The people of Bayelsa State have it all cut out for them as they go to the poll to elect their next governor come 2016 as incumbent Seriake Dickson [image above],
who is gunning to be on the ballot is seeking re-election and has thus made the decision making process a straightforward one for the people of the state. The choice is coming at a time when Bayelsans, like other Nigerians, now have better clarity and appreciation of events with what they portend. Thus, Dickson’s antecedents become a strong basis on which he can peg his campaign.
Bayelsa state, apparently in line with the trendy fervour, has seen some people that were once assumed to be political heavyweights swing from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the election. But what has not been highlighted in the narrative is that these men failed to deliver the PDP at national level and logically will not be able to alter the equation for APC in Bayelsa state particularly when they are newcomers in their new found affiliation.
On the other hand, Dickson has shown consistency and loyalty, not just to the PDP but also to Bayelsans, whose interest he has perpetually placed above self-interest. In the run-up to the 2015 election when there seemed to be a gang up against Dickson, especially as some of these later day political decampees tried to pitch former President Goodluck Jonathan against him, he maintained his mien without allowing such contrived distractions to derail his focus. It is now clear that the so called falling out with Jonathan was the handiwork of those who wanted him out of the way so that they can foist their own brand of leadership on the state.
No doubts, there must have been sterling qualities that the people of the state saw in him to have elected him in the first place. It is not mere luck that the trust they have in him was not misplaced considering that he has done all within his ability to justify that trust. He is himself a beneficiary of that trust as his performance has now become the very product he is marketing to secure a second time in office as attested to by the ease with which he scaled the hurdles placed across the path of his bid for the PDP’s ticket.
Seriake Dickson has subsequently become a study book for Nigeria as there are vital lessons to be learnt: serve the electorate well and they will keep seeking you out to serve. The misimpression earlier pushed into the public space was that the success of the APC at the national level would be replicated in states that have midway elections like Bayelsa and Kogi. The reality is however that honeymoon that the APC enjoyed among Nigerians has since fizzled out as the unfolding outrageous developments in the likes of Osun, Imo and Ogun states have rudely awoken the electorates to the reality between theory and practice. Had the human misery unleashed on the failing APC states happened under a PDP led federal government there would have been a barrage of conspiracy theories around how the opposition is being made to look bad. However, Bayelsa, which does not enjoy patronage at the centre, has largely been able to shield its citizens from the kind of fate that befell a host of APC states.
The governorship election in Bayelsa state must thus be prosecuted on the basis of issues. What worked and what failed. Among the best the APC came up with for the poll is Timipre Silva who is gunning to become his newfound party’s standard bearer – the man was not even good enough to clinch the PDP’s ticket 2012 and has further slid down on the scale of public opinion given the fact that he has done his best to sabotage the interest of the people he now seeks to again govern. Silva who is yet to properly clear himself from the charges of corruption once filed against him is suddenly a frontline candidate under a party that preached zero tolerance for corruption.
Timi Alaibe is another front runner of the APC in a development that apparently explains why the anti-corruption pulveriser of the change government is yet to consider sniffing at the NDDC days of their fall back candidate. The APC led federal government will possibly wake up to investigating Alaibe once he decamps to another party as he wont to do upon losing the governorship ticket.
Add the impeached governor of the State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha to the aspiring APC members and it becomes apparent that the list will only get more dismal in its incorporation of puke inducing aspirants.
Certain facts therefore become glaring. First among these is that the APC lacks a formidable candidate to challenge the enormous stature of Seriake Dickson. If the party has the right candidate to take on Dickson, it wouldn’t be at this moment be saddled with frontrunners that have huge question marks hanging above their aspirations. It would have, on the basis of championing change and anti-corruption shopped for a candidate that would come out looking cleaner than white but fortunately for Dickson with the electorate and unfortunately for the APC it is not possible to find another colour that is cleaner than white.
The other fact is that the horror unleashed on the people of some APC controlled states is definitely not campaign material for any party hoping to win elections. So the states that are not under the control of the PDP are certainly not models that can be presented to convince Bayelsans. The APC at the federal level has also failed to present a different perspective as its series of bungling is not definitely what should be replicated in any state that does not presently have the misfortune of being under the party’s control. If a party is visiting hardship on the people at state level and is demonstrating a lack of direction at the national level then there is no basis to encourage its spread.
Furthermore is the fact that the anti-corruption stance that the APC is using as its unique selling proposition is no an established scam. A former state governor spent millions of naira on a website, another bought a helicopter in a state that could not pay salaries, while others simply governed with the mentality of rulers that are dispensing favours. Bayelsans, and of course Nigerians know the party that produced “go and die” and “go to hell” governors who are irritated by the very thought that everyday citizens use infrastructures built with the nation’s commonwealth.
These unsavoury developments are what Seriake Dickson re-election will prevent from finding their way into life in Bayelsa state. Beyond the boundaries of the state, people must begin to see him as the redeemer that he is as he stands up to a malaise that is spreading across the land, the subjugation of citizens that is being packaged as governance. The incumbent Bayelsa governor, in his characteristic mould of not being selfish, has become assumed the vanguard as the man who will show his country what is right as he first seeks to do it right in his state.
Comrade Agbese is a civil rights activist and public affairs commentator based in Abuja