Sunday, April 14, 2024

17 days to Bayelsa governorship polls: APC IN DISARRAY AS INEC DROPS CANDIDATE

  • Exclusion deepens democracy, threatens APC’s attempted inroads to South South – Analysts

  • Don’t be deterred, we expect victory at Appeal Court, party tells supporters

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR

The All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State has been thrown into disarray following the exclusion of its candidate, Timipre Sylva, and his running mate, Joshua Maciver from the November 11 governorship election in the state.

The Independent National Electoral Commission released the amended lists of governorship candidates for Bayelsa and Imo States governorship elections on Tuesday.

According to the amended list uploaded on the commission’s website, the names of Sylva and his running mate, Maciver were not included in the Bayelsa State election.

The list was signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Rose Oriaran-Anthony.

The column for the names of the APC candidate and his running mate was left blank with “court order” remarks on it.

Oriaran-Anthony, in the amended document, explained that the action of the commission was in obedience to court orders on the lists served on the commission.

She recalled that the commission published the final list of candidates for the 2023 Bayelsa State Governorship Election on June 9 in accordance with the provision of Section 32 of the Electoral Act, 2022, and the timetable and schedule of activities for the election.

She said that after the publication, the commission was served with a court order in respect of the nomination of the APC candidate for the Bayelsa State governorship election.

“By virtue of the provision of Section 287 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the commission is bound to enforce the orders of the court on the nomination of candidates by political parties in the state.

“The amended list of candidates in respect of the 2023 Bayelsa State governorship election is hereby amended pursuant to the orders of court served on the commission,” Oriaran-Anthony said.

The disqualification stemmed from a Federal High Court ruling on October 10, which held that Sylva was not qualified to contest the election because he has already served two terms as state governor.

Justice Donatus Okorowo, in the judgment, ruled that Sylva, having been sworn in twice and ruled for five years as the Bayelsa State governor, would breach the 1999 constitution as amended if allowed to contest again.

The judge also declared that Sylva was not qualified to run in the November poll because if he won and was sworn in, he would spend more than eight years in office as governor of the state.

Meanwhile, analysts have described Sylva’s disqualification as a major setback for the APC in Bayelsa State.

According to them, the delisting of Sylva and his running mate raised the possibility that the party may not be able to participate in the election at all.

They blamed the APC for allegedly failing to do due diligence before choosing Sylva, adding that the disqualification deepened democracy.

While blaming the APC and its disqualified flag bearer, a political analyst, Ayo Ologun, said the decision of the electoral body would serve as a lesson to political parties to do thorough findings before choosing flag bearers.

He said, “The disqualification of Sylva from the Bayelsa polls is a further entrenchment of our democracy and another lesson for political parties to do due diligence before picking flag bearers.

“One will recall that it was in the same Bayelsa that the elected governor on the same platform (APC) was removed to pave way for the incumbent due to inconsistency in the records of their flag bearer. To now have the same party commit the same error by allowing someone with baggage to become her flag bearer is worrisome but a strong indication that our law has no respect for class or clout. Our democracy is being deepened.”

The disqualification of Sylva is also a reminder of the APC’s troubles in Bayelsa State.

In 2019, the APC candidate, David Lyon, won the governorship election but was disqualified by the Supreme Court on the grounds that his running mate submitted forged documents to INEC.

The APC’s disqualification from the Bayelsa governorship election would be a major blow to the party’s ambitions in the South South region. The region is a traditional stronghold of the opposition People’s Democratic Party and the APC has been trying to make inroads in the area.

The outcome of the Bayelsa governorship election will be closely watched as a test of the APC’s strength in the South-South region.

The election will also be seen as a referendum on the performance of the APC-led government in Bayelsa State.

Reacting, however, Bayelsa APC gubernatorial campaign, in a statement issued in Yenagoa by Perry Tukuwei, the Director of Media and Publicity of the Council on Wednesday said the removal of Slyva’s name was a temporary setback which should not upset supporters of the party.

“The Bayelsa APC Gubernatorial Campaign hereby urges our dear people of Bayelsa not to be deterred about the recent happenings in the polity as we match towards the victory post at the November 11 Governorship Election.

“We are clearly miles ahead with a well thought out Renewed Hope for Bayelsa agenda as well as resounding successes recorded in campaign activities across communities culminating in the decision by people of the state.

“We urge them to look to the way of Chief Timipre Sylva and Joshua Maciver as the next Governor and Deputy Governor respectively.

“Our dear people of Bayelsa, do not fear. Do not be discouraged. We are on course with no distractions,” he said.

He added, “Our lawyers are very well on top of the situation as we expect victory at the Court of Appeal. We will win.”

A chieftain of APC who pleaded anonymity told The Point that all political strings would be pulled by the presidency to make sure that the names of the candidates of the ruling party re-appears in the list before the election, “I can assure you that”.

The APC had filed an appeal challenging the court decision and applied for a stay of execution of the judgment pending the outcome of the appeal.

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