The candidates of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party for the governorship polls in Bayelsa and Kogi states will engage in a fierce battle in at least eight local government areas considered to be the battleground places for today’s election.
According to Saturday PUNCH findings, the two leading parties may coast to victory in no fewer than 21 LGAs considered to be their strongholds in the two states.
In the eight Bayelsa State LGAs, the ruling PDP is expected to engage the main opposition APC in the Yenogoa Local Government Area considered as a major battleground, while both parties may divide the remaining seven councils in the ratio of three to four.
While the APC is predicted to gain the upper hand in Brass, Nembe, Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor LGAs, the PDP is expected to coast to victory in its strongholds of Sagbama, Ogbia and Kolokuma LGAs.
In Kogi State, the ruling APC is expected to clash with the main opposition PDP in seven battleground council areas.
In the remaining 14 council areas, findings show that the APC will coast to victory in five stronghold LGAs making up the Kogi Central Senatorial District, where Governor Yahaya Bello comes from, while the PDP is expected to show strength in the nine councils making up Kogi East, where Musa Wada comes from.
However, there are indications that certain factors may affect Wada from polling block votes in these areas.
Bayelsa: Diri, Lyon battle in Yenagoa as PDP, APC control seven LGAs
As Bayelsa voters go to polls on Saturday (today), Governor Seriake Dickson-backed PDP governorship candidate, Douye Diri, will engage ex-governor Timipre Sylva-backed APC candidate, David Lyon, in a fierce battle to outdo each other in the local government areas believed to be their respective strongholds.
For instance, it is believed that the opposition APC may poll block votes in Brass, Nembe, Southern Ijaw, and Ekeremor. The four councils are strategic to the APC in its quest to upstage the PDP in the election.
Sylva, who is the leader of the APC in the state and current Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, is from the Nembe-Brass zone, where he holds sway in Bayelsa East.
In the last general elections, the party, under his leadership, won the Nembe/Brass Federal Constituency. Also, the party’s deputy governorship candidate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, who is from Nembe LGA, is the senator representing Bayelsa East at the National Assembly.
The APC started consolidating its grip on Bayelsa East with the 2015 general elections, winning a seat in the state House of Assembly.
In fact, Israel Sunny-Goli, who represents the Brass/Nembe Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives was the only APC member in the Assembly.
Also, the APC boasts a lot of political strength in Southern Ijaw where the governorship candidate, David Lyon, comes from. There are indications that Southern Ijaw would give him a block vote.
It will be the second time Southern Ijaw would produce governor, after the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, if Lyon emerges victorious.
The party is also believed to have political advantage in Ekeremor, which is the local government area of Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, the immediate past Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development. Although Lokpobiri, who also contested the governorship ticket of the party, had gone to court to challenge the outcome of the exercise, analysts believe his meeting penultimate week with the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, in Abuja might have resolved the political undercurrents that would have jeopardised the party’s chances in Ekeremor.
The PDP will be looking to secure block votes in Sagbama and Kolokuma/Opokuma LGAs. The two councils are considered to be no-go areas for the APC because Dickson comes from Sagbama and Diri from Kolokuma/Opokuma. Incidentally, Diri’s running mate, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who represents Bayelsa West (Sagbama and Ekeremor), is from the same LGA as the governor. Besides Sagbama and Kolokuma Opokuma, the PDP is also believed to have a strong foothold in Ogbia, which is former President Goodluck Jonathan’s area. The party hopes to make a huge harvest of votes in Ogbia.
But, despite the seeming huge support that the APC envoys in Nembe and Brass, Dickson is believed to be the chief strategist of the PDP in this election.
It is also believed that he has his foot soldiers in all the local government areas. The governor’s determination to see Diri and Lawrence emerge victorious is the fire that is driving his push for the PDP to sustain its political dominance in Bayelsa.
However, in all of these, Yenagoa LGA will be the battleground for the PDP and the APC, because it has the highest votes.
It has 199, 895 registered voters with 180, 263 PVCs collected by their owners.
Also, a member of the House of Assembly, Oforji Oboku, is believed to be holding the aces in the council where Lyon, a resident of Igbogene community, has endeared himself to the people through his philanthropy over the years.
A public affairs commentator and Secretary of the Civil Liberties Organisation in the state, David West, opined that the entire political situation portended what he described as a 50-50 chance for the PDP and the APC.
Giving an insight into his opinion on the political advantages of the two parties, he said, “From my observation, Lyon has a very good following in Southern Ijaw. Brass is a stronghold of the APC and, by extension, Nembe LGA.
“But Ogbia, in my view, has sympathy for the APC, too, although the PDP is trying to convince the people of the area that they had been very good to them by giving them the presidency with Goodluck Jonathan as the beneficiary. However, it is 50-50 situation.
“The Kolokuma/Opokuma people believe that it is their turn to produce a governor and Sagbama is for the PDP, because Dickson is from there. In Ekeremor, it is going to be 50-50, too, but the PDP appears to have a slight edge.”
Which way will the political pendulum swing at the end of the voting?
Kogi: Bello, Wada look beyond strongholds
In Kogi, votes will be cast in the three senatorial districts with 1,646,350 registered voters deciding who will govern them in the next four years among 24 contestants.
Saturday PUNCH’s findings show that both Bello and Wada will seek votes outside their domains or strongholds to claim victory.
Though Bello is from Kogi Central while Wada is from Kogi East, both will need votes from Kogi West, where Dino Melaye and Smart Adeyemi will slug it out in a rerun for the senatorial seat of the area.
Okene, Adavi, Okehi, Ajaokuta, and Ogori-Magongo make up Kogi Central while the Eastern Senatorial district consists of Ibaji, Ofu, Dekina, Ankpa, Olamaboro, Igalamela, Idah, Bassa, and Omala LGAs.
This means that while Bello is likely to coast to victory in the five LGAs that make up Kogi Central and considered as his strongholds, Wada is expected to get the upper hand in the nine LGAs that make up the Kogi East. However, things may turn to any side.
The Western Senatorial district is made up of Ijumu, Yagba East, Yagba West, Lokoja, Kogi/Koto Karfe, Kabba/Bunnu and Mopa-Moro local government areas.
Analysts are of the opinion that ethnic consideration might also play a role in the governorship election, meaning that the two leading parties might share the votes along ethnic lines.
The APC could record a clean sweep of all but one of Kogi Central, where its candidate comes from. Votes from Okehi where, the Social Democratic Party candidate, Natasha Akpoti, comes from may be shared between her and Bello.
It is believed that even if Akpoti does not win the election, she is in a strong position, based on her fan base, to decimate Bello’s votes in a fair contest in Kogi Central.
Wada is from Dekina in Kogi East, with strength in Ankpa, Ogugu, Ayungba and surrounding areas. Bello’s running mate, Edward Onoja, is also from the same senatorial district as Wada and could as well break Wada’s block vote expectation in the area.
Apart from the governorship election, the Kogi West Senatorial District rerun occasioned by the order of the Elections Petitions Tribunal will also hold. The contest is between PDP’s Dino Melaye, who was declared as the winner of the first election before the tribunal pronouncement, and APC’s Smart Adeyemi.
Believed to be a popular candidate in the area, Melaye is considered as a deciding factor between Wada and Bello, which also bears testament to the rivalry between Melaye and the governor. Bello was once quoted as saying that he would rather lose his re-election bid than see Melaye win his re-election bid.