By Sam Ekpe
An appraisal of the literature on the life and activities of this 55-year-old 0man reveals a life packed full of activities, vigour, dynamism, enthusiasm, foresight and leadership skills.
Born on July 7, 1964, in Okpoma, Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, he started primary education at St. Paul’s Anglican School Okpoma and finished at Ajeromi Central School Lagos in 1976.
After secondary school at Government Secondary School, Brass he secured admission into the University of Port Harcourt where he studied English Language/Linguistic.
He served the nation for one year (mandatory National Youth Service Corps, NYSC,) at Shell Petroleum Development Co. Ltd in Warri and started his career with the National Minority Business Council, Port Harcourt. As the Executive Secretary, he ensured the creation of employment opportunities for his people.
It is said that a goldfish has no hiding place. His people soon discovered the potentials in him and elected him into the Rivers State House of Assembly in 1991 on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
His tenure in the House was however short-lived as the late Sani Abacha ousted the regime of Chief Ernest Shonekan. Thereafter, he went into private business.
When the ban on politics was lifted, he became a founding member of the United Nigeria Congress Party, UNCP, which he served as a state Financial Secretary.
He later joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and became Political Adviser to former Governor DSP Alamaesigha until 2002 when he resigned.
As fate would have it, he became the Special Assistant to the then Minister of State Petroleum Resources between May 2007 and April 2008 before he was elected Governor of Bayelsa State and served from May 27, 2008, to January 27, 2012.
He has numerous achievements to his credit when he presided over the affairs of Bayelsa State include: Completion of Rivers State Judiciary Complex, Completion of Government House Phase II, Construction of Transparency Building, Yenagoa Business Office, Construction of Modern UBE Schools across communities, Construction of 52 Link Roads in Yenagoa Metropolis, Construction of New House of Assembly Estate, building and furnishing of multi-billion naira Glory Land Castle, construction of new House of Assembly Estate, and new Commissioners Estate among others.
His administration employed over 8,000 youths in Bayelsa Volunteers from all the eight Local Government Areas in the state and ensured payment of salaries and promotion of public servants when due and ensured other welfare schemes for public servants. Sylva’s administration also attracted the Nigerian Law School to Yenagoa, built and furnished the School and established a Special Fund for the construction of New and Upgrade of Existing facilities in the Law School, to meet the required standards stipulated by the Council for Legal Studies. The administration further provided ICT Training for Bayelsans in Advanced Computer Programmes in India, initiated the Amnesty Programme to boost the security of the state and its economy. Other federal projects Sylva’s Administration attracted to Bayelsa State include Federal University Otueke, Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education, and connection of Bayelsa State to the National Grid.
As earlier stated, he had served as Special Assistant to a former Petroleum Minister in the past. Although he was massively prevailed upon by some critical stakeholders in Bayelsa State to enter the political contest and run for the governorship election in the November 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari, having decided to avail the nation of his service.
Of course, the challenges are enormous given the unstable price of crude oil in the international market, the inadequate quantity of refined petroleum products by the country’s refineries due to the state of our refineries, activities of oil bunkerers, pirates and militant activities and even the fact that the country has to consider alternatives to oil since electricity and other sources of energy are now about to make oil lose its cash flow status few years hence.
These tasks are quite demanding as Sylva assists President Buhari in directing affairs of this major revenue earner of the country.
However, it is said that when the going is tough the tough get going.
Sylva has gone through thick and thin in the Nigerian political environment. He has seen it all, through blackmail, betrayals, conspiracy theories, deceit, false allegations, and media trial.
But, as asserted by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, after darkness comes the glorious dawn. The glorious dawn is certainly coming for Chief Timipre Sylva, the young but old warhorse in the political waters of the Niger Delta region.
*Sam Ekpe is an Abuja based Media Consultant