By Donu Kogbara
TIMIPRE Sylva, chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, is on a huge giddying roll at the moment because his candidate and protegee, David Lyon, has just became the Governor-Elect of Bayelsa State.
Lyon’s victory will, predictably, be challenged in court by his main competitor, the disappointed PDP candidate, Senator Douye Diri.
Diri’s sponsor, the controversial outgoing Governor Seriake Dickson, is not taking defeat lying down and is insisting that Lyon is the undeserving beneficiary of widespread electoral fraud, wanton violence and shameless misuse of Federal Might.
Lyon and his mentor will also be accused of cheating by Preye Aganaba, who belongs to the same party as Lyon/Sylva and claims that the latter rigged the APC primaries in the former’s favour.
Court cases can go either way, especially in a country that is full of compromised judges, so it’s possible that Lyon and his elated supporters are celebrating prematurely…and that their enemies will soon be the ones who are dancing in the streets of Bayelsa.
But even if Lyon is never sworn in or is sworn in but unceremoniously ejected from the hot seat before he has served a full term, Sylva can – for now at least – be regarded as the most successful APC power broker from an oil-rich state because no other APC power broker from an oil-rich state has been able to “give” APC a governor.
The leader of President Buhari’s Niger Deltan contingent used to be Rotimi Amaechi, the ex-governor of Rivers State and current Minister of Transportation. But Amaechi, despite strenuous efforts, has not been able to deliver his doggedly pro-PDP state to APC.
APC stalwarts in Akwa Ibom, Delta and Cross River have also found it impossible to kick the PDP into touch on their home turfs. I don’t suppose that Sylva’s macho regional rivals will be thrilled to hear him being described as the new “king” of the Niger Delta. But that’s exactly what Sylva is. For now at least.
Can Lyon roar?
Lyon is not a typical gubernatorial candidate, in the sense that he is not well-educated and has no traditional professional backstory.
However, a friend who was an election observer last weekend told me that in the constituencies she monitored, impoverished, unemployed Bayelsan youngsters showed up in droves to vote for Lyon and looked so hopeful as they chatted in polling booth queues about why they were supporting a solid grassroots guy – a pipeline protection contractor who is said to be extremely generous whenever the ordinary folks he grew up with need a helping hand.
So, who knows?
Perhaps this Lyon will roar in a good way! Perhaps his roar will be a strong protest against injustice and echo across the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole! Perhaps he will focus on promoting the interests of the suffering masses!
I’ve never met Lyon and would have preferred a Diri victory because I know/trust Diri – who is responsible, pleasant, schooled and knowledgeable.
But journalists should try to be open-minded; and I’m willing, albeit grudgingly, to consider the possibility that Lyon will – if he survives the legal assaults he is facing – surprise his detractors by hiring capable subordinates to enable him to do a great job.