The Race to Creek Haven: My Myopic View
Ordinarily, I should be pre-occupied with how Nigeria would escape the huge debt peonage and reduce the failure ala non-performance index in Nigeria 's battered political economy. I also know that Vision 20:2020 is a fraud. Nigeria may never attain the MDGs in 2025 and the spiral of dependency on the monstrous capitalist West is likely to continue for a longer period than we anticipate. While I am pre-occupied with these thoughts, I suddenly remembered that I am first and foremost an Ijaw man, from Bayelsa State . Why will I bother my head with the analysis of national policies when I know that Bayelsa State is in the throes of political logjam nay transformation?
In politics, wit, shrewdness and sagacity are very useful. Political connections are equally essential, but ultimately, power belongs to God. This assertion has played out in several ways and in the lives of countless people. Chief Sergeant Awuse is witty, intelligent and politically connected but each time he tried to take a shot at Brick House; the journey has been chaotic and often bedeviled by obstacles unlimited. General Muhammadu Buhari has attempted severally to be President in a democratic system, but the opportunity has proved elusive. It's like the biblical camel passing through the eye of a needle.
I was also reminded of Ross Perot - the American billionaire who tried a feat but lost to little Bill Clinton. History is replete with such people. If the high, mighty and powerful often get disillusioned in their frantic search for political power, it is probably that there is a divine dimension to leadership. Even the holy book says, leaders are appointed by God.
In Bayelsa State , with the comeback of democracy in 1999, the elections were not keenly contested because of the apathy on the part of both office seekers and the electorate. The scenario however changed in 2003 when two strong contenders came to the scene to wrest power from the incumbent - Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha. One of those contenders was the scion of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Chief Timi Alaibe- whose campaign outfits VISION 2003 created a great deal of impression in the political landscape. I took part in that campaign as an Administrative Secretary. At that time we really needed a change, and we found a leader in Timi and rallied round him. It was the most vibrant and competitive campaign I have ever witnessed in Bayelsa State .
When the Peoples Democratic Party started her magic, most political pundits urged him to use another Party platform, but he would not because of the juicy appointment in NDDC-which was facilitated by the same PDP administration. Then, came the godfather- Atiku Abubakar. In a bizarre twist, Atiku planned a meeting and before the followers could decipher the agenda of the meeting, the two principals were reconciled. Some of the Vision 2003 members cried conspiracy, betrayal and breach of trust. As a man deeply involved in the campaign, I concluded that our most respected brother transacted the interest of the followers for an extended stay in NDDC and a possible promotion to the coveted position of the MD/CEO of the Commission. Most Bayelsans then reckoned that Timi Alaibe would have been the Governor if he had conjured the courage to change the PDP platform to even an insignificant party. It was that day I had a hunch that It would take the intervention of Abraham Lincoln for Alaibe to take a shot at Creek Haven, and If I were him I would settle for a Senatorial Seat, before launching a comeback in 2015. Alaibe has not occupied any elective office before. I love Timi Alaibe but I love Bayelsa State more.
Personally, I deduced two lessons from the behavior. Firstly, most of the political leaders in our landscape place their political interest first before that of the followers, which explains why they are self-serving. If It were not so why could Alaibe have transacted the interest of his followers for personal gains? Secondly, political leaders in our clime do not bother about public morality. These are enemies of Bentham who posits that the actions of political leaders should be guided by what would maximize the happiness of the greatest number of people. The lack of altruism and service are two key missing ingredients in our body politic.
Whereas I believed (I also hold that belief) that Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha could have done better, most people blamed Timi Alaibe for the circumstances that befell the Governor General of the Ijaw nation. The New Vision Campaign Organization was severally fingered in the circumstances of how so much money found its way its way into Alamieyeseigha's house in London , the photocopies of all government transactions and the instigation of some Chiefs to go to Court. The general perception among Bayelsans is that Timi Alaibe was responsible for the numerous travails of Alams. Well that has been confined to history. Today, we celebrate Boro Day, but the death of Boro was a result of treachery by his kith and kin. Until we exorcise this evil veneer of betrayal and treachery, the Ijaw nation may not move forward.
When Dr. Goodluck Jonathan- then Governor of Bayelsa State was sworn-in, Alaibe also mounted a vociferous and vile campaign of calumny against his administration. These campaigns directly or indirectly led to the bombing of Jonathan's Otueke's residence. Whereas, investigations were inconclusive, the most plausible hypothesis is that the militants who did that dastardly job were sponsored by people angling for leadership in the State. At least, one cannot point accusing fingers at any one person in particular because nobody gave the order. It's like a mafia paradise where the politics has been reduced to a zero sum game.
In 2007, if Alaibe had resigned his position at NDDC, he would have come second in the primaries, but he wouldn't. A cat which pursues two rats at a time may end up losing both. So even with 34 votes at the primaries, Chief Timipre Sylva became Governor of Bayelsa State - a position I am cock sure he would not let go till 2015. Sometimes in life, some opportunities would present themselves only once in a life time.
I must reckon too that Governor Timipre Sylva has done fairly well in some areas but failed to perform in a few areas too. In a transitional society such as ours, striving at the ideal is a utopia. I believe that governance is a learning process, and improvements are bound to happen if there is policy continuity. Even America- the riveting model of democracy is yet to grapple with its sundry imperfections.
Already, Governor Timipre Sylva has, on December 18th declared his intentions to retain Creek Haven for another four years, with a promise, of a better deal for the people. In that epochal declaration, emphasis was placed on job creation, diversification of the economy, strengthening institutions for transparency and accountability. Timipre Sylva has vowed that his second term in office would not just be 4-years but one of aggressive transformation. Like any other Governor he has had his strong points and gray areas, but with the experience he has garnered so far, Bayelsa will expect monumental transformation in the next four years. The Chief executive also promised to complete on-going infrastructural projects such as the senatorial roads; exploring non-oil sources to boost revenue, intensification of empowerment programmes, aggressive human capacity building among others.
About a week ago, Timi Alaibe-has surfaced again as a guber candidate under the crowded platform of PDP. If the story of the sealed deal between President Jonathan and the PDP Governors is anything to go by, the PDP platform in Bayelsa State is rather too crowded. Sources close to the Presidency also revealed that Alaibe did not consult with President Jonathan before picking the form and this is raising eye brows as to whether he has decided to pitch his tent with the Turakin Adamawa. This may be interpreted to mean working against the interest of the South-South and the emergence of the first President from the Niger Delta Region. However, unconfirmed reports point to the direction that some elements that have fallen out of favour with the Sylva administration are goading him to go into the race on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. But Bayelsa State is a core PDP State , and the Presidency would never allow itself to be disgraced in his homestead.
When the Federal Government was bent on establishing the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, MONDA, Alaibe was strongly opposed to it. He fiercely opposed Chief Godsday Orubebe and spent a whale of money to ensure the Delta Ijaw Chief was not sworn in to office. Today, MONDA is a reality. A man who seeks political office such as governorship should be seen to be supporting his kinsmen to climb the ladder of success, but this is the direct opposite of what Alaibe has been doing.
An opinion leader, a renowned Chief, who hails from Yenagoa posits that Timi Alaibe's political career might have been destroyed by three main factors. He pulled down DSP Alamieyeseigha - who is regarded as a champion of the Ijaw cause. He opined that the maligning Alams received from the anti-graft agencies were largely orchestrated by the NDDC boss. Rumours have it that the initial problems of the Sylva administration were orchestrated by him. Secondly, Timi's political career would further be jeopardized by the sharp practices and the use of fronts and cronies in executing major contracts in which the Niger Delta people are not beneficiaries. Finally, Alaibe has routed himself for the poor handling of the Amnesty Programme, especially the exclusion of the peaceful segment of the youths.
As we inch near the Primaries, Alaibe does not have any campaign structures on ground, but he seems to be as desperate as Atiku - his godfather. It may be difficult for Bayelsa Youths to work for him given his track-record of using people and dumping them as soon as his goals are achieved. Most of the foot soldiers who worked for him had long deserted him on grounds of neglect, exploitation and marginalization. Again, he has to pick a running mate -who must have some financial muscles and come from another Senatorial District . For now, it may be suicidal for any well-meaning politician to be his running mate in Brass Senatorial District or Bayelsa West because of the many political enemies he has made in Ekeremor and Sagbama.
For those who can read between the lines, the over-rated political empire of Ndutimi Alaibe is crumbling; only the likes of Atiku may come to his rescue. Hunted by his past and having pulled down so may Ijaw people, it is doubtful if Alaibe can be taken seriously by the political class in Bayelsa State . It is against the background of these odds that some people suggest that Alaibe should forget about his past animosities against President Jonathan, eat the humble pie and work with the Presidency. If that happens, he may be in for a juicy appointment - most likely at the Ministerial Level. What is certain among observers is that Alaibe will throw in the towel and be compensated with a Ministerial slot.
Most Bayelsan and indeed the NDR are disenchanted with the serving Petroleum Minister, So if Timi wears the garb of Diezani, given his shrewdness, the Ijaw race would be better off. I love Timi as a manager but I cannot trust him with the leadership of Bayelsa State . This is my point of departure with his later day apostles.
NOW, the managers in the North are protesting the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan the same way our brother men are working hard to stop Governor Timipre Sylva. I am equally critical of some policies of the Sylva administration, but there is yet no perfect government in human affairs. No Governor with implementable programmes up and running would like to leave without correcting certain avoidable mistakes made during the first term. This is a natural tendency in human affairs. The collective wisdom of Bayelsa people is Governor Sylva should continue till 2015, that is if we can collectively manage the fragile unity subsisting in our polity.
Failure is an orphan and Alaibe may not want to run a race that would deplete his resources and rob him of the robust integrity he has accumulated among our kinsmen. Rather than risk an unwinnable war, one of his former Campaign director has advised him to look beyond the State level, as his failure this time around, would make him totally irrelevant in the scheme of things. A serving Senator insinuates that Alaibe would abandon the race because his popularity has ebbed. As events play out, one only hopes that Timi Alaibe knows the consequences of his past misdeeds. There is also a significant difference between managing a development agency and presiding over the affairs of a State. This is the dividing line between a manager and a LEADER!
Idumange John, expects very damning and vitriolic attacks on account of his myopic views. Please, Call my Mobile No: 07039103572 for a healthy debate on the issues I have raised.