There was still palpable tension in parts of Bayelsa State, especially Yenagoa, the state capital, and some parts of the creek, one week after the swearing-in of Senator Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who lost the election at the poll, but became governor following a Supreme Court judgment and subsequent declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
One week after the apex court ruling, which ousted Chief David Lyon, the earlier declared winner of the election by INEC, tension was still very high, yesterday, even as Diri and his predecessor, Seriake Dickson, repeatedly call for calm and peace, just as many still believe something could be done to reverse the apex court ruling, while others prepared for the worst, including a showdown with the authorities. For most of the residents who craved anonymity, the court decision has ruined their hope of a better Bayelsans, which they believe Lyon could deliver.
The tension is further heightened by fears of possible attack on oil installations in the creeks by aggrieved militants and ex-militant groups, who have warned, through the Reformed Niger Delta Agenda (RNDA), of dire consequences if the ruling was not reversed.
A social commentator, Wisdom Ikuli, also decried the ruling, saying: “You can see the mood of the people, everyone is looking lost and moody. It shows that Lyon’s victory is not just an APC victory; it is the victory of the people.
“Nobody is happy here with the ruling and I believe it is a lesson to the APC chieftains and to so many others in the party. But I want to believe that the last has not been heard of the apex court ruling. I just want the people to calm. The lesson, I believed, has been learnt.”
Even at that, the curfew imposed on the state since Friday last week is also having a toll on the people and businesses in the state, especially transporters, hoteliers, bars and nightclubs, as the state is losing millions of naira in revenue from these sectors, just as many are incarcerated daily by the Police and other security agencies as the curfew lasts.
Policemen have taken the curfew as an opportunity to make money and so as early as 9:40 pm, many are thrown into waiting vans, mainly for exhortation purposes, further heightening tension.The initial three-day dusk to dawn curfew was extended and could further be reviewed if the situation remains tense.
While the state is on the verge of explosion, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), IYC in a statement signed by its Secretary-General, Alfred Kemepado, called for calm, advising aggrieved persons to follow democratic procedures to ensure peace and stability in the interest of the Ijaw nation.
It alleged a plot by disgruntled politicians to visit Bayelsa with violence as a result of the judgment, adding that desperate politicians were bent on causing chaos, including coordinated attacks of oil installations in the state against the overall interest of the Ijaw nation.Diri, ostensibly in reaction to the mood, promised that his administration was poised to offer a renewed hope to the people.
The governor, in a statewide broadcast on Thursday, contended that victory in a political contest is not an end in itself, but a means to foster peace, stability and development in all spheres.He acknowledged outstanding issues arising from the implementation of his predecessor’s policies, which he was a part of, but expressed his determination to accommodate fresh perspectives for the good of Bayelsa.
Diri said the time had come for all Bayelsans to join hands with his administration to frontally address the myriad of challenges facing them, including poverty and ignorance.
Meanwhile, Dickson has condemned the demonstrations in the Abuja and Port Harcourt residences of Justice Mary Odili, calling on the federal government to fortify security around Judges, especially those involved the Bayelsa Supreme Court verdict.
The former governor described the protests as reprehensible, crude, barbaric and most condemnable, adding that the protesters at the residence of Justice Odili should be made to realise that Nigeria, a society under the rule of law, had no place for such a desecration of the rule of law at this age.
He urged all Nigerians of good conscience to condemned the attempt to arm twist and bring the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, to needless opprobrium. Dickson called on the Police and other security agencies to ensure that those who carried out the assault on the law, peace and stability of the state are brought to justice.