Timi Sylva, former governor of Bayelsa State and the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the December 5 election is used to many political fights. EMMA ALOZIE looks at the possibility of the former governor weathering all the storms surrounding his candidacy and emerging victorious
Chief Timipre Sylva, former governor of Bayelsa State does not know when to quit a fight. He believes in fighting till the end. He did that in 2012 when he was literarily stopped from going for a second term in office.
He succumbed to higher forces. But he never gave up. He left the Peoples Democratic Party and joined forces with those that wanted former President Goodluck Jonathan out.
He is the de facto leader of APC in Bayelsa State and calls the shot in the party. However, his decision to throw his hat into the December 5 gubernatorial ring may have back fired even before the election.
In Bayelsa, Sylva is swimming against a political tidal wave that only the brave can weather. Since the coming on stream of APC in Bayelsa state, it has been one crisis or the other. But it all came to a disastrous crescendo during the primaries through which Sylva emerged the candidate.
The Bayelsa APC governorship primary election was the last straw that broke the proverbial Carmel’s back. It brought to the fore the seething crisis that had characterized the party’s leadership tussle in the state.
The disputed outcome of the primaries pitched the national body of the party against the Sylva Campaign Organisation. While the national secretariat of the party insisted that there was no election to have warranted Sylva emerging as winner, Sylva insisted that he won the election. While the chairman of the committee that supervised the election, Governor Adams Oshiomhole insisted that the whole exercise was marred by a-Sylva-induced violence, the Sylva Campaign Organisation insisted that the Edo State governor compromised the assignment to come out with a premeditated outcome.
In the midst of the accusations and counter accusations, the party lost huge political grounds, which it had gained with the loss of power at the centre by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
APC and Sylva’s fortunes ahead of the elections have continued to dim with the defection of about 1000 APC members to the PDP. The group known as APC authentic delegates, who said they were the accredited delegates to the last APC primaries but were prevented from partaking in the exercise were led back to the waiting hands of PDP and Governor Seriake Dickson by Senator John Brambaifa and Mr. Alex Ekiotenne.
While receiving the defectors at a ceremony which took place at Peace Park, Yenagoa, Governor Dickson said the defection of the APC members to the PDP was an indication that the APC was dead in the state.
“We are happy that Brambaifa and Ekiotenne are back to the PDP. They have been prominent strategists for the PDP. Our government, Bayelsa PDP and Bayelsans are happy that we are now complete. While the storm lasted, I always remembered them for their patriotism towards Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation. With them, our restoration crusade is full and ready to sail. They led the foundation for the mass movements of some PDP members to the APC. Today, it is operation ‘Wind up APC in Bayelsa. This is just the beginning of winding up the APC in Bayelsa. We will continue to receive our brothers and sisters who were misled,” the governor said.
For Bayelsa APC and Sylva, it does not only rain, it pours. During the inauguration of the party’s campaign council for the Bayelsa election at the national secretariat of the party, more than half of the governors and other party chieftains slated to attend the event stayed away.
Governors Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Abdulazeez Yari Abubakar (Yobe), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano) boycotted the inauguration. Former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Ndutimi Alaibe, APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Timi Frank and nine other members of the campaign team also stayed away from the event.
While giving more insight on why he rejected the membership of the Sylva campaign team, Timi Frank described himself as an aggrieved member of APC in Bayelsa and that what is currently going on in the party in the state is not encouraging.
“I was earlier briefed about the Bayelsa Campaign Council that was inaugurated by a text message that got into my phone but I practically refused to attend that program because I don’t hide my feelings anytime any day. I am an aggrieved member of the APC in Bayelsa State. As long as I remain an aggrieved member, I will continue to stand by my position; I will continue to stand on what I believe, I do not believe in what is happening as at today that was why I purposely refused to attend that function.
“I am rejecting it in totality without fear or favour and I stand my ground. There is no way I could be part of it. How can I be part of it at this time of my life and with the level I have gone to in politics, that since after the primary election in Bayelsa till date as I speak, the candidate has not been able to call me, has not been able to talk to me, so how do you expect me to be part of his campaign team, I am not ready for that, I am ready to face my party.”
Sylva’s headache seems to be compounded by many unfolding events. The death of DSP Alamieyeseigha may be another little problem Sylva would have to contend with during the campaign proper. A former governor of Bayelsa State who was impeached in 2005 on allegations of corruption, Alamieyeseigha still commanded some cult followership amongst Bayelsa people. He was nicknamed ‘governor general’ of Ijaw nation due to his staunch defence of the Ijaw cause.
The controversial circumstance surrounding the death of the former governor seems to have heaped the blame on the APC led federal government and the story that APC killed Alamieyeseigha seems to have stuck in the minds of many Ijaw people and even Bayelsans. This certainly is not in the best interest of Sylva who is flying the party’s flag in the forthcoming election.
Had as he tries to sell his candidacy to the larger Bayelsa electorate, some aggrieved members of his party are wont on sabotaging his efforts. With President Muhammadu Buhari vowing to distance himself from party members who have questions to answer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, it means that the President will be withholding his presidential imprimatur on the candidacy of Sylva and this would never help the project at all.
The question is, how does he hope to weather this huge tide against his ambition?