By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The last forty-eight hours preceding the inauguration/swearing in of the new Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye, Diri and his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, were intriguing, dramatic and tension soaked.
There was apparent confusion everywhere. Confusion engendered by the various interpretations being given to the judgement of the Supreme court, which upturned the victory of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa state.
Prior to the Supreme court judgement of Thursday, February 13, 2020, which annulled the victory of the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate, Mr David Lyon over the presentation of docunents/certificates bearing different names by his running mate, Senator
Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, the party (APC) had already made all necessary arrangements.
Officials on advance team were already on ground in Yenagoa, the state capital. Their candidate, Mr David Lyon was already rehearsing ahead of inauguration the next day, being Thursday, February 14.
Invitation cards had been printed and sent out. The President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari was scheduled to be in attendance.
However, within a twinkle of an eye, all those things changed. Everything fell like a pack of cards. The Supreme court judgement threw spanners into the whole arrangements and the story took a different dimension.
Barely 24 hours to his inuaguration, the Supreme Court sacked Mr David Lyon as Governor-elect of Bayelsa State.
A five-man panel of the apex court, presided over by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, nullified the election of Lyon on the grounds that his deputy, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo presented false information to INEC in aid of his qualification for the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The apex court, in the judgment delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, consequently ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to withdraw the certificate of Return issued to Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo.
Justice Eko also ordered that INEC immediately declare the party with the highest number of lawful votes and geographical spread.
As members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the party which came second in the said election were jubilating over the judgement, the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had an entirely different interpretation to it (the judgement).
Oshiomhole, in a reaction to the judgement of the apex court, at a press conference he addressed immediately,
declared that nobody would be sworn-in as Governor the next day, arguing that
the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate did not meet the requirement to be sworn in as directed.
“Nobody will be sworn in on Friday as the new governor in Bayelsa state”, he boasted.
Oshiomhole said the Supreme Court judgement did not order that the PDP governorship candidate should be sworn in.
According to him, “In this case, nobody, apart from David Lyon, meet desire spread as expressed by the Supreme Court.The next candidate who happens to be a PDP candidate does not have one quarter of the votes cast in that election.”
The tension and fears became palpable when INEC neither reacted to the ruling that day nor gave certificates of return to the PDP candidate and his running mate.
Instead, the top hierarchy of the Prof Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC were holed up in a high level meeting to appraise the judgement and the way forward.
The next day however, at the end of its meeting, the electoral umpire addressed a major press conference through its Chairman, Prof Yakubu and declared the PDP candidate winner.
The INEC Chairman, at the press conference, said, “As you are aware, the Supreme Court of Nigeria yesterday (Thursday, February 13) delivered a judgement in a pre-election suit on the Bayelsa State Govemorship election held on 16th November 2019.
“The Commission has received the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgement of the apex court which disqualified the Deputy Governorship candidate and vitiated the joint ticket of the party earlier declared winner in the election.
“The Court also ordered the Commission to declare as winner of the Govemorship election in Bayelsa State the candidate with the highest number of lawful votes cast with the requisite constitutional (or geographical spread).
“In compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court, the Commission met this morning and reviewed the result of the election in which 45 political parties contested.
“Without the votes scored by the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose candidates were deemed not to have participated in the election, the total number of lawful and valid votes cast in the election now stand at 146,999. “Out of this figure, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored the highest number of lawful votes with 143,172.
“Similarly, the Party has scored more than 25% of the lawful votes cast in all the eight (8) Local Government Areas of the State.
“Furthermore, the total number of registered voters in places where election was not held or cancelled as a result of sundry violations is 90,822. The candidate of the Accord party has the next highest score with 1,339 votes.
“The margin of lead between the candidates of the PDP and the Accord party is 141,833 votes. With this outcome, the election is conclusive at first ballot.
“Consequently, Senator Douye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo of the PDP are hereby declared winners and returned elected as Governor and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State respectively.
“The Commission is aware that the tenure of the incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State ends at midnight today Friday 14th February 2020. Therefore, in fulfilment of the requirement of Section 75 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) the Certificates of Return to the Governor and Deputy Govemor-elect will be presented to them immediately as ordered by the Supreme Court.
As soon as Diri and his deputy got their certificates of return from INEC, they headed straight to the Legacy House office of the PDP in Maitama, where same were presented to the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and other national leaders.
At the brief ceremony, Prince Secondus said that the victory was ordained by God.
His words, “ This victory is dedicated to God Almighty because as we know, power cometh from God not from man and in this case, it was a long journey to freedom. Now is the time for us to come together especially the people of Bayelsa state.
“It is not in the falling, but it is in the rising according to Mandela. This is the time to establish the truth and reconciliation committee for the benefit and genuine reconciliation of all Bayelsans.
“There will be no victor, ther will also be no vanquished. So we urge the new governor elect and deputy governor elect to quickly go to work, embrace everyone regardless of their linings or parties because this is what PDP represents.
“We believe in the rule of law and our matters are very clear. If it is on point of law, no argument, no protest, if it is not point of law, we will ask question.
“We don’t just make protests or argue or issue statements on ordinary ground. If we have ground, we will ask and on this matter in Bayelsa state, it was on point of law and the rule of law has taken place.
“God has given you power not man. So go and be good ambassadors of the nation and your state and the party. There shall not be no rancour.
“Call all the elders, all the youths of both Bayelsan people together to work. It is not the party, party is important it is the platform, but the service you are going to render to the people of Bayelsa should be uppermost in your mind and that is how to build a nation.
“We believe that our nation is in disarray, our nation is in distress but with the caliber of yourself, the governor elect and the deputy governor elect, we will begin to heal the wound, we will begin to rebuild this nation and bring everyone together.
“The PDP stands for the unity of our country, the PDP stands for all-inclusiveness, the PDP stands for the future of the young generation of our country. We are in together to work with you and we believe that as you go back now for the swearing in ceremony, all Bayelsan people will give you all the necessary corporation.
From the Legacy House office of the PDP, the train moved straight to the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport enroute Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital for inauguration/swearing in.