The people of Bayelsa have used the media to voice their complaints and concerns about the unrest and poor security condition of the state. Several Bayelsans have criticized the governor’s inability to maintain order and protect the state.
These indigenes and residents including business people, traders, senior oil workers, young people, women, and seniors in the state’s capital, have banded together under different social-political groups to offer their voices and raise money to address the security issues. These groups are raising money and using one of their own, a senior retired staff of Chevron Texaco from Delta State and Ekeremo Local government, and a close friend to the former President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Fred Owotorufa who is rallying people together for a 3rd force in Bayelsa under the platform of the SDP while Chief Magnus Abe is heading the team in Rivers state and Barrister Kenneth Gbagi in Delta State.
These groups are visibly concerned about the divisions in APC and the inability of their leader to put the house together.
They have also seen the division created by the Governor and those close to him who over the last 3 years since he took over have been waging a war sidelining critical stakeholders. Those who want to support the party and even join are weary of joining these two parties because of the non-inclusive nature of the PDP and the way Silva is nonchalant on APC. Those who joined the PDP from APC are regretting and are saying Diri has deceived and betrayed them and are now moving back.
This has led to an exodus of members of the PDP to join the SDP. Speaking to some SDP members in Bayelsa, they acknowledged that individuals who worked with Dickson’s administration to bring about Diri’s administration and have been sidelined by the Diri administration are now with them as they are running for office, but they also noted that there are many others in the APC and PDP who are prepared to embrace this vision and secure the state.
Further investigation reveals that these groups joining the SDP plan to send delegations to communicate with key stakeholders. First, to the former president, Goodluck Jonathan, to let him know what is going on in the state. Then, to other stakeholders, including the former governors, Senator Seriake Dickson, and the honourable Minister Timipre Silva, to inform them about the state of insecurity and that the Governor has left governance to non-Bayelsans and inexperienced people, and that Bayelsa state is currently drifting
Speaking to some Bayelsa residents who choose to remain anonymous, a trader in Yenegoa said
“Few of us feel that we should come together to support credible people who are willing to rescue the state to move forward. We may not agree with everything the previous Governor did but one thing you can not take away from him was clear direction and the concern for security. Now, Bayelsa is like hell, and all Bayelsans are at the mercy of criminals, cult groups and kidnappers”
According to a senior oil and gas official,
“Bayelsa State is now back to the era of militants controlling government, staying and running the government in a government house with full protection and support of the Governor; so why will killings, criminals and cultism not continue in Bayelsa if it has the blessing and support and patronage of the state as the Governor is doing?
“No one would have suspected that Diri will do this, but he has fully embraced the cultists, criminals and militants inside the government house. We are very sad and if this is not stopped we will lose not only many lives as we are losing, but we will lose the state eventually, as no development can take place with out peace. We are ashamed and we are very concerned. We are not politicians but we are patriotic Bayelsa citizens and Nigerians, we are concerned”
Further investigation shows that these groups before the end of this year are planning to reach out to major stakeholders.
A trader in Yenegoa asked
“Is it a crime to come from Bayelsa? What have we done to deserve this? Every institution and everything has collapsed and we don’t have any hope that there will be change”
Meanwhile, On the rumours of Senator Dickson and the SDP, the trader said.
“People are just calling former Governor Dickson for nothing. We don’t think that the former Governor even knows the SDP chairman or any of the officials. Unknown to them the association and government response they are associating him to have created a popularity for the party”
An SDP member in Bayelsa who choose to remain anonymous said
“As for the former Governor, we don’t even know him. Bayelsans who disagree with APC and PDP are coming to the party and we are happy to receive them. We are also happy that the propaganda with Dickson’s name is working in our favour, the association of his name is giving us credibility. We are very hopeful and we will see how it goes.”
Not only in Bayelsa, in Rivers State, the SDP is making waves as Senator Magnus Abe has picked the party’s gubernatorial ticket for 2023 just as Kenneth Bagi with the support of Ibori and his system has emerged the SDP candidate in Delta State.
Investigations have revealed that he is being sponsored by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike as a strategy to reduce the strength of the APC which is the main rival to the PDP in Rivers State.
Bayelsa SDP is rumored to having the support of Rivers state Governor since his falling out with Governor Diri after the PDP Presidential Primaries.
Indeed, It is no coincidence that the face of the party, a retired Oil and gas executive Chief Barrister Fred Owotorufa is a close friend of the former president of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan.
Rumours coming from the SDP camp is that the party has the full support of some politicians in the center and will have access to heavy funding. The SDP candidates across Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states will be heavily funded for their elections.
Oil company executives and businessmen are putting together a huge warchest with the full support of a sitting Governor in the south south who is backing SDP in Delta, Rivers and also Bayelsa. The party is looking for credible people from all parties to take their tickets with massive support and funding promised.
With this new electoral BVAS system, the thinking is that anyone with full grassroot support can win elections without being in a party in power and this why Gbagi and Abe have picked up Gubernatorial tickets in Delta and Rivers.