INEC Postpones Bye-Election in Bayelsa

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shifted to an unknown date the bye-election for Yenagoa constituency 2 of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly vacated by the former Speaker and now Deputy Governor, Werinipre Seibarugu.

Niger Delta Standard reported that INEC shifted the election originally scheduled for 14 August, 2010, to an unknown date following pressure from a faction loyal to President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Timipre Sylva’s faction over the candidatures of Bolobo Orufa and Ebipadei Fekoweimo of the Peoples Democratic Party.

While Abuja was said to be backing Orufa, a former chairman of Yenagoa Local Government Council, Yenagoa was said to be the pillar behind Fekoweimo in the bye-election.

Both Orufa and Fekoweimo had commenced intense campaigns in their localities and the state capital, Yenagoa, when the INEC postponed the bye-election.

An indication that Fekoweimo was backed by Sylva emerged on Thursday during the campaign of Fekoweimo in Yenagoa as the Deputy Governor was seen canvassing support for him.

A source in the presidency told our correspondent that Orufa also had the blessings of the National Chairman of the PDP, Okwesilieze Nwodo, who had forwarded his name to INEC as the party’s candidate for the bye-election.

Although the INEC in Bayelsa was yet to come out with the official explanation for the sudden postponement of the bye-election at press time on Thursday, political observers believed that the shift in date was caused by the emergence of two flag-bearers of the PDP.

The Public Relations Officer of INEC in Bayelsa, Timidi Wariowei, parried inquiries by Niger Delta Standard on the development, but a source in the office said the decision to postpone the bye-election in the state was mooted at a stakeholders meeting held between the commission and political parties in the state.

The source said though a definite date was not agreed upon at the meeting, the need for more time for enlightenment campaigns on the bye-election, however, was highlighted.

It was gathered that Nwodo and his Deputy National Secretary, Musa Babayo had in response to a letter from the INEC in Bayelsa seeking clarification, confirmed Orufa as the ‘anointed candidate’ for the bye-election.

But soon after the National Secretariat of the PDP presented Orufa, Sylva was said to have insisted that Fekoweimo would fly the flag of the party in the election. The log-jam forced the INEC to shift the election.

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