The jostle for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa will be a two-horse race between a former governor of the state and Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva on one hand and the party’s candidate during the 2019 governorship election, David Lyon, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
A head of next month’s governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, is in a fierce battle with his political ally and the party’s candidate during the 2019 election in the state, Chief David Lyon, to clinch the party’s ticket.
Sylva, who is the leader of APC in the state and controls most of the structures of the party, is also a former governor whose influence in the political equation of the state is overwhelming, while Lyon, who has not been in active politics before 2019 is very popular among the electorates owing to his philanthropic gesture.
The National Working Committee of the APC has already scheduled between April 10 and 14 for the primary elections for Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states where elections where elections would be holding on November 11, 2023.
In 2019, Sylva singlehandedly installed Lyon as the governorship candidate of the party against all odds, The party won that election and Lyon was declared Governor-elect until a day to his swearing in on February 14, 2020 when the Supreme Court annulled his election owing to the confusion in the credentials of his running mate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.
Since after the aborted electoral victory, the friendship between the duo appeared to have hit the rock, until last month when both of them purchased the nomination and expression of interest forms.
Aside from Sylva and Lyon, other chieftains of the party, including Chief Festus Daumiebi, Ogbomade Isikima Johnson, Ongoebi Etebu Maureen and Joshua Maciver, have also obtained the APC forms to contest for the party’s ticket. They have all been screened for the primary, but the contest seems to tilt toward Sylva and Lyon.
Sylva, during a chat with journalists recently, said he has garnered enough experience and competence to return as Bayelsa State governor, saying APC needs somebody like him in the ballot to take over power from the ruling PDP.
He also promised to abide by the decisions of the stakeholders of the party on who would fly the party’s flag during the November 11 governorship election.
The road to clinching the party ticket may not be rosy for Sylva, as the Heineken Lokpobiri faction of the party is also there for the ex-governor to surmount, having been at loggerheads in the pass four years.
Already, a party supporters’ group, ‘Progressives Consultative Forum (PCF)’ has said that Chief Timipre Sylva is unfit to fly the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the coming governorship election.
According to a statement from the group and signed by its chairman, Wilberforce Waribote, Sylva’s refusal to resign from his current position as the Minister of State Petroleum Resources a month before the party’s primaries as required by the Electoral Act is a legal lacuna.
“It is candid opinion that Chief Sylva, at this point, could not be considered APC’s best choice in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.”
“We make bold to say that as at 17th of March 2023, the minister was yet to turn in his resignation letter. That was a legal requirement that must be satisfied, and refusal to act by the provision of the law would be a fatal blow to his ambition and the party’s electoral fortune in the state.
“In light of this development, the entire leadership and members of the Progressive Consultative Forum of Bayelsa State wish to strongly warn the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to make a grievous mistake that will affect the bright prospects of the party at regaining our 2019 mandate.
“In terms of popularity, while Sylva appears to have lost favour with the electorate in Bayelsa, David Lyon has been a philanthropist and a bridge builder who has proven to be at home with the populace, including the physically challenged and fatherless. He is loved and respected by all in Bayelsa State.
“What the people of Bayelsa State need now is a practical politician like David Lyon who has indeed touched the lives of people positively, including youth, women and the less privileged.
“We have it on good authority that members of the All Progressives Congress who decamped to other political parties are earnestly waiting for Lyon to return to the poll for them to come back to their party – the APC.
“It is on record that despite the incumbency factor, Lyon won convincingly against the ruling PDP in the 2019 governorship election. He trounced the incumbent governors Seriake and Diri.
“If David Lyon had a winning formula in 2019, it is wise and reasonable to expect him to have the same in 2023. He has even asked the party for the right of first refusal for the governorship ticket.
“As the party gears up for the April 10 primary, we strongly advise the party to conduct a hitch-free primary, with all its qualified aspirants, without those having a legal lacuna, to ensure a level playing ground for all contestants and to work towards the emergence of the most credible and generally acceptable candidate at the end of the exercise.”
Also, most of the stakeholders of APC in Bayelsa State are of the opinion that Chief David Lyon should be given right of first refusal during the party primary, as he had previously led the party to resounding victory during the 2019 election.
Speaking shortly after purchasing the N50 million Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms for Lyon at the party’s national secretariat, Hon. Marlin Danier said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administration in the state has been gathering religious clerics to pray against the emergence of Chief Lyon as the APC candidate because the PDP knows that more than half its members would defect to the APC should the party chieftain get the ticket.
According to him, Lyon fought bravely and won the last governorship election for the APC, but “the arms of the law were twisted against him and he was denied the opportunity of being the governor of Bayelsa State to save that state.”
“Ordinarily, and under normal circumstances, he was supposed to be given the right of first refusal by the party. Sales of forms are not supposed to be made open because he is the only person that can win the election for APC in Bayelsa State, as it stands now.
“Chief David Lyon has been tested, tried and trusted. As I talk to you, every day, the PDP-led administration is inviting pastors and Imams from different quarters to go and pray that David Lyon will not become the candidate for APC. He is their nightmare. They are comfortable with any other person, but with him, they know they are off. That has been their prayer.
“I can confidently and categorically tell the world that if David Lyon is given the ticket today to represent the party, more than half of the membership of PDP will come back to the APC,” he added.
Also speaking, a former member of the House of Representatives, Dr Stella Dorgu, said APC leaders are out to ensure that no one snatches their victory this time.
She said; “This will be the second time in four years that we will be making this trip to pick up the forms, but most unfortunately, victory was snatched just at the nick of time. And part of the reason was that David Lyon, being true to his name lion, dared to dare the lion in its den.
“We are here to assure Bayelsans that we are ready this time. We have got our work cut out for us. We have put plans in place.”
On his part, first Minority Leader of the Bayelsa House of Assembly, Hon. Indutimi Komonibo, said those who came to pick the forms for Lyon were drawn from different parties.
“We have come today to make history, in the sense that for the first time, Bayelsans across party lines—whether PDP, Labour Party or APC, are asking us ‘when will your party forms come out’? When will APC sell forms? Of course, they asked us if it is David Lyon.
“Irrespective of party affiliation, we are coming to vote for him.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, while speaking with journalists in Yenagoa recently, stated that no political office, including returning as a governor, is beneath his status in the society.
Sylva insisted that no position in public service was too small for him to occupy as far as it was a call to service and meant to provide a platform to contribute to the development of the society.
Sylva said, “We must look at the contributions to society, not to look down on any job as too low. You must see every position as a role that helps the growth of the totality. So, every role is important. I don’t look down on any role, first and foremost.
“If for any reason, the people feel that it is an opportunity for you to contribute to the development of a certain situation, then of course, I don’t see it as something that is beneath me.
“Nothing should be beneath a human being; if it is a call to service and your people feel that you can play that role, then you must. A very senior person called me the other day and said, ‘Look, Bayelsa requires a very steady hand and experience now’. And I can see the need for it.
“On the streets of Bayelsa, I am sure you are not happy because of the mediocrity that is being displayed at the leadership level. Do you want things to continue this way? As far as I am concerned, kingmaker is not a role,” he said.
Also, Chief David Lyon, while submitting his nomination forms, called on the national leadership of the party to give him the right of first refusal ahead of the party’s primary scheduled to hold on April 10.
Lyon said: “With profound gratitude and great humility, I just submitted my nomination and intent form to contest the primaries for the governorship election of Bayelsa State under the platform of our great party, APC.
“Allow me to request our great party APC to grant me the right of first refusal regarding our party’s primaries date as outlined by the national headquarters,” he said.