The battle is far from over for the two leading political parties in the Bayelsa State governorship election, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressive Congress,APC following the cancellation of the last Sunday rescheduled election in Southern Ijaw Local Council by the Independent National Election Commission over alleged irregularities.
While the ruling PDP has left no one in doubt of its preparedness to
retain its plum position as the occupant of Creek Haven, the seat of
power, the APC, which is locked in fierce struggle to break the
former’s hegemony has proved to Bayelsans that there is alternative to
the ruling party and was banking on the result of Southern Ijaw as its
joker to dislodge the PDP.
Though no date has been fixed for a fresh poll in Southern Ijaw, the
proposed election may be stalled by litigation as the APC has insisted
that the result of the cancelled polls must be announced. Already, the
PDP has won six out of the seven council areas released by the electoral
commission polling 105,748 votes as against the APC, which scored
72,594 with victory in one council area.
Southern Ijaw Local Council has 120,827 registered voters, the second
highest after Yenagoa, which has 135,025 registered voters, hence the
desperation of both parties to carry the day in the council which has
turned out to be the beautiful bride in the Bayelsa 2015 governorship
The political gladiators are expected to dig deep into their trenches and restrategize on how best to outwit each in the race.
Botched poll: While supporters of the APC were
banking on their party’s alleged victory in Southern Ijaw to cancel out
PDP’s lead, INEC cut short their anticipated victory dance by announcing
the cancellation of the poll.
The state REC, Baritor Kpagih, said there were reports that the
election in the area was “substantially” marred by violence, ballot box
snatching and hostage taking of electoral officers.
The pronouncement came immediately after the state Returning Officer,
Prof. Zana Akpagu, told newsmen and election observers that he would
not be able to take a final decision on the exercise until the result of
the Southern Ijaw election was received. “We have yet to receive
results from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area. They (Southern Ijaw
LGA) have 120,827 registered voters. As a result of this, I, as the
Returning Officer, cannot return on this election until the results of
this local government (Southern Ijaw) are received,” he declared.
But the REC stated that he was, on behalf of INEC, cancelling the
election in order to protect the integrity of the electoral process.
His words: “You will recall that the Independent National Electoral
Commission conducted governorship election in Bayelsa State on the
December 5, 2015. The commission announced that the polls should be
discontinued in some local government areas, including Southern Ijaw LGA
of the state.
of today, December 7, 2015, the results of the election in all local
government areas, except Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, have been
Reports on the election conducted in Southern Ijaw LGA on December 6,
2015, revealed that the election was substantially marred by violence,
ballot snatching and hostage taking of electoral officers. These include
reports from political parties, observers, both local and foreign,
among others. These fall short of internationally acceptable standard
for credible elections.
“Consequently, the commission has decided, in the interest of the
integrity of the process, to cancel the governorship election in
Southern Ijaw LGA. A new date for Southern Ijaw governorship election
will be announced in due course.”
Prior to the announcement, the state REC and some top security
officers held what was tagged ‘a security meeting’ at the INEC office
in the state capital over the situation in Southern Ijaw.
Election in a volatile terrain: The outcome of the
poll did not come to many as a surprise considering the terrain of the
council and the undercurrents that preceded the exercise.
Southern Ijaw, with its voting strength will ultimately be decider of
the polls. Aside its high number of registered voters, Southern Ijaw is
a highly volatile area and at a time hosted the highest number of
militant camps in the troubled Niger Delta region before the amnesty
programme took off.
It is also the biggest council area in the state and is predominantly
riverine with most of its communities far flung, making effective
policing a difficult exercise because of its tricky and risky maze of
The entire governorship election in the state has been characterized
by voters apathy as could been seen in the voting pattern in the seven
local councils where elections had been concluded. The Southern Ijaw
council area many argue may not be different.
Some people believed that most eligible voters stayed away from the polls due to fear of violence.
Besides, voters’ apathy is a common trend in the state governorship
election. Even in areas where election was peaceful like
Kolokuma-Opokuma, Yenagoa, many people still shunned the polling units.
Sylva kick against cancellation, threatens court action: The APC Candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, described as unacceptable the cancellation of the Southern Ijaw council polls.
The former governor who spoke to newsmen in Yenagoa accused INEC of
colluding with the PDP to cancel the rescheduled poll in Southern Ijaw
because his party the APC was coasting home to victory.
Sylva insisted that he won by a large margin that made him the winner
of the election, adding that, if the commission must cancel the
election in Southern Ijaw, where he claimed that he won convincingly, on
flimsy excuses, justice demands that it also cancel the poll in
Ekeremor, Nembe, Sagbama and other places.
His words: “We had an election two days ago. In Ekeremor, there were
widespread shooting; they beat up people; the minister’s house was under
siege for a long time. It took a team of security operatives to repel
the assailants, yet election was held in Ekeremor. When APC protested,
the protest was waived aside; our protest died like a candle in the
‘’In Sagbama, we did not see election materials. As I speak, one of
the chieftains of our party is lying critically ill. The APC protested
vehemently, nobody heard our protest.
“In Nembe, where the APC won, they quickly cancelled two wards, 8 and
9. We protested and our protest was rejected. The election ab initio was set up for the PDP to win. In Southern Ijaw, we have a good showing there, and the election is cancelled.
“When the REC saw that the APC was leading, he cancelled it. This is
very unacceptable to our party. If they want us to accept it, they must
cancel the elections in Ekeremor, Sagbama, part of Ogbia and Nembe.”
Cancellation of election
According to him, the REC had no power to cancel election that had
taken place, noting that it was only the state Returning Officer that
had the power to announce a cancellation.
Sylva said the APC was going to collate all results in Southern Ijaw local government area and head for court.
Disqualify Dickson— APC
Indeed, the Sylva/Igiri Campaign Organisation, had on Monday
condemned what it described as Governor Seriake Dickson’s inciting
statements on radio over an election that had not been concluded.
The Director Media and Publicity of the campaign organisation, Chief
Nathan Egba, who, in a statement called on Bayelsans to remain calm,
said: “In the past two days alone, Governor Dickson has been on air in
several radio stations in Yenagoa, the state capital, inciting Bayelsans
against the Federal Government and establishments.
“It is surprising to note that even when Governor Dickson claims to
be leading in six out of the seven results so far released, he is still
the one complaining and calling for protests as well as civil
“The APC Campaign Organisation and the Governorship candidate, Chief
Timipre Sylva have noted the results released so far and are willing to
accept the outcome of the vote in Southern Ijaw as long as the process
“We , however, wish to condemn in very strong terms the serial breach
of all known electoral laws by Governor Seriake Dickson. First, was his
storming of the Yenagoa LGA Collation Centre on Saturday night after
the election. Next day, Governor Dickson was again at Oporoma,
headquarters of Southern Ijaw LG calling for the postponement of the
elections in the LGA before he was chased away by APC supporters.
then he has been on one radio station or the other making inciting
“Gov. Dickson’s desperation to cling to office in the face of
imminent outright rejection by the people of
Southern Ijaw, which is
APC’s strongest hold and coincidentally the LGA with the largest voter
strength has made him breach so many electoral laws.
Our Campaign Organisation does not have any option at this point than
to call for his outright disqualification from the governorship race.
“This would mean that the APC candidate Chief Timipre Sylva would automatically become the Governor-Elect of Bayelsa State.”
We have been vindicated—PDP
However, the PDP in Bayelsa State described the cancellation of the
rescheduled Southern Ijaw council election as a vindication of its
earlier position that conducting the said election as INEC did was a
wrong decision on account of security concerns in the area.
In a statement by the Director of Publicity of the Restoration
Campaign Organisation, Jonathan Obuebite,
PDP said before the election
was conducted, it had informed the electoral body and security
authorities that the whole of Southern Ijaw had been taken over by thugs
and criminal elements who, he claimed, were recruited by the APC but
its advice was ignored.
He noted that as at 4pm on Sunday, election materials were still
being distributed and wondered how such process could lead to a
transparent election, adding that it was an orchestrated plan to rig the
election as voting went on in the dead of the night.
He said the situation also afforded political thugs to infiltrate the
polling units, snatching ballot boxes and intimidated the voters under
the close supervision of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF).
He said the whole exercise was marred by apathy due largely to the
wanton violence and mayhem unleashed by APC thugs and militants.
Obuebite further justified the cancellation thus: “In a situation
where so many people had even ran away from home on account of
insecurity having been traumatized the previous day and others still
seeing a repeat scourge of violence, it ran against good conscience and
judgement to say you are conducting election in that kind of atmosphere
thereby disenfranchising a lot of people in a crucial election.