The Bayelsa state is in the news again as gladiators are poised for a showdown ahead of the governorship election; KEHINDE OSASONA writes.
Lyon back on familiar terrain
Although the incumbent governor of Bayelsa state, Senator Douye Diri, is eligible to run for re-election on November 11 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), he, like it happened in 2020, has Mr. David Lyon, a former governor-elect, to contend with. Lyon was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) before his emergence at the poll.
Blueprint Weekend recalled that the apex court led by a five-man panel of Justices led by Justice Mary Odili had in a unanimous judgment held that Degi-Eremieoyo, Lyon’s running mate, presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The judgement followed an appeal filed by Douye Diri, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate and his running mate, Lawrence Ewhruojakpo.
At the poll in 2020, the returning officer announced that Mr. Lyon polled 352,552 votes to defeat Duoye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who polled 143, 172 votes.
After the much-touted election back then, the results announced for Ekeremo local government gave victory to the APC which polled 21,489 votes while the PDP polled 18,344 votes.
In Southern Ijaw local government where Lyon came from, the APC candidate polled 124,803 votes to defeat his closest rival in PDP who polled 4,898 votes. The APC candidate hails from the local government.
Lyon also defeated Diri in Nembe by polling 83,041 votes. Mr Diri, on his part, polled 874 in the local government.
In Kolokuma/Opokuma, the APC had 8,934 votes while the PDP had 15,360. Also in Sagbama, Diri of the PDP polled 60,339 votes to beat Lyon who polled 7831.
The PDP polled 13,763 votes in Ogbia while APC polled 58,016 votes.
In Yenagoa, the APC candidate polled 24,607 votes while the PDP polled 19,184 votes.
Fast forward to 2023, as political activities heat up ahead of the election, pundits in the political sphere believe that the Supreme Court pronouncement which eventually sacked Lyon may have dealt a deadly blow to his ambition.
They hinged their reasons on a lot of factors, saying he went back into his shell after the unfortunate incident that punctured his ascendancy.
But three years later and in contrast to pundits’ opinions, Lyon who won by a popular vote appeared to have bounced back and was ready to slug it out with a familiar foe, Diri who is also an incumbent governor.
Preparatory to the announcement of the Bayelsa governorship primary election slated for April 10, more contenders appear to be showing interest in the race. What the scenario implies is that this time, it will not be a cruise ride for Lyon, as he may have to first defeat the likes of Timpre Sylva, himself a former governor in another anticipated duel in the APC.
As a way of demonstrating his readiness, Lyon news filtered out that Lyon has purchased the All Progressives Congress (APC) Expression of Interest and Nomination forms at the cost of N50 million to re-contest the governorship election.
This medium learnt that Mr. Marlin Danier, a pioneer secretary of APC Bayelsa chapter and a stakeholder, led others to the party’s national secretariat in Abuja to pick up the forms on Lyon’s behalf.
At the occasion, Danier was quoted as saying Lyon is the only person that can win Bayelsa governorship election for the APC, adding that he had been tested, tried and trusted
Danier said; “Today we are presenting our principal, Chief David Lyon, a household name in Bayelsa and this country, a young man that gallantly fought a very colossal governor and won.
“Today we are back here to get the APC expression of interest and nomination forms for him to go back and re-contest the coming state governorship election.
“Ordinarily, and under normal circumstances, he is supposed to be given the right of first refusal by the party. Sales of forms are not supposed to be made open,” he said.
“As I talk to you, everyday, the PDP-led administration in Bayelsa is inviting pastors and Imams from different quarters to pray that David Lyon will not become APC governorship candidate.
“He is their nightmare, they are comfortable with every other person, but not with Lyon.
“I can confidently and categorically tell the world that if David Lyon is given the APC governorship ticket to represent it in the election, more than half of PDP members will come back to the APC,” he said.
Sylva, Dickson, Jonathan’s challenge
Former Bayelsa state governor and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has also joined the race for the governorship seat of the state.
Sylva was the governor of Bayelsa state between 2008 and 2012 and was later appointed Minister of State for Petroleum Resources in 2019.
Like Lyon, Sylva reportedly purchased the N50 million All Progressives Congress nomination and expression of interest forms for the former governor.
Going by recent reports, the fight for the APC ticket would be fierce between Lyon and Sylva on one hand and their supporters on the other hand.
The development may have sent jittery down the spine of Lyon supporters like Danier, who insisted that the former be given the right of first refusal.
At the official flag-off of the Bayelsa Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) 2023 campaigns, Diri made a declaration that Bayelsa is no-go area for the opposition.
Diri who led the campaigns at Sagbama in Sagbama Local Government Area , Bayelsa West also described the senatorial district as the bedrock of the party.
According to him, PDP had the best candidates in the elections given their track record of achievements.
He therefore urged the people of Bayelsa West to vote for the party to continue enjoying effective representation.
On its part, the former governor of the State, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson appealed to the people to right the wrongs of the current All Progressives Congress (APC) government.
Dickson, a two-time governor of the state cautioned party members trying to sow seeds of discord in the party.
“You have always supported us and we know you will do the same again. For the upcoming elections, we trust that you will deliver the PDP as you have always done. We have the best candidates.
“We are a lucky senatorial district returning two ranking members. So as we work with them, we are sure of producing something huge from the National Assembly.
“You have made no mistake nominating them to represent us at the National Assembly again. Same applies to our state assembly members.
“Unity is important as there is nothing like it. Let us imbibe the spirit of forgiveness. We will do our best but the battle is of the Lord.
“The entire country is feeling the misrule of the APC. So, support our presidential candidate, who is eminently qualified. We know Sagbama-Ekeremor is a no-go area for other parties.”
The two-time governor thereafter cautioned party members trying to sow seeds of discord in the party from doing so. He reiterated his support for the party and all the party’s candidates in the 2023 elections.
In what could be described as hands of Esau, voice of Jacob, former President Goodluck Jonathan may have tactically endorsed Diri ahead of the election.
Kinsmen of former President Goodluck Jonathan have been drumming support for the re-election of Senator Douye Diri, citing the governor’s giant strides in the state.
They also presented a former Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) saying he is their best choice for the 2023 National Assembly election for Ogbia Federal Constituency.
Hundreds of the kinsmen led by a former Commissioner for Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Saviour Ibegi, presented Iworiso-Markson to the Bayelsa State Working Committee (SWC) of the PDP at the party’s secretariat in Yenagoa.
They described the zoning arrangement in Ogbia as sacrosanct, noting that since it was the turn of Constituency 1 to produce the next federal lawmaker, Iworiso-Markson remained the most capable person and most popular to win election for the party.
Ibegi said though he nursed an ambition for the position, he decided to concede to Iworiso-Markson because of his connections and capacity to offer a better representation.
He recalled that as a Commissioner for Information, Iworiso-Markson performed excellently and impacted positively on many people especially those from Ogbia.