The performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, at the recently concluded Presidential, National and State House of Assembly elections can be said to be phenomenal, considering that the state has been under the rule of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP since 1999.
In the last National Assembly election, the APC successfully wrestled two Federal House of Representatives seats out of five from the PDP, with one Senatorial seat out of three, in its kitty, whereas it had none in 2015. The party also made a remarkable improvement in the state house of assembly election, where it clinched four seats out of the twenty three seats declared, as opposed to one out of 24 in the 2015 election, and there’s a likelihood of one or more seats coming its way subsequently. In the presidential election, the APC garnered an impressive 118,821 votes as against it’s 2015 performance which recorded a paltry 5,194 votes.
To build upon this success, the party must as a matter urgency present a united front, with a laser-etched focus, completely devoid of any acrimony as it gears up to confront the ruling party in the state come November 2, 2019, which the governorship election has been slated for.
Though it is not time for the party primaries yet, but the feelers within the party, suggest some storm may arise in the party in the days ahead as the party prepares to pick its candidate come August 2019 that the parties primary election has been slated for.
Political watchers are not anticipating the storm from the enfant terrible of the party, Eng. Preye Aganaba, known to be working in cahoots with external forces to cause disaffection in the party. Rather, the storm may likely come from the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural development, Rt. Hon. Heineken Lokpobiri, who is said to have an eye on the party’s ticket.
Some political pundits are of the opinion that this could be a smart political strategy from the Honourable Minister, whose interest is seen as a bargaining chip to cut a deal with the leader of the party in the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, for another ministerial appointment in the new cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari.
While it is within his fundamental human right to aspire for the ticket of his party, it is my humble opinion that Heineken Lokpobiri should be gracious enough to reciprocate the magnanimity of Chief Timipre Sylva, who threw a ministerial position at him on a platter of gold. He should consider the overall interest of the party, and support Timipre Sylva’s bid to clinch the coveted seat of power in the state.
Lokpobiri, has in all honesty, enjoyed an unmerited goodwill from Sylva, who handed him a ministerial position shortly after dumping the PDP for the APC, after he failed to secure his former party, PDP’s senatorial ticket that he lost to Foster Ogola in 2015.
As it stands, the odds are not in favour of Lokpobiri, who even as a serving minister failed to deliver President Muhammadu Buhari, in both his polling unit, ward, local government and senatorial district. His performance even during the 2015 governorship election was unimpressive, and these are facts.
Lokpobiri isn’t known to command any tangible followership within his party that could be leveraged on, if he throws his hat into the ring for the governorship ticket. The same can be said about him even at the state level. It would therefore be quite an onerous task to get his party’s adherents behind him, if he wants to push through with his aspiration.
Another odd against Lokpobiri is the fact that he comes from the same senatorial district with the outgoing governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, who has ruled the state for about eight years. This factor would certainly work against his aspiration, as other senatorial districts would sure frown at Bayelsa West retaining the governorship seat of the state after its eight years spell.
The PDP in the state is badly wounded at the moment, as it was shocked beyond words at the performance of the APC in the recently concluded elections, it would therefore go into the governorship election like a wounded lion, throwing all its arsenals into the battle for the soul of the state.
Though Dickson is not contesting again, but he would sure be at the forefront when his party, PDP, files out against the APC in the governorship contest. It is common knowledge to all, that for Dickson; all is fair in love and war, as such the APC cannot afford to go into the governorship contest with a candidate who does not possess the desired clout to match the PDP strength for strength.
At the moment, only one person in the APC has what it takes to lead the charge against the PDP, and emerge successful, and the man is Timipre Sylva. Sylva still commands an impressive followership in the party and in the state, and should therefore be encouraged and supported by all party adherents, as the party seeks to take over government in the state.
The APC must ensure it capitalizes on the poor performance of the PDP in the state under the Dickson led administration, by projecting a common front, so it could defeat the PDP come November 2.
Even the PDP knows that at the moment, Sylva remains its worst nightmare. Therefore, if the APC is desirous of victory at the polls come November sentiments must be put aside, as Sylva remains the best option the party has. Any other alternative would spell doom for the party.
With profound respect to the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Rt. Hon. Heineken Lokpobiri, and other chieftains of the party who may have an eye on the party’s ticket, I humbly submit that they consider the interest of the party over and above their individual interest, and support the man that has shown capacity to get the party into Creek Haven, Government House, Bayelsa State.
Kesiye Newman is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Yenagoa.