Nigeria: Ministerial Nomination - Dickson, Sylva's New Found Love in Bayelsa

9 August 2019

The apparent display of sudden friendship and political re-alignment between Governor Seriake Dickson and his predecessor, Chief Timipre Sylva over the latter's ministerial nomination has raised suspicion and disquiet within the PDP and APC in Bayelsa State. In this report, OSA OKHOMINA examines the latest intrigues in the state.

When the American Economist, Anthony Downs developed the Rational-Choice Theory that explains how people use rational thinking to make decisions by considering both the costs and benefits of their options, they may never knew that it will determine the fierce political rivalry between Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and his predecessor in office, Chief Timipre Sylva.

For the last seven years, the rivalry between the two politicians had gone from bad to worse with the media space in the state filled vile words to describe one another.

Worst still, during the days leading to the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections, they both descended low and cast aspersion on each other from administrative to political and finally personalizing insults with followers pushed into the abyss of violent confrontations.

But the events that led to the nomination and confirmation of the former governor and state seader of the APC, Chief Timipre Sylva, by President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly respectively, were more shocking to their followers and a relief to political observers in the state.

When many were expecting the two PDP Senators, Senator Lawrence Erukjaikpo and Senator Douye Diri to tear Sylva apart on the floor of the Senate, a suprise show of comradeship was put up based on the instructions of the State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson of the People's Democratic Party (PDP).

The Governor òf Bayelsa State, the Honorable Henry Seriake Dickson, directed Bayelsa Senators to support the confirmation of former Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva as a minister of the Federal republic.

The Governor also congratulated Sylva, his major political opponent in Bayelsa in the past ten years on his selection as a ministerial nominee in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei.

He said that he has called on the senators to support Sylvia's nomination as minister in the interest of Bayelsa as the Governor of all citizens of the state irrespective of political differences.

The Governor recalled that he congratulated former Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Heineken Lokpibiri, and canvassed similar support for him, when his name was forwarded to the senate in President Buhari's first tenure.

He said that by Sylvia's nomination, President Buhari displayed appreciation of loyalty, a virtue which he considers critical in political leadership.

He said that he had worked assiduously to enthrone a similar political culture in Bayelsa in the past seven years and called on political leaders to show the requisite loyalty in appreciation of the support for their followers.

He stressed that loyalty is a two-way virtue which should be considered pertinent both by followers and the leaders.

Leadership gathered that though, this was what was expected of the two political leaders from APC and the PDP, the decision was not without a four hours meeting reportedly held in Abuja.

It was gathered that the meeting, which was held at an undisclosed location, was one of the first in which the duo of Gov. Dickson and Chief Sylva, did not engage in malicious conduct towards one another. The deal was later sealed.

The result of the undisclosed deal led to the supportive escort to the Senate Chamber by the three Bayelsa Senators. It resulted in the 'take a bow and leave' privilege accorded Chief Timipre Sylva.

Minister-designate and former governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Timipre Sylva, also in reaction to the show of political sportsmanship by Governor Dickson thanked him, his excellency Hon Henry Seriake Dickson, saying 'The message from the Bayelsa Senators Caucus was well received, as was the statement of congratulations by the state government spokesperson.'

Chief Sylva, in the statement issued through, Mr. Julius Bokoru, his Media Assistant, ' Sportsmanship has never been better exhibited, and chief Sylva, a passionate advocate of a Bayelsa with a United goal for peace and oneness, is appreciative of this. '

'It appears the loosening stranglehold of godfathers is producing a new improved Governor Dickson. Sylva believes that Bayelsa State will be better off without the political shenanigans of yesterday's-men grandstanding as know-all's.'

'With this positivity, inclusiveness and vigour, Bayelsa state would have soared to enviable heights by now. Sylva urges Dickson to remain positive and focused for the remainder of his tenure as the common enemy of the Bayelsa people are the forces whose patronage comes from planned backwardness'

'Sylva thanks the good people of Bayelsa state for their unyielding support and wishes a smoother conclusion of the restoration administration.

The new relationship between the duo of Gov. Dickson and Chief Timipre Sylva is however generating suspicion among the loyalists of the PDP and the APC in the State.

While the APC supporters considered the new relationship as one borne out an alleged possibility of Gov. Dickson's defection to the opposition, ' in search of soft landing after his tenure as Governor and a way of threatening the ruling PDP over the alleged refusal for him to singlehandedly produce his predecessor.'

The supporters of the PDP, said though they believe the Gov.Dickson display towards Sylva is a welcomed development,'we are hoping it is not another subtle threat to those opposed to his plan to produce his successor. We believe he is total PDP man and he can't risk defection.'

But the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan however applauded the healthy political gesture displayed by the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson over his resolved that aided the speedy screening and confirmation of his predecessor, Chief Timipre Sylva who has been nominated by the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari to serve as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Senate President, Lawan applauded the incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State, a member of the People Democratic Party (PDP), during his brief remark after the Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe hinted the Senate on the unanimous decision reached by the three Senators from Bayelsa State in their caucus meeting, to support the nomination cum confirmation of the Chief Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa Minister Designate) as directed by their Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson.

The Minority Leader noted that, he was duly informed that the Governor of Bayelsa State has formally congratulated the ministerial nominee, Chief Timipre Sylva, and had communicated his position to his Bayelsan Senators in the Nigerian Senate.

"Let me state that, the caucus of Bayelsa state in the senate, have told me that they have met him (Timipre Sylva), and in a good stand with him.

"Also, I was informed that the state Government has even gone ahead to congratulate him to as their son" which is a show of oneness and unity in the interest of Bayelsa State, the minority stressed, requesting that the Nominee should take a bow and go, being a former lawmaker in the then old Rivers state.

Lawan, while commending Gov. Dickson for his political gesture, described him as a shinning example of patriot. Adding that, politicians, irrespective of party differences and platforms should emulate the gesture displayed by the Bayelsa Governor in the interest of their people and Nigerians at large.

"Let me remark that what the Governor of Bayelsa State has done. And what the Caucus of Bayelsa state in the Senate did, shown patriotism, desire to work together, to make not only Bayelsa State develop and be peaceful, but take Nigeria to the next level.

"This is a shinning example of what our politicians across Nigeria should be doing. We are suppose to serve the same people, regardless of our political platforms," Lawan noted.

The President of the Senate used the medium to congratulate the ministerial nominee, Timipre Sylva and commended him for his contributions toward a peaceful Nigeria as contained in his Curriculum Vitae, urging him not to relent in that regards, trusting that he will suggest to the President of Nigeria, sustainable ways through which the Federal Government could end insecurity in the country when he is eventually assigned portfolio.

"I Will work closely with PDP--Gov. Dickson

Governor Seriakr Dickson has however promised to work closely with the party leadership to ensure the conduct of credible, free and fair primaries in Bayelsa.

According to the Governor, while the aspirants who have picked the party's nomination have the right to pursue their ambition, the leadership of the party would watch and indeed monitor the build up to primaries.D

Gov. Dickson also restated his earlier position that the leadership of the People's Democratic Party has not endorsed any aspirant for the candidature òf the party.

A statement by the Special Adviser, Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, quoted the governor as having called on Bayelsans to discountenance aspirants claiming to have his endorsement.

The Governor said that he would commence intensified consultations with aspirants and critical stakeholders at the national and state levels of the PDP with the conclusion of the sale of the gubernatorial nomination form for the next election.

He stressed that his earlier stance that there was no anointed aspirant in the forthcoming gubernatorial election had not changed because there was no such aspirants.

He said, "Now that the collection of gubernatorial forms have ended, the leadership of the party in the state wishes to say that there is no anointed aspirant against the practice in those states where outgoing governors endorse one single aspirant.

"I decided to open the state for people in my government,my team and other members of the party who have interest to indicate their interest.

I promise the state that there would be no imposition so would it be.

"The aspirants who have bought firms have the right to express their ambition but the state leadership òf the party should watch keenly. I am following the comments and making observations and in appropriate cases making consultations.

"Now that the end of purchase of forms have come, I will intensify consultations both with aspirants, party leaders and other stakeholders. "

And at the end of the day, I intend to work with the party at the national and state levels to ensure that there is a free and fair election.

Those using my name should be disregarded, it is not true, I have not endorsed anybody yet".

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