We have always put out our views on the issue of the debate about zoning propagated by some persons who are scared of contesting in a free and fair election. Our position has always been that there is no binding and valid agreement on zoning implemented at any election period in the history of Bayelsa West. Our views are out there in the public domain and we know that we have majority of the people in alignment with us. Only a tiny minority who are either afraid of contesting elections are supporting these mischief makers screaming zoning for their selfish political interests.
Our attention was drawn on to a publication yesterday by the All Progressives Congress stating their well-known position: that as far as they are concerned, there is no zoning in Bayelsa West.
This is not surprising because prior to the bye-election in 2020, this was clearly stated by all their leaders and members as they went ahead to confirm their rejection in ‘zoning’ by fielding Chief Peremobowei Ebebi, their senatorial candidate from Ekeremor LGA. Ebebi contested against Senator Dickson when Hon. Fred Agbedi an Ekeremor man was a sitting member of the House of Representatives.
This confirms clearly that APC as a party has never believed in zoning and we agree with the position of the APC: that there is no binding and enforceable zoning agreement in Bayelsa West. It is only mischiefmakers and those who are opposed to persons with intimidating credentials, who they think may contest elections that they bring up the issue of zoning periodically to go against such persons.
There are two issues involved. People confuse BALANCING with ZONING. Balancing is when the two offices are shared to both LGAs in the senatorial district. Happily, we have two large LGAs in one Senatorial District unlike the others that have three LGAs each. Therefore, it has always been the practice for one LGA to take the Senate while the balance is introduced by giving the other LGA the House of Representatives. This is balancing and not zoning.
Zoning is when the various political parties and every stakeholder agree in a binding way that a particular office should remain in a particular area for a given length of time. This is not the case in Bayelsa West and it has never been the case in Bayelsa West.
What was proposed severally was for this zoning formula to be adopted by parties and stakeholders but it has not been successful. It has always been opposed or violated. It has never been respected, neither has it been implemented. It cannot even be implemented without the support of all the political parties and stakeholders who must own it and who must abide by it. This has not been the case.
For example, in the last bye-election, Hon. Fred Agbedi from Ekeremor LGA was in the House of Representatives yet people supported Chief Peremobowei Ebebi from the same Ekeremor LGA. In other words, if Ebebi had won the election, it would have meant that Ekeremor LGA would have retained both the House of Representative and the Senate seats at the same time. This was what those who proposed the Sagbama meeting wanted to avoid.
The meeting some elders and leaders organised in Sagbama, where they proposed that the senatorial bye-election seat should only be kept for Sagbama, was to ensure balance but the APC and their stakeholders boycotted it and instead encouraged the APC led by Chief Timipre Sylva to field a candidate from Ekeremor LGA in the person of Chief Peremobowei Ebebi, believing that Federal might and the treachery by some PDP leaders would guarantee Ebebi a win, thereby leaving Sagbama LGA with nothing. This was their evil plan.
Chief Peremobowei Ebebi and the APC contested the election, went to all the courts, even up to the Supreme Court, to challenge the outcome of the election until they lost. It is, therefore, wrong, mischievous and incorrect for anyone to say the result of the election was because of zoning when the same purported zoning arrangement was violated in the first instance. It is a fact that PDP and its candidate, HE Senator Henry Seriake Dickson, won the election and defended the outcome of the election up to the Supreme Court and won.
With the APC fielding Ebebi from Ekeremor and Ebebi contesting, even in the circumstances of a bye-election that had Hon. Fred Agbedi from Ekeremor LGA in the House of Representatives, that automatically meant the end of the notion of zoning in Bayelsa West. The only thing people can talk about is the notion of balancing. Meaning that, any political party can sponsor candidates from any Local Government Area, provided that one Local Government does not have both. The APC and their supporters and some mischievous PDP leaders even violated the notion of the balancing.
The meeting in Sagbama that was held was a beautiful proposal and every stakeholder pleaded with the APC, Ebebi, his supporters and other political parties, but it was not accepted. The proposal collapsed immediately as both the APC and PDP rejected it and went ahead and contested the election.
So, the proposal from Sagbama, contrary to its being portrayed as an agreement, was simply a beautiful proposal that was rejected and never implemented. The proposal collapsed immediately Chief Peremobowei Ebebi became the APC candidate. The proposal was even openly rejected by the APC, its leaders and Ebebi’s supporters.
The communiqué from the Sagbama meeting was officially boycotted by the APC, which openly rejected its outcome also. The communiqué and the comments in support of the issue of zoning made by Senator Dickson and other leaders before and after the Sagbama meeting were premised on the acceptance by the APC, their candidate and other stakeholders who rejected and condemned the communiqué and went ahead to contest. As it is now, stakeholders and parties can only talk about balancing and not zoning.
A look at the political leaders and stakeholders who rejected and condemned the Sagbama communiqué on zoning, even in the circumstances of a sitting member of the House of Representatives from Ekeremor, Hon. Fred Agbedi, will show that the notion of zoning is a mischievous tool employed to hoodwink our people and in particular to galvanise opposition against capable persons whose credentials they cannot match.
It is surprising that when it suits such people they discard the supposed zoning arrangement even in a bye-election with a sitting House of Representatives member from Ekeremor in place. When it suits them now in the build up to the 2023 general elections, where they fear that the massive support and acceptance for His Excellency, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson will give him easy victory, in the event that he indicates interest to re-contest, these same stakeholders now turn around to say “zoning, zoning, zoning.”
Can those talking of zoning answer the following questions?
Why did Ekeremor leaders and those who are in support of zoning not prevail on the APC and Ebiebi not to contest in the last senatorial bye-election in 2020?
What is the effect of the so-called zoning and the communiqué at the Sagbama meeting when the APC and Ebiebi openly rejected it and protested its outcome?
Why did the APC have aspirants for the senatorial bye election from Ekeremor in the person of Ebiebi, Hon. Omonibeke and others from Ekeremor, if there is a zoning policy agreed by us all?
Why did the APC not give its senatorial flag to Hon. Capt. Matthew Karimo from Sagbama or Hon. Ebitimi Angbari, Major Andrew Oputa or other leaders, who were interested from Sagbama, to clearly underscore zoning?
Do they know that EbIebi scored almost 20,000 votes in the last election, showing that the majority of the voting public does not believe in zoning but rather voted for candidates of their choice based on capacity and party affiliation?
Do they know that even after losing the general election, Ebiebi relied on the Federal might and the treachery of some PDP leaders, to challenge the election result up to the Supreme Court, where he lost?
Have they forgotten so soon that the calculation and plan of the APC and its leadership was that Ebiebi with the support of some disloyal PDP members backed by federal might would defeat Senator Dickson and create a political upset which failed woefully?
Have they forgotten so soon that both Senator Dickson and several stakeholders pleaded with Ebebi several times not to accept the APC offer in order to consolidate the proposal on zoning, but they refused, which made the election to be the most expensive and seriously contested Senatorial election in Bayelsa State. They did not stop there but took the litigation up to the Supreme Court.
If Ebiebi and the APC had won the bye-election or at the tribunal, would these people still be talking of zoning and what would have been the fate of Sagbama Local Government?
Do these people honestly think that blackmailing Senator Dickson and his supporters with zoning will deter him, if majority of our people feel that he should re-contest?
What is so difficult for persons wanting to go to the National Assembly in Bayelsa West to campaign on the basis of their capacity and achievements rather than hiding behind a non-existent zoning policy that has never been implemented?
We ask people to look at the names of the stakeholders from Sagbama and Ekeremor in the last bye-election, who at campaigns and interviews openly stated that there was no zoning and fought the election of Senator Dickson on that basis and lost. Are these not leaders and stakeholders of Bayelsa West? Are these not mischief makers who are using zoning as the only argument to fight Senator Dickson at every election in Bayelsa West, when it suits them?
We are of the opinion that the zoning debate is only a propaganda weapon used against Senator Dickson and used also to destabilise the PDP in the Senatorial District and in the state in the buildup to the 2023 general elections.
See the list of those who said there is no zoning in the Bayelsa West Senatorial District.
- Chief Peremobowei Ebebi: The former Speaker and Deputy Governor was the APC candidate in the last Bayelsa West Senatorial bye-election.
- Chief Alex Ekiotene: An elder statesman who repeatedly said there was no zoning.
- Barrister F.B. Olorogun from Ekeremor town.
- Honourable Chief Christopher Enai: A notable political leader who argued that there was no zoning and supported the APC candidate.
- Chief Fedude Zimughan.
- Honourable Dimaro Denyanbofa from Peretorugbene.
- Hon Member of Ekeremor Constituency 1, Hon. Wilson Dauyegha was campaign coordinator.
- Chief Tobido Amanana
- Chief Andrew Egbagba
- Hinks Dumbo
- Ken Kayama.
- Elder Zee Debekeme
- Robinson Etolor
- Emar Sakor
- Awini Sarikeme
16: OJ Martins
- Hon. Berry Enegeresin
18: Alfred Akamu
- The Local Government and State officials of APC from Ekeremor and several other leaders.
Elders from Sagbama, who in the last bye-election said there was no zoning and therefore supported Ebiebi even against the background of Hon. Fred Agbedi being already in the House of Representatives, are as follows:
- Chief Nestor Binabo, former Speaker and former Acting Governor from Sagbama.
- Major Andrew Oputa (rtd).
- Captain Matthew Karimu.
- Hon. Ebitimi Amgbare
- Hon. Williams Ofoni: He was campaign manager of the APC and Ebebi from Sagbama.
- Richard Perekeme Kpodoh
- Brass Ogola
- Francis Kolokolo.
- Senator JK Braimbaifa.
- Dr. Stella Dorgu.
It is clear from the above that zoning during election is only a mere propaganda against Senator Dickson. They should stop the propaganda against Senator Dickson and the people of Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Bayelsa State and the Niger Delta in general.
If they want to contest, they should step out and contest and tell the people their achievements and what they are capable of doing, instead of this propaganda and blackmail. They are free to contest on the basis of their capabilities not by political demagoguery.
Be that as it may, we enjoin these leaders to consider first, the collective interest of Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Bayelsa State, the Niger Delta region and Nigeria in general.
The Bayelsa West Youth Congress, however, wishes to inform that there will be a meeting on Saturday, 22nd January, 2022 to discuss critical and pressing issues concerning our Senatorial District and urges its members to attend.
Chairman, Bayelsa West Youth Congress