The support base of Timipre Sylva, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate is shrinking by the day as his loyalists are leaving in droves, party members say.
As the Bayelsa State governorship election, scheduled for November 11, 2023, gets closer, panic has hit the camp of Sylva whose supporters are ditching him for the incumbent, Governor Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP).
The APC governorship candidate’s dilemma is believed to be worsened by the reluctance of the national leadership of his party to support his campaign financially.
Only recently, a close political ally of Sylva, who is also an immediate past member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Israel Sunny Goli, dumped him for the PDP, over what was described as “irreconcilable differences”.
Similarly, the platform of former legislators from 1999 till date declared their support for Governor Diri. The vote of confidence on the incumbent was moved by a former ally of Sylva, Honourable Robert Enogha and seconded by Right Honourable Werinipre Seibarugu, former acting governor and one-time deputy governor to Sylva.
A close associate of Sylva, who asked to be anonymous, noted that Sylva could lose by a huge margin to Diri. “If care is not taken, the way Sylva is going about it, Sylva and his supporters may be plunged into political oblivion and ultimately be retired from the Bayelsa political space, because the events of the past are hunting him and his followers.
The source recalled how Sylva led a team of his supporters to meet the national chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Ganduje, to raise N11 billion to support his campaign.
The source claimed that “The team met a brick wall as the chairman was not enthusiastic about the idea. Rather than buying into the idea as the usual practice during a serious election like the governorship election, he mockingly threw the task back to Sylva by giving him the task to first list the number of persons he had empowered in his state. Sylva and his team were given one hour to do that, while Ganduje waited to no avail and they left the national chairman’s residence with forlorn faces and utter disappointment.”
Another source further expressed disappointment that APC supporters in Bayelsa State are frightened by the daily depletion of supporters, many of whom have pitched tents with the PDP.
The indicators, according to the sources, are gloomy for the APC, so long as free and fair election is conducted in the state.
It would be recalled that in the past couple of weeks, the media has been agog with reports about the desperation of the APC governorship candidate to win at all costs.
Accusing fingers pointed in his direction over plans to use BVAS machines without appropriate codes as well as co-opt fake policemen and INEC officials to do his bidding.
He has also reportedly tried unsuccessfully to drag the Presidency into his campaign, trying to enlist the support of the Chief of Staff to the President, Right Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila.
Some party chieftains in Bayelsa also claim that Sylva is hell-bent on returning the state to its dark days during his “five-year reign of terror”. Remember, the bombing of political opponent rallies, the unexplained death of the younger brother of his late ADC whom we gathered was ready to cooperate with the police.
A prominent community leader from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, burst in anger while condemning his choice of a deputy from a local government that produced the first graduate in the person of late Chief N. A Frank Opigo. “Southern Ijaw people are appalled at the APC’s choice of a deputy governorship candidate, whose credentials are well known to be questionable. What an insult to our collective sensibilities”?
A youth leader, Atori Godswill voiced the question on the lips of the vast majority of Bayelsans, is there any interest the former Minister of State for petroleum has other than coming to sell the state just as he was accused of revoking the state most priced asset, the Atala Oil Field OML 46 which is the common patrimony of the land of his birth?
OML 46 is the marginal oil field allocated to Bayelsa State during the resource control agitations. Rather than protect it for his state, Sylva allegedly revoked its license and reallocated it to a company that was only incorporated in September 2019 with no single asset or experience using fake receipts and unverifiable investment claims. These are some of the baggage the APC has to contend with in the days ahead of the election.