The surprise entrance of an oil magnate and businessman, David Lyon, into the governorship race on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has changed the political calculations in Bayelsa State, investigations have revealed.
Lyon, who hails from Southern Ijaw Local Government, regarded in terms of voter population as the Kano of Bayelsa, was among the six aspirants seeking the ticket of the APC for the November 16 governorship poll in the state.
Others are a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri; former Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Frankland Briyai; a founding member of the APC, Preye Aganaba; former Commissioner of Police, Deseye Poweigha and Chief CK Amgbare.
It was gathered that Lyon was drafted into the race by the state APC leader and former Governor of Bayelsa, Chief Timipre Sylva, who opted out of the race following his inauguration as the Minister of State for Petroleum.
Party leaders in the camp of Lokpobiri, who was the first to buy the APC forms, had earlier thought that Sylva would support the ambition of the former minister, the same way Lokpobiri backed him as a minister in the 2015 governorship race.
But it was, however, gathered that Sylva was never dispossed to the governorship ambition of Lokpobiri because he felt betrayed at the way the former minister went about it.
Apart from the breakdown in the relationship between the duo, Sylva was said to have wondered why Lokpobiri was nursing a governorship ambition despite zoning odds against him.
“Lokpobiri hails from Ekeremor in the same West Senatorial District with Governor Seriake Dickson, who comes from Sagbama. Dickson has done eight years. It is the first time a zone is staying this long in power in the state. How then do you expect our boss to support the idea of returning power to the same zone?,” a source from Sylva’s camp, who spoke in confidence said.
He described Lyon as a loyal party man, who had supported Sylva and the APC over the years adding that the decision of Sylva to support someone from Southern Ijaw for the APC ticket was in the best interest of the APC.
“We need to be careful the decision we make at every electioneering period. We dont want to continue bungling our chances in this state. There is general clamour that the governorship should return to the centre and in the centre, Southern Ijaw has the votes. A popular candidate like Lyon will only do the magic,” he said.
But APC leaders in the camp of Lokpobiri were reportedly unhappy with the strange decision of Sylva to back Lyon, whom they described as an administrative and political neophyte.
They argued that Lyon was neither a technocrat nor a politician insisting that Sylva’s preference for Lyon was in line with his alleged personal ambition to mortgage the chances of the APC in the coming poll so as to remain an undisputed APC leader in the state.
A top member of the Senator Heineken Lokpobiri Campaign Organisation, who spoke in confidence, insisted that there was no guarantee Lyon would win Bayelsa for the APC.
“Sylva is doing this for his personal interest. He doesn’t want any APC governor in Bayelsa because he knows that the moment an APC governor emerges from Bayelsa, he will cease to be the leader of the party in the state. Who is David Lyon? Which office and position has he held before? Is Bayelsa now an animal kingdom?
“I can tell you that there is a negotiation between Sylva and Dickson. We believe that this is part of the plot to hand over the state to Dickson’s controlled PDP. We are not scared because we know that our aspirant, Lokpobiri, will fly the flag of the APC in the coming election,” he said.
The source further alleged that Lyon lacked the ability to express himself in English Language and challenged the Sylva’s aspirant to publicly address the state.
Even in PDP, it was gathered that the Restoration Caucus of the party led by Dickson was monitoring the situation in the APC to enable the caucus make a final decision on whom the caucus would support for the PDP ticket.
Dickson was said to be rethinking his earlier consideration to support a senator representing the Central Senatorial District, Douye Diri following Sylva’s support of Lyon in APC and reported failures of Diri to garner required popularity and mass acceptance.
It was gathered that after observing and analysing the popularity of Lyon, the governor was considering a similar popular aspirant in his team from Southern Ijaw to counter the influence of the oil mogul.
A source from his team, who craved anonymity out of fear, said Dickson, popularly called the Ofurumapepe (the great white shark) was keeping close watch on the development.
“The governor understands the implications of making the wrong decision at this time. Any wrong move will rubbish all his achievements over the years and end the existence of his political family.
“We know that Diri is his friend and from his Tarakiri clan. But this is beyond friendship and clanishness. It is a life-saving decision which will also protect Diri and other members of the restoration family. Nobody is against Diri but in view of the recent development, he cannot win Lyon if he eventually emerges as the APC candidate.
“First, Diri’s Kolokuma-Opokuma is the most politically’disadavantaged local government area in Bayelsa. They do not have the voting population. The entire Southern Ijaw will respond with protest votes if Diri becomes the choice of PDP.
“Even in the last election, Diri found it difficult to win the primaries and in the general election he lost his local government area. We know the governor is wiser and many people have been telling him to reconsider his earlier move.
“What the governor needs is someone with enough popularity to match that of Lyon. Most people are genuinely presenting Dr. Nimibofa Ayawei to him. There is no doubt that Ayawei is popular in the restoration camp and he has the capacity and loyalty. He wont disappoint the governor.
“Most people in the restoration camp are shouting the name of Ayawei. He is the only one now that can lead the PDP to victory against either Lyon or Lokpobiri. Whatever the governor has against Ayawei can be ironed out”.
Following he emergence of Lyon in the APC, stakeholders of PDP warned against the Diri’s options saying that the move was at variance with the current realities following the recent change in the political calculation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
The stakeholders under the auspices of PDP Monitoring Group (PMG) said initially they were not against Diri but having weighed the change in the polity following the inauguration of former Governor Timipre Sylva as the Minister of State for Petroleum, PDP would not win the main election with the senator as its flag bearer.
The group in a statement signed by its Cordinator J.P. Emulade said Diri was no longer an option because Sylva was backing an oil magnate from Southern Ijaw, David Lyon for the ticket of the APC.
Emulade said thousands of PDP members including members of his group, who are mainly from the restoration caucus, would abandon the PDP if the Leader of the caucus and Governor of the state, Seriake Dickson, insisted on Diri.
He said the best decision the caucus should take to counter the APC was to give the PDP ticket to an aspirant with popularity and influence from Southern Ijaw to neutralise the personality of Lyon.
He said: “But what has indeed created more fear and political chess game is the entrance of a political colossus and big businessman and the pillar of the All Progressive Congress in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Chief David Lyon.
“Known for his philanthropic gestures, David Lyon is known as the man who deflated the Peoples Democratic Party ambition to win the federal constituency and single-handedly installed the young ebullient and suave politician, Preye Influence Oseke, his protégé as the Member representing the Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency in Bayelsa State .
“David Lyon is a simple man with few words but whose activities in extending a helping hand like his boy Hon. Preye Oseke knows no bounds or limit.
“As the election gets closer, it has become clear that with Sylva’s political machinery getting set to ensure the appointment of yet another of his long time apostle as the MD of the Niger Delta Development Commission, it will be a swift and easy victory for the oil mogul to win the All Progressive Congress flag and slug it out with whoever wins the People’s Democratic Party flag.
“As it stands now in the Peoples Democratic Party, the race has been pruned down to a three way horse race, the young and dynamic Dr. Nimibofa Ayawei, popularly called DNA, Timi Alaibe and the Senator representing the Central Senatorial District, Senator Douye Diri aka SDD.
“It is now clear to all that Ayawei represents the single political personality that has shown that he has won the hearts of both young and old and therefore has the capacity to win David Lyon of the APC should he be given the ticket
“What is constantly now causing fears and disillusionment is that Gov. Dickson may give the ticket and support to his friend Douye Diri, an action that will facilitate doom for the PDP.
“Given the reality and the emergence of the David Lyon option, it’s imperative and inevitable for the PDP to unanimously give its ticket to the young leader of team DNA whose acceptance is unprecedented in recent times in the political history of the state.
“His charisma intellect and philanthropic deeds cuts across all the State. He has single-handedly affected many lives that his name has become a household name and the only candidate who has the power to win the State governorship election for the continuity of the Dickson political family and the PDP by extension”.
Ekaide added: “Our investigations reveal that a fire of resentment is brewing in the PDP ranks. Most people we spoke to said at this point the governor must consider the bigger picture and manifest implications of supporting Diri.
“Most delegates and other party members have warned that should the governor choose Douye Diri, they will all abandon the ship and work for their kinsman. This position has been maintained by many youths who our team spoke within Bayelsa State
“Our position is strictly for the interest of the party. It is devoid of sentiment. The entire decision is that of the governor.
“We will wait for the almighty political masterstroke from the governor known as Ofuruma Pepe, whose political sagacity has never been in doubt in the last seven and half years in Bayelsa. Whether he will blow it in choosing SDD and confine his Party to a daylight defeat remains a matter of time”.
* Reported y The NATION