Former governor of Bayelsa State and flag bearer of the All Progressive Congress (APC) at the Bayelsa State governorship election, Chief Timipre Sylva, has stated that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, unfortunately started on a disadvantaged note, going by dwindling oil prices.
According to the former governor of the oil-rich state, “This government is starting on a very disadvantaged note in the sense that the oil prices are at an all-time low.”
He however expressed optimism that the Buhari-led administration would benefit the Niger Delta. “I think that this administration will still do better for the Niger Delta than previous government. Look at the east-west road. The road that was begun by the former President Obasanjo administration.”
Sylva, who spoke on Africa Independent Television, is not happy with the way and manner several projects inherited by the former President Jonathan were left uncompleted.
“He (former President Obasanjo) handed over that road (East-West road) to our own son as President and as at today, that road is still ongoing, under construction. The Brass LNG foundation was laid by former President Obasanjo, that project is now dead. Under the APC government, we have started empowering key people in the area. If you listen to the Minister of State for Petroleum, he has started talking about the refineries. Once the refineries are working, there will be opportunities for the Niger Delta. So we believe the APC government in the end will be better. Whether you like it or not, the refineries are in the Niger Delta,” he said.
He also expressed hope that the fund meant for the development of the Niger Delta would be well used for the region, believing that the current government would not only extract from the Niger Delta without taking adequate care of the region.
“I don’t think the APC would treat the Niger Delta as a place they would only extract. The APC will see Niger Delta as part of Nigeria, the funds that are meant for the development of the Niger Delta will go to the Niger Delta. Of course, all the other fund expected for the development of the Niger Delta will go to develop the Niger Delta. Before now, most of the fund for the Niger Delta were arrested in Abuja. Under President Buhari, anybody can say anything, but the funds meant for the Niger Delta will come to the Niger Delta,” he said.
Sylva also recalled how his erstwhile Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was funded by the governors while he served as governor of Bayelsa State under the then ruling PDP.
He told AIT that, “Every PDP governor felt it because they (PDP) kept calling for funding. Of course they didn’t have enough funding for the party, that was how the PDP was funded and that is why the governor felt like the owners of the party. At the time I was in PDP that was what was going on.”
Assessing the achievements of incumbent governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Seriake Dickson, the APC flag bearer, claimed he performed better than Dickson while he served as the governor.
In his claim, “Every Bayelsan knows that I performed more than outgoing Diskson. There was almost no community that we went that we didn’t have projects, sometimes up to six projects. We touched lives. We were not going on an ego trip. He is on an ego trip, he built a bridge that we still see as unnecessary. If he had the money to invest, it is not a bridge it should go for. That place that the flyover as he called it was built, there was no problem there. He really has performed dismally going by the money he received. That is why he became desperate, bringing thugs, deploying violence, and claiming he won in six Local Governments.”
When asked about the allegations of election violence in the December 5th governorship election in the state by election observers, who allegedly noted a high level of collaboration between the federal forces and his group, Sylva did not mince words on his defence.
“I’ll be shocked if anyone thinks that way and anyone that thinks that way is not worth listening to,” he said, narrating how violence began during the election. “They started with a shoot-out in Ekeremo. The Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture was under fire, his fence was pulled down by dynamite.”
“If you go to Sagbama, my agent was beaten up while the Police were watching, when I say the Police, there were not necessarily the Police from Abuja. There is this local Police outfit called Operation Douakpo. They were watching, he ended up in the hospital. At the end of the day, my agent was not allowed to observe or to perform his duties as an agent. In Yenagoa, the serving chairman of the Environmental Sanitation Authority came with a combination of thugs and the Police to cart away election materials. I called the Commissioner of Police myself and he told me that he has been subdued and I asked him you have subdued him without any arrest? At the end of the day, results were submitted from where ever and they were accepted.”
Still stating his observations during the December election, Sylva, who expressed optimism in the upcoming election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state, alleged that, “In Nembe Local Government Area, the Deputy Governor deployed gunboats to go and snatch electoral materials in Okoroma, results were submitted and were accepted. I don’t know who was deploying violence. If anyone says that I deployed violence and the governor saying he won in six Local Government Areas, it is very clear who was deploying the violence. Suddenly, I was leading in a Local Government and someone had a brain wave, and suddenly said that the election should be annulled.”
The former governor also alleged a compromise by the Residence Electoral Commissioner in charge of the Bayelsa election, whom he claimed was a classmate of the former President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to him, “We have said that the Residence Electoral Commissioner was a classmate in UNIPORT with the former President. We are not manufacturing the fact, it is a fact. They have been friends, they knew themselves over the years and the electoral apparatus in the state was set up by the former President to deliver him as President in the election and that apparatus is still in place. That apparatus was set up with the singular aim to deliver him, that aim is still in place and we are saying having an apparatus to deliver the PDP, we cannot expect a free and fair election.”
Denying an allegation that the Federal might was on his side during the December election, Chief Sylva claimed ignorance of any Federal might.
“I’m not aware of the Federal might. This administration is not an administration of impunity,” he said, adding that, “For the PDP government, there is a way of doing election. You can’t move that away immediately, there is still a hangover. That was what we saw, the PDP went into massive rigging, if not that the APC was on ground, they would have run us over.”
When asked how he expects to turn the tide against the PDP in the last phase of the election scheduled for Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state, after losing six of the seven Local Government Areas of the state where election results were declared, Sylva said, his party already won the election.
“We won the election already, with the so called lead, we won the election before they annulled it. We have over 150,000 votes outstanding and the INEC kept canceling election where we won,” he said.
He concluded that, “Southern Ijaw is our stronghold, my deputy is from southern Ijaw. You can see that the outstanding elections is in our stronghold, technically, there is no election yet, the real election is going to take place on the 9th of January and Dickson and the PDP would be history.”
Story by: Dayo Emmanuel