DECLARING A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN BAYELSA STATE
Quoting sources in and outside of Abuja and Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, the Niger Delta Standard newspaper is reporting that "the Federal government may be considering the declaration of a state of emergency in the state… a Presidential source, who spoke on the ground of anonymity argued that the emergency rule option appears to be the ultimate solution to the problem in the state." We disagree!
We vehemently disagree: a state of emergency is not a solution, politically or constitutionally, to the problems of the state. The ultimate solutions lay in political re-arrangements, common sense and tolerance. There is no doubt that Governor Sylva’s administration has performed below expectation. And in indeed, the state is continually beset by budgetary and accountability woes; still, the problems of the state – and the problems the Governor face -- are far more and far worse than meets the common eyes.
To be sure, the Governor himself gave his enemies the tools with which to hammer him (as a result of his low performance rating); but even so, his political enemies have not let up in wanting to destroy him. The ongoing battle between himself and Peremobowei Ebebi, the Deputy Governor, is the most public of all the camps itching and planning to do the Governor in. Mr. Ebebi has essentially decided to wage a blistering and bloody war against the Governor. How does, and why would a sitting Deputy, wage a war against his boss and partner?
Since the summer of 2009, about a dozen groups in the state have been gunning for the governor, including The Goodluck Jonathan Camp and the Timi Alaibe’s Group. The Goodluck group seems to think that Governor Sylva is disrespectful of their man by his refusal to take direct and indirect instructions regarding the affairs of the state. This group has its eyes set on the 2011/2012 primary and elections. However, it would rather do Sylva in before the next election through the EFCC. Or through a legalized illegal means.
Over the last couple of months, both the Goodluck camp and the Alaibe’s group have been planting damaging information, amplifying Sylva’s real and perceived weaknesses and emboldening internal dissents and within the government, the civil society and civil service. We know, for instance, that there are commissioners, who have served in the recent past and others who are still in the Sylva’s government who, in truth, are working against the governor. Same is true of some contractors and advisers.
One of the major differences between the Alamieyeseigha government and the Sylva’s government is that while the majority of those who worked for and with Governor Alamieyeseigha were willing to die for a cause -- with the right inducements of course -- almost no one is willing to die for Sylva no matter the amount of inducements. What we see are legions of dupes, liars and self-aggrandizing opportunists who are willing and ready to sell their beneficiary at the slightest chance.
At this point, more so since the ascension of Goodluck Jonathan to the Nigerian Vice and substantive Presidency, many political operative and observers of the Bayelsa political scene believe that no amount of pleas and supplication is likely to save Governor Timipre Sylva. It was believed that he openly and secretly funded the dethronement of Goodluck Jonathan during the President Yar’Adua’s illness-induced absence. This alleged betrayal elicited a lot of anger and bloodletting emotion in the Jonathan’s camp. Today, it seems all daggers and arrows are pointed in his (Sylva) direction.
But of course, Governor Timpre Sylva is not a sitting target. He is not a greenhorn. He is not at the mercy of any human device. He is known to speak calmly, warmly and softly. But he is nobody’s fool. This is a man with the survival instinct of President Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton.
In all of these, Mr. Peremobowei Ebebi, the Deputy Governor, is likely to be the first casualty. Should he escape this round of impeachment proceeding, there is likely to be another, soon. Otherwise, he will "get Sylva" before Sylva "get’s him." That said, the more imminent method to get rid of Governor Sylva is what’s currently being devised, directly or indirectly, by President Jonathan: declare a state of emergency in the state.
And what’s the pretext, the red herring? The series of bomb blasts and the perceived instability in the state. This move will allow President Jonathan to get rid of his nemesis and appoint an Administrator in his place. Foul! This method of solving the state’s crisis is not only underhand; it is illegal, unethical and politically cowardly. Declaring a state of emergency is not warranted and should therefore not be used as a cover to deal a blow to a political enemy.
We do not want or need any administrator in our State. There are several dimensions to the problems we see in Bayelsa State; one being the gradual breakdown of law and order. That being the case let the appropriate agencies -- at both the state and federal level -- deal with it by way of investigation, arrest and prosecution. The State does not own or control the Police. The State does not control the SSS. These are federal agencies. Bombs going off in Bayelsa are not new phenomenon. Where have the Police and the SSS and other security agencies been and been doing all these while?
We do not want a situation where President Jonathan appoints his own man as the administrator, and this so-called administrator, taking cue from Aso Rock, fills all the position with their own people, their supporters and praise singers. Essentially, Goodluck Jonathan would have achieved, with one single stroke, what he could not achieve through the democratic and guilt-free political process.
We have problems in Bayelsa State. No doubt about that. And we also know that the Governor and the President have their private quarrels (and for which we have been preaching peace, cooperation and forgiveness). The solution does not lie in declaring a state of emergency. Democracy is not easy; still, it is a process and a culture we must all learn from. If we allow President Jonathan to remove Governor Sylva, what will he do next? Use the instruments of his office to decapitate his political enemies -- as opposed to allowing the democratic and constitutional process to take place?