Miebi Bribena, the head of Sylva campaign organisation for Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa state ahead of the December 5 governorship election in the state, speaks in this interview about the political situation of the state and the impression Bayelsans have of former Governor Timipre Sylva who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as monitored by our correspondent, Lucky Vincent.
What are preparations like ahead of the Bayelsa governorship election on December 5?
Preparations are in top gear. We had our flag-off last Saturday in my local government which incidentally is the local government of the ‘out-going’ governor (Seriake Dickson). It was unprecedented. The crowd was ecstatic. Now, this, normally would not have happened in a Bayelsa state for the APC to organise a rally with over 10,000 people in attendance. It was not a joke but a successful campaign and the people are ready to take over.
Chief Timipre Sylva
We also saw Governor Dickson going to the home local government of Sylva and it seems the campaigns have been peaceful so far.
But we have had some incidences which have occurred either by coincidence or sheer human act because we discover that wherever Sylva is appearing, the governor suddenly appears. This has happened on two occasions. When we opened our campaign office in Yenagoa, suddenly the governor took around that place. On Saturday, after the flag-off, Sylva was going to Yenagoa and he decided to branch at another function. The governor who had left Yenagoa suddenly came back and there was a lock-jam on the bridge for close to two hours. These coincidences are getting too much. We also had an initiative to clean up the state because there’s been a lot of refuse. Our boys were beaten blue-black, many were injured and members of the PDP have been accusing us of taking their initiative. This is too much. We signed a peace pact and we are waiting and willing to participate in a peaceful election.
There are reports that the rally was not well attended by governors and top members of the APC apart from the chairman who handed the flag to the candidate.
The party hierarchy was fully represented. The most important person is the chairman of the party. Whatever is being told to you is mere speculation. It was successful and unprecedented. The crowd was there. So that is not a problem at all. Dickson has been going about his campaigns and the only person that has come is ex-governor Kwankwaso. Is that really a problem?
How would you rate the acceptability of Sylva?
It is very high and there is no pretence about it. We know this from the response of the people. You go to rallies where statements are made, comments are made, and the crowd response is natural. For people to come from all over the state for that flag-off in a local government where the incumbent governor is from is history. The elders too are accepting us a lot.
Some people believe that the former governor did not do too well when he was governor. Are you concerned about this?
This is one thing I always frown at. I have on record 234 projects executed by Sylva. These include projects that were ongoing before he came in and he completed, projects that he initiated and completed and those that were ongoing before he was unceremoniously stopped from contesting again. Now, Sylva’s stoppage was not the will of the people. It was by the PDP and the forces that be at the time. You must understand that it was a state which the-then president came from and you must understand that right from Sylva’s inception, there had been interference.
There is the allegation that under Sylva, there were heightened levels in kidnapping.
No. There were issues of security and do not forget that it was a time of heightened militancy. Bayelsa state is like a Jerusalem for all Ijaws. So, Ijaws from all over six states converge in Bayelsa. So, there was that issue. That was why in his good heart, he initiated a security outfit. And that was because, daily, there were incidences, flash-points all over the state. And I tell you, the people that were affected were the criminals, not the genuine militants. Sylva was the first person that wrote a memo to the-then President Umaru Yar-Adua for the initiation of the amnesty programme which we are now enjoying.
Few days ago, the mother of a governorship candidate, Moses Siasia, was kidnapped, four days ago, a prominent Ijaw musician was kidnapped, few weeks ago, the 103-year old mother of a deputy governorship candidate was kidnapped. One month ago, a first-class paramount ruler was kidnapped. Few weeks ago, another first-class ruler was kidnapped. A former general manager of the Electricity Board was kidnapped. All these are happening in this administration. In Sylva’s time, there was issue with security and he stepped in. Sylva went to militant camps to meet with the agitators and he sold the idea of amnesty to the late former president. The problem is that the PDP tries to exaggerate issues. We don’t have to exaggerate issues to paint somebody black. During the campaign of the PDP, I remember former President Goodluck Jonathan saying he “removed” Sylva.
What do you think he would do differently this time?
Sylva, like I said, had a good plan, but there were all sorts of interference. (Imagine) a situation where a governor would not be allowed to choose his commissioners. In his time, we had a situation where the President would have to bring eight commissioners; another person would also bring eight commissioners, a situation where there are interferences from the State House, where there were a lot of gang-ups against him. When I look at somebody like Sylva, I see a man with so much courage but he ensured that we supported our brother even in the heat of being maligned. We had a state in Bayelsa where people consume and don’t produce. Sylva was the first governor that planted an industry. In two days of opening that industry, N5 million worth of plastic was sold.
Are you aware that some members of the APC have been decamping to the PDP in the aftermath of the primaries?
Two people have defected and I am aware of that. And on Saturday, three State Working Committee members of the PDP defected to the APC; two Special Advisers decamped to APC. Last week, Commissioner for Lands decamped to APC. Even before that, a Special Adviser decamped to APC. Let’s stay on the point and say the truth.
What do we make of the EFCC case against Sylva?
For the EFCC, until he is proven guilty, the man is innocent and has right to contest.
Do you think this election would be credible?
It would be free, fair and credible. The people who know how to use outfits against the people in the state do not have the control anymore. They used it against me when I contested for the House of Representatives under the PDP and the governor used them to stop me from entering my own town to contest the primaries where they had all the names in the delegate list. I came with credibility, but for the fear of the fact that people would see me and change their minds, I was stopped at the boarder from entering my own local government headquarters.
This same local government headquarters is what APC had to do the road in preparation for our flag-off, where we do not have light and where my father was chairman 30 years ago and the things he did are the things that are still there. We thought as a people that we were bringing the government to our place to attract huge investment to the place. But I tell you, for those who say we are betraying our brother, Sylva may be a good friend and a good friend is better than a bad brother.
One of the two dividends we would have had includes the College of Education that was removed from Sylva’s place to Sagbama and as I speak now, the state government has not put one block in that College of Education. The next would have been the General Hospital. It was built inside a water trump and that place is always flooded. Sylva has said he is not like them and would not remove the College of Education back to his place. Instead, he would develop it.
The post EFCC: Sylva Remains Innocent — Bribena appeared first on Nigeria News today & Breaking news | Read on NAIJ.COM.
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