SERIAKE HENRY DICKSON, outgoing governor of Bayelsa State, had calculated that he could do without “godfather” – which has become a bane in Nigerian politics, while picking his successor. He missed his calculation. If he had calculated well, he would arrive at the answer that he was a product of “godfatherism”. Former president Goodluck Jonathan was Dickson’s political godfather. He cannot wish that away.
Dickson was at Nigeria’s lower legislative House of Representative, when Jonathan backed him in 2011, general elections as governorship candidate of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. He rode on the back of his godfather and dislodged Temipre Sylva, Buhari’s present Minister of State for Petroleum, as governor of Bayelsa State.
Too soon, Dickson, forgot the dictum: “One good turn, deserves another”. An act of kindness needs be paid back by another act of kindness. Jonathan preferred Timi Alaibe, an astute administrator, to succeed Dickson as governor. Dickson preferred Senator Douye Diri. Eight years of Dickson’s tenure as governor of Bayelsa State, he seemed, according to observers, as someone who played down the visibility of his boss and godfather in the state’s affairs.
Dickson sees himself as a political factor in Bayelsa politics. An embodiment of one who can “do and undo”, as the saying goes. He felt he was politically on ground in the state, and had the party’s political structure in his pocket. He seemed to believe he understands the political dynamics in the state. Dickson also counted on his political shrewdness and erudition. He got is wrong. Real politics is a game of inclusiveness.
He could not see beyond his ambition, to become a godfather himself. He picked his successor, Senator Douye Diri, as the next governor of Bayelsa State, without considering the collective interest of principal stakeholders. Jonathan and other respected elders in Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, kicked against Dickson’s choice. He was adamant, went ahead and anointed Diri as governor in waiting.
Very quickly, the political equations and odds in Bayelsa State politics turned against Dickson. Jonathan and his supporters in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, turned their back against him. There were mass defections from the State PDP, to the opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, to support David Lyon, the governorship candidate. Dickson was already in collision course with Jonathan and cream of supporters of PDP in the state.
Matters got to the head. Jonathan failed to join his party’s bigwigs at the Bayelsa PDP, grand finale campaign. Tongues began to wag about the frosty relationship between Jonathan and his party, on one hand; and the claim of his subtle support for the opposition APC candidate, David Lyon; and his unwillingness to receive Dickson and PDP stalwarts and openly support his party during the electioneering campaign in the state.
The signal was strong and clear that PDP candidate, Senator Diri would be floored during the election. Defections to the opposition APC camp, and crowds David Lyon was pulling during the campaign were indications that the game could be up for Dickson and his ruling PDP in Bayelsa State. Yet, Seriake Dickson, remained adamant.
The power of good reasoning would have moved Dickson to begin to reassess the situation and initiate amends. Pride, some analysts said, was Dickson’s undoing. In politics, humility matters much. Politics is said to be a game without permanent friends and permanent enemies – which has made Nigerian politics a fair whether business – where politicians crisscross for the slightest reasons.
Dickson, however, disagreed with public assessment of the outcome of Bayelsa governorship election. He accused Jonathan of anti-party activities during the election. He said the party’s primary to pick a candidate was free, fair and credible. He could not be accused of hand picking or anointing a candidate against the party’s interest. He seemed to challenge anyone with proof of subverting his party’s guidelines during the primary to produce evidence.
At a world press conference in Yenagoa, Tuesday, Dickson said PDP would challenge the result of the November 16, governorship election in Bayelsa State in court. He said the party and its governorship candidate did not lose the election in the state. But that the election was characterised by violence and widespread malpractices which were carefully documented.
“Our candidate, Senator Douye Diri and the party chairman have been speaking about the charade called an election that took place in Bayelsa on Saturday, and the invasion of our state by security forces. The dehumanisation of our people and how in the majority of areas and places, our people were denied the right to vote for the candidate of their choice.
“The story is all out there that what took place in the state on November 16 was not a democratic election. So, today, I’m here to add my voice to all that has been said already. It was so brazen, it has never been like this in this state before,” he said.
Dickson said he held Goodluck Jonathan in high esteem. “Jonathan remains my oga and I respect him, but there are lots of efforts by certain interest to create a rift between us, there is no politician that has been there for the former president than me. He has also helped me but it is unfortunate that I am being misconstrued in this matter of the election.
“I tried to meet Jonathan for 16 times and he opted to support a candidate that does not wish me well. I will soon write my memoirs and people will have a fair view of what happened, the visit of some APC governors to Jonathan who congratulated the APC candidate without congratulating the candidate of his party. It is strategic for APC leaders to use Jonathan to legitimise the illegitimacy that happened on Saturday,” Dickson said at the world press conference.
As Bayelsa State governorship election drew closer, it was obvious, the ruling PDP, was walking a tight rope. Emerging early signs were that the election would violence ridden. With the face-off of PDP key stakeholders in the State with Dickson, the election was seen to have been won before it took place.