Timipre Sylva: Time to Look Ahead

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Just as the President was kicking off his Campaign in the North West zone at Kaduna, his Bayelsa counterpart, Governor Timipre Sylva launched his second term campaign which coincided with a Community Development conference at the Gloryland Cultural Centre, Yenagoa. Both events were successful. At Kaduna the enthusiasm of the people at Goodluck's candidacy was palpable at Kaduna. As usual, the President continued with his message of hope for a new Nigeria, inviting the people to join the train. At Yenagoa, Chief Sylva held a communion with the grassroots when, after addressing the State on a live telecast where he relived memorable achievements during his first term journey, projected his vision ahead and held a town hall meeting, punctuated with a question and answer session. He urged Bayelsans to vote massively for the PDP, the President and himself during the forth coming elections.

The Governor envisioned a dispensation that would put smile on the faces of all Bayelsans. He assured the people that the governorship has not changed him so much as to forget his humble childhood upbringings at the creeks as fisherman who was fond of going after crabs in the sea shores. Relieving his experiences in office, he prayed for the forgiveness of those he may have wronged in the discharge of his official duties, reasoning that he was only human and therefore vulnerable to the vagaries and vicissitudes of life. Nevertheless, it was time for all Bayelsans to join hands together to uplift the State, taking full advantage of the human and material resources at her disposal. He recounted Bayelsa's internationally acclaimed giant strides in the health sector and promised to continue the effort of providing affordable health care to Bayelsans.

On his priorities, when given a second term, he promised to focus more on education by providing world class Model Schools in Yenagoa, Sagbama and the other three senatorial districts assuring that the first of the planned model schools of international standards was due to be commissioned in April 2011. To improve project implementation ratio, he promised to be guided by the philosophy of phased implementation – which will save cost in terms of time, materials and other resources.

Promising an agricultural revolution in the State, he said his focus on this vital sector was predicated on the truism that Agriculture was the easiest way for the State to develop its productive sector and provide the much needed employment for her youths. This strategy has become even more urgent now there is awareness that diversification would mitigate the adverse effects when oil dries up. For the Governor, the three focal areas of infrastructure, Human capacity development and employment which formed the kernel of his first term strategy will continue to be relevant during his second tenure. The primacy of the housing sector will be retained within the infrastructural goals of his administration because according to the Governor, Bayelsans deserve to be better accommodated to reflect their status as glory of all lands.

The Governor went further to explain why he focused on completion of projects commenced by his predecessors. He reasoned that ideally, “development should be a continuous process”. Government is continuous; It is all about Bayelsa and not about Timipre Sylva. It is more difficult to conclude projects started by your predecessors than the new ones because you have to spend time and resources to dig up the history of each one. If I wanted to make money, I would have started my own, but I didn't”. He explained.”By the grace of God, the time has come for you to renew my mandate. So I have come to tell you what we have done so far. Some of you know me when we were at the water side at the creeks. I have not changed. In the course of administration, mistakes can be made inadvertently and it is against this background that forgiveness is very critical. We come to you to interact with you here and there should be no secrets. Let us interact as people of Bayelsa State”.

Many people have asked the question; who really is Governor Timipre Sylva? Considering the difficult circumstances that brought him to power and which also sustained him for 4 year in Bayelsa State, one would describe him that he is a man of destiny. Even his early history cannot be said to be extra ordinary. People have always underrated him to their detriment. Chief Timipre Sylva was born on the 7th of July 1964 in Okpoma, Brass local government council of the present day in Bayelsa East senatorial district. His present status did not come to many as a surprise, as right from childhood, his destiny of greatness started manifesting. He started his primary school education at St. Paul's Anglican Primary School, Okpoma and finished at Ajeromi central school 1, Lagos, in 1976. His secondary education took him to Government Secondary school, Twon, Brass, from 1976 – 1981.

Thereafter, he secured admission into the University of Port Harcourt, where he majored in English studies / Linguistics. For the mandatory National Youth Service Corps Programme, he served with Shell Petroleum Development Company at Warri, Delta State. His working career started with the National Minority Business Council, Port Harcourt, where he was an executive secretary. As the Executive Secretary, he diligently saw to the creation of employment opportunities for his people. It was in recognition of his altruism and dedication to duty that his people elected him, to represent them at the state house of assembly in 1991/92. It was on the platform of the then National Republican Convention, NRC. This was however, cut short by the military intervention of the late General Sani Abacha. Thereafter, he went into private business. When the ban on politics was lifted, he became one of the founding members of the United Nigeria Congress Party, UNCP, where he was made the state financial secretary. Following the extinction of the then five political parties, he, together with his people embraced the People's Democratic Party, PDP.

He was Political adviser to the former Governor, D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha up till 2002, when he voluntarily resigned. He was also member of the Governing Council, Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State till 2004. He was also the special assistant to the Minister of State, Petroleum resources. He is married with three children. It is not really very easy to explain the impossible circumstances that Governor Timipre Sylva has traversed in time smiling. At the age of 26 a member of the Old Rivers House of Assembly, where he was Chairman, Finance and appropriation Committee. When he contested for Brass Senatorial seat in 2003 and almost won.

People believed it was his godfathers that deserved the credit. He went on to become SA on Political Affairs to Governor Alamiesiegha and he was so loyal that even after resigning until this day the relationship was not diminished. Then he went on to become Senior Special Assistant to Dr.Edmund Dakorou, and people wished it away as a pampered son. When he said he would be Governor, everyone dismissed this dream as untenable. Up till the day he submitted his form to PDP to run for governorship primaries challenging the then Governor Goodluck Jonathan 2007, nobody gave him a chance. He was beaten by the incumbent God promoted him to be Governor of Bayelsa State.

On assumption of office, Bayelsa State had been torn apart by internecine conflict. Again people gave others the credit because he assumed office after key positions had been harmonized. He inherited the existing political structures and had to defer to the machinery of the losing camp of his arch rival. So he shared commissioners, Members of the house with the Green movement and the New Vision. Imagine assuming office surrounded by strange bed fellows from your opponents. For four years he held out with sabotage of his efforts from all corners until he managed to cut his own political teeth and build up anew. What people did not know was that his government only truly took off when the deputy governor was impeached last year. Perhaps his second term would be the true first. Viewed from this perspective, Chief Timipre Sylva deserves to be re-elected to complete the projects and programmes he initiated, and to consolidate on what has been achieved. For most Bayelsans, Governor Timipre Sylva has an irrevocable covenant with the people of Bayelsa State, which will culminate in the fulfillment of his destiny.

Mr. Nworisara, a political and media Consultant, is based in Port Harcourt

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Articles by Nwokedi Nworisara