As the clock ticks towards Tuesday, 22 September, the new date for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship Primary in Bayelsa State, the question on many minds is who would emerge victorious. While many outsiders focus on a former Governor of the state chief Timipre Sylva and an erstwhile Managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Mr. Ndutimi Alaibe as the top contenders, there is one other aspirant, call him the dark horse that may hold the ace and with it, the capacity to rein-in the Timi-Timi parade that many have hitherto narrowed the race to.
That man, an influential APC chieftain and candidate for Bayelsa Central Senatorial District in the last election who is also in the race to creek Haven, Mr. Preye Aganaba, has quietly built massive support for his candidacy in two very critical sectors of the Party; namely the grassroots on the one hand and top party circles in APC national Secretariat and the Presidency on the other hand.
Besides intensive grassroots mobilisation through periodic tours of many of the 105 Wards in the State, Aganaba’s strength lies partly in the fact that he is one of the three people who established the APC in Bayelsa State.
Thus, as a principal facilitator and financier of the Party in the state, he was able to prop up some structures and in the process, installed many of the party’s executives in the Wards, Local Governments as well as the state level. This gave him a head start. So by not only installing but quietly strengthening the Party structure at a time when many others were busy in fanfares, he has been able to tie his destiny and that of the ward, LGA and State EXCO members who constitute the Delegates for the party’s gubernatorial primary.
Some of Delegates have not hidden their support for Aganaba because they trust him to remember them when in office, having worked with him closely from the start and even in those days when it was perilous to be openly identified with the APC let alone being a member in the state. This may explain the recent declaration by the delegates to only vote for Legacy members, i.e. those who were in the party from December 2013 when Aganaba alongside two others established the party in the state, up to March 28 2015, when the APC’s presidential candidate, now president Mohammadu Buhari defeated former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Another factor working in this Odi born politician’s favour is the fact that he has never held any political Office in the State. Thus, he is coming in without the usual baggage that militates against the progress of many politicians at that level. Given that he has not been tainted by ghosts of past offices, his opponents would have a hard time throwing anything at him that will stick. What he lacks in terms of public office experience is compensated with his private sector experience.
Preye Aganaba is also a well-known name in the party top brass having served as a member of the APC’s 2014 National Convention / Presidential Primary Committee that produced President Buhari and a member of the party’s delegation to the British House of Commons to present their position on the state of the Nigerian nation.
All eyes are now on Bayelsa State, which will be one of the major post Presidential election tests of the APC’s popularity and status as the new sheriff in town, especially in the home state of the immediate past president of the Republic. Also, Bayelsa is strategic to the APC as one of the major oil producing states in the country.
Who will carry the day? Only time will tell.
Gift Alfred Wrote from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State