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Bayelsa Guber: A peep at Preye Aganabas option

Published by The Nation on Sun, 21 Jul 2019


The All Progressives Congress Party (APC) primary towards the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State has finally been scheduled to hold on August 29, 2019.Following the release of the timetable for the governorship election, the political atmosphere in Bayelsa State has become very electric.The election is a straight fight between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition APC.There is no doubt that the forthcoming governorship election is going to be the mother of all battles between the PDP and APC.The PDP is banking on its vantage position as the ruling party with lots of state resources at its disposal. The party prides itself as an Ijaw partya sentiment that often swung the political pendulum their way in the past because it produced former President Goodluck Jonathan.This ego trip was largely deflated by the sterling performance of the APC in the immediate past general election. The party did not only have an impressive outing by securing the largest chunk of vote in the whole of Southsouth for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, it also got three seats at the National Assembly and four at the State House of Assembly. This is a radical departure from the past when it was an all PDP affair.The choice before the electorate in Bayelsa is at once a tough and simple oneso long as each of the contending parties knows what to do.PDP is already in big trouble with its warped selection process, skewed at the whims and caprices of Governor Seriake Dickson, who has narrowed the choices to his immediate political family, while other formidable candidates have been shut out.The voters are just biding time to ease the party out of power with the APC option. The perceived poor performance of the Dickson-led government is also a strong factor that will work against the PDP.Bayelsans generally are fed up with the PDP administration characterised by mismanagement of state resources, arrested development, subjecting civil servants to slave labour by denying them what is due them. Whoever secures the ruling partys ticket will contend with a growing wave of disenchantment across the state, for the singular reason of introducing poverty as an official policy against the Bayelsa people.For the APC, the coast to victory is bright and plausible if it can take advantage of the odds against the PDP. The party must resolve its internal problems and present a candidate that is suitable and acceptable to Bayelsans, transcending party divide. What the electorate are looking forward to is a radical departure from the worn-out, old political war horses. The preferred choice is a young, dynamic and dependable character who has not soiled his hands in treasury looting.This is where a frontline contestant like Engr. Prince Preye Aganaba readily comes to fore. Few weeks ago, when he made known his intent to throw his hat into the ring the news of his ambition was received with spontaneous jubilation in the nook and crannies of the state and he was the first to do so.Though, former Governor Timipre Sylva who sought re-election in 2015 but lost to Dickson has the right to contest re-election as his intent to do so is very strong in the rumour mill and from his body language.It is however, the consensus of vast majority of Bayelsans that it will be a herculean task for APC to win if Sylva is given the party ticket for reasons that are legion.On the ex-governors ambition, a socio-political group called Network for Change, led by Ebitimi Ambaowei, said: Former Governor Timipre Sylva and Heneiken Lokpobiri should shelve their ambition to contest. Power is given by God. The tide against them in the state is very strong. Let them remain kingmakers in the party. This is honest advice which their political associates are hiding from them. Let them listen to the voice of reason. The voice of the masses is the voice of God.But if they refuse and go ahead to contest the primary, the party will lose and history will judge them harshly for placing their personal interest above collective interest. We are begging them to make this sacrifice in the interest of the party.This is a knotty issue but quite central to the APCs determination to win the election. Those watching the political space closely hold the strong view that the issue of Sylva contesting the election is what will make or mar the political fortunes of the party.On the part of Lokpobiri, political pundits believe that his decision to contest the governorship election is an ambition taken too far. It violates the principles of equity in the internal zoning arrangements among the three geo-political senatorial configuration.Talking about the Lokpobiri candidacy amounts to preaching political heresy against the sensibilities of the people. His kinsman, Dicksonfrom same geo-political zoneis already serving out his eight-year tenure. It is not morally justifiable for Dickson to hand over to his brother, Lokpobiri, because Bayelsa is not their political inheritance.This is where the Preye Aganaba candidacy becomes not only a viable option but also a child of necessity for the APC to win the governorship election.Some analysts further buttress the fact that Aganaba as a candidate from Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA from Bayelsa Central Senatorial District will be a fair deal, in line with the gentlemen agreement of zoning key elective positions in the state.If the national leadership of the APC is sincere and fully committed to win the governorship election, it must give a listening ear to the local opinions and aspirations of the people by conceding the governorship ticket to Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA where the legendary Niger Delta agitator, Late Isaac Adaka Boro, comes from. This will also go a long way to appease the area widely regarded as the epicenter of agitations against the marginalisation of the region.In broad perspective, the progressives believe that Bayelsa right now needs Aganaba whom they describe as epitome of generational shift, tried, tested and successful entrepreneur, community service-driven politician who cannot betray the mandate the people will entrust in him.He is a cerebral, disciplined, youth-friendly, patriotic, God-fearing and accomplished business man. He worked briefly with Kandrate Nigeria Limited, in Port Harcourt, a service contractor to Wilbros Nigeria Limited, a multi-national company, where he showed his professional competence in electrical engineering.In 2006, he took the bold initiative to fulfill his long term dream not to depend on salary paid white collar job, but to generate employment and take several unemployed off the streets. He did this by incorporating a limited liability company known as Freenet Global Resources Limited with head office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.The company, which has core investment interest in dredging, marine consultancy, reclamation and shore works as well as sweeping and clearing of oil wells and flows stations across the Niger Delta, has contributed towards reducing activities of militancy in the area as many youths have been engaged meaningfully.Moreover, in spite of his cosmopolitan outlook, he cherishes his basics, believing in the aphorism that charity begins at home. He has not only funded and promoted cultural festivals but has also attracted key projects from federal government to enhance the socio-economic lives of his Odi community.In 2014, when the merger talk was going on to form the APC, he was part of the process. Along with some comrades, he practically brought the party to Bayelsa. He single handedly donated the first state secretariat of the party. This was not as easy as one could imagine; he was persecuted by the then ruling PDP over what they described as daring a state where former President Jonathan comes from. He regarded the persecution as his baptism of fire over the task ahead of entrenching the APC in the state.Aganaba had served the party in different capacities at national level with all sense of loyalty and commitment. In 2004, when the APC primary/convention planning committee was constituted, Aganaba was not only appointed a member of the convention and planning committee but was also secretary of the media and publicity subcommittee. In the same year, he was appointed as one of the facilitators during the visit of the APC National Working Committee team led by the immediate past Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at the United Kingdom House of Commons.These are no mean events which have shaped his political horizon and his selfless quest to serve the people of Bayelsa. In addition to that, he is not only a member of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, NSE, but is also a corporate member of the Council for the Regulation of Engineers in Nigeria, COREN.What many APC members in Bayelsa and the state in general are saying loud and clear is: If APC makes the mistake of fielding worn out old political war horses; then the party should consider itself as certified losers. Mr. Inemotimi Mark says: If they field Preye Aganaba with his moral strength of character, it would be like unveiling a brand new product and a marketable one for that matter. APC should be prepared to coast to victory, that is truly the verdict of Bayelsans as far as the forthcoming governorship election and the chances of APC are concerned.This is why there is this wide spread clarion call on Aganaba like that of Apostle Paul being called to come over to Macedonia to rescue the people of Bayelsa from years of arrested development. He has heeded the call with ecclesiastical spirit of service.Today, in Bayelsa it has been widely accepted across party divide that Aganaba is the only viable option for APC to beat the PDP government. The truth may appear bitter, but that is the reality the national leadership of the party need to consider over the issue of choice of party standard bearer.Sylva and Lokpobiri have nothing to lose by putting on hold their ambition for the governorship election. They will rather emerge heroic for subjecting their interest to the overall interest of the party by rallying round their younger comrade, Engr. Aganaba. This is the time they must resist counsels of the Ahitophels and listen to the voice of reason in the interest of the party. If they refuse to heed the advice and go ahead to get the ticket of the party to contest the general election and the party loses, the judgment of history will not forgive them.The signs are ominous that APC will win the governorship election in Bayelsa if and only if Sylva and Lokpobiri will bury their ambition and throw their weight behind Aganaba. That is the political reality steering at the faces of APC and indeed Bayelsans as a whole.
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