Bayelsa state will soon become the focus of all political eyes. The people of Bayelsa state will go to the polls in December, this year, to elect the fifth executive governor that will run the affairs of the state, after Governor Seriake Dickson's exit on February 14, 2020.
The political game is becoming more interesting. Interested aspirants are beginning to burst out of their cocoons and are putting spanners to work so as to clinch power.
While there are an array of interested persons on the side of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, working underground to succeed Dickson, the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, is equally not resting on its oars in its bid to take over the oil rich state.
From our checks, one man that has not lost focus on his second mission to the Creek Haven on the platform of the APC is the former governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Sylva ruled the riverine state under the PDP from 2007 to 2012, following the nullification of his first election by the Supreme Court and his subsequent re-election as ordered by the apex court.
After the expiration of his first term in 2012, Sylva was denied ticket by the PDP to contest for a second term. The party decided to give its flag to the outgoing governor.
Following that bitter political experience, the former governor decided to shift political camp and defected to the APC where he has remained till this moment.
Since then, he has repeatedly accused the PDP in the state of stealing his mandate and vowed to reclaim it. There has been no love lost between the ex-governor and his successor.
In 2015 when Bayelsa was due for a governorship election, the Okpoama born politician succeeded in picking his party's ticket and presented himself to the electorate.
Indeed, it was a fierce political battle between Dickson who was seeking to be re-elected and Sylva who wanted to succeed his successor.
During the 2015 governorship campaigns, the two leading political parties adopted different political slogans aimed at swaying the electorate for victory.
While the APC preached prosperity, the PDP adopted restoration of peace as its master stroke. While the APC promised to eradicate poverty in Bayelsa state and replace it with prosperity, the ruling party took time to present Operation Famou-Tamgbei, a security outfit set up by the then Sylva administration as the monster that committed genocide against Bayelsans.
At the end of the election, Dickson won amidst rejection of the polls by the opposition party, which cited rigging and sundry irregularities.
Not satisfied with the outcome of the election, Sylva and his party headed for the election Tribunal and engaged the ruling party on a tortuous legal battle up to the Supreme Court, but lost the battle at last.
Despite losing the election, Sylva has been expressing vehement ambition to return to the seat of power. One particular statement he has reiterated is "Bayelsa state is owing me a 4-years tenure". He has also described the present administration as "rats in Government House" that would noon be chased out.
Though the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is yet to open campaigns, the body language of the Opuabade 1 suggests that he is prepared to stage a comeback.
For instance, there is a particular poster that has gone ubiquitous on the streets of Yenagoa and also trending on the social media. At the top right of the poster is an inscription which reads: "#A BETTER BAYELSA COMING".
Directly under the above inscription is another one which reads: "Loading..." At the bottom of the poster is yet another inscription which reads: "@The servant leader". Graphically watermarked is a smiling face of Sylva.
Many Bayelsans believe that the said poster is a strong indication that the former governor may have thrown his hat into the ring, indirectly sending signals to his opponents to be ready for his political furry.
Sylva sent some signals to the ruling party during the just concluded presidential, national and state assemblies elections in the state.
His party, clinched Sylva's senatorial district seat and won his federal constituency as well as the Southern Ijaw federal constituency. The APC also won four state house of assembly seats during the polls, an unprecedented feat in the history of APC in the state.
Some citizens spoke to TNN concerning the next gubernatorial election.
Mr. Joel Opukeme said: "Chief Timipre Sylva is going to be the next governor of Bayelsa State, there is no two ways about it. What happened in 2015 cannot happen this time.
"If you can recall, the 2015 governorship election came with a lot of sentiments against Sylva in the sense that most people supported the PDP not because of their candidate but because of the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who lost a presidential election that same year.
"The PDP used that sentiment against Sylva because they propagated the PDP as though it was a party of the Ijaw people. It was a mere propaganda to win the election. That propaganda cannot work this time because Bayelsa does not belong to any political party and the people know it better now".
Another electorate who gave his name as Inemo Olayefa has this to say: "the PDP used Operation Famou-Tamgbei to campaign against Sylva. If I may ask, is the security situation in Yenagoa better off now? To me, Operation Famou-Tamgbei was better because it was dealing with the bad boys.
“The issue of insecurity that they used against Sylva was a propaganda machinery for the purpose of convincing the electorate to vote against him. As far as I am concerned, the security situation in the state right now is worse than ever before."