Bayelsa gov poll: Power of incumbency won’t favour PDP —APC
Mr Jotan Amos is the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State. In this interview with EBIOWEI LAWAL in Yenagoa, he speaks on the local government and governorship elections scheduled for August 10 and November 9, 2019, respectively in the state.
The governorship election in Bayelsa State is fast-approaching and you are aware the state government has put machinery in place to conduct a local government election. How prepared is your party for the two polls?
My party is not taking part in the local government election. Reason being that the people selected to lead the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission (BYSIEC) are card-carrying members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. That apart, they have held several positions in the government and so, they would be corrupted by the system. That is why the All Progressives Congress (APC) has decided not to be part of it; we have the conviction that they would not give our members fair treatment.
But has your party made any formal complaint about the situation you have described before opting out of the election?
We have made several complaints and very soon, we are going to publicly make our position known.
Given such background, don’t you think the outcome of the local council election would determine the tilt of the governorship poll?
The conduct of a local government election has nothing to do with the forthcoming governorship election because the government has no control over the electoral umpire of the governorship election, which is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Don’t you belief the level of voters’ turnout during the council poll may be replicated during the gubernatorial election?
The council poll would not be a contest because many political parties would not be taking part for the same reason we are opting out. So, I don’t expect any form of violence because the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would have a fun-filled day. As the world already knows, the PDP is always afraid of a contest and whenever there is contest, the party would always resort to a violence to have its way. So based on this fact, the outcome of the council poll may not reflect in the governorship election. As for the electorate, they are already fed up with the PDP-led government. And because they are now searching for a better government which the APC can provide, I have hope that they would certainly come out enmass, conduct themselves peacefully and cast their votes for the change they desire.
There are claims that elections in the past were determined by federal might. Do you think such forces would sway voters this time around?
Federal might has no role to play in the conduct of elections in the state. All those claims have been the system PDP used to rig election in the past, but we hope to have a level-laying field.
We saw cases where the power of incumbency determined elections in the past. But if you hear that any force from the federal level is coming to influence the governorship election, then look carefully, you would find the hand of PDP in it. Look at Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom, states for example, if anything like federal might existed, would PDP have won the last governorship election in those states? So in this time and age, nobody should be talking about federal might in an election.
There were allegations that politicians influenced the posting of security chiefs to states to help them rig elections in the past. Do you foresee that happening in Bayelsa?
When you talk about posting of security chiefs, it is the prerogative of the security agencies. They are simply doing their professional job. But if we sense that any politician is influencing the posting of any security chief to rig election, we would certainly stage a protest. However, I don’t have any reason to worry about that for now. That cannot apply to Bayelsa State.
Besides, the power of incumbency can play a major role only in an election, where the people love the incumbent. But in Bayelsa, the case is different because the people are fed up with the governor and his party. For this reason, he has lost the sympathy of the people. The PDP has failed the people of the state for many years. This time, the people are seeking for progress and we, as a progressive party, have come with the solution to their problem. So this time, power of incumbency would have no role to play in the election.
Now in terms of providing good governance, don’t you think PDP has done better in Bayelsa than what the APC is doing in states under its control?
If you look very well, among all the states across the country, Bayelsa is the least developed. Why did I say so? If you compare the allocation other states received and their level of development with the allocation Bayelsa has received in the past eight years that the PDP has been in control and our level of development, the people have no reason to be proud of their government.
How do you mean?
Take the welfare of the civil servants in the state for instance: they are in anguish because they are not adequately paid. Everyday, their salaries are being slashed. And as we all know, Bayelsa is a state where everybody depends on the civil service to survive. The government has failed to build industries and encourage existing ones to grow, yet you are making the civil service that is the only employer of labour unbearable. Do you want to talk about road network? Yenagoa is still a one-road-in and one-road-out capital city. That is unthinkable in this era and time. Is it electricity you want to talk about? Bayelsa has been in total darkness for four years. You drive around town at night, there are no street lights. As we speak, Bayelsa is officially the world capital of darkness. Is it water supply or low cost housing you want to talk about or the poor state of education? The people are currently living in penury. You can’t compare the APC to the PDP when it comes to delivery of good governance.
What is the change your party intends to bring to Bayelsa if eventually you emerge winner?
If we win the governorship election, the social contract we would have with the people is to immediately raise their standard of living. Many people in the state are living below poverty line. So, our focus will be to ensure we lift the people out of poverty as fast as possible through the promotion of small and medium scale enterprises.