Rejoinder: Six Things Governor Timipre Sylva Must Do
The publication of a letter titled Six Things Governor Timipre Sylva Must Do purported to be written by one Onitari Thomas and published on the 23/03/2011 in TheWillnigeria online media appears to be a letter coming from a paid agent trying to express the frustration of the so called opposition party – may be if Onitari Thomas is not a pseudo name, he should call my mobile number for further analysis of the issues he has raised. I am not a politician but when prebendalism and pseudo-analysis are taken for granted; they may rob into the psyche of the less intelligent half of the public. I have seven comments to make, wearing the binoculars as an impartial umpire- a social critic.
Firstly, I regard this write up as a last ditch attempt made by the opposition to garner some relevance in the crowded political landscape of Nigeria. Onitari's essay appears to be an unsolicited apologia for Timi Alaibe – the unpopular Labour Party candidate, who wants all the appointments, and elective positions but have demonstrated very scant sagacity in going about his activities. The writers reference to Governor Sylva as a man who begs, gives cash disbursements, propaganda, harassment and intimidation to secure the confidence of the electorate is cheap blackmail. Pleasantly, the writer recalled how Governor Sylva was a member of the House of Assembly in old Rivers State but failed mention his popularity at a Senatorial contest when our Late Statesman, Chief Melford Okilo beat him by just one vote. Governor Sylva is a dogged fighter. If I may ask, where was Timi Alaibe when Sylva contested the PDP of primaries of 2007? Did Timipre Sylva buy votes or bribe people to vote for him when he was a political neophyte and did not have money to spend? Thomas, have you discovered that Sylva is a better politician than Timi Alaibe? Alaibe was in NDDC and as a poor planner, he was still expecting to become a Governor while holding fast to his position as Managing Director. Onitari, nobody eats his cake and have it at the same time and Alaibe is no exception. Don't you see this as high-handedness on the part of Alaibe?
Secondly, one mistake people always make when they discuss Timi Alaibe is to over-rate and over-value him. But those who have been close to him know that Alaibe is not a good politician and a very deficient political marksman. Why did I say so? Thomas, while I hold the concept of political opposition as one of the tenets of good governance, just look at the time Alaibe joined the Labour Party. Knowing that for the first time, we are about to produce the President of Nigeria in the person of President Goodluck Jonathan GCFR. Also recognizing that Bayelsa State is a PDP State – which is also the platform of the President, how does Timi Alaibe think he could convince the President that he would campaign and condemn the PDP and at the same time claim to vote for the President. Can you decipher the illogicality in Alaibe's thinking? You claim that Governor Sylva has derailed but he is still the Governor and will remain so until elections are conducted come 2012. Even if elections were conducted today, it is only the PDP that has structutures to win any elections in Bayelsa State.
Thirdly, let me caution you that we Nembe people have respect for traditional institutions. HRM King Edmund Daukoru is Amanyanabo of Nembe. Apart from that can you look at the pedigree of the man and show disrespect for such a man?. Onitari, do you know that before he became King, he was SPDC scholar, made a first class and was the best PhD in the Imperial College, London? He was GM Shell, Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum to President Obasanjo, and later Minister of Petroleum Resources and President of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. If it is true that you are an Ijaw man, you know that such brains are a rarity in our clime.
Fourthly, would you rather that a State Governor should not set up his political structures? Are you feigning ignorance of the circumstances of his ascendancy to power and the harmonization nonsense? Why talk like a man from the moon or a neophyte? What is the basis for comparison between Governor Timipre Sylva and Rotimi Amaechi? Amaechi was, for 8 years Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and was prepared to be Governor after Odili's exit. The K-Leg matter and all that followed never affected the PDP structures in Rivers State.
The allegation of carting away money is not peculiar to Governor Sylva; it is part of the campaign of blackmail. The reference of the pending EFCC case makes me laugh. For purposes of curiosity, I was in Abuja on March 18th when the matter came up for hearing. I was full of sympathy for the EFCC man who was interrogated because the outcome of the interrogation showed that EFCC never conducted a thorough investigation. The said N2billion was approved by the Bayelsa EXCO and the money was expended for salary augmentation. Not even a dime according to the EFCC man was traced to the MOFAB people they arrested. The trial judge even threatened to quash the matter. I will comment no further because of the pendency of the matter in court. But Thomas Onitari, whereas I am not holding proxy for their Lawyers, rest assured that the entire Government official will come out unscathed. If Alaibe talks about corruption, then I wonder if he has conscience. Does he not know that people are equally watching his back?
Fifthly, the anti-Jonathan kite was flown by political jobbers until it fizzled out. Onitari, are you one of those they hired to spread that propaganda? This is the same thing Alaibe did to Alamieyeseigha but today, we know that Alams was not the only corrupt Governor. I may want to reserve my comments till Governor Sylva has completed his first tenure in 2012. Let it be known however, that Alaibe is aspiring to be Governor but does not seem to respect the institution. This is a breach of a well-tested natural law – the law of attraction. Until Alaibe respects that the institution of Governorship, he may never be Governor all his life.
Sixthly, no reasonable man in Bayelsa will canvass such an unpopular view that the security outfit – Famu Tangbei be disbanded. Every State Government has its security outfit and Bayelsa State cannot be an exception. Onitari – curbing crimes does not amount to funding terrorism. If you suggest the disbandment of Famu Tangbei, you are making yourself suspect because as a law abiding citizen, the Law enforcement agencies have been put in place to protect you, and only lawless elements in our society may take that position. Frankly, Thomas, all preceding paragraphs portray you as a weeping prophet. Why this lamentation? Has Timi Alaibe promised you an appointment? If no, why are you weeping more than the bereaved? It is against the background of your lamentation that I intend to have a brief discussion with you for further clarification.
Finally, When Alamieyeseigha won the 2003 elections, he visited Alaibe and rather than see that visit as a sense of fellow feeling, he capitalized on it as a weakness, hence he successfully conspired and plotted against him and sent him to the gulag. Governor Timipre Sylva is certainly wiser than that. I can advance more than a dozen reasons why Governor Timipre Sylva must not visit Alaibe. The Labour Party headed by Timi Alaibe is not too significant in the State to deserve any courtesy of that magnitude. The so called mayhem unleashed on the Labour Party is still being investigated but it does appear that it was self-inflicted injury to attract sympathy. Government never hired cult boys to welcome Alaibe at the Airport; Alaibe made a mistake to have hired two rival cult groups who struggled for supremacy and unleashed mayhem on themselves. Beyond this, Onitari's write up is so uncoordinated, trivial and wishy-washy that even a college essay cannot be as bad. Maybe it turned out this way because in journalism, it is only the truth that illuminates the dark alleys of half-truths and falsehood. Those who try to embellish the truth end up with yellow journalism.
On a personal note, Thomas, journalism is a profession with a corpus of ethics. When next you write, please be as objective as you can. When I campaigned in Vision 2003, our criticisms were objective and not based on speculation or some wretched falsity. Again you have to be fair to the two parties concerned. If your writing is devoid of objectivity and fairness then what remains is cash- and – carry journalism. Any writer can do so at his own peril. Finally, no matter the level of frustration, do not reflect it in your writing because you may be misunderstood. (Re-read Mario Puzo's Last Don).
Idumange John, is Fellow, Association of Career Commercial Diplomats, City of London.