Ripples from the November 16 governorship elections are still being felt across the country and mainly in the small but richly endowed state.
The election was not without justifiable serious anxiety over safety of lives and properties as the contest was keenly contested as a battle for supremacy by two heavy weights in the state. It was a contest between Hon Douye Diri the face of incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson against David Lyon, Timipre Sylva’s candidate. Both men have been political rivals around the seat since 2011, though it ended invariably as a Peoples’ Democratic Party versus All Progressives Congress matter.
Since the APC came into being, Sylva had been pushing a come-back with the party as the party was bent on finding space in the oil rich Niger Delta region but without much success except for Edo State. The Bayelsa State race was therefore, considered a strong opportunity for the APC to make inroad into the heart of the region and the key was appointing Sylva Minister of State for Petroleum as well as strengthening his arm further with influence over happenings in the Niger Delta Development Commission, the discovered cash cow for funding elections by the party. All Sylva needed was to wait for Dickson to make a wrong move.
Both sides got ready for war including enlisting ‘bad boys’ into their camps in readiness for a tough battle, creating anxiety. Expectedly, buildup to the election was fraught with violence climaxing in the Nembe incident that claimed many lives. Fortunately for the ordinary people, series of conflicting court rulings helped create enough confusion to douse the planned violence. The election proper recorded no death casualty, a record in electoral history. The outcome was that the APC won by smartly picking a candidate considered humble, generous, respectful and people-oriented above Dickson’s personally imposed candidate.
Douye Diri pitched against David Lyon, without the influence of their masters, might have done better than his APC 352,552 against the latter’s 143,172 PDP votes but Bayelsans chose the ballot box as platform to deal with Dickson, the white shark for all the pains and impositions he had made them experience during his reign. His waterloo was his reported open disdain for leaders, political and all, including ex presidents, Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo as they tried to make him think beyond himself and allow the generally accepted candidate, Timi Alaibe to fly the PDP flag. That marked Dickson as a man to be brought down and a better politician, Sylva cashed in quickly and manufactured Lyon. from nowhere.
Dickson worsened matters by raising the dangerous divisive message of ‘core’ and non-core Ijaw to unsettle the Ijaw brotherhood many died building. A leader listens to the music beats of his subjects, he weighs and understands when it is time to let go and quickly respects what the mood is. Dickson failed to read these signs and by so doing, opened the door of Bayelsa State to a long thirsty APC to move in and drink to its satisfaction.
Now that Lyon has won the right to the Haven Creek keys via the eloquent protest votes of his people, he should read the message right and answer to the cries of the people.The governor-elect must get to work now mapping out how best to address the many problems plaguing the state. He needs to set out strategies to tackle issues of basic amenities like water, light and quality education in addition to reconciling all because the November 16 victory is not an APC victory but the decision of the people to get back their state from a tyrant.
Lyon must not do to Bayelsans what Rochas Okorocha did to Imo State people. That presumed spirit of generosity must manifest in good governance and a government that cares, that understands the pains that caused the people to turn away from a long alliance; a government ready to not just stop the pains but banish the root causes of those pains so the people can begin to truly rejoice. Bayelsa has been so unlucky with leadership, this lion must prepare to chase off all that have made poverty a watchword in the state.
There is so much resource in Bayelsa State and thankfully, the population is small, so there is enough to transform the state into a place of pride for Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta and a man like Lyon who already has his source of wealth, can chose this election outcome as an opportunity to write his name in gold by righting all the wrongs of the past with positive development and defending the state against sharks in the APC waiting to swoop on Bayelsa State to feast on the common wealth. That must not be!