BY ETETE ENIDENEZE
There have been myths about the voting strength of so-called big local government areas in Bayelsa State, since 1999 when elections commenced in Bayelsa. But findings from investigation in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by this writer, indicate otherwise.
The Commission’s 2019 records show current voting strength of LGAs in Bayelsa State in terms of number of registered voters, highlighted here in ascending order as follows: Yenagoa – 199,895; Silga – 165,449; Ogbia – 109,903; Salga – 109, 460; Ekelga – 125,189; Nembe – 92,717; Brass – 67,804 while Kolga has 52,765.
As the data show, the voting strengths of the various LGAs are trying to close up huge margins that existed in 1999 when civil rule began in the state, three years after its creation in 1996.
The surge in the number of citizens who annually reach suffrage age; influx of non-indigenes into the state, particularly into Yenagoa City and its adjuncts, now outnumbering other LGAs; computerization of voter registration exercises and use of Card Reader machine for accreditation are bridging the gap in voting might.
These factors will change the patterns of voting, hence political calculations by parties, Kingmakers and politicians could also be altered.
Therefore, fair and sincere alliances and sharing of power through governorship position to areas left out since 1999, might influence political plans and actions by politicians and the rational electorate.
And these seem to have started, for instance, with allotment of speakership of the State House of Assembly to Kolokuma/Opokuma, whose indigenes rather prefer gubernatorial position.
The new permutations have also thrown up intense advocacy by different areas, for example, Epie/Atissa, demanding to be given a chance to mount the state’s governorship seat in 2020.
Thus, a rethink of the age-long Silga’s political strength as likely sole factor to determine choice of candidates in August primaries of political parties, and in the November 16, 2019 governorship elections in the state is vital.
Care also ought to be taken in terms of rating any other large LGAs higher than others because as past events indicate, the so-called minority areas are growing, getting more conscious and usually serve as swing and block-voters to determine a governorship winner who hails from any of the so-called bigger LGAs.
How the new voting figures of LGAs, alliances and agitations by “minorities”, for a slot to Creek Haven, especially, by Epie/Atissa people, will shape decisions and actions in this year’s governorship elections, will start manifesting in August this year with party primary elections. Indeed, Bayelsa’s governorship election, this year, is up for new directions, and might not just be for grab like before.
ETETE ENIDENEZE is a media practitioner based in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.