Bayelsa Governor Seriake Dickson has undertaken measures to regain the confidence of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, popularly called the Bayelsa Kano in terms of voting, ahead of the November 16th governorship election.
There were fears that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in Southern Ijaw, which has the second voter population after Yenagoa, were making plans to move to the All Progressives Congress (APC) after losing the party’s governorship ticket.
Dickson and the party leaders were said to be worried by defections of PDP members in the council and the likely mass exodus that could hit the party in the area if nothing was done to assuage them.
About eight out of the 21 PDP governorship aspirants in the just-concluded primary election came from Southern Ijaw but they all lost the poll to Senator Douye Diri, who hails from Kolokuma-Opokuma, in the same Central Senatorial District.
Despite pressure mounted on the governor to back down on Diri and support one of the Southern Ijaw aspirants especially the state revenue boss, Dr. Nimibofa Ayawei, Dickson was said to have insisted that since the council had produced a governor, the slot should go to Kolokuma-Opokuma in the same district in the interest of justice and equity.
It was, however, gathered that following the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to hand over its flag to Chief David Lyon, who hails from Southern Ijaw, the governor was making moves to counter the APC raging influence in the council.
The decision of the governor and PDP leaders to appoint Ayawei, the Director-General of Diri’s campaign organisation was said to be one of the moves to reposition the PDP in Southern Ijaw.
A statement by the State Secretary of the PDP, Chief Godspower Keku, said that Dr. Ayawei’s appointment was part of the key resolutions of a meeting of the Gubernatorial Campaign Advisory Council of the State Chapter of the PDP.
It is believed that with such key positions, confidence and a sense of belonging would be restored in the council and aggrieved PDP members would be persuaded to work for the party at the main election.
Sources said the decision of the PDP leaders to force the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Tonye Emmanuel Isenah, to resign his office was also part of the moves was in the interest of votes from Southern Ijaw.
Though Isenah earlier said he was not going to resign, it was learnt that following sustained pressure mounted on him, the speaker would have no option but to leave his position.
The Special Adviser to the speaker on Social Media, Ranami Afagha, indicated that PDP leaders were blackmailing the speaker to leave the office for a lawmaker from Southern Ijaw.
He said they were telling Isenah that his stepping down was crucial for the PDP to win the forthcoming poll.
He wrote: “‘Mr Speaker Rt Hon Tonye Emmanuel Isenah if you step down as speaker then the PDP will win the governorship election.
“If PDP did not win then then you are the cause because you refuse to stepdown as speaker’. One of the blackmail against Mr speaker”.
Afagha, however, advised the speaker to step down if the PDP insisted they needed his office to win the election with less than 50 days to election.
He said some of the leaders also resorted to blackmailing the Speaker with an allegation of bribery to change the tide of public opinion against him.
He said: “Please kindly disregard any blackmail being peddled by those who want the Rt hon Tonye Emmanuel Isenah the Bayelsa 6th Assembly speaker out of office.
“Their blackmail is to incite the public who are always standing with the speaker from when he becomes an Assembly member from the labour party to when he was elected speaker, this they are doing to incite the masses to rebel against the speaker, who are always there standing with the speaker.
“This is why they are out with this blackmail that the speaker has collected money to step down as Speaker. All they want is public rebellion against the Speaker.
“The Speaker will not betray the trust of the masses. The Speaker still stands with the public and whatever decision he will take is for the good of the public and the masses who have always stood with and by him from the day he was elected speaker.
“The Speaker has not collected a kobo from anyone and will not collect. The Speaker will address the public and tell you why he will step aside for the house of Assembly to function in full for the sake of the masses and the public”.
To reach the aggrieved youths of Southern Ijaw ahead of the poll, Dickson redeployed the Commissioner for Youth Development, Udengs Eradiri, to the Ministry of Environment.