It is beginning to look like an endless orgy of verbal attacks between two leaders in Bayelsa State. The current, Seriake Dickson and his predecessor, Chief Timipre Sylva have been on each other’s neck for so long.
Their indeterminate war of words, perhaps, could be traced to 2007 when Sylva became governor and accused Dickson of embezzling N150 million meant for the supply of books to the state library during his days as the attorney general and commissioner for Justice. The accusation lingered until the court exonerated Dickson. That episode may have set the tone for the vicissitude that has refused to abate between the two Izon brothers.
When Dickson came in as governor in 2012, his restoration government also accused Sylva of allegedly running the state aground and leaving it in a state of heavy indebtedness through acquisition of huge foreign loans. Another strong criticism levelled against the Sylva government was the use of Operation Famou-Tamgbei, a security outfit set up by the administration, to ‘kill and throw away’, any suspected criminal.
The restoration government also took Sylva through a tortuous legal battle to explain how he allegedly acquired over 42 landed properties across the world. As it was for Dickson, the court also discharged and acquitted Sylva.
Sylva, on his part, has continued to describe Dickson as the orchestrator of all violence in the state but has a penchant for blaming it on him and his political party. Sylva has equally accused Dickson of receiving close to a trillion naira since he became governor and has also taken foreign loans. These and many other accusations and counter accusations have been the only common feature between the two.
For close to two decades now, there has been no love lost between the two political giants. Their views and ideas about the leadership of Bayelsa state are always at variance. They are like two opposite forces continually pulling against each other. There is a boundless parallel line that runs in between each other’s style of politics.
In fact, the saying that in politics there are no permanent enemies but permanent interest does not seem to be a truism in the case of Dickson and Sylva. No mediator has been diplomatic and tactical enough to make the duo see reasons for reconciliation. The politics of bitterness, rancour and acrimony takes the centre stage whenever the two leaders are politically entwined to make statements on issues concerning Bayelsa state.
Indeed, they spare no toxic words when it comes to releasing insulting missiles at each other. No derogatory statements are considered unusable whenever they want to abuse themselves. Sometimes, they behave like women who are married to one man and struggling to have more of the man’s attention.
Some of such recent verbal attacks were during and after the general elections where both leaders pointed accusing fingers at each other over electoral violence. Dickson described the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by Sylva as not a political party but a killer and terrorist organization. Sylva in his reaction called Dickson the author of violence that plays the complainant game.
Similarly, governor Dickson in a media chat recently referred to the former governor as a criminal that would be retired from the next governorship contest. Swiftly too, Sylva fired back at his political foe, noting that Dickson was making such ‘infantile’ claims to salvage his ‘battered integrity’.
The questions Bayelsans are asking are: when will these two great Izon brothers and leaders sheathe their swords and see themselves as partners in progress, irrespective of their political affiliations? Is this brand of politics exemplary for younger politicians? Is it healthy for Democracy?