GOVERNOR TIMIPRE SYLVA: AN ACCIDENT FORSEEN YET OCCURRED
All parties in the Bayelsa state PDP election primaries seem to have settled down again after the state's primary election imbroglio in the battle of Yenagoa. I think the courts themselves have a way of dousing off tension, because with the indefinite adjournment of the case between PDP and Governor Timipre Sylva it is now time to look elsewhere as they all go back to the trench, ask and answer some questions before setting out for the next round of war of attrition between themselves. On the other hand, sanity will also begin to return to Yenagoa and the entire state which had been under siege due to the visible over dose of law enforcement officials drafted in to check the would have been breakdown of law and order. Really, to say the least, all these fireworks of war of words and power games were all grossly unnecessary, as all parties on the card now got it coming. The Party – PDP, Governor Sylva, the Presidency and the people of Bayelsa state cannot deny that they did not expect fireworks in the PDP primaries, after all Bayelsa is a one party state. What they all knew was that INEC's postponed the dooms day with the extension of Sylva tenure to next year instead of last April, 2011 election.
Election into any public office is usually based on both principles and some other variables. A candidate for an election must have a manifesto, which in many cases are always in tune with the needs and aspirations of the people. The candidate need also be popular, one whose generous and selfless attitude speaks for itself. Upon election, the candidate's performance, manifesto and his leadership style is viewed from this background. This document and performance automatically becomes the reference for future if and when need be. This document called Manifesto, is the same document PDP and true Bayelsans used to reject Gov. Timipre Sylva. On the other hand, it returned the likes of Fashola, Senator Smart Adeyemi of Kogi state and it lead the South West to jettison PDP for the CAN, and Gov Adams Oshomole is also toeing the same line. Where are the clear success record of Gov Sylva?
Governor Timipre Sylva mounted the podium in Yenagoa in the most worrisome circumstance when he picked the nomination ticket to run for Bayelsas governorship election in 2007. Most people took him for granted. It was more like the joke of the year given the caliber of candidates before him, their pedigree and the time of his inclusion. But while he was not even the third candidate during that PDP primaries in 2007 after the vote counts, the unforeseen intrigues after the election brought providence to play and it threw him up as the candidate. That did not go unchallenged within the party in the first place. Even at the general election, again his wining was equally challenged by the ANPP candidate. Given the scenarios which brought him to power therefore, it was to be expected that Sylva would have been a performer to expect the least.
After the elections, and given that Bayelsans had had a long wait due to the mysteries surrounding the exit of Chief D. S. P Alamieyesigha as governor, the short tenure of Goodluck as acting Governor and later vice presidential candidate and finally Sylva's arrival, it was expected that the man would fast track activities and bring everyone to the present. It should therefore not surprise anyone that the delay by the governor to appoint commissioners which slowed down the pace of work in the state was worrisome. It is on record that commissioners were appointed in the state just before the state house of assembly mooted the idea of his impeachment for none performance.
Once appointed, the commissioners were left in the cold as the governor kept his plans close to his chest. The situation remained the same in the first six months of his government, such that he had hardly started any meaningful project went the court in Port Harcourt cancelled his election and booted him out of office. The state returned to darkness for another 90days.
Now let us look at the government of Governor Timipre Sylva through the eyes of development using neighbouring states as basis of comperism what do we see in his four and half years of leadership in Bayelsa state? This is necessary because the cry everywhere is that southern governors do not make good use of their allocations from the federation account and so do not deserve to be given more despite their region being the source of the nation's current wealth. Again, it is easily possible for the governor to begin to lead in agitations for higher allocation based on the principle derivation. But how did he fared in the utilization of the huge funds he received within the period he has governed the state?
One issue which is most crucial and is neglected is the fact that we are not discussing Sylva physic. He is a handsome man no doubt, but is discussing him in the eyes of his leadership through his performance of over four years in office and asking if, based on his performance, he can be trusted that is why he is in the podium! The answer is a grand NO. Governor Chibuke Amechi who led the other governors to the president was put on the spot at one time before his re-nomination. He was a hard nut. Denied by OBJ and by extension, his associates, he had only his work to speak for him. And it did speak volumes hence PDP fielded him unequivocally! Same goes for Gov. Akpabio, all south west governors and even for the coming election of Kogi, Edo, Adamawa and Cross Rivers States it is performance! Performance and only performance the people want not another long list of promises. What the PDP said through the failure of Sylva's second term bid is that he failed to marginally promote the party, to develop the state and the people are saying if you send us this man again, we will transfer our loyalty. For God's sake, there are some levels of performance in examinations which require the academic board to withdraw the student. That is the exact case of our dear fallen governor. Sylva is an individual foisted on the people of the state and he failed to convince them that he is a different person from what or who they perceived him to be. Leadership is not about buying the electorate that time is gone for good. He has announced that the Senators, the Reps, Bayelsa Assembly members and other appointees are with him. Great! Tell which of them even the market women who spoke with deep conviction if they are not political jobbers? Insinuations have been going on that the President is having more than passing interest in the Bayelsa imbroglio. But didn't the president come from a constituency in Nigeria? What qualified him to contest the election if not his ward, local government and state? Why would someone want to assert that the president ought not to be interested in who governs his home state? What was said of Obasanjo during his first term when he had no state to his credit as President? Are we suggesting that the president should be unmindful of this?
As the first victim of self destruction, like every other before him, he went about accusing every Tom Dick and Harry for his fault. Then pointing at proposals he intend to put in place if called again to serve. He forgot that the minimum expectations of people are physical performances not best intentions. Adams Oshomole, Sule Lamido, Fashola, Fayemi, Aregbesola etc are not pointing at intentions one year after, they have done exceedingly well given our political land scape. Can you imagine Uyo the former bush big village, now transformed to modern city with flyovers? A Benin City without flood and pot holes? Wide spread of multiple state wide projects, a situation which made the Oba of Benin to ask if the hard working governor was borrowing money for generations yet unborn to pay! But the hard working governor, a first time politician who was roundly criticised by many, told the King that not a kobo of his state's money is borrowed but only judicious use of fund available! Sylva has just started to publish his streaks of achievements. Pray, what is the value of all of them compared to what his counterparts did in other states?
Could anyone have thought of an Oshodi without criminal before the wonders of Gov Babatunde Fashola?
I must applaud Timipre Sylva for being able to maintain the project completion system he met at Creek Heaven but it is not enough. He is the only Governor in Nigeria who had so many opportunities to improve on his performance and squandered all of them. So many other candidates desired but only one chance and did not have it even with their hard earned cash. Awolowo desired only one chance to rule Nigeria, he never got it. Former Gov Lucky Igbinedion had two terms and wasted them.
The best of Sylva was performed in his heart. He dreamt Water transport and constructing a Tunnel in Yenagoa. They remained a mirage.
At the PDP primaries in 2007, he did not come close to the third slot, but providence laid leadership on his laps. He did not appreciate the party which had been very magnanimous. Again, he lost in the court to his opponents and the jubilation that welcomed the courts judgment was not taken as warning and therefore use remaining opportunities to work with the people in mind. Finally, when his tenure was extended early this year, he failed to consider it as jara and put the period into great use to his advantage. Now it is war all over the place. The question to ask is where were all his fake supporters who gave him vain hopes? Did Bayelsan vote for court orders injunctions and counter injunctions instead of good government? In politic as in every other venture, the chicken has come to roast. God Bless Bayelsans as the vote out all those who have made it their business to destroy the people who made them.
Mike O. Akpati is a Public Affair Analyst based in Port Harcourt