Senator Douye Diri, representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District in the Nigerian Senate, has won the Bayelsa Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship primary election to emerge the party’s flag bearer in the forthcoming November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
Senator Diri polled 561 votes to defeat his closest rival and former Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, who polled 365 votes.
Keniebi Okoko, a businessman and philanthropist and son of former Ijaw National Congress. INC, President, Prof. Kimse Okoko, came third with 142 votes in the election.
The final result of the Bayelsa PDP guber primary reads thus:
1. Douye Diri – 561
2. Timi Alaibe – 365
3. Kienebi Okoko – 142
4. Gboribiogha John Jonah – 62
5. Konbowei Benson – 24
6. Okoya Reuben – 19
7. Fred Agbedi – 18
8. Joshua MacIver – 7
9. Ayawei Nimibofa – 7
10. Osaisai Franklyn – 4
11. Kemela Okara – 4
12. Igali Godknows – 4
13. Otolo Robinson – 4
14. Talford Ongolo – 3
15. Alagoa David – 3
16. Benson Agadaga – 3
17. Igiri Tobin – 2
18. Emmanuel Paulker – 2
Total Invalid Votes – 16
Total Vote Cast – 1, 253
Total Valid Votes – 1,237
18 out of the cleared 21 aspirants participated in the keenly contested poll which had 1,244 accredited voters out of which about 16 votes were declared invalid.
The Returning Officer of the Bayelsa guber primary and Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku, declared Senator Duoye Diri as winner of the election, saying that he satisfied all conditions contained in the constitution of the PDP, having scored the highest number of the vote cast in the election that was generally adjudged to be free, fair and credible, except for sporadic acts of violence during the accreditation, which were swiftly and effectively contained by security operatives.
A breakdown of the accredited delegates according to their local government areas showed that: Southern Ijaw – 196; Yenagoa – 169; Sagbama – 164; Ogbia – 150; Nembe – 151; Ekeremor – 148; Kolokuma-Opokuma – 141 and Brass – 125.
Senator Diri’s emergence from the PDP Restoration Caucus led by Governor Seriake Dickson, may have taken some Bayelsa watchers by surprise, as many had been led to believe that the early front runner tipped as governor Dickson’s preferred aspirant to pick the ticket, was Dr. Nimibofa Anyawei, Executive Chairman of Bayelsa State Board of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Governor Dickson had however presented Senator Duoye Diri as the preferred aspirant of the Restoration caucus, a day before the election and his emergence as PDP’s flag bearer, has been interpreted by many pundits as a well orchestrated political gamesmanship, which not only underscored the supremacy of the Restoration caucus, but also succeeded in thwarting once again, the gubernatorial ambition of Chief Timi Alaibe in a major political party.
Widespread reports prior to the primary, had suggested that Chief Timi Alaibe was somewhat embroiled in a no-love-lost relationship with governor Dickson, as well as the PDP leadership in Bayelsa, over the composition of delegates for the primary and the latest fake bank alert for delegates votes allegation, levelled against Alaibe and another aspirant Kaniebi Okoko, by the state PDP Chairman, Moses Cleopas, a few hours to the Primary, amongst other squabbles.
While Timi Alaibe and to a lesser extent, Kaniebi Okoko and Arc. Reuben Okoya, were regarded as working independently, but within the party structure, to achieve their individual guber ambitions, Chief Benson Agadaga, on the other flaunted his Ogbia brotherhood relationship with former President Goodluck Jonathan as a hopeful advantage in his quest.
Many however, saw the entrant of the likes of incumbent Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Gboribiogha Jonah, immediate past Speaker of Bayelsa House of Assembly, Kombowei Benson, former PDP Chairman and House of Reps member, Fred Agbedi and Secretary to the Bayelsa state Government, SSG, Kemela Okara, who is a scion of the revered author and poet, Pa Gabriel Okara family and, of course, the earlier mentioned Dr. Nimibofa Anyawei, all members of Governor Dickson led Restoration caucus, as a well crafted ploy to divide the poll and ensure that the preferred aspirant got the bulk delegates votes.
The Returning Officer and Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku, his committee members and observers from the National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), maintained a tight rein over proceedings, ensured that agents were properly accredited, delegates did not stray from their designated LGA spots, read the rules of engagement and operations to one and all and addressed every complaint and misdemeanor with satisfactory despatch on the field.
Honor and maximum respect was also given to whom they were due, as former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who arrived the Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre venue of the governorship primaries about 11:30pm, was welcomed with tumultuous cheers by the delegates and quickly recognised by the Governor Ishaku.
The ever cheerful and ebullient President Jonathan, after exchanging pleasantries with the electoral committee, went to sit with his Ogbia Local Government Area delegates and when it was time to vote, the Darius Ishaku-led electoral committee did the honourable thing by allowing former President Goodluck Jonathan the privilege of voting first and leading delegates from Ogbia, his Local Government Area, to cast their votes ahead of Brass local government area, which should have come first by alphabetical order.
Governor Dickson also enjoyed the same privileged treatment after President Jonathan as he was asked to lead the Sagbama delegates, followed by his Deputy, Gborobiogha Jonah, who led the Nembe delegates to vote in the smooth and properly conducted Bayelsa gubernatorial primary election.