Bayelsa LG Polls: The Untold Story

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Violence was also reported in southern Ijaw Local Government Area and other minor ones within Yenagoa axis.  As a result, the Bayelsa state chapter of the Action Congress (AC) is now calling for the total cancellation of the  LG election.

After about three years into the administration of Governor Timipre Sylva Sam of Bayesla State, the state has been without Local Government Administration. As it were, the Eight Local Government Areas in the state have been manned by care-taker  committee chairmen. The care-taker- chairmen have been over the years, running the administration of the Local governments in the state with little or nothing to show for it.  Some analysts in the area, say the local government system ought to be scrapped due to its less concern for the development of the local communities. 

Others say Bayelsa need more LGAs due to its increasing size. The argument as to whether the LG administration in Bayelsa should be scrapped was summerised on Saturday, 3 April, 2010, when the state government deemed it fit to conduct the LG election.

On that fateful day, many people including reporters stormed the capital city of Beyelsa, Yenagoa to monitor the election. Many also came from Abuja and other nearby states. Some N.G.Os, were also there to do their bit of the election as early as 7.45 am. As at 7.45am, many electoral officials  arrived the office of the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission (BYSIEC) for the collection of electoral materials for onward journey to their various wards wards del electoral units.

 Again, at about 9.00 am,   the office of the Bayelsa State chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission Hon. Akpoabode Yingomone was still courted, with both monitors and officials of the election. Much later, some reporters who were fed-up with the whole setting, reluctantly entered into the communities to do their jobs.

Within Amassoma and Ogbia, no fewer than two empty polling units were seeing . Still in Ogbia, the home of the acting president Goodluck Jonathan, no voters were seen at the polling units around 3.pm when reporters visited the place.  The two polling units where the reporters visited were empty except one suspected electoral workers and other who seemed to be during their own business outside the election.

In Amassoma (ward 9), youths were seen gathered in a restaurant, claiming to reconcile two contesting councilors.

In fact, the youths looked like “Area Boys” who have sent for the councilors to possibly discuss their welfare should any of them emerge winner in the election.

All attempts to speak with the would-be councilors proved abortive, as they claim to be busy with the “Boys”.

 At Yenagoa, and other nearby communities, people were going about their normal business. When asked why the people were not interested in the election, a taxi cab operator who took our reporter and others round the area said, “dem don select their people already Na em make people no dey worry.” The cab operator was of the view that the election was even rigged a day before the election.

A first class chief from the area who spoke under anonymity, said he never knew that the LG election have been slated to hold that day (April 3) in the state.

The Royal father noted that though things are going very sour in the state, hinting that he and others are handicapped to speak as they are the “babies” of the Government.

According to the chief, things in the state need to be touched and corrected. He pointed out that at least, royal fathers like him were meant to be acquainted with some state activities like LG polls.   

 He admitted that the present administration in Bayelsa state is taking good care of the royal fathers in the state, saying that it does not make it (the state government ) to alert them on the happenings of the state.

The monarch told The Tide and other tabloids point blank that they (reporters) were the first and only people to inform him that election was holding in the state that day (April 3).

In the evening of that day, there were feelers from Ekeromor Local Government Area the home of the deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Rt. Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi that ten people  were dead and several others wounded.  Though some said it was a cult related violence, but others hinted that it was a clash between two opposing cult groups hired by different political groups / parties contesting for supremacy in the state.  Ekeremor who is believed to be one of the most volatile areas in Bayelsa, also is known to be the hottest political bed of the state.

Still in Ekeremor, many argued that they were supervised to see police and others parading the area in the name of election as no proper information was given to that effect.

 The man in-change of media and publicity in BYSIEC Mr Toru Egba, debunked the claims, saying enough publicity was given the election in the state. Bayelsa LG election which was not only poorly funded but was characterised with irregularities and electoral frauds.     Another major tragedy was also averted in Nembe Greek when a boat conveying electoral materials was believed to have capsized, thereby, making it impossible for elections to hold in some wards.

Violence was also reported in southern Ijaw Local Government Area and other minor one within Yenagoa axis.  As a result, the Bayelsa state chapter of the Action Congress (AC) is now calling for the total cancellation of the recently conducted LG election.The chairman of the Bayelsa chapter of AC. Comrade Miriki Ebikibina, claimed among other things that the election was marred with fraud.

Comrade Ebikibina, pointed out that electoral materials were snatched from officials before arrival at their various polling units, therefore, suggested that the election should be voided. He stressed that the afore mentioned lapses and other indicated the inability of the BYSIEC to conduct elections in the state.

The AC leader, who took notice of the Bayelsa State’s Government inability to release sufficient fund for the smooth conduct of the election and non provision of adequate security measures were the reason behind the death of some youths in Ekeremor.  He also accused the Bayelsa State Government of bringing ex-militants to the polling booths to intimidate voters in its favour.

The Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva-Sam has sworn-in the all PDP led eight Local Government chairmen. This was done few hours after they were issued with certificate of returns by BySIEC.

The Tide On Sunday further learnt that the violence that married the smooth conduct of the Bayelsa LG election penultimate Saturday was not unconnected with the secret.

He maintained that the deliberate attempt by the Bayelsa State Government and BYSEC has something to do against the growth and development of the Local Government Areas.

 To add salt to injury,

Indeed, the Bayelsa  elections seem to come and gone, but the ripples continued. The battle is likely to shift to the tribunal for final contest. That all was not well during the election is no longer news. First, critics point to the fact that, there was deliberate attempt to starve the state Independent Electoral Commission (BYSIEC) of fund leading to inadequate preparation, awareness campaign, consultations with stakeholders and the participating political parties.

Second, there was no voters register, the names of the ad-hoc staff were not made public, even the contestants were not known to voters as their names remain top secret, until two days to the election, when the state vice chairman of People Democratic Party, Chief Darius Obiene, caretakers, the reason some say, was to enable him temper with local government Federal Allocation by given them whatever amount he feels, without been questioned since they are not elected officials.

But with 2011 general election drawing nearer, the need to conduct council election became imperative, if not for anything but to staff his authority and structure in preparation for his own election in 2012. with the elected chairmen and councilors on bond, it is the believe that his supporters would be on the ground to wage war of supremacy against those usually regarded as Abuja politician.

Right now, the plan seem to have succeeded expect at Ekeremor Local Government where his deputy, Hon Peremobowei Ebebi is holding tight.

Ebebi is said to be nursing ambition to challenge his boss, this is the reason why when it became clear that his nominees would not make the list, the party chairman decided to go into hiding claiming that the governor was after his life, said a party chief who pleaded for anonymity.

But that is not all that happened. The Local Government election, according to political observer was hurriedly organised after a high court had ruled that the caretaker committee put together by the governor to oversee the affairs of the eight local Government Area of the state was illegal thereby creating “a lacuna” in council administration, therefore the only to avoid this is to organise the election against all odds. It could be noted that since Sylva came on board, there had never been elected officials at the grassroot level, rather, he had always handpick his cronies  handed flags of the party its candidates.

Before that two lists from the party were sent the BYSIEC, one form the embattled chairman of the party, Chief Rufus Abadi, who though during the party’s primary election claimed to be in hiding because of his disagreement with the State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva and the other signed by the vice chairman.

But there was rumour that the chairman was in hiding to avoid the wrath of those chairmanship aspirant that paid him in order to get the party’s ticket. One aspirant was said to have parted with N30 million while another paid N20 million. Councillorship aspirants were said to have paid between N500,000 and five million naira, while female aspirants who could not raise the amount were asked to offer themselves.

The area is divided between supporters of the Governor and that of the deputy. However as at now the deputy governor is having offer hands.

As at now the only opposition PDP has outside itself is the Action Congress led by radical activist, Comrade Miriki Ebikibina, who reacted angrily to what he called “Sham” election.

In his press statement, Comrade Ebikibina had said! “The call for the cancellation of the entire process is needful since the process lacks proper funding and planning, was characterised with massive electoral fraud, diversion and snatching of voting materials, no display of register voters/polling centres, displaying list of ad-hoc staff for the exercise on the day of the election.

According to Ebikibina, deliberate delay and release of some materials with others left behind at the commission’s office, the use of ex-militants to intimidate and haras the people is not only condemnable but vindicated the party’s  fears that the election will not be free and fair.

The party accused the state government and the commission of collaborating to organise elections that would be one sided.

 

Fyneface Aaron, Yenagoa