Baring any unforeseen event, incumbent Governor Seriake Dickison looks good to get re-elected in yesterday’s poll, having trounced his main rival Timipreye Sylva in four of the five LG results released by the INEC, reports Amos Esele
Like Kogi State whose governorship poll was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, but concluded on Saturday with a re-run which was won by the substituted candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bello, the Bayelsa poll held same day was heading for a re-run following the postponement of the poll in Southern Ijaw Local Government.
Unlike Kogi, however, when the poll was postponed because of a legal loophole created by the differences in the margin of voided votes over those for the front runner, widespread violence forced INEC’s hand in Bayelsa State. The electoral umpire however fixed the conduct for 8 a.m yesterday. Situation was still tense in the LG yesterday.
As at press time, the PDP candidate Dickson was leading Sylva with a margin of some 40, 000 votes, though Southern Ijaw Local Government, whose conduct of the poll was postponed by INEC, has the biggest votes and may determine the outcome be today when the results of all the eight LG would have been released by INEC. The released results of the five LG are as follows: Sagbama LG: PDP; 28,934. Kolokuma Opokuma LG: PDP 7,619; APC: 6,896. Yenagoa LG: PDP 24,258; APC 14,563
Brass LG: PDP: 6,516; APC 21,755. Ekeremo LG: 14.602; APC 7,918.
The remaining LGs whose results would be released today are Southern Ijaw, Nembe and Ogbia
Meantime, leaders and supporters of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the rival APC were involved in the attack by thugs whose identity is yet to be identified by the police.
Regrettably, the police, in a statement, said it found it hard give adequate coverage of areas in the mostly riverine state because of bad weather. Its helicopter could not fly.
Even so voter turn out was low just as accreditation was marred by late arrival of materials and fear of violence.
Governor Seriake Dickson, his foremost challenger, ex-Governor Timipreye Sylva considered the registration and accreditation very poor. Even former President Goodluck Jonathan had to go through the same experience he witnessed during his accreditation at the general elections earlier in the year. At his Otueke hometown, it took him and his wife Patience five trials before the card readers could recognize their fingerprint. But he however took things in his stride. He said: “I advise that before the 2019 election, the whole concept of card reader and the technology must be reviewed. I’m quite worried about the card reader issue this morning. In the last presidential elections, myself and my wife’s PVCs were rejected by the card reader. Today, because they changed mine and that of my wife’s, it was successful.
Dickson’s accreditation, that of his wife, Dr Rachael and mother, Mrs Goldcoast took several minutes at Ward 2 Unit 6 in Toru-Orua in Sagbama Local Government Area, due to failure of the reader to recognise their fingerprint.
Timipre Sylva’s case and that of his wife, Alayingi, at the Dakuraku Open Space Centre at his Opuama went on smoothly, according to him, though he admitted that this picture was different for his supporters.
Reacting to the developments, especially the violence Dickson, alleged that APC hired thugs to unleash mayhem on his PDP supporters during the election.
He said: “My party and I have called for peace. APC is not preparing for election but war. They have armed their thugs with police and military uniforms, and in some cases, are protected by security agents themselves. What is currently going on is mayhem,”
Listing the areas the attacks on his supporters were carried out to include Brass, Ekeremo and Oporoma, he accused a Minister of State of coordinating the sponsored attack, which according to him, led to the death of one person in Ekeremo.
“We are taking stock of all these and we hope and expect that appropriate legal actions will be taken against these notorious criminals who are unleashing terror and violence on fellow citizens, all in the name of politics. The security agents know who they are. The security agents arrived when the mayhem were carried out,” Dickison said, adding “People have been attacked in Twon Brass, in two wards there. People who are supporters of our party are held hostage, as I speak to you. Supporters have been attacked and injured in Orwoma. A number of them have sustained life-threatening injuries. That terrible attack is going on, even as we speak. The state chairman of the party is hiding in police custody in Twon Brass. He cannot vote. The condition there is not one that promotes free and fair democratic exercise and franchise for our people.
“The APC and their leaders know that they stand no chance in a free and fair election. What is surprising is a seeming lack of resolve or lack of proactive reaction by the security forces. That is the situation under which Bayelsans are exercising their franchise in what is clearly a crucial election.”
“The smart card machine is a challenge to democracy in this country. I hope it doesn’t continue to portray us as a fraudulent and unserious country, manipulating everything and anything,” he said.
Sylva denied this and instead accused the PDP of importing thugs from Rivers and Delta States to disrupt the election.
He said: “I am satisfied with the accreditation and other processes here. Things are peaceful and the reader correctly processed my card. However, I am worried about those whose cards couldn’t be processed. I am also worried about the spate of violence being perpetrated by the PDP, all over the state.
“The home of the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development was attacked by some people who shot into his house. He called me on the phone and I could hear several shots being fired in the background,”
The former governor expressed optimism on the outcome of the election, saying: “Regardless of the antics of the PDP, I am sure of victory. We have campaigned all over the state. We are sure of overwhelming support throughout the state.”
Apart from the four youths who were allegedly shot dead by political thugs at Oporoma, the headquarters of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Heineken Lokpobiri and acting Chairman of the ruling PDP, Chief Serena Dokubo-Spiff were at the receiving end of the violence. Their homes were reportedly raided and vandalized by the rampaging youth, who threatened to harm them should they disobey their orders to return home.
According to APC party agent, Otitio, Lokpobiri’s home in Ekeremor Town, Ekeremor Local Government Area, received gunshots from some thugs. .
Not done they went to Ward 5, Opolo Epie, in Yenagoa, the state capital, where they reportedly blocked the distribution centre and chased party agents away.