The way it looks, the electoral waters of Bayelsa State will be a battle ground as Timipre Sylva [image above] a former Governor of Bayelsa State and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress [APC] was recently nominated as the APC for the December 5th gubernatorial elections for Bayelsa, where he is expected to face his successor in office, Governor Seriake Dickson.
Sylva emerged after a his rival, Timi Alaibe pulled out of the contest allowing the former governor, adjudged to be a grass roots politician the opportunity to reclaim a mandate he was unjustly denied of when he sought a second term.
For Sylva, the road back to political prominence had been rough following his unceremonious exit from office owing to the insistence of former President Jonathan that Sylva would only return to office over his dead body.
Sylva shortly after his forced exit was hounded by security agencies and repeatedly harassed to the point of forcing him to leave the People’s Democratic Party [PDP] for the APC.
With the likes of Preye Aganaba, and overt support from former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, Timipriye Sylva weathered all storms to build and hold the APC in Bayelsa as a formidable party despite the fact that President Jonathan hailed from Bayelsa.
Though the PDP may have dismissed Sylva’s emergence as weak, the grim form of reality in Bayelsa State is that the PDP can only ignore, Sylva’s formidable candidature at its peril. The reasons are quite numerous.
The first is the emergence of Sylva’s party, the All Progressives Congress, the APC as the ruling party at the centre.
Now, Nigeria’s politics is still a rudimentary one and there is a strong but unwritten notion that support from the centre naturally helps the party at the state do better than they are expected to do.
This was seen in play in Ekiti State, where the likes of Musiliu Obanikoro, a former Minister of Defence, with the likes of Governor Ayo Fayose (Irunmole ton je Jollof rice), Chris Uba and one Brigadier General Momoh, used such powers to intimidate the electorate into voting Fayose.
The same thing reoccurred last elections where soldiers and policemen aided and abetted the rigging witnessed in the South- South and South East. Though one doesn’t expect President Buhari to continue in this tradition, one will be so naïve to expect Sylva’s party to deny itself such advantage.
Second is the failure of the present governor in meeting the simple development needs of the people of Bayelsa State. Bayelsa under Dickson has been described as a gory state. The state of infrastructure is quite poor despite the huge sums the state receives in allocations.
Yenagoa, the state’s capital has been described as a glorified slum, while other towns in the state have seen little or no meaningful development in the last four years!
When challenged, the easiest excuse is that Bayelsa has a very poor terrain, thus the difficulty in constructing roads and other amenities, but Bayelsa’s terrain isn’t as tough as Switzerland or some parts of India, yet these nations have conquered such terrains to provide basic infrastructure such as roads for their people.
Sylva’s legacies also speak volumes, projects like the Bayelsa Judiciary Complex, Melford Okilo Memorial Hospital and the Library project. Under Sylva, numerous road infrastructural programs were envisioned and delivered.
Sylva, unlike his predecessors did not also abandon the projects left behind by his predecessor, no!
He invested in these projects even when their funds had earlier been diverted by previous administrations. Such projects include the Tower Hotel project which he took from the third or fourth floor to its fourteenth floor before he was pushed out of the PDP.
However it is alleged that Sylva’s candidature has its drawback; a close examination of them would include his alleged excesses as governor. Sylva is accused of unbridled arrogance and an undiplomatic style of governance.
One must for sure be careful when reacting to allegations of arrogance and non-diplomacy, when taking into cognizance the fact that one cannot make omelette without breaking eggs and that if one must achieve his or her given goals in governance, you must be ready to step on toes.
If this is what is termed as unbridled arrogance and undiplomatic stance then Sylva in my eyes cannot be burdened by such talk.
Another drawback would be his corruption case with the EFCC, which was an attempt to reduce Sylva to a political vegetable by the Jonathan administration, typical of all institutions in Nigeria; the EFCC went against Sylva with a vehemence that raised posers about its independence and desire to fight corruption.
However, as it stands now these charges have been dropped, justifying Sylva’s claim that such an exercise was nothing but a witch-hunt.
Finally, when all is said and done, the fact still remains that the trump card for the Bayelsa polls, lies with the people but should Sylva win, it will indeed be a long walk back to Creek House.
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