Ministerial Appointment: Sylva, Lokpobiri Fight Over N200m, N1b Campaign Fund

The suspension of a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, by the All Progressives Congress has taken a new twist as investigations revealed that he has fallen apart with the Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri.
Sylva and Lokpobiri were alleged to have agreed on the Minister parting with a princely sum of N600 million before his appointment was approved by the governorship candidate of the APC in the last election in Bayelsa State.
Sylva, it was further alleged, was paid N400 million upfront by Lokpobiri.
A political movement in the Bayelsa State chapter of the APC, APC Bayelsa Good Governance Group, on Sunday said it had it on good authority that Sylva was annoyed that Lokpobiri had refused to pay the remaining N200 million because he only got the position of a junior minister.
The group alleged that Sylva was busy selling federal appointments to his cronies, including Lokpobiri, at the cost of N600 million each.
The group said: “During the bargain, Lokpobiri dropped an advance payment of N400 million for Sylva but declined payment of the balance of N200 million because he was given a junior minister.”
The group said when Sylva asked for the balance again, Lokpobiri asked him to account for the N1 billion he got for his campaign during the last Bayelsa State governorship election, adding: “This is the cause of their fighting. We are therefore calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct anti-graft agencies to investigate this matter and get Sylva arrested.”
The position of the group was stated in a statement by its Coordinator, Douye Alex Panebi, in a statement in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, on Sunday.
This, Panebi explained, was why the organisation supported the decision to suspend Sylva as a corrective measure to bring back sanity into the party.
Sylva and four other members of the APC were on Saturday handed indefinite suspension by the party’s leadership, citing alleged anti-party activities and other forms of misbehaviour deemed to be inimical to the progress of APC in Bayelsa State.
The APC group, which reflected on the loss of the party in the last election and recent crisis within the party in the state, said that but for the inordinate ambition of Sylva during the last governorship election, APC could have posted a better result.
The group said: “Sylva’s greed, deceit and terrible track record as a former governor caused APC’s defeat at the polls and his subsequent conduct had only worsened the situation in the party in Bayelsa state.”
Panebi also alleged that Sylva was already busy in Abuja selling federal appointments to cronies and thus causing disaffection within the party.
He said: “We must be honest and accept the fact that Sylva’s emergence as candidate was the reason for our misfortune at the last election. We were roundly beaten at the polls because Sylva was a bad product. That is why even the ongoing case at the tribunal is a clear waste of time and resources, another conduit for Sylva to further scam people of their money as he goes about assuring people that the presidency has directed the judiciary to return him as governor.
“That was how he went about deceiving everybody that he was not going to contest the governorship election and then collecting money from all the aspirants promising each of them the ticket, he turned around to eventually contest. He didn’t stop there, he we went ahead to hoodwink everyone of us into believing that he has the backing of the president, boasting that he had federal might and that INEC had been instructed to return him as governor.
“For that reason, many of us sold properties to contribute to his campaign with the promise of a juicy appointment in return as reward. Little did we realize that it was all a scam. Sylva deceived so many people who worked hard and spent hard earned money on his election. Rather than reward those people who worked hard for his campaign, he is busy in Abuja selling appointments to his cronies to raise money to bribe the judiciary to grant him victory at the tribunal while using the office of the secretary to the federation and the presidency to intimidate the judiciary.”
Members of the group, who were reported to be loyal to the Tiwe Oruminighe-led leadership of the APC in Bayelsa State, said they fully back the suspension of the former governor given what they described as his “penchant for deceit, violence and corrupt tendencies”, which led to the party’s humiliating defeat at the just concluded poll.
While calling on Buhari and the anti-graft bodies to investigate the allegation, the group insisted that the right thing to do was for the President to direct the relevant agencies to immediately arrest Sylva for corruption.
The group also called on the national leadership of the APC to prevail on the President to stop Sylva from parading himself as leader of the party in the state.

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