BAYELSA GOVERNORSHIP: 2012 IN PERSPECTIVE
Not long ago, the Peoples' Democratic Party directed that all those who collected nomination forms for the governorship elections of the five states, including Bayelsa, following the postponement of the elections to 2012, occasioned by a court ruling on the controversial issue of tenure elongation, be refunded their deposits. This clearly signals that fresh primaries will be conducted to select the flag bearers of the party in the affected states in the coming elections.
In Bayelsa, the incumbent governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, prior to the court judgment had contested the governorship primaries and won convincingly. At that time, the governor defeated his numerous opponents almost effortlessly and awaiting to do same at the general elections before the sudden postponement.
It is against this background that, one would like to look at the forthcoming gubernatorial primary election in the state within the Peoples' Democratic Party. The earlier scenario is most likely to repeat itself as those defeated earlier may not muster courage and have the wherewithal to prosecute their ambition. New entrants into the race are also not likely to emerge because Governor Sylva, has to a large extent, satisfied most of the major stakeholders in the polity, particularly, the elite. Hence, they are not likely to throw their weight behind any other candidate, having endorsed Sylva.
On the other hand, juxtaposing the PDP vis-Ã -vis other political parties in the state, it is also obvious that in terms of financial strength and otherwise, no party is capable of matching the Peoples' Democratic Party. The Labour Party which may garner some support has been greatly depleted, following its abysmal performance in Bayelsa State in the last general elections.
The Party in spite of its pre-election bravado because of the acclaimed popularity of its promoter in the State could not even win a single seat, neither into the State House of Assembly nor the National Assembly. Therefore, which magic wand would the Labour Party brandish to secure votes in the coming governorship election. For the other political parties, they are almost extinct in the State as they do not have the muzzle to operate in the polity. In fact, their existence is felt more on the pages of newspapers and jingles in the electronic media.
With regard to performance, Governor Sylva has done very well.
He has been able to post some modest achievements within the last four years. Most of his critics are people who no longer find favour with those in power equation. They believe rightly or wrongly that they ought to be carried along despite their misdemeanors, politically. That , to say the least is political arrogance.
After all, you can not eat your cake and have it. For instance, the governor was criticized roundly for his decision to sell the commissioners' quarters to the present occupants but he has redeemed his promise to build modern and befitting houses for his cabinet members as well as the construction of new Assembly Quarters for members of the State House of Assembly.
Today, he has been able to attract some federal projects to the State, including the headquarters of the Nigeria Content Monitoring Board and a Campus of the Nigeria Law School. These institutions are already having positive impact on the socio-economic life of the State. By the location of the headquarters of the NCMB in the State, Bayelsans now have a unique opportunity to participate effectively in the oil and gas sectors of the petroleum industry.
In terms of manpower development, a good number of our youths have been sent to Malaysia and other countries abroad to pursue higher studies. This is very commendable as no nation or state can develop to its full potentials without harnessing its human resources maximally.
Governor Sylva also constructed and commissioned about 60 roads within the Yenagoa metropolis in the last four years. This also, is not a mean achievement, considering the high cost of project execution in our very difficult terrain. Prior to that bold initiative, Yenagoa was like a village. People parked their cars on major roads because they could not have access to their houses. But today, they drive and park comfortably in their residential premises.
The issue of security has always been a huge challenge in Bayelsa until recently. In fact, it reached its peak at the inception of the Sylva administration in 2007. Consequently, in consultation with other stakeholders, including the Federal Government under late President Umaru Yar'Adua, a proactive approach was adopted to tackle the challenge that culminated in the proclamation of the Amnesty Programme by the Federal Government that ended militancy in the State and indeed, the Niger Delta. Moreover, the establishment of a local security outfit in the state code-named, Operation-Famo-Tangbei by the Sylva administration has greatly reduced criminality in the State.
Recently, Governor Sylva attracted a multi-national company from South-Korea to invest in the state in the area of ship building. The completion of that project will generate employment for over 2000 youths in the state. Similarly, the Bayelsa State-owned Plastic Company which had been on the drawing board for so many years has since been completed and commissioned.
Educationally, Governor Sylva has also done well. All the courses of the Niger Delta University have been fully accredited by the National Universities Commission because of the governor's commitment to the programmes of the university by way of increased funding to the institution. At the secondary level, many dilapidated schools have been renovated as well as the construction of the three model boarding secondary schools in each senatorial district of the State.
He has also fared very well in the area of provision of electricity. On assumption of office, he increased the power generating capacity of the State-owned gas turbine by procuring additional turbines. Currently, Bayelsans enjoy a relative steady supply of electricity, especially those residing in the capital city.
Finally, it is pertinent to mention that Governor Sylva in his avid bid to empower Bayelsans, awarded 95% of the contracts in the state to indigenes of the state.
Indeed, given the current political scenario in the State and Sylva's achievements, the 2012 governorship election is already a concluded issue. Taking cognizance of the power of incumbency with its attendant strengths as well as the fact that Bayelsa is the President's home state, PDP is not likely to lose the State to another party. Besides, the mood of politicians in opposition parties is not that of the people, prepared to give the incumbent, a serious fight. There is total despondency and disappointment in their camps, occasioned by the outcome of the last general elections. Thus, come 2012, Sylva is likely to have a smooth sail back to Creek Heaven.