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On Monday, September 7, 2015, the All Progressives Congress (APC) drew the curtains on the submission of Baylsa state governorship nomination form. At the close of submission, no fewer than sixteen aspirants submitted their forms, a clear indication of a loaded field in the race for the party ticket.

The last day of submission of forms was particularly characterized by pomp and ceremony. Perhaps, the most colourful of the camps was that of one-time governor of the state, Timipre Sylva. He came in a convoy of five vehicles (including a bullet proof jeep) and a crowd of enthusiastic supporters.

But the aspirant who distinguished himself the most in the manner he came to submit his form was former Nigeria's Ambassador to Japan, Emmanuel Oseimiegha Otiotio. No hired or rented crowd. He was driven into the party secretariat in two vehicles: a Peugeot 406 in which he and his wife rode and a Toyota Sienna Sedan that conveyed his children driven by his eldest daughter.

This simply paints the picture of a responsible man, who enjoys the support and cooperation of his family. This is a crucial core family value that is efficacious enough in fostering sharply focused and accountable leadership. A settled home, with the fear of God at the epicenter of it is sine qua non to psychologically stable leadership in the public sphere.

I recommend this as the first quality Bayelsa people, regardless of party divides, should look at as they go to the poll to elect a governor that will rule them for another four years. The second is like the first: a family that stays together prays together. It runs on the fear of God and the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It is wisdom to covet good name; it is knowledge not to walk in the path of the unrighteous.

For, in Otiotio, a gentleman that I know very well, an uncompromising man of faith, Bayelsa people will find a compass to God. Under his watch, Bayelsa will be ruled with a palpable and tangible fear of God. His words will be his bonds because he believes in the power of the spoken words. He is therefore not a frivolous talker.

In 1998, he had set forth to offer himself for service in the office of governor of Baylesa state on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He had a solid structure on ground. He won the primaries but the process was manipulated in favour of Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, who eventually won the gubernatorial election and became governor.

Otiotio's political structure produced 20 out of the 24 members of the State House of Assembly. Instead of deploying them to make the state ungovernable for Alamieyeseigha as suggested by some of the members, unlike many politicians, Otiotio opted to commit himself to the development of a greater Bayelsa state. For him, it was not about personal aggrandizement; it was about development of the state and her people.

Somehow, Alamieyeseigha got to know the details of a clandestine meeting that was held between Otiotio and his loyalists. An impressed Alamieyeseigha, as learnt, reciprocated this pan-Bayelsa state attitude with an ambassadorial nomination to President Olusegun Obasanjo, who posted Otiotio to Japan (1999-2003).

In 2003, Otiotio was back in Abuja on his own accord. He had his eyes on the governorship seat. Machinery was set in motion. Arrangements were in top gear. At a point, he called back his foot soldiers and put everything on hold. His reason: that God told him to hold on; that the battle was yet for another time.

For the next four years (2003 to 2007), he committed himself to the work of the kingdom of God. He was busy acquiring knowledge in the ministry of God's words in addition to attending courses in leadership in some of the world's prestigious universities in the United States of America.

In 2007, after Timipre Sylva had emerged governor, he reached out to Otiotio, who he appointed Special Adviser (Political Matters) and was able to leverage on his wealth of knowledge and capacity for right doing.

When Sylva was forced out of office by the powers-that-be in the PDP and countryman, Henry Seriake Dickson, became governor, there were credible reports that Dickson placed on the table before Otiotio the offer of Secretary to the State Government (SSG), which he rejected. If that was true, then it must be that there is something unique about Otiotio that appeals to all the camps in Bayelsa.

One thing that is not arguable is that Otiotio is friend to all and enemy to none in Bayelsa. He started out when politics was not attractive. He invested his time, energy and money in the venture; and when some forces conspired to deny him the positive result of his political investment in 1998, he bore no grudges. He was wont to say: “it is well.”

A passionate singer who loves praising the Almighty, he is a study in patient endurance and faithfulness to God. He said to me: “the time has come to launch into the deep; God has told me to go into the Bayelsa governorship race on the APC platform. Some of the other aspirants have billions of naira to throw into the race; I do not have money but I have the most important thing-God. It is the Lord's battle….”

Otiotio has what it takes to win the governorship seat for APC in Bayelsa state at the expense of the incumbent Governor Dickson. His personality: his God-fearing, man-caring and uncompromising nature; his honesty and independent-mindedness all combine to contrast sharply with the confetti of tragic leadership that has bedeviled Bayelsa state since 1999.

He is not only a bridge but also a bridge builder to all camps in Bayelsa. He is known by all political leaders as somebody who is straightforward and who does not speak tongue in cheek. Shortly after he submitted his nomination form, he had a brief chat with journalists in the Media Centre at the APC National Headquarters, where he declared the essence of his aspiration.

According to him, “Bayelsa people need men of integrity to rule their state and join in the fight against corruption…. I am a born again Christian and I do my things with integrity. My agenda is to bring about good governance and prudent management of the financial resources in Bayelsa State. If we understand these two concepts, change will come to our state. Most significantly, I will bring the fear of God into governance of my people….”

I think APC should, after considering all, especially if it is really serious about dislodging Governor Dickson and the PDP, reach a consensus: to promote an Emmanuel Otiotio governorship candidacy to enable the entire Bayelsa people to vote and see what God can do. The truth is Sylva and Timi Alaibe's billions may prove incapable of terminating countryman Dickson' second term bid given entrenched forces that are opposed to their aspirations. Otiotio is the Lord's battle axe in the liberation of Bayelsa people. This is why he has become an issue and a leg of the trinity composed of himself, Sylva and Alaibe. He is, in my view, arguably, the best choice.

Written by Sufuyan Ojeifo, Editor- in- Chief The Congresswatch Magazine.

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