Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, who was elected for second term, on January 9, says he cannot celebrate his victory because of the killings that attended the poll that re-elected him. Dickson blames the killings on what he describes as the connivance of security men with thugs who unleashed mayhem on his supporters, many who are now recuperating in hospital.
The governor, who describes his re-election as a war, asks President Muhammadu Buhari to stop what he calls his ‘political conquest’ and tackle urgent national challenges for the benefit of Nigerians.
When he was asked how would you describe your re-election? He said;
I would simply say that the election was more than just an election. It was more of a war as a result of what my main opponent did, prior to and during the poll.
Indeed, we survived a war because the people of the state were resilient, steadfast and showed confidence in me as their governor. That is why, at the last count, I won seven of the eight local government areas of the state and had over 134,000 votes against my main opponent, who managed to get over 86,000 votes.
To me, this is a resounding victory despite all odds because we were up against a full display of the totality of power at the centre deployed to the fullest to take over Bayelsa by force and my opponent’s campaign was appropriately nicknamed ‘Operation Take Over Bayelsa’, which appeared innocent at first but, in retrospect, we now know what they meant from day one.
This is one victory that led to spontaneous celebrations in families, local governments and communities in Bayelsa, across the whole of the South-South and indeed most states and cities in Nigeria. Millions of people stayed glued to television while collations were going on, hoping that the forces of evil would not triumph.
I believe the Bayelsa election is a significant development in our democracy. It is significant in the sense that this is the first time a governor is winning an election in a core Niger Delta state on a platform different from the party at the centre.
To us, this is a triumph of peoples’ will over might. Women and youths had to stay awake, forming a wall of protection in their voting units and communities with some of them using their bare bodies to block armoured personnel carriers. It means that the Nigerian democracy is on track and it also shows that our nation will not be a one-party state and, everyone, who is thinking that this vast land of proud and resilient people will be cowed and will only go in a particular way and coerced into a kind of totalitarianism, should begin to think twice. With my experience, our people are beginning to understand their roles in a democracy and they are now getting better educated about the democratic processes. It is a good development because this country shouldn’t be allowed to slip into a one-party dictatorship. That is part of the significant thing that has happened in Baylesa; it is a victory for the people in Baylesa who rose up against the desires of the elite. It is instructive, too, that most of the elite, who resigned and joined the other party, positioning themselves for federal appointments, lost their booths and polling units.
So, it is a good development for our democracy, for Bayelsa; good for the Ijaw people, good for the PDP and ultimately good for our country because it shows that our people are resilient and it will resist a one-party state.
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