By Jonathan Orumiebi Andabai
Lightening, they say, never strikes at the same place twice, but for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa, it appears this saying may not be the case. This is because the party’s candidate in the November 11 governorship election, Mr. Timipre Sylva and his running mate, Mr. Joshua Maciver are both tainted.
A situation which forced political analyst in the state to ask: “Why is the APC self-inflicting yet another injury on itself? If that can of worm is opened it will be so toxic that it could extinct the political career of the Okpoma born politician”.
The 2019 gubernatorial debacle which lead to lost of the governorship seems to be unfolding again in even a worse dimension as Sylva has in a most controversial move picked Mr. Joshua Maciver, who was a jailbreaker as his running mate. Mr. Maciver has since confessed to breaking jail while servicing a ten years jail term over multiple felonies. The unrepentant felon has boastfully stated in a video he personally posted that should the situation arise; he will do the same thing again. “I have no regrets” he stated.
For Sylva, it has been established by a Federal High Court in Abuja that his candidature shall amount to a breach of the 1999 constitution should he contest and win the November, 11 2023 Governorship elections. The judgement further stated that apart from being sworn in two times he will be nine years in office having served five years in his previous spell as governor. The court accordingly ruled that Sylva was ineligible to contest the governorship election.
To most Bayelsans, Maciver was particularly remembered for his brutality against the people at the height of the militancy that rocked the Niger Delta between 1999 and 2007, after he break jail in Kaduna state and returned to Bayelsa.
To the people of the state, a Sylva / Maciver leadership will simply reenact the sad memory of the brutality that took place while Sylva was governor. It was the period of the notorious Operation Famu Tamgbe, a security outfit set up by the state government to combat insecurity, but ended up terrorizing the people more than the terrorists.
Most disturbing is the rhetoric of Mr. Maciver in the APC campaigns currently going on in the State. Could this be the reason why the national leadership of the party is not participating in the campaign of the party? Maciver has made it a slogan that they will take government by force in the state which military parlance amounts to a coup. In a recent campaign Twon-Brass Mr. Maciver said
“Let’s prepared, on the 11th, if anybody misbehave for Twon-Brass, chase am go enter the sea make him die. Ona dey hear? Chase am make him die. Afterall nobi that person go be the first person to die. So, let’s show them”. Such a man poses a very serious danger to our democracy and should be treated like the fugitive he is.
Very frightening is the debasing of our institutions by some persons we held in high esteem like Major General Barry T. Ndiomu (rtd), the head of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) who hastily wrote a very poorly worded letter to the Secretary to the Federal Government stating that Mr. Maciver was granted amnesty by late President Yar’dua after an initial letter he sent to him that Maciver wasn’t part of the amnesty programme. It is comic for the Nigerian Correctional Centre to write a letter claiming that this unrepentant felon was granted amnesty. Why is Nigeria drifting towards a joke?
A man who should have been declared wanted by the police, arrested and sent back to jail is not even hiding but throwing tantrums and threatening to kill people. Is this the kind of person the Nigerian State and Bayelsa deserves to be rewarded by a political party with such an exalted elective position as d Deputy Governor? Then what message are we sending to our children and the younger generation? That you can commit a crime, go to prison, break jail and be rewarded with an elective position?
For Mr. Sylva to pick him as running mate is a clear case of “show me your associates and I tell you who you are.” In other words, birds of the like feather flock together.
Aside from this, Mr Sylva is constantly and notoriously being accused of the culture of political exclusion. This alienation culture has driven almost all reasonable persons from the APC in Bayelsa State under him.
Therefore, every responsible politician in the APC. That could also the reason why a law-abiding national leadership of the Party is equally reluctant to join his campaign.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Senator Heineken Lokpobri has refused to associate with him. So is the former governorship candidate of the party, Mr. David Lyon. Even his former deputy, Chief Werininpre Seibarugu has left the party to return to the PDP.
The jail break case and the breach of the 1999 constitution is certainly another litmus test for the Nigerian Judiciary that has recently been accused of several controversial judgements. The world is also watching.
In the last four years, Bayelsa has made extraordinary political and developmental strides. Economic growth has been steady and the business landscape has been growing. Peace which hitherto eluded the state is manifest to the extent that people can now sleep with their eyes closed.
Jonathan Orumiebi Andabai wrote from Yenagoa