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Election 2015


4 December 2015

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BAYELSA GUBERNATORIAL POLL: THE BATTLE OF TWO SHARKS

By Chinedu Agbebire

On the 5th of December 2015, Bayelsa state will conduct its gubernatorial election. But there is little choice between the main contestants. Both the incumbent Governor Sirake Dickson and the immediate former governor Timipre Sylva are callous and unrepentant capitalist representatives who have emerged as the candidates of the two major anti-poor political parties in Nigeria; the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress respectively.

Timipre Sylva, who came to power in 2007, was stoned out of power in 2012 by angry Bayelsans in protest at the gross mismanagement of state funds, the orgy of violence gangarsterism and many more anti people policies that characterized his administration. A desire for change saw Sylva replaced with Sirake Dickson in 2012, but unfortunately the replacement has been nothing but a turning of the other flip of the coin. Instead of Sirake Dickson bringing the desired change to Bayelsans he put the state into a continual degenerating condition. Between 2012, when he was elected into power, and now nothing has happened. The plight of Bayelsans has rather gone from bad to worse.

Under his watch the state further plummeted in all ramifications of human endeavour. No good roads, no electricity , no quality education, no infrastructure, no good health care and no employment for the teeming youths of Bayelsa which consequentially increased crime and criminality in the state. Sirake Dickson's tenure is a big sham like the previous governors. Even the much hyped and touted free education for primary and secondary schools in the state is nothing but a ruse. Bayelsa state is one of the states that is poorly funded and in chronic shortage of staff. Some schools don't even have basic and compulsory subject teachers like mathematics and English language. The governor has only succeeded in executing white elephant projects just like his colleagues across federation. The few executed projects were the ones with bloated figure with no economic purpose other than serving as conduit pipe to siphon the state treasury. This is the horrible and pitiable image Bayelsa state, the land of all glory.

The poverty rate alongside mortality rate has risen abysmally. Many poor people of Bayelsa have been further been pushed back to poverty line. Even the state civil servants and pensioners are not having it easy. It was reported few months ago in the media of a tragic death of a state civil servant who committed suicide after 13 months of unpaid salary. Such is the untold nightmare of many bayelsa state civil servants and pensioners who have been caught in the fry pan of vicious capitalist government of Sirake Dickson.

Many people are understandably desperate for change. But such change cannot be offered by the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate, Timipre Sylva, given his past and present record. Sylva whose administration coincided with the period of oil boom had better opportunity to develop the state. Unfortunately this opportunity was squandered on the altar of greed and lucre. The administration opulent and luxurious life style eventually plunged the state into an endless pit of indebtedness of about N500 billion.

The choice of Sylva as the candidate of All Progressive Congress for this election shows how vacuous and insincere is the change slogan and anti-corruption "body language" of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is a man who faces serious allegation of gross misconduct and mismanagement of the whopping sum of N19.2 billion, the money meant to offset workers salary. The penury and staggering state of Bayelsa is an irreconcilable and embarrassing contradiction given that Bayelsa is one of the richest states in Nigeria with the lowest number of Local Government Areas. Unfortunately, the state has been tied by the apron string of the self-serving capitalism by its successive governments which make the economic development of the state impossible.

Against the foregoing this is never a good time for the Bayelseans. Unless Bayelseans organize a struggle for their demands the December 5th gubernatorial election will be the beginning of another four wasteful years of resources and collective wealth of Bayelsa. Already people are no longer deceived by both PDP and APC empty rhetoric. They have known them for the ruination they stand for and whom they are. This can be best understood given the political apathy that has characterized the political atmosphere of the state. According to Mr. Sunny Orji, a business man in Yenogoa, the state capital "if the race is between Timipre Sylva and Sirake Dickson, then on the day of the election, I would rest in my house. If you ask me I will say I don't want any of them to come back to govern this state again because they disappointed Bayelsans when they had the opportunity to move this forward." This is likewise the opinion of millions of Bayelsans who feel trapped between these two fat sharks.

As earlier stated the state is trapped between two sharks. The two sharks will do everything possible to capture the state so as to continue the loot. The power of incumbency and federal might has entered into combat. Whichever way the pendulum swings, there is no alternative than to build a mass working people alternative that can end the apathy, start a struggle for real change and that could open the way to win political power for enthronement of a working people government on a socialist program not only in Bayelsa but also nationally. This would ensure the utilisation of the resources of the society in a planned manner for the betterment of all as against self-serving as a step towards total demolition of capitalism that produced Timipre Sylva, Sirake Dickson and their likes nationally.