Senator Douye Diri (Bayelsa Central) has won the governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State.
Of 1,244 accredited voters, Diri scored 561 votes to defeat his closest rival and former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ndutimi Alaibe, who polled 365 votes.
Keniebi Okoko, a businessman and philanthropist came third with 142 votes in the election, which was contested by 21 aspirants.
About 16 votes were declared invalid following multiple voting and other infractions.
Diri belongs to the Restoration Caucus, led by Governor Seriake Dickson. Diri’s election reinforces Dickson’s assertion that his caucus remains a dominant force in PDP and the state.
The election was adjudged free, fair and credible, besides pockets of violence during accreditation.
Returning Officer and Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku said Diri satisfied all conditions in the party’s constitution, having scored the highest votes cast.
A breakdown of accredited delegates according to their local governments showed that 196 were from Southern Ijaw; 169 from Yenagoa; 164 from Sagbama and 150 from Ogbia.
Others are Nembe (151); Ekeremor (148); Kolokuma-Opokuma (141) and Brass (125).
Arrangements for voting began about 11 pm following the arrival of Ishaku, his committee members and observers from the National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, who arrived at the Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre venue of the primaries, was given a thunderous ovation by delegates. After exchanging pleasantries with the electoral committee, Jonathan sat in the row allocated to Ogbia, his local government area.
The committee also distorted the alphabetical order of voting to allow Jonathan the privilege of voting first.
He led delegates from Ogbia to vote first instead of Brass, which should have come first.
Dickson was also given a privileged treatment after Jonathan, as he was asked to lead Sagbama delegates followed by his deputy, who led Nembe delegates.
The Restoration Governorship Election Primary Committee has congratulated Diri on his victory.
Committee’s Head of Media and Publicity Daniel Iworiso-Markson said in a statement that Diri’s victory was a stamp of his acceptance by delegates.
Iworiso-Markson hailed the Ishaku-led committee for the peaceful, transparent and credible process, which he said had become a reference point.
He praised aspirants for their maturity and show of sportsmanship, saying it was the beauty of democracy and proof that PDP was a party of matured minds.
He said: “We must put our differences aside and work together to deliver victory for the party on November 16. Now that we have a flagbearer, let us rally round him…”
Dickson has appealed to defeated aspirants to support Diri.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Fidelis Soriwei, he said Diri had demonstrated character, capability, courage and the thirst for public service.
The governor said Diri worked closely with him as his principal executive secretary for years before leaving for the National Assembly.
Dickson noted that his closeness to Diri afforded him the opportunity to assess and discover him as a man of proven character, high intelligence and competence.
He reiterated that Diri had demonstrated over the years that he was a genuine believer of the ideals of restoration.
The governor, who praised other aspirants for their sportsmanship and maturity, urged them to ensure the sustenance of PDP’s dominance Bayelsa politics by working with Diri to ensure his victory on November 16.