APC and Bayelsa Guber Election: Between David Lyon and Timipre Sylva
A statement by the Progressive Consultative Forum (PCF) of Bayelsa State on the forthcoming governorship election in the state
With the Independent National Electoral Commission’s resolution to hold Bayelsa and Kogi and Imo states off-cycle governorship election on the 11th of November, 2023, intra-party scheming has already commenced within the leading political parties in the state.
INEC’s spokesman, Festus Okoye, recently announced that the tenure of the Governor of Imo state will end on the 14th of January 2034, Kogi 26th of January 2024 and Bayelsa state ends 13th of February 2024 respectively.
The commission also decided to conduct the three elections on Saturday 11th November 2023, in line with section 178(1) and (2) of the 1999 constitution which mandates INEC to “conduct such elections not earlier than 150 days and not latest than 30 days before the expiration of the term of the last holder of the office.
For Bayelsa, a state with an uncanny voting pattern, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has to come to terms with the political ambition of two main contenders, Chief Timipre Sylva and Chief David Lyon. Though we gathered that no fewer than six aspirants purchased the expression of intention and nomination forms for the party’s ticket for the Bayelsa State Governorship election held on the 11th of November 2023.
It will be recalled that Sylva, a former governor of the state, failed in his bid to seek re-election. He contested and lost. It is on record that the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources only won in one of the eight local government areas of the state.
Bayelsa has a reputation for not being a one-party state, as its people vote according to the exigencies of the time. In 2007, Sylva, who contested the governorship on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won to succeed Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2019, there was a dramatic swing towards the APC, as the party’s gubernatorial candidate, David Lyon, won by a large margin but due to an alleged forgery case involving his deputy-elect nominated by Timipre Sylva, PDP’s Douye Diri was declared by the Supreme court and Lyon disqualified before his inauguration.
Party faithful in the State will attest to the fact that as soon as Lyon’s victory was upturned, the Minister tactically played down Lyon’s popularity, took over the party and led the party to disunity and crisis. One of the many sins of the Minister includes disobedience to court orders on the party executives at the ward-to-state levels.
It is on record that Sylva’s leadership style sprang up grievances in the party, members decamped to other political parties and the state gravitated towards the Labour Party (LP). This was evident in the Presidential election of 25 February 2023. And it explained why all the APC national assembly candidates performed woefully.
It is in light of this sad development in our party, that we members of the Progressive Consultative Forum (PCF) of Bayelsa state, wish to stem down the tide and reclaim the state back for APC. We are also committed to using the November 11 governorship election in the state to push the state back to the progressive camp.
It is our considered opinion that for the APC to make an appreciable impact at the polls and win the governorship seat, the party must put forward its best and the most acceptable candidate, while also ensuring that it goes into the elections with a united force to defeat the ruling PDP and the emerging LP.
It is our candid opinion that Chief Sylva, at this point, could not be considered APC’s best choice in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
Sylvia’s political inconsistency in recent times made him unfit for the party’s ticket.
He had surreptitiously indicated his interest to vie for Nigeria’s presidency, and lacking the courage to resign his appointment as Minister and go for it, he buckled at the primaries. But, his presidential interest was not lost on the party’s power brokers and the electorates in Bayelsa who have noted his lack of guts.
In a similar vein, his refusal to resign from his current position as the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources a month before the party’s primaries as required by the Electoral Act is a legal lacuna.
Akin to his indecisiveness at the presidential primaries, Sylva has again shown a visible lack of courage to do the needful at the right time but went on to join the power brokers to carry on a spoiler game.
APC’s governorship primary is scheduled to take place on the 10th of April, 2023. All political appointees interested in the party’s primary ought to have resigned their appointments on or before the 10th of March, 2023.
We make bold to say that as of today, 17th of March, 2023, the Minister is yet to turn in his resignation letter. That was a legal requirement that must be satisfied, and refusal to act by the provision of the law would be a fatal blow to his ambition and the party’s electoral fortune in the state.
In light of this development, the entire leadership and members of the Progressive Consultative Forum of Bayelsa State wish to strongly warn the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to make such a grievous mistake.
The party should not toy with such obvious facts for floating a candidate who has such an open legal deficiency that could be exploited by opposition parties in a court of law.
In terms of popularity, while Sylva appears to have lost favour with the electorates in Bayelsa, Lyon has been a philanthropist, and a bridge builder who has proved to be at home with the populace including the physically challenged and the fatherless. David Lyon is the love of Bayelsa state.
What the people of Bayelsa state need now is a practical politician like David Lyon who has indeed touched the lives of people positively including youth, women and the less privileged.
We have it on good authority that members of the All Progressives Congress who decamped to other political parties are earnestly waiting for Lyon to return to the poll for them to come back to their party the APC.
Lyon won convincingly against the ruling PDP in the 2019 governorship election despite the incumbent factor. He trounced the incumbent governor, Seriake and Diri at the election in 2019, but the
Supreme Court nullified the election after voiding the candidacy of his deputy governorship candidate, Sen. Biobarakuma Degi- Eriemienyo, against whom a case of forgery was established, going by the documents he presented to INEC.
If David LYON had a winning formula in 2019, it is wise and reasonable to expect him to have the same in 2023. He has even asked the party for the right of first refusal for the governorship ticket.
APC ought to have learnt a good political lesson. The party should conduct a hitch-free primary, with all it’s qualified aspirants, without those having a legal lacuna, in order to ensure a level playing ground for all contestants and work towards the emergence of the most credible and generally acceptable candidate, through investigative politics at the end of the exercise.
Wilberforce Waribote, Director General (PCF), 17th March 2023.