SYLVA'S SINS AND THE BURDEN OF TRUTH BY: NASARA DOGO
"Which drowning man will not clutch at a straw for self-preservation?" ~ ALAN SILITOE
Any individual with a high degree of media literacy will appreciate that Mr. Doifie Ola is geometrically compounding the sensitively delicate case of his paymaster Chief Timipre Sylva, as he continues as he does to incite an internecine press war in Bayelsa State. These palpable acts of provocation contained in series of press statements and releases have reached an intolerable height and if this fellow churning them out is not constructively engaged, like Joseph Goebbels the World War 2 German propagandist, Doifie Ola would cart home an undeserved victory.
It should not be lost on Sylva's mouth-piece that a no-holes-barred press war will do his boss more harm than good under the present circumstances, in the Nigerian media infrastructure. A sensible and knowledgeable public relations man, as Doifie is posturing and pandering, reads situations with uncanny understanding and knows when to shout, when to murmur and when it is best to keep mum. Instead of adding petrol to set a conflagration out of ebbing embers, a shrewd image-maker put them out with water mixed with detergent. A skilled PRO man would rather let sleeping dogs lie than invite trouble by kicking them.
Why this wending? Sylva, Doifie knows as well as everyone does, has serious questions to answer concerning his governorship in Bayelsa State.
As a matter of fact, the EFCC has before now made it clear that Sylva along with three others was to be arraigned for fraud and misappropriation of state funds amounting to over N6billion. Yet, this is just a tip of the iceberg.
In every conceivable way, the epithet, 'The Evil Genius of Babyelsa State Politics', fits former governor Timipre Sylva more than any other personality from the state. No thanks to his leprous, graft-filled four years and eight months misrule that almost turned the state into a slave plantation. The term of the third executive governor of Bayelsa State, as it were, had been variously, and rightly too, termed a season of termite infestation; the rule of Herod (because Sylva out-heroded Herod); the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, and a 'destructive visitation of locusts."
At no time in their existence as a state, had the people of Bayelsa State been subjected to such dehumanizing level of demagoguery and travesty called governance, as did Sylva them. Sylva's was a government which erected a blood-letting security outfit that extra-judicially killed scores of people, including Bayelsans and non-Bayelsans. Here was a governor who turned Bayelsa into a police state and terrorized the peace of the land. Here was a governor who forced many prominent Bayelsans into self-exile for fear of being visited by the dreaded killer Operation Famou Tangbei masquerade. Here was a governor who provocatively indebted Bayelsa State to over N200billion, while he received a staggering N660billion from when he first took the Oath of Office on May 29th, 2007 to January 27, 2012. (The verifiable facts and figures are there for anybody to ascertain).
Here was a governor who never for once gave any account to Bayelsans on how their State was being managed. In neighbouring Rivers State, Governor Rotimi Amaechi while celebrating his third year anniversary at the Brick House gave a holistic account of how he had been spending Rivers people's money at a townhall gathering relayed live on AIT. The atmosphere was convivial and the people were free to ask questions on governance and contractors too were on standby to defend their project executions. Which day in his almost five years administration did Sylva invite stakeholders of Bayelsa to render specific details of governance like Amaechi did?
Here was a governor who without consulting with Bayelsans sold all the government housing estates he met on the ground - commissioners' quarters at Opolo, House of Assembly members quarters at Ekeki, the Okaka housing estate - and no account was given of the proceeds from the sales like a zealously guarded state secret wrapped in utmost obfuscation. Sylva almost sold the land and people of Bayelsa State! Here was a governor in his heydays showed deep contempt for the rule of law and selectively obeyed court orders - he complied with those that favoured him and disobeyed the ones that did not - but today he has suprisingly become a political turn-coat. Here was a governor who claimed he spent N7billion for water retictulation in Yenagoa, yet there is no potable water anywhere for the people to drink from the public waterworks in the state capital. Here was a governor who moved Ghana-must-go bags to Abuja to lobby legislators not to confirm Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President when the circumstances correctly dictated that.
Here was a governor who disrespected a Vice President from the same state like he is and would rather pledge loyalty to Mrs Turai Yar'Adua and lobbied her with billions of naira for a second term. Here was a governor who practically crippled and paralyzed the economy of Bayelsa State with his scorched earth economic policies. Here indeed was a governor who even threatened to kill the President of this country, including the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan if he was not given a second term.
The foregoing are some of the reasons one finds amusing the tireless but fruitless efforts by some paid consultants to idolize Chief Timipre Sylva and perhaps wash him with the biblical hyssop on the pages of Nigerian newspapers. More interesting is the fact that some of the advocates of Chief Sylva, like my compatriot Sabella Abidde who at present lives in the US, don't even live in Bayelsa State to know and at the same time feel precisely where the governance shoe pinched the people most when Sylva, like a blood-sucking vampire, was preying on the resources of the state.
To this infamous and disgruntled league of Sylva's apologist belongs Mr.
Doifie Ola, Sylva's own chief press secretary (I have every reason to believe he still holds this office and title outside the corridors of
power) who has been feeding the media with tissues of lies and half-truths. Whatever that means.
One makes bold to say, without any fear of contradiction that Sylva's administration represents the worst evil to befall Bayelsans since the state's creation in 1996. It was a dark political era that will forever remain in infamy. Sylva's administration swarmed in a cesspool of corruption, as confirmed by the recent forensic interrogation of the financial books which the Financial Management Review Committee undertook.
Sylva remains a huge and painful political mistake ever made by Bayelsans, as far as the Bayelsa governorship is concerned. Apart from being rigged into office in 2007 on which basis a Port Harcourt Appeal Court nullified the election on April 14, 2008, Sylva never won the party primary election having secured just 37 votes out of the more than 3,000 cast. His emergence itself was an illegality and a show of corruption by the PDP which paid dearly for their default.
Doifie Ola should avoid provoking the cream of the media intelligentsia in Bayelsa State, otherwise he would get more than he bargained for his master because the 'tragedy of our democracy' the latter orchestrated is still boiling the hearts of not a few in Bayelsa State and beyond. Instead of attempting to drag the credibility of the damning Alaibe-led committee report, he should rather encourage Sylva to come out of hiding and give Bayelsans a thorough explanation as regards his stay in office.
**Dogo, a public affairs analyst, writes from Yenagoa.