Anticipated return of Sylva in Bayelsa
Chief Timipre Sylva
The appeal tribunal had nullified the April 14, 2007 governorship election following a petition by Prince Timi Amgbare, the Action Congress (AC) candidate at the election. The tribunal based its decision on what it described as the absence of “the most important document in an election (Form EC8A), which was missing in the evidence provided and that it was too much to be discountenanced.
“The failure of the respondents to provide this form and prove beyond reasonable doubt that election held is, indeed, fatal to the matter,” the judges said. Consequently, Justice Sake Ibiyeye, the chairman of the panel, ruled that there was, indeed, no result in Bayelsa State on April 14, 2007 governorship election.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Werenipre Seibarugu, has since then been sworn-in as Acting Governor of the State in accordance with the order of the tribunal. The failure to provide the form EC 8 A, certainly was a slip, a costly} negligence on the part of the defendants or their counsel. Somebody, clearly failed to do his bit.
The coast was then clear for those who contested in the April 14, 2007 governorship elections in the state to go back to the electorate to decide who becomes their governor within a period of three months.
Sylva’s major opponents at the April 14, 2007 polls were Prince Amgbare himself, representing the Action Congress (AC), John Brambaifa of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) AND Elder Bettel Amabebe, who represented the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).
Amabebe has since decamped to the ruling P. D. P in the State picking up a commissionership slot to put food on his table. He is now Commissioner for Environment, appointed by Sylva, and retained by the acting governor, Seibarugu. Senator John Brambaifa, who was originally a PDP member but left and contested the governorship under the DP.P has since returned to the PDP. Even his running mate, Solomon Appreala, finance commission under DPS Alamieseigha, has since joined the Sylva administration as chairman, Bayelsa State Internal Revenue Board. With Amabebe and Brambaifa back to the P. D. P, the prognosis, as they are today, look very gloomy for the A. C. and its candidate Amgbare. This is because, Bayelsa State, as it is today, is a clear P. D. P state with no opposition, but Amgbare and his AC that could cause no harm in an election.
Let’s face the picture as it is, because pictures don’t lie! The state office of the party, which is a mere apartment in a house is looking desolate with no sign of preparations going on for an election after what is now clearly a pyrrhic victory at the Appeal Tribunal. Amgbare’s candidacy is even still in dispute. A fellow called Amaegbe Kentebe is still challenging Amgbare’s candidacy on the ground that he (Kentebe) won the party primaries.
Amgbare’s dizziness about the elections, apparently stems from the weakness of his political benefactor-former Bayelsa State Governor, D.S.P Alamieyeseigha, who, though not out, but is certainly down. Amagbare is, therefore, on his own. Amagbare, who is from Sagbama L. G. A of the state, left the Navy as a naval rating. His foray into politics started when, through the aid of his benefactors, he became PDP chairman for Sagbama Local Government Area. The same Alamieyeseigha also appointed him Commissioner for Sports, during his second tenure, but he was later dropped by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan during Alamieyeseigha’s travail with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), in 2003.
Where is, therefore, the opposition in Bayelsa to stand the now united, strong and focused PDP in the re-run election? Sylva may have had this in mind when his humble reaction to the tribunal ruling was that “I’ll wait for God’s judgment” – God’s positive judgment in the re-run election, coming up, May 24, 2008.
Sylva has been long enough in the political arena to understand what it takes to win an election, not only in Nigeria, but world-wide. In the old Rivers State, he contested election into the State House of Assembly and won during the time of Chief Ada Gorge as Governor.
When Bayelsa State was created, he was a state officer of U.N.C.P. In 1999 when the first major congress of the PDP in the state was held, he wanted to be state chairman of the party but was prevailed upon by wise counsel and his personal loyalty to party leaders to let Numoipre Wills have the position. This ultimately paid off for Sylva as he was made Special Adviser on Political Affairs to Governor Alamieyeseigha, which. in itself was a lucid confirmation of his solid understanding of politics itself, and the politics of the state.
As a founding member of the PDP in the state he was interested in the Senate but his interests clashed with those of Chief Melford Okilo, whose political pedigree is quite intimidating and formidable. Okilo was a Parliamentary Secretary in the First Republic. He was a former minister for commerce during the military era, first former civilian Governor of old Rivers State and got re-elected in 1983 before the military interregnum. This was the political colossus that Sylva contested the senatorial slot primaries with and walked away gallantly with a loss by a margin of a single vote.
Sylva, ever on the field, later became Special Assistant to the Minister of Petroleum, Chief Edmond Daukoru, from which post he ran for the governorship primaries with other contestants.
Since May 29, 2007, when he became governor, Sylva has introduced some discipline and commitment in the conduct of government functions. Indeed, he has laid a solid foundation for a rapid development of the state, including democratic structures, which serve as the air for the survival of democracy.
Besides, the first ever Vice President, from the South South geo-political zone, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who is a Bayelsan, would naturally support his party’s candidate in the re-run election. The PDP Natural Headquarters has set a campaign committee headed by the V. P to ensure victory of the part at the election.
But more importantly, President, Umaru Y’arAdua has agreed to personally kick start the campaign. Granted that election rigging has become a major problem in our political development, rigging hardly takes place in an area where a party has a large followership. And for followership to grow, those who seek elective positions must work hard by reaching out to the electorate.
While the P.D.P is putting together its campaign machinery for the re-run election, the opposition parties seem to be unduly relying on going in the tribunals to challenge victories, even when it is clear to them that their parties do not have the structures for effective challenge in elections.
In 2003, Bayelsa State became completely, a P. D. P state with elections at all levels being won by the party, from council level to the National Assembly. Since then, the party has consolidated itself firmly on the ground. Bayelsa is not just like any other state. It is the greatest source of revenue in the country, being the state that produces the highest volume of petroleum products in the country along with Delta State.
The ruling party, cannot, therefore ignore the need to work hard to ensure a return of its candidate to the Government House, Creek Haven in Bayelsa State.
In the face of these numerous hurdles for Amgbare and swelling support for Sylva, it is clear that his (Sylva’s) victory, on May 24, is as sure as sun rise.
Amgbare’s victory at the Appeal Tribunal was not only pyrrhic but a huge blessing for the P. D. P. This is because as Sylva comes back to Creek Haven, his tenure of four years will start counting from the day he would be sworn-in.