who wielded dangerous arms and ammunitions. But for my insistence that no one should retaliate, the situation would have been that of bloodbath. But do we need to kill ourselves because we want to govern the people? I had to ensure extreme caution and mounted pressure on my people not retaliate, but allow the security agencies to curtail the invaders, there would have been bloodbath.”
“We will ensure that APC wins 99% of the votes so that Sylva and Igiri will be sworn-in as governor and deputy governor.”
Lokpobiri described the Sylva/Igiri ticket as the Noah’s Ark, saying it was big enough to accommodate all the good people of the state.
With the aforementioned quote, the intent of Lokpobiri to ensure victory for the APC and Sylva has been clearly stated.
Meanwhile, it is worthy to note that none of the former governors in Bayelsa state has ever completed successfully, the constitutional two tenures in office. It is yet to be expected if Governor Henry Seriake Dickson’s administration will survive this trend.