By Ebitare Singene
Unlike past administrations inÂ Â Bayelsa State, the political dynamics and plot to discredit the state governor, Chief Timipre Sylva has deepened in the past few days with alleged cases of non-performance and fiscal irresponsibility being whipped up by politicians opposed to the present administrations in the state.
In less thanÂ a few weeks, the opposition against Governor Sylva style of governance and financial management had taken a different dimension, sentiments areÂ whipped up, there are cases of alleged fraud in the state government,Â this has also provoked the unceremonious exit of some indicted members of the State Executive Council, SEC.
There are alsoÂ claims ofÂ involvement of the Governor in plot to stop the ascension of the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to the position of the Acting President and the alleged transfer of an unspecified amount of money leading to the controversial invitation of some officials of the state government.Â Much as the issues raised can be contested some observers both within and outside the state,Â are of the believe that the allegation are propaganda targeted at the person of Governor Sylva, to discredit him before Bayelsans.
In spite of the excruciating financial inadequacies of the state occasioned by the past activities of militants and the global financial melt down experience within the last two years the GovernorÂ had put in place institutions and proactiveÂ machinery for sustainable governance of the state. Such policies, according to experts andÂ some prominent persons in the state has necessitated the commendable ratings of the State Income and Transparency initiatives by the World Banks and other notable institutions.
In a visitÂ to the state in September last year, a team of executives from the World Bank took a critical review of the budget execution report of the State government on fiscal developments, short and medium term strategies to address development of internal audit and management acts,Â they concluded that the data provided by the state is commendable. The World Bank team visit, according to a report, was done under the Technical Assistance Mission which had earlier visited the state in March, 2009, with a deep look at the details of Chart of Accounts and revised Finance control and Management Act.
The World Bank team Led by Mr. Volker Treichel, after a review of relevant data provided by the State the visiting financial expert had noted that there has been significant progress by the government in carrying out an Environmental Scanning of the state capital with a view to establishing a more solid tax base. The commended the staff biometrics capture exercise embarked by the Due Process Bureau and also commended the Public Accounts Committee of the State House of Assembly for clearing all backlogs of audited reports.
A review of the performance of the Governor by the visits of experts and indigenous professionals showed that the scenario being painted about the state may not be totally true but done to put the State Governor on the defense and reduce his political acceptance to the people of the state. In an information chart offered by the State Information Ministry, the state Governor had, within the last three years, executed major road projects within the state capital and the local government areas.
According to the data, the present administration was able to activate a proactive plan that witnessed the completion of projects such as the new gas turbine, the State owned Television station, Glory Land Television, the beautiful edifice and government lodge known as the Glory Land castle, the award and completion of the 37 internal road projects, the Opolo cottage hospital, the completion of the erstwhile Ikoli Bridge now Goodluck Jonathan Bridge in the Swali area of the state. While the administration of Chief Sylva completed the State Judiciary Building and the Peace Park , the redesigning of the 500-bed hospital was another effort to re-activate and re-position the health care delivery facility in the state.
Political analyst, however, noted that the issue of the adoption of a new fiscal responsibility strategy through the establishment of the Due Process and e-governance bureau headed by a former Civil right activist and good governance advocate, Mr. Von Kemedi and the blockage of loose financial loop holes noticeable during past administrations, contributed to the call for the head of the state Governor.
The issue of accountability and probity led to the staff verification exercise in the state which led to the discovery of a conduit pipe to the tune of N3billion from the state treasury. The political will shown by the present administration, with a result showing that 7,265 employees failed the exercise and a total of 11,132 were â€˜ghost workersâ€™ with a projected savings of N293.7 million per month and N3.524 billion annually. ThoughÂ most people have stillÂ refused to accept this achievement of the State Government, it however argued the indisposition the progress by the present administration will bring out the best from the Governor. If the issue of power generation and distribution is a basis for the rating of successive administrations in the State, the administrations of Sylva has scored a plus. In the estimation of the people, the years of failed efforts to solve the persistent power failures had created a sense of despondency in the people over the issue of misappropriation of funds meant for the procurement of the needed Gas Turbines to power the state under the past administrations in the state.
The Era of incessant power supply failure, has become history with the installation of three gas turbines worth N7.6billion by the state government. TheÂ GovernorÂ as part of his administrations reform agenda, announced that the existing and refurbished 20 mega watts would be supported at the Immirigi power station by another 20 mega watts, while another 40 mega watts is billed to be installed during the second phase at the Gbarain axisÂ to assist the generation and distribution of power to every quarters of the state.
President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua in his commendation on the government effort at improving the power situation in the state compared the Governor Sylva administrationâ€™s effort to the 6,000 mega watts target at the national level. Politically, the battle for the control of the State PDP structures in the State has pitched the Governor against the opposing camps in a build up to the next election and the group poised to win back the confidence of the people as the economy of the state hopes to pick up.
The Governor has pushed behind him the reported division between him and his Deputy, Peremobowei Ebebi. The problem, as claimed, seems to have solidified the relationship between the duos. Many politicians in the state and loyalist of the state Governor are arguing that the rising cases of smear campaign against the present administration are geared towards rendering the candidature of the governor for second term as unmarketable for the next general election. But some of the close aides to the Governor including the Leaders of political groups such as Chief Richard Kpodo (Concerned Bayelsans for Timipre Sylva) and Mr. Jude Tabai (Credible Sylva Movement) have insisted that â€œno amount of blackmail and treachery against the state government and its people can stop the call on the governor to accept the second term bidâ€. Governor Timipre Sylva, in one of his public function, allude to the pressure but insisted that he will remain firm in the defence of the ideals and trust of his administration,â€ I will continue to make amend where necessary and build bridges across political and ethnic lines.â€
The Director-General of State Tourism and Publicity Bureau, Mr. Nathan Egba denied such claim that the Governor was against the making of the Vice President as Acting President. In his chat with selected media chiefs in Yenagoa, Mr. Egba said he really does not need to do any thing about such stories.
He said, â€œask your self, what Governor Sylva can really do to stop the Vice President from being the acting President of the country in a situation where the Vice President must become the acting President? If, for instance, the President cannot come back immediately to perform his function properly because of his health, is it not only proper that the Vice President becomes the acting President? Can Governor Sylva then stop him in that kind of situation?â€
â€œOr if the Senate in its wisdom, in the course of the current debate that is going on, eventually pass a motion to say that the Vice President be sworn-in to be acting until such a time that the President comes back and is strong enough to take over his responsibility, can Governor Sylva stop that Senate resolution from being implemented? The courts have recently passed a ruling calling on the Federal Executive Council to make a statement on the state of the Presidentâ€™s health in 14 days.â€
â€œNow if at the end of the these 14 days, let supposed that the FEC actually come up with a resolution saying, yes, in the present state of the President, he is not strong enough to rule the country until such a time he gets better and so we believe that the Vice President should be made acting President, can Governor Sylva go and overturn such FEC decision? Or is there any where in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where – I stand to be corrected- Governors have a role in deciding whether or not the Vice President should be installed the acting President?â€Â Egba tried to offer reasons why the State Governor and the entire state cabinet were silent on the issue of Vice Presidentâ€™s ascension to Acting President capacity, “the reason is rather obvious. As you know the Vice President is from the Bayelsa State , and by the nature of Nigeria â€˜s politics, Bayelsa, and indeed Bayelsans, will automatically be the primary beneficiaries of a Jonathan presidency.
â€œSo, it is a very sensitive time and period. For us from Bayelsa state, as much as we are interested and as much as we would like it to come to be – because there is nobody who does not like a good thing – we want to also be sure that we do not do things or say things that will jeopardise the natural cause of event. Because, as you know, the circumstances are not particularly the way they ought to be.
â€œ So we donâ€™t want to start talking, we donâ€™t want to start pushing, we donâ€™t want to start agitating and making it look as if it is an agenda that we had planned from the beginning. But at Godâ€™s own time, if it comes to be, definitely, we shall be there to give him all the support and the encouragementâ€. he added.