From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The electorate of Bayelsa West and Central senatorial district trooped out on Saturday to vote in the senatorial bye-election across five local government areas in the state.
The affected local government areas include Sagbama and Ekeremor in Bayelsa West, Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa and Kolokuma/ Opokuma in Bayelsa Central.
The turnout was largely impressive and the exercise was peacefully but it was not without its drama as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and former governor Henry Seriake Dickson and his wife Mrs Racheal Dickson had to wait after accreditation at his polling unit in Toru- Orua to be given ballot papers to vote.
Dickson who arrived his polling unit with his wife after accreditation has asked for the ballot paper to vote when the Electoral Officers when doing back and forth over who is in the possession of the ballot papers.
Dickson who was calm throughout the confusion was eventually told that the Presiding Officer left with the ballot papers to rectify a faulty card reader.
The SPO to save the situation had to intervene and brought out another roll of ballot papers which was used to vote.
Dickson in an interview commended the exercise noting that preliminary reports indicated an impressive turnout of voters.
Chief Dickson commended the electoral officers and security agencies for the impressive level of conduct and urged them to sustain their vigilance until a winner is returned at the end of the election.
He stressed that it was his expectation that the displayed level of professionalism is sustained to prevent people with dubious intent to distort the process.
He said, “As I voted this morning at my polling unit at Toru-Orua, I was glad to see that voter turnout was impressive and from available preliminary reports from other units and wards, there is indication of a massive and impressive turnout.
“I want to thank the officials of the electoral body for their professionalism and we hope and expect that this level of conduct is sustained to the very end culminating in a return.
“Every election is in stages. Voters will come out en mass, get accredited and vote and after that, other processes also continue up to the declaration.
“I thank the security agencies for their vigilance so far. Once again, I expect that this level of professionalism is sustained throughout the process because very often during collation, people try to do funny things and so on.”
Governor Douye Diri who voted in his polling unit 4, ward 6 in his community Sampou in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area expressed confidence that the candidates of the PDP would make an impact when they are voted into the Senate.
Diri who spoke shortly after voting said Dickson and the party’s candidate in Bayelsa Central , Mr Moses Cleopas, a former PDP state chairman are incomparable to any other party’s candidate in the bye- election.
According to him, the upper house of the National Assembly is not a place for jokers but people with integrity and understanding who would bring acumen to the Senate and make the state proud.
” Being a former member of the National Assembly, I know it takes a great pedigree to belong there. So I know that the Candidates of our great party, the PDP, are eminently qualified to be there”, the Governor said.
Diri commended the peaceful disposition of the bye-elections, while expressing optimism that his party’s candidates will emerge victorious at the conclusion of the exercise.