While the governor’s camp held a ‘prayer carnival’ at the Peace Park in the state capital, supporters of Dickson trooped to Azikoro Road to partake in the inauguration of his campaign for the primaries scheduled for November 19.
Sylva was recently screened out of the race for the PDP ticket by the party thus threatening his second term ambition. But the governor, reports say, has deployed lobbyists to beg President Goodluck Jonathan and chieftains of the PDP to rescind the party’s decision.
The tension in the President’s home state was exacerbated by the killing of five youths in a drinking joint late on Sunday. Gunmen had stormed the drinking joint in the Izuegbene area of Yenagoa at about 7pm and shot dead the victims.
The killing was confirmed by the police in the state.
The Sylva and Dickson rallies were marked by the high presence of stern-looking security operatives at the venues.
At Sylva’s prayer carnival, which was coordinated by the state chapter of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria, the governor, members of his cabinet and supporters from various local government areas of the state offered prayers for the sustenance of the peace in the state.
The event which attracted women adorned in traditional dresses was attended by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hilary Opara, and the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Nestor Binabo.
Analysts believed that the event was staged to distract people’s attention from Dickson’s campaign inauguration.
ALGON had reportedly organised the ceremony to seek divine intervention in the governor’s travails and restoration of his ambition to contest the primaries of the party.
The governor, in his remarks, said there was a need to sustain the peace in the state and assured his supporters that there was nothing to worry about.
He said he was confident that victory would come his way and pleaded with the people to remain calm and courageous.
He thanked the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria for participating in the carnival and for its support throughout his administration.
Earlier, the state Chairman of CAN, Dr. Israel Edet, had asked the people in the state to pursue peace.
"It is a prayer rally that brought us together. We are here to seek the face of God; to pray for peace, progress and development," he said.
While the governor’s event was solemn, Dickson and his supporters were ecstatic as he inaugurated his campaign office.
Security operatives had a hectic time controlling the crowd that turned up for the event.
All the past chairmen of the PDP in Bayelsa, who, our correspondent learnt, formed "Restoration 2012," a movement under which Dickson emerged as an aspirant, were in attendance.
Also, some of the colleagues of Dickson from the National Assembly were present at the event.
The aspirant flayed the Sylva administration for alleged non-performance and said he was in the race for "development, empowerment and employment generation."
Reacting to the killing of the youths on the eve of his campaign inauguration, Dickson said the killing was designed by his detractors to intimidate him and his supporters.
He told supporters at the rally, "I want to thank you for not allowing yourselves to be intimidated. Four or five persons were gunned down in their prime yesterday just to intimidate us, but we have refused to be intimidated.
"I am in the race to restore the lost glory and the dashed hopes of our people. I am going to restore Bayelsa to its true glory as the Jerusalem of the Ijaw nation."
Meanwhile, Sylva on Sunday reportedly visited Apostle Johnson Suleiman of the Omega Fire Ministry in Auchi, Edo State, for prayers.
The governor arrived at the church, located along the Benin-Auchi Road, in a convoy of four vehicles while the Sunday service was underway. He was clad in a white Ijaw attire. As soon as he arrived, he sent emissaries to the cleric while his convoy waited outside the church premises.
Suleiman waited till the end of the service and then sent for his guest. Sylva consequently held a 40-minute private meeting with the cleric.
While neither Sylva nor his host volunteered information about their discussion, an aide of the cleric confirmed to our correspondent that "the governor was at the church to get the spiritual support of the General Overseer in his bid to get the final nod of the PDP to be its candidate in the governorship poll next year."