SWITZERLAND, NOVEMBER 15 – As Saturday, November 16th approaches, the major parties in the upcoming Bayelsa gubernatorial election are set for a tough contest.
In Bayelsa, Senator Douye Diri of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is squaring up to David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in one of the toughest gubernatorial contests in the history of the state.
However, political analysts believe events will largely be determined by other players besides the gubernatorial contestants.
Bayelsa is a traditional stronghold of the PDP and home state of former president Goodluck Jonathan. However, the APC is making inroads with the presence of some prominent politicians in the state. Perhaps, the biggest politician from the state in the APC is former governor and current Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipreye Sylva, who defected to the party before the 2015 elections.
David Lyon, a businessman and oil magnate, is said to be Sylva’s preferred candidate and the minister is pouring resources into his campaign as well as backing him up with his political machinery.
Douye, Diri, Bayelsa Central Senator and PDP candidate is known as a seasoned politician. He has mobilized a powerful political base, having defeated many powerful politicians in the primary, the likes of Timi Alaibe. Nevertheless, he will need to rely on the political patronage of party bigwigs in the state to successfully defeat the APC which has huge resources to prosecute the election.
Governor Seriake Dickson and ex-president Goodluck Jonathan are seen as the two most powerful PDP politicians. However, while Dickson has been consolidating his power as an influential politician and positioning himself as kingmaker for the next dispensation, Goodluck Jonathan’s influence continues to wane due to apathy.
One of the indicators of Jonathan’s waning influence is the emergence of a Senator from the APC in the former president’s constituency, in the 2019 elections. It is so bad that rumours started circulating on the social media that he was working for the APC in the upcoming guber election due to a misunderstanding between him and Dickson. Goodluck Jonathan had to come out to publicly deny the rumours and douse the emerging tension.
At a meeting with some PDP Governors at his Abuja residence, Jonathan asked: “How can I be working for the All Progressives Congress (APC) when I am a frontline stakeholder and the father of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?”
Thereafter, Jonathan formally endorsed the party’s flagbearer, Douye Diri and promised to seflessly work for his victory.
According to a source close to the Bayelsa political circles, Goodluck Jonathan’s apparent lack of interest in taking over the political machinery of the state has become a source of frustration for many of his supporters, who believe Dickson may be displacing the former president as the most powerful politician in the state.
“Former President Goodluck Jonathan is a gentleman to the core. But his apathy to political power struggles has left many in the PDP frustrated and they are turning to Governor Seriake Dickson to rally the party for victory in the upcoming election as the APC is hellbent on winning the state,” the source, who asked not to be named, told Today’s Echo.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has stepped up his support for the APC candidate, David Lyon. With a huge war chest, the APC wants to consolidate its gains in the last election to clinch the state this time. However, the PDP candidate, Douye Diri seems to be a more experienced and influential politician.
Verdict: Very close, but PDP is likely to clinch this one.