The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) says there is a high chance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) wresting power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the Bayelsa governorship poll.
The PDP has produced three governors in the state since the return of democracy in 1999.
The centre, in its report titled: “The Godson Turned Godfather: Governor Dickson & Bayelsa’s 2019 Election”, however, said the “growing popularity of APC in the state could make the election fiercely contested”.
It also said the internal crisis within the PDP and its primary election in September may be the “straw that will finally break the camel’s back”.
Duoye Diri, PDP candidate, will lock horns with David Lyon of the APC and 43 others on November 16 over the number one seat in the oil-rich state.
“The APC faces a tough task to win in a state that has been the exclusive preserve of the PDP since the return to democracy in 1999. However, there are signs that it might have a chance of breaking that tradition in November. In the 2019 presidential election, the APC won 118,821 votes; a huge increase on the 5,194 it won in 2015,” the report read.
“The growing popularity of APC in the state is coupled with the party’s determination to wrestle power from a state that has traditionally been a PDP stronghold means a fierce contest is expected. Having won a senatorial seat, two seats at the House of Representatives and four seats in the State House of Assembly in the last general elections, the APC now has its sight set on the governorship.
“This Bayelsa election can also serve as a launching pad aimed at making inroads into the South-South region ahead of the 2023 general elections. It is therefore likely that the federal government will do all that is reasonably possible, and muster all the available resources, to ensure its party wins the governorship seat in Bayelsa.”
The report further said that there is a likelihood that the election is marred by violence and fake news.
“The Niger Delta in general, and Bayelsa State in particular, have a history of electoral violence. This is compounded by widespread established incidents of insecurity that include cult violence, piracy, abductions and attacks on oil facilities,” it read.
“With the reported stockpiling of dangerous weapons by the criminals and political thugs… there is a strong likelihood that electoral violence will be a significant feature of this forthcoming election.
“Fake news spread fast and is a potent security threat to the forthcoming election in Bayelsa State. Of particular concern is the deliberate attempts by the political parties to spread false information and shape the narratives before polling day. Both the APC and PDP in Bayelsa run media hubs dedicated to producing and disseminating misinformation and the spread of falsehoods.”
“CDD calls on INEC to address the incidents of vote-buying ongoing in the form of buying of Permanent Voters Card and also work to stem vote-buying during the elections.
“The Centre calls on the leadership of security agencies and her men to maintain a non-partisan stance in the forthcoming elections. The security should refrain from being dragged into such sceptre as witnessed during the 2019 general elections.
“Regardless of the outcome of the governorship election, what should be of utmost concern to every indigene of Bayelsa State is that a peaceful and credible election takes place which reflects the will of the people.”