THE TRAVAILS OF GOVERNOR SYLVA
It first started as a rumour but now it is in the open and no more a secret that forces domiciled in Abuja are hell bent on removing incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva from office by ensuring that he does not participate in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primaries.
His travails started on Sunday October 31, 2011 two days after he was screened by the Brig. Idi Adamu (retd.) Gubernatorial Screening Committee and issued with a provisional certificate serial number 0000012. The Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) leadership working with those who have already numbered Sylva's days in Creek Haven, Bayelsa Government House brought up the Screening Appeal Committee headed by Mrs Olujimi and it was the committee that referred his case to the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) and the elders of the party which withheld his clearance citing investigations against Sylva as an excuse.
Baffled by the floodgate of reports and inquiries Sylva was forced to issue a statement 'I am Still in the Race' where he described reports suggesting that the PDP would disqualify him as 'unfounded, laughable but disturbing'
His words: 'What is clear to me, my supporters, and indeed all lovers of democracy in our dear country Nigeria, is that there is a desperate attempt by certain forces to illegally exclude me from seeking re-election as Governor of Bayelsa State on the platform of the PDP.
I am in touch with the national leadership of our great party, including Mr. President. I have received solid assurances at the highest levels that the party would base all its actions concerning the Bayelsa Gubernatorial primaries on law. I am happy about that. As a sitting governor, I expect protection from my party and all its organs as all sorts of machinations can be plotted against me'
If he was still having assurances that he would be allowed to participate in the primaries, the hopes were finally dashed when on Sunday November 13 2011, the PDP NWC announced his disqualification from the race along with Mr Timi Alaibe, Dr Godknows Boladei Igali and Mr Ben Murray Bruce, after he held a massive rally to show his support base. Immediately he received the news of his disqualification, Sylva in a statement 'Bayelsa People Shall Prevail' issued on his behalf by his Chief Press Secretary, Ola Doifie made his stance known.
'The attention of H.E. Chief Timipre Sylva, Governor of Bayelsa State, has been drawn to a statement by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), disallowing him from participating in the Bayelsa State PDP gubernatorial primaries scheduled for Saturday, 19 November 2011.
Governor Sylva considers it disturbing that his full membership of the PDP is being abridged. In particular, his fundamental right to vote and be voted for has been trampled upon by his own party, a party he has contributed so much in building. Consequently, Governor Sylva and his supporters are reviewing the NWC decision.
Governor Sylva notes that the NWC decision does not annul his membership of the PDP. As Governor of Bayelsa State under the platform of the PDP, Sylva remains the leader of the party in the state. As a loyal party person, he will participate in all party activities'
The disqualification led to a chain of events in Bayelsa with Sylva rushing to Court to stop the PDP from going ahead with the governorship primaries, deployment of troops in Bayelsa, Sylva aides fleeing the state over fears of arrests and Bayelsans remaining indoors to escape from soldiers and armed men.
Since the beginning of the political events in the state, government in Bayelsa has virtually relocated to Abuja, where fierce battle is being fought for the soul of the state with no reference to the people. Government activities in most Ministries have grinded to a halt. Government agencies are in a bad shape as the heads under the guise of standing by Sylva in a moment of political trial have grounded activities.
In the political landscape, division and faction have taken over with stakeholders pitching their tent with the two sides.
Consequently the view that the Ijaws are homogenous has been shattered with Nigerians reading the exposure of the dirty linen of brothers on the pages of newspapers. The deployment of troops ostensibly to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order has become a burden for Bayelsans. Aside the molestation they faced from the soldiers and the armed Policemen, motorists are at the receiving end with huge extortion from the men in uniform.
The situation has forced many motorists to close early leaving commuters stranded and many forced to trek to their various houses.
The Commissioner of Police, My Hilary Opara noted that he has received complaints of extortion against the armed Policemen at the checkpoints and that the Provost of the state command was sent around to warn them against the unethical behaviour. Opara disclosed that two people were arrested and would be dismissed if found culpable.
For the average Bayelsan, the political crisis should soon come to an end before it degenerates to outright violence as the desperation for power is increasing by the day.