The 1999 Nigerian Constitution made provision for the tenure of the president of the country and state governors. It made provision for a tenure of four years each for the president and the governors in the first instance, renewable once for another tenure of four years subject to the wishes of the electorate. The two terms could be concurrent or could be taken/given later, just as witnessed in the case of former Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti and the incumbent, Governor Fayemi, both of whom earned their second tenure at different times.
In Nigeria however, a second term could be possible for a governor or president, whether or not he performs, courtesy of the poor electoral system where money dictates and controls the political game. Even, having had the ‘luck’ to be elected twice, some would still want to bulldoze their way to a third term tenure through manipulations – either by wanting to effect changes in the constitution to that effect, if it were made possible, or through the use of a proxy by sponsorship, where he would dictate how the state should be governed from behind and protect his interest in the process.
In Bayelsa, our incumbent governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson belongs to the latter by his recent success in defying his party that brought him to power for a second term by having his say and way by successfully bringing out Senator Douye Diri as his party’s (Peoples Democratic Party) governorship candidate, ahead of frontline contestants like Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, Architect Reuben Okoya, Ambassador Godkonows Boladei Igali, Chief Keniebi Okoko, just to mention a few!
Alaibe has already gone to court to challenged what he described as a ”charade’ when the party has already submitted names of governor and deputy governorship candidates to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to beat the deadline for the submission of the names. Should Alaibe win the suit challenging the emergence of Douye Diri at the party’s primaries, the PDP may not have a governorship candidate as it happened in Rivers State in the last governorship election conducted by INEC nationwide when the All Progressive Congress (APC) had no governorship candidate because of the excesses of former Governor Rotimi Amaechi of the APC. Or at best, Alaibe who came a distant second could be ruled to be the authentic PDP candidate.
There is also the problem of ethnic balancing between the Izons and the Ijaws at the top bracket of the state leadership, that is the position governor and deputy governor which had traditionally been shared since the time of the first civilian governor, late Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha between the Izons of the western and central parts of the state and the Ijaws of the eastern part of the state made up of the Ogbia, Nembe and Akassa ethnic groups. Dickson added salt to the injury sustained by the party at the primaries by bringing a deputy governor from Ofoni the neighbouring village to his Toru Orua village from Bayelsa West as deputy governor, and thereby sideline the traditional power balancing ethnic groups from the east.
Let there be no euphoria in the camp of the ruling PDP as the governor’s political mathematical calculations based on his selfish motives pose a great danger to the party as indicated by the following feelings expressed by some Bayelsans.
A pensioner who was given a raw deal by the security forces allegedly sent by Governor Dickson to quell the protest of pensioners against non-payment of their monthly pensions and pension gratuities said: “Was it not Governor Dickson who said pensioners are an unproductive lot? What should one expect from a government to be installed by such a rascal who had no respect for his fathers and grandfathers? I certainly will not vote for Governor Dickson’s proxy because the government to be installed, should the proxy win, will still be the hand of Esau (Dickson) while the voice will be that of Jacob (Diri).”
“Was it not Governor Dickson who said pensioners are an unproductive lot? What should one expect from a government to be installed by such a rascal who had no respect for his fathers and grandfathers? I certainly will not vote for Governor Dickson’s proxy because the government to be installed, should the proxy win, will still be the hand of Esau (Dickson) while the voice will be that of Jacob (Diri).”
Asked to comment on the PDP primaries, the octogenarian pensioner said: “We need a fresh air away from the intoxicating Restoration fumes from the present day Government House.”
The threats and comments are coming not only from pensioners who constitute a small percentage of voters but also from civil servants, local media practitioners, the youths and from even party faithful who felt betrayed.
A strong party stalwart from the east senatorial district who spoke on condition of anonymity put it this way: “Never in the history has the state governor and his deputy come from Bayelsa central and Bayelsa west. It has always been a combination of Bayelsa central/west and the east. You cannot side-line the east. You can side-line the east at the top bracket of leadership of the state at your own peril,” he said. He added: “We will see how the PDP will get votes from Bayelsa east with no governor or deputy governor slot from the area that has strong following for the opposition APC,”
“We will see how the PDP will get votes from Bayelsa east with no governor or deputy governor slot from the area that has strong following for the opposition APC,”
An exasperated youth who missed out of the PDP primaries rated as one of the costliest and most beneficial to party delegates of the party swore that the money spent at the primaries by the 21 PDP gubernatorial aspirants from the Restoration Camp was enough to provide potable water that the state had lacked in the eight years of Governor Dickson’s governance.
A truck pusher who incidentally happens to be a name-sake of Governor Dickson has this to say about the PDP primaries:
“Ol boy, the money wey I hear say gorment spend for the 21 PDP Restoration governorship aspirants in the primaries fit reach to pay all pensioners including my papa wey never get him gratuity. If to say him don get him gratuity, I for don go university now instead of pushing wheel barrow to survive. Only God know the money wey government go throway for the election proper – all becos Dickson (my namesake) want to continue to be governor under another name of Diri. Na God go help Bayelsa, Amen,” he said and prayed, answering the prayer himself!
And that is the bitter truth.