Bayelsa Gubernatorial Election: How the Military saved the day

Diri and Sylva: The main contenders in the just-concluded governorship election in Bayelsa state


It is no longer news that the off-cycle elections in Nigeria have come and gone and winners declared in various States where the elections took place.

In the Bayelsa State Governorship election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Governor Duoye Diri, won six local government areas in the state to defeat  former Minister of State for Petroleum in the President Muhammodu Buhari’s administration, Timipre Sylva.

Governor Diri’s re-election was not at all a tea party, as it could be akin to a full-scale war.

As the Chairman Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council, His Royal Majesty Bubaraye Dakolo disclosed: “Incumbent Governor Duoye Diri was able to retain his position after a concerted effort by elders and leaders of thoughts in the state, who made sure the security of the state was not breached and innocent lives were not unnecessarily lost in the process.”


King Dakolo shares more insights on what happened before, during and after the election in the state. “Days before that election in the state, there were comprehensive plans from certain quarters to use thugs in the election no matter its ripples effects or consequences on the people of the state or polity. The planners of this mayhem were to get thugs to wear army uniforms.  They planned also to get thugs to wear police uniforms. They had also concluded arrangements on how to move arms around the state and so on and so forth.

“Based on this information, we got the Police and the military informed of these plans. A night before the election, some of these thugs were caught with riffles; it was the military that arrested them and handed them over to the Nigerian Police. Surprisingly, the Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State released these thugs overnight. And when the Police Commissioner in the state was asked why he did what he did, he said that he called Abuja and was asked to release all the thugs arrested with assault rifles immediately. For most of us stake holders in the state, this shows nothing but compromise which did not sit well with us.

“But luckily for us in Bayelsa State, you know, the military now have a new Chief of Defense State, a new Chief of Navy and a new Chief of Air Staff.  These officers are well-trained and they are crack experts in the fields.

Major General Christopher Musa, Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff

“An appeal was therefore made to these officers to help savage the ugly situation that was gradually brewing in the state, as we were not ready to lose our citizens unnecessarily because of an election that will come and go.

“From all indication, members of the Nigerian Police were no longer feared or respected by the hudrums or populist, because they feel the Nigerian police have been highly compromised.

“As a matter of fact, the State Governor Diri, as a peaceful man, made it very clear to all concerned during his campaign for reelection, before and during the election proper, that he doesn’t believe in thugs or thuggery in any elections and that the people of the state, should be allowed to make their choice freely.

Army patrol during Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo governorship elections

“Governor Diri further stressed that all he needed was a level playing field, because he knew that he had worked very hard to improve the state since he first assumed office as the state Governor of the state four years ago.

“As a matter of fact, 98 per cent of the electorates in the state were ready to make their choice if given the peaceful atmosphere to vote their candidate in the just concluded election. But sadly, if the entire population of Bayelsa State were ready to do what is right, with thugs and armed and ammunitions around them, things could certainly go wrong in the process, if not checked. As these thugs could just do damage to voting materials and cheese out electoral officials on that day, thus compromising the state election.

“And if the majority of the people decide to face these thugs in the process, it will amount to two fighting which will not be good for the state and the country.

“So, what the military was able to do, was to ensure that surveillance was properly done and pro-actively went to most of the places where catches of weapons were kept a day before the election and diffused them.

“On the day of the election in my Kingdom, and in most parts of the state, there were active military patrol all through. That was when one or two persons who ran away with BIVA machines were arrested. The thugs that were shouting guns were caught and so on and so forth.

“But at the end of the day, there was proper voting to reflect the sentiments of the Bayelsa electorates.

“So, for me, the Nigerian Military were the heroes of the Bayelsa State election. If the military were not around us here, there would have been large number of people killed on that day. There would have also been an unimaginable number of mayhems across the state.

“Based on the information that I have, the only place the Military did not go in, or were not allowed to go into the town, was a place called Kpasabrim in Nemebe Local Government area, where the Inspector-General of Police SWAT team were in control of the town and prevented legitimate voters from going to vote in the just concluded election.”

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