Zoning Battle in Bayelsa West

Zoning Battle in Bayelsa West


Friday, July 12, 2024 at 12:35 PM

Written by Editorial Board

There has been an ongoing debate on the next Senator for Bayelsa West Senatorial District. The debate is anchored on those who are in support of a purported zoning arrangement and those against it. The current occupant, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson, has indicated interest to seek another term. 

The Senatorial zone is made up of two local government areas, Sagbama and Ekeremor. The incumbent senator and former governor of the state, hails from Sagbama. He is completing the tenure of the serving deputy governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who vacated the seat in 2020 for his current office. 

While some political pundits have alluded to the zoning arrangement others have dismissed it, saying on several occasions including the last by-election, it was not respected. The pro-zoning advocates believe that it is the turn of Ekeremor to produce the senator and anything away from that will fuel an avoidable political crisis. On the hand, the anti-zoning commentators want merit and experience to be placed as a criteria. 

A former lawmaker Senator John Kojo Branbaifa in a recent publication, said

there is no zoning arrangement between the two local governments. He said since the return of democracy in 1999 all the major political parties existing today fielded aspirants from the two LGAs. According to him, even within political parties the party's tickets is often contested for by people from the two areas. 

He said "the first elections into Bayelsa West Senatorial District seats (Senate and Reps) was in 1999. The candidates were Chief Emmanuel Difa (AD)and AVM Larry Koinyan (PDP). With protest votes Chief Emmanuel Difa won the election and Chief Clement Andie was declared winner of the Federal House of Representatives. Both of them were sworn in and became the first lawmakers for the senate and House of Representatives. There was NO zoning. 

"In 2003, the following persons contested the primary election of the senatorial seat.

Chief JK Brambaifa from Sagbama, (PDP), Sen. Emmanuel Difa, Sagbama, (PDP), Chief (Barr) Ebikake Abeke, (PDP). At the end of the primary election, Chief Brambaifa and Chief Abeke had to go for a Run-off election, where Brambaifa was declared winner and became the PDP flag bearer. Similarly Chief C. Enai became the PDP flag bearer for the Reps. There was NO zoning. 

"The main Senatorial election was contested between Chief Brambaifa (PDP) and Rt Hon. Heineken Lokpobiri (APP). The candidates for the Reps were Chief Enai (PDP) and Hon Alex Eseimokumoh (APP). It was a keenly contested elections characterised with violence and endless litigations. But in the final analysis Chief Brambaifa and Chier Enai were declared winners and were sworn-in as Senator and Reps Member respectively. There was No zoning". 

If the explanation by Branbaifa is anything to go by then there is an established fact that zoning exist only in the imagination of a few to suit their political interests. This is more so, that all the stakeholders who are in support of it cannot produce any single document where it was agreed. They have only and repeatedly said it was a gentleman's agreement. 

The intervention of Governor Douye Diri, is highly commendable. The governor at a meeting recently pleaded with the people of the senatorial zone to allow Dickson to return to the senate and Hon. Fred Agbedi to the House of Representatives. Sadly, even with his intervention, some members of the party, especially his aides are still insisting that they will "fight to the end". A clear disobedience to their boss. 

It is important to state that ranking is an important aspect of legislative business. With the experience of Dickson as a former lawmaker in the House of Representatives, his return to the senate will be of greater interest to the people of Bayelsa West. It will put him in a pole position to become a principal officer, among other huge benefits.

Edited By: fadil

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