Bayelsa Poll: Mudslinging, Violence As Governorship Campaigns Hit Home Stretch





JUST a few before next Saturday’s Bayelsa State governorship election next Saturday, the campaigns for the ‘Creek Haven’ have been generally marred by rising cases of kidnappings, killings, mudslinging and sundry unpleasant developments.

The two main political parties/candidates have been heavily involved in name-calling and other acts rather than the issue-based campaigns their officials promised.

But Mr. Moses Siasia of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has endeared himself to the youths and majority of the educated with his matured and dexterous campaign.

He has dazzled his supporters and the opposition with his political sagacity with his extensive issue-based campaign, especially regarding youths and women development, education, entrepreneurial projects and wealth
acquisition/creation projects.

In spite of the recent peace accord signed by the 20 political parties in the state, including the two major contenders- the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC)- the campaigns of Governor Seriake Dickson (PDP) and former governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, have been tainted with blood, misery and unfriendly statements and gestures.

This is despite the warning of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solomon Arase, to deal with anyone who perpetrates violence and violates electoral laws during the elections in Kogi and
Bayelsa states.

Only recently, Mr. Andrew June, an APC stalwart in Oweigbene died from injuries he sustained during an ambush by suspected thugs.

Last Wednesday, a woman was killed and others injured in a fracas involving PDP and APC supporters during a PDP rally at Nembe
Town in Brass Council.

Two high profile cases involving the immediate family members of some of the aspirants also underline the level of violence that has accompanied the pre-election activities of the parties.

First was the abduction of the mother of PDM’s Siasia by three unknown gunmen a few days before the murder of June.

During the week, a cousin of Sylva was also kidnapped at another location in the state.

Siasia told The Guardian that if the act was meant to distract him, he is now more than determined to forge ahead with his campaign and fulfill his desire to win the election.

A few days after, a popular Ijaw musician, Perema Freeman, was also kidnapped by about eight gunmen while performing at a burial wake, killing a man as they escaped in a speedboat.

Earlier in the month, the PDP claimed that Dickson’s convoy was attacked by some hoodlums on his way from a campaign trip to Swali in Yenagoa Council.

Last week, the Police in the state said it had arrested a suspect over June’s death and invited 17 persons for questioning.

Dickson had earlier condemned the killing of June, saying he was deeply moved by his death, and called on security agencies to urgently
investigate and fish out the perpetrators.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the governor also cautioned politicians and their supporters to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner during campaigns, noting that election is not a do-or-die affair.

The APC has lauded the Police for the arrest of the suspected and interrogation of other persons in connection with the incident.

Director, Media and Publicity, of the Sylva-Igiri Campaign Organisation, Chief Nathan Egba, said the recent attack had confirmed its fears of plans to rig the election.

It must be noted that there has been some bright side to the campaigns too, with stories of endorsements and defections, as the two main camps try to out-do each other in the area of speculative claims or propaganda.

Another incident that borders on a comical act was the endorsement of both candidates by a respected elders group in the state in a space of one week.

But a member later clarified that though some members were partisan politicians, the group as an institution was not partisan.

He said the group is a father figure to all, stressing that its interest is to foster unity among Bayelsa people,
irrespective of political affiliations.

The campaign atmosphere has also been fouled by the brickbats and mudslinging between both parties.

However, another pleasant development was the clarifications by the Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) on cloned Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).

There have been fears by some residents that some unscrupulous politicians were intent on manipulating the voting process through the use of cloned PVCs.

All now seems set for the election to hold next Saturday, barring any unforeseen circumstance.

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