Chief Anthony George-Ikoli, is a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa State, he is confident that the people of the state will on Saturday reject the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the governorship election in the state slated for November 16 and embrace the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), like they have done since 1999.
George-Ikoli, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) who was also a governorship aspirant in the election on the platform of the PDP, who spoke with some journalists in Yenagoa, urged the people not to be deceived as her believes the PDP holds better plans for the people of the state.
He said the, “PDP remains the best party for inclusiveness and ultimately the protection of the interests of the minority groups like the Ijaw nation. Rather than gravitate into a new party that has an uncertain direction, I strongly believe our remit is to stay, reform and rebuild the PDP into the party it should be. Bayelsa going into the hand of the opposition at this stage is too big a gamble for Bayelsans and is not a chance they should take.”
While asserting that the ultimate responsibility for development of the state is on the shoulders of the people, George-Ikoli said, “I don’t pay much mind to political commentators as it is often difficult to differentiate what is objective commentary from what is agenda, but what I believe is that my party is poised for electoral victory as we have very strong connection to the grassroots and a history of winning,” he said.
George-Ikoli urged Nigerians to grow the country’s democracy, saying “Like every election in Nigeria, it is as though the entire world is going to come crashing down on that day of election and the heavens will fall under the weight of the political gladiators and their supporters. As a society, we generate too much negative energy for what should ordinarily be a contest to herald positive development for the people. We really must find a way to mature our politics.”
Drawing on his knowledge of Bayelsa history, George-Ikoli insists the odds are in favour of the PDP, “PDP has set up various committees to reconcile aggrieved members and I believe those committees have been working assiduously to reach a compromise between all the aggrieved parties and indeed concessions and consensus have been reached. PDP still remains the party to beat in Bayelsa. There is an emotional bond between the people and our party. The people know that their interests are best served and protected with the PDP.”
Amazed at the campaign of calumny APC leaders in the state are alleged to be spreading against the ruling party, George-Ikoli said he was not aware of any endorsement of the APC candidate by Mrs. Patience Jonathan, “I am not aware of such endorsement by Mrs. Jonathan.”
He argued that politicians should seek to leave legacies for the future like what a former governor of the state Melford Okilo did.
“I like to align myself with a school of thought that says posterity is often the best judge of the tenure of political office holders. Obviously, coming from a person loyal to the party like me, my judgement will always be biased in the affirmative, but the real judgment is what people will say of him 5, 10, 20 years from now. In Nigeria today, after all the politics of bitterness has subsided and the bias has passed, people still identify political leaders for their achievements and by their achievements. Till tomorrow, Okilo is still reckoned with kindly and needs no one to sing his praises.”
He noted that there is no division within the ranks of former aspirants as they are united behind the PDP’s candidate, “We had primaries. We were over 20 aspirants that contested and one individual had to emerge. At this point, we are focused on moving forward as a united family to ensure our party retains the state, despite ongoing attempts at reconciling some of our aggrieved members.”
George Ikoli also spoke on alignment and counter alignment, “The facts on the ground speaks to alignments and counter alignments as is customary in our political clime during election season. I cannot speak to the emergence or the pendency of any grand coalition against the PDP that is something out of the ordinary.
“What is important is to have a sound and strategic game plan heading into the election proper. I can only speak about our party’s candidate who has the singular privilege of being a serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“If he has the mettle to represent our state at the Federal level and by all accounts acquit expertly, I do not see how his mettle and exposure can be questioned. As for the APC candidate, Mr. Lyon, I am not too familiar with his background and qualifications, but I believe Bayelsans will know whom to choose and who has their best interests at heart, when the time comes.”
Apparently pleased by the support of Bayelsa people, George-Ikoli said that they should ensure that they vote for the PDP candidate, “The PDP candidate, Senator Diri is a serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who has represented and still represents the interests of his senatorial district, his state and his region. His acceptability is a foregone conclusion as he is not an unknown quantity.”
He urged the people to note that the Saturday governorship election in Bayelsa State was not between Timipre Sylva and Seriake Dickson, “Timipre Sylva and Seriake Dickson are both stakeholders in the Bayelsa project and their interest and influences in the outcome of the elections cannot be overemphasized, but I think it is important to note that they had their own “straight fight” in 2015.
“This election if we are to call it a two horse race is actually between Douye Diri and David Lyon and we should accord them both and indeed all the other aspirants contesting the elections their due.”
While explaining that the PDP has good plans for the people of Bayelsa State, he said the PDP is focused in ensuring, “Inclusive economic growth, a strong focus on modern education for our children, meaningful infrastructural development that properly integrates our state from end to end, qualitative, consistent and accessible healthcare and expansion in private sector led industry that takes our youth of the streets’’.