BAYELSA GUBER: JUBILATIONS AS IGALI MOVES CLOSER TO EMERGE AS PDP FLAG BEARER
As the 3rd of September 2019 draws closer the eyes of the nation are fixed on the PDP primary election to pick governorship candidate for both Bayelsa and Kogi states. In the case of Bayelsa state which seem to be attracting more national attention because of its location in the oil rich Niger Delta, an unprecedented number of 21 aspirants indicated interest, underscoring the high stakes in this state which is home of the immediate past President of Nigeria and a celebrated Democrat Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The town of Yenagoa itself has become littered and defaced by all manner of posters and billboards canvassing the interest of this twenty men and a single woman. As the days go nearer, local opinion polls and random streets interviews by correspondents and the local media are focussing attention on one man Amb. (Dr.) Godknows Boladei Igali, a former super Permanent Secretary, a former Nigerian envoy and a former Secretary to the Bayelsa state government. What comes out of the lips of ordinary Bayelsans as responsible for their support for Igali is based on the fact that he is experienced and has wide connections which covers all of Nigeria and international community will help to ginger growth and development in the state.
In another sense, most indigenes of the state argue that he will help to fill the gap of the non existence of industry and investment in the state through is global contacts and what he had previously done both in federal and at the state level. Particularly in Niger Delta University (NDU) where some mass media and intellectuals have been discussing the programmes and the policies of the aspirants; the general consensus is that “my commitment” blueprint presented a fourth night ago by Amb. Igali stands out from all others as the best articulated.
Another added advantage for him is the fact that Bayelsa is a largely civil servant state so his candidature coming from a rich Federal Permanent Secretary background is welcomed with great enthusiasm and expectations from his own constituency. So Bayelsa civil servants believe that his candidature will take them to a golden age.
The question however is: would the endorsement and support of the ordinary man help to bring Amb. Igali in as governor? After all there are other many critical factors. First of all of these is the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Jonathan was not only a governor of the state before which he had served as a deputy governor and there after he became Vice President and President of Nigeria. He is considered as critical factor in which ever candidate that emerges. Bayelsans appreciates the fact that Jonathan does not like to dabble into local politics. However, in the case of Bayelsa it is his homefront and he has no choice than to get involved. As regards to Igali and Jonathan, many know that the relationship goes back to their days in university of Port Harcourt. Thereafter, much later in life Igali became Secretary to the Bayelsa state government under the leadership of Jonathan as governor. Equally, Amb. Igali time of service as a federal Permanent Secretary brought him again closer to Jonathan who was President of Nigeria. At the same time indeed in Abuja many people knew that Igali was one of the members of Jonathan’s kitchen cabinet at a time he was even pencilled down as Chief of Staff to Jonathan. However, this was not actualized as Mike Oghiadomhe a former deputy governor of Edo state and equally very close associate and friend to Jonathan was reappointed.
Although many eyes are on President Jonathan, non can underestimate the weight and influence of the incumbent governor of Bayelsa state Henry Seriake Dickson. Dickson had been a very successful lawyer until Jonathan made him Attorney General in 2006, thereafter, Jonathan paved the way for him to go to the house of representatives in Abuja as a federal law maker. Finally, President Jonathan also hand picked him for the Bayelsa governorship election in 2012. In 8 years of administration many Bayelsans judge him as a good governor in terms of infrastructure, education and health. He has also built roads to a number of places which could only be reached by boats and canoes in the past. The governor also being a grassroot politician has the entire PDP mercenary in the state in his pocket. As a matter of fact the state PDP Chairman Dr. Cleopas Moses was heard in a leaked tape boasting repeatedly that he will only do the governors bidding in the primaries. This has attracted the anger and protest of the likes of Chief Timi Alaibe, former Managing Director of the NDDC and some other aspirants. Again the question is: who will governor Dickson back in the election? Unlike Jonathan, Dickson is not passive.
His political mercenary known as restoration government has sponsored a number of aspirants including the deputy governor Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, the immediate past speaker Rt. Hon. Konbowei Benson, the Chief of Staff Rt. Hon. Talford Ongolo, a serving Senator Sen. Douye Diri and other senior members of his government. What they intend to do by bringing out such top heavy aspirants who are considered Dickson’s cabal in the state and insisting that one of them will succeed him, but sad for the restoration team just like King Saul in the bible Bayelsans have rejected the restoration team which they describe as an attempt for third term through the backdoor. they believe that all these names will become surrogates of Dickson and will therefore only do his bidding even when he is out of office.
A local news paper quoted some comuters at Yenagoa main motor park in Ekeki and said that Dickson will be disgraced out of power with this his restoration dynasty. As a matter of fact, one prominent traditional ruler who is considered as President Jonathan’s double and is seen as a King maker in Bayelsa and was actually Dickson’s political godfather King John Turner has vowed to lead the state in resisting Dickson and his restoration surrogates. Turner has therefore thrown his weight on another candidate Timi Alaibe.
So where does Dickson stand as regards Igali whom people of the state seem to be clamouring for? Insiders in creek haven government house easily points out that Dickson has very high regard for this technocrat whom he considered as a man of great conviction and character. Indeed he had served in government when the latter was Secretary to State Government and attest to his great intellect and vision. However, Igali is considered as a friend to the restoration team, but not an insider. A key staff of government house who pleaded to remain anonymous disclosed that Igali remains the only candidate that will be a middle line between the Jonathan side and the restoration team since he has maintained very objective position on all matters in the state.
The next 48 hours will likely see a lot of political negotiations within PDP circles in Abuja and Yenagoa. Although a high calibre delegation led by governor of Taraba state Darius Ishaku is expected to arrive in hours to conduct the primary polls, diverse petitions are being thrown around in the media and in wadata house in Abuja. The outcome of all this remains to be seen. If what is reported is anything to go by, there is a move towards narrowing the differences between the restoration camp and President Jonathan’s own side. In it all one obvious concern of the PDP will be to put up a candidate that can spur up support from all, and more importantly take the party to victory in the forthcoming gubernatorial polls in November against other parties especially the APC.
From the news reports and the intelligence which has been emerging, the state newest power broker and petroleum minister Timpre Sylva is poised to bringing up a billionaire former militant and oil baron David Lyon as APC flag bearer. Interesting enough, Chief Lyon and Amb. Igali are all from the massive Southern Ijaw LGA where 30% of Bayelsa population comes from. Unfortunately, marred by internal crisis for which the APC is known in Bayelsa state the party’s convention is postponed indefinitely. How this drama ends will soon become clear to everyone.
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