A formal list of candidates released for the Bayelsa governorship elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has excluded the disputed slot for the ruling People’s Democratic Party(PDP).
The list posted on the electoral body’s website on Thursday left out Seriaki Dickson, who won the party said won its nomination, and enjoys the backing of major power brokers in the state (including President Goodluck Jonathan) ahead of incumbent Governor Timipreye Sylva.
Mr. Sylva, who also claims to be the party’s rightful candidate, was also excluded from the list.
The position is “subject to litigation”, INEC said in the post.
But a spokesperson, Kayode Idowu, denied a decision had been taken to exclude the PDP or Mr. Dickson. Mr. Idowu said although he had no details about the list, he was certain the ruling party was not left out of the February 11 vote.
“I am trying to get more details about that particular information, but I’m sure PDP has not been excluded,” he said.
But in a swift reaction, the PDP said by leaving out Mr. Dickson from the list, INEC was only “being unnecessary belligerent and descending into the arena of politics.”
“As far as we are concerned, we have conducted our primaries and submitted particulars of our candidate,” the party’s National Legal Adviser, Olusola Oke, told Premium Times. “Section 31 of the Electoral Act does not give INEC the powers to reject candidates of political parties.”
The party’s ticket has been a subject of a fierce contest between Mr. Sylva and Mr. Dickson, a serving member of the House of Representatives.
Mr. Sylva had asked the electoral body to turn down Mr. Dickson’s candidacy, saying his election at the November 2012 party primaries violated a court injunction, and was not observed by INEC officials as required by the electoral act.
With a suit in court, the electoral commission maintained it lacked powers to disqualify candidates on such grounds, but will await a final position of the court.
A final list for the elections is expected at least 30 days before the election.
Thirty six parties, with each having a governorship candidate and a deputy, are named on the new list. Each candidate is named against their genders, academic qualification and age.
For the PDP, the columns are empty, with a remark that says entries for the party are “subject to litigation.”