About 150 delegates currently undergoing screening exercise of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) election holding in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, have been held hostage by Ijaw youths over suspicion that forces have concluded plans to work against the preferred candidate of the Bayelsa state Government, Chief Gordon Bozimo. The angry youths numbering over hundred condoned off venue of the accreditation of delegates, Gabriel Okara Cultural Center, preventing them from moving to the Ijaw House, venue of the election in Yenagoa and leaving them stranded and worried.
One of the protesting youths, Wenibo Matthew, said, “we have also noticed that one of the leading candidates, Professor Benjamin Okaba has secretly smuggled some underage persons into the venue of accreditation of delegates.”
When contacted over the issue, Professor Okaba said, “as you can see, I am under pressure, so I don’t want to say what I would regret tomorrow. I have plenty time for the press, so please just give me some time.”
However, the heavy presence of armed security men at the venue couldn’t stop the irate youths who kept on shouting “The elections will not hold, everybody should go back to their various states.”
Several attempts to get the reaction of the chairman of the electoral committee of the INC election, Rear Admiral W.G Yanga (rtd), proved abortive at the time of filing this report.
A source close to government, said it’s quite sad to note that even INC elections, the government wants to manipulate it, adding that as you can see the so called unpopular government candidate didn’t even come for accreditation as we speak.
A stakeholder and delegate from Biseni clan in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, Barr. Zuogha Konugha, noted that ordinarily, the election is one that will produce the leadership of one of the largest ethnic nationality in the country and shouldn’t be a do or die affair, adding that it should be seen as an entirely different election devoid of manipulations.
He further averred that this is the first time since he started participating in the INC elections to date that candidates will print posters and also engage delegates in campaign and what they have to do in the promotion of Ijaw cause, noting that if the trend continues into the elections proper, it is sure that they, ‘ll produce a strong and formidable leadership and persons that can serve the interest of the Ijaw people.
Konugha further stated that the kind of power tussle in the conventional politics ought not to play out here, adding that all reasonable Ijaw men should know first that they are all Ijaw people before even the state was created.
On the issue of allege manipulation and imposition, he said “we heard that there are moves to utter the authentic delegate list but the people still came and confirmed their names on the list, noting that all delegates will vote their conscience when we begin voting.”