Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Barring any last minute judicial upset by the Supreme Court over two appeals pending before it bordering on the qualification of the Bayelsa State deputy- governor- elect, Senator Degi Biobarakuma Eremieyo filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) filed by former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri , the governor- elect, Chief David Lyon would on February 14, take oath of office as the 5th Executive Governor of Bayelsa State.
Even though the incumbent governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, has not shown any sign for now until all litigations are over that he would accept the outcome of the November 16 governorship election, his administration has gone ahead to put machinery in motion to ensure a hitch-free transition from one administration to the other which would be the first in the history of the state.
While Dickson has demonstrated uncommon courage in forging ahead with his head unbowed over the defeat of his party in the November 16 governorship election, the same cannot be said of some of his lieutenants and supposed supporters. Predictably, intrigues have set in as the political elite in the state prepare to shift allegiance to the in-coming administration. From political appointees to cabinet members, to lawmakers, internal rebellion is being hatched; new alliances and pacts are being formed and clash of ambitions in the legislative arm of government defines the undercurrents at the twilight of the Dickson’s government.
It took just a statement from the Secretary of the State Government, Mr Kemela Okara on the fate of political appointees for many of them to stage an internal rebellion against an administration that had sustained them for eight years. Okara’s statement had stated that “With effectively one month to go to the end of this government, only political appointees whose positions are critical to the transition process will be retained henceforth, to manage this process.” The complaints from the appointees was said to have been brought to the notice of the governor who felt betrayed by their actions especially their lack of patience and loyalty to his administration as it grapples with the activities of transition.
In a media chat, Dickson did not waste time to clarify issues and admonished the political appointees to accept reality of the government winding down.”Government is now winding down. Whatever has a beginning also has an end. Just like most of the appointees that were complaining, they didn’t know they have a duty as a government appointee to be by the government, understand the policies of the government and propagate those policies. A number of them saw themselves as civil servants who would be in office whether the government is there or not. Sadly, the reality is setting in. I was cautioning them that most of what they were getting was because Governor Dickson and the Restoration Team were in government but most of them felt they were like civil servants. The government is winding down and they have to wake up to the reality that Governor Dickson government that has given them all the privileges for eight years is leaving office. No governor would have the heart to appoint 3000 people and spending between N500 and N750 million.”
Investigations revealed that some of the former political appointees are already trying to worm their way into good books of the incoming administration by “badmouthing the Dickson administration” according to the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Daniel Iworiso- Markson.
The Commissioner cautioned critics of the Dickson administration, noting that the governor deserves commendation and not condemnation for his achievements in office. “Bayelsans will miss Governor Dickson and that’s why for those of you who are quick to join the bandwagon, to join the naysayers just because there’s a new government coming, to run down this administration and run down the person of His Excellency, you’re making a huge mistake. You’re making a very big mistake, why because governance is not a tea party. I know so because I am one who has been very privileged to work closely with this governor and I make bold to say that I will defend this government now and forever and I make bold to say that I will not regret one day in serving this government” Iworiso- Markson said
He continued: “So no matter what anybody says about this governor, it is their personal opinion and so they can go on and on and rant as much as they like on social media but let me put it on record that the Restoration Government is one government that our children and our children yet unborn will be so proud to talk about for the rest of their days.”
In the legislative arm of government, clash of ambitions on the emergence of a new speaker is threatening to break the ranks of the PDP-dominated house. The PDP has 19 members in the House while the APC has five members. Shortly after the governorship election, reports surfaced in the media that some members of the House were planning to defect to the APC. The Speaker, Monday Obolo- Bobou who denied the reports of defection led the PDP members to pay a solidarity visit to the governor where they passed a vote of confidence on the governor. According to him, the lawmakers have had “a robust partnership for almost eight years working with the executive arm of government led by Governor Dickson in the development of the state.”
The deputy speaker, Abraham Ngobere who said the members are committed to serve the people who elected them, declared that they are standing tall with Dickson.“We have a sacred mandate as legislators with our people, the people of Bayelsa State, which we will continue to do. We’ve had about 8 years of very effective administration by the Restoration Government, ably led by the governor and we the legislature have given the needed legislative backing to project and programmes of this administration. The seedlings we watered during the dry season have grown to fruit barring plants, and we’ve all enjoyed those fruits. We are here to assure the people of Bayelsa State that as part of the Restoration government, as lawmakers who have worked with this government, we are here standing tall side by side with the governor, to finish strong with him”, he said.
Sources however said PDP members in the House can no longer be counted as standing by the party after the Dickson government bows out on February 14 going by extant happenings in the struggle for power. Obolo- Bobuo is from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area just like Lyon, hence, making it inevitable that he would have to vacate the position of speaker to ensure balance of power among the three senatorial districts. Already, a cold war has broken out in the House with lawmakers that have eyes on the Speakership seat trying to position themselves to be considered the power brokers in the new government. While the four lawmakers from Southern Ijaw have reportedly pledged their loyalty to Lyon, others have been secretly romancing with the APC to prepare the ground for their eventual defection after Dickson leaves office.
The cold war reportedly being fuelled by external forces was to lead to a sudden change in the leadership of the House with the main motive to ignite a political conflagration that would destabilise the state. The Secretary of the Ijaw Youth Congress(IYC), Alfred Kemepado had to raise alarm over the plot to cause “unrest in Bayelsa State” and cautioned “persons involved in the plot to desist from it and seek ways to promote peace and the development of the state.”
Kemepado said: “The Ijaw Youth Council condemns any plot to cause unrest and political instability in Bayelsa State, the only homogeneous Ijaw State. We advise that those, who mean well for Bayelsa should come up with ideas and suggestions that will prosper the state and not to cause division and instability in any arm of government just to satisfy their greed. We state boldly that what the incoming administration needs at this point is wise advice that will further bring about development in the state and not one that will promote political instability and needless crisis as being plotted by some disgruntled politicians, who do not mean well for Bayelsa State. We call on the people of Bayelsa State, especially youths to resist the temptation of being used to promote any form of formal and informal violence in the name of politics. We charge our members across the state to vehemently resist any form of political gangsterism from any quarter aimed at causing unrest in the heartland of the Ijaw Nation.”
Dickson aware of the political shenanigans of some elements in the state has also warned against crisis and sued for peace for the state to move on. “Everybody should live in peace; continue to be brothers and sisters. Disagreement in politics, disagreement because of partisanship all should have ended I hope. This ideal of people threatening people, intimidating people using police and law enforcement agencies should end because at the end, one person would emerge and take the oath of office and take over from me on February 14. My tenure cannot be extended; I have done my time and my best and I need to move on myself. Whether it is Douye Diri the candidate of my party whom I would continue to support or David Lyon who has been declared governor- elect, they are all Ijaw sons and everyone would have to work with whoever is declared, so all those petty things that I hear that is going on should stop.”