by Olarenwaju Oguntoyibo
I have been asking myself the question: “Is Bayelsa leading the race?” since the day I read the news about the 48 houses of former governor of Bayelsa state, Timpriye Sylva in Abuja… wow, 48 houses?
One morning in the third week of November 2005, the story which made most headlines was that of the then governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha. The chief had jumped bail. And not just that, he had to dress like a woman to escape from United Kingdom into a neighboring country from where he found his way back to Bayelsa and resumed duty as the Executive Governor and Chief Security officer of Bayelsa State, as if nothing had happened. Thank goodness that the hammer of President Obasanjo fell on him.
Recently news came of Ex-Governor Timipreye Sylva of Bayelsa, who had been under the hidden investigations of EFCC, but couldn’t be prosecuted due to his immunity as governor and his declared (prior to 2011 PDP presidential primary election) loyalty to President Jonathan. Unfortunately for Timi, GEJ doesn’t keep to agreements and doesn’t forgive his political enemies.
Bayelsa changed Nigeria’s polity. Without doubt because of Bayelsa State, government made judiciary ordered elections in 5 states. Anti-graft agencies accused Sylva of siphoning state funds under false pretence through several banks accounts and bureau de change agent between 2009 and 2010 when he held sway as governor of the oil rich Bayelsa state.
About N2 billion worth of properties were converted by Sylva and a further N380 million, and 20 million were also converted separately under similar circumstances within the same period according to the EFCC. Governor Sylva was also alleged to have asked Union Bank to provide a N2 billion overdraft under the false pretence of augmenting state workers’ salaries.
Now another Bayelsa son and former governor is the President of Nigeria, and international observers and agencies have tagged this government as one of the most corrupt in Nigeria’s history, in fact the President according to report has been named as the most cursed president in the world, who can’t fight corruption.
Technocrats explain that his policies are misplaced priorities. His cabinet is one of the most corrupt in Nigeria’s history. In his tenure, insecurity, corruption and deteriorated infrastructure are leading the race. Also tribal and religious sentiments are growing among Nigerians.
President Jonathan, on several occasions was accused of travelling abroad with many aides to foreign conferences that won’t have any positive effect on common Nigerians. He budgetted N3 million for his daily feeding. His political allies are accused of stealing N1.7 trillion subsidy funds which was allegedly supervised by the Minister of Petroleum Allison Madueke and no human is yet to be jailed for the theft.
So many of President Jonathan’s programs are said to be fraudulent; the Sure P ( The Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Program) is a good example. This is one of the conduit pipes employed to fritter away public funds and a perpetration of the legacy of failed promises that Nigerians have become accustomed to. After the partial removal of fuel subsidy in January of 2012, President Jonathan set-up Christopher Kolade’s led committee to manage proceeds from the fuel subsidy removal. But instead of living up to people’s expectations, the committee has been duplicating projects and defrauding the nation by making double payments for projects already embarked upon and financed by various ministries and agencies. The House of Representative recently declared the program as fraud.
These developments from Bayelsa leaders got me thinking if there are no sincere, non corrupt but accused leaders in/from Bayelsa state? A state with just eight Local Governments. The state seen as one of the region’s poorest despite the huge wealth that has seen multiple administrations controlling nearly a trillion naira since the return of democracy in 1999.
All the former civilian governors of the state after leaving public offices had faced corruption charges apart from President Jonathan, who also blamed Mr. Sylva of too much of the ills the state is facing. While accusing his successor Sylva of neglecting the Hotel project started by his predecessor Chief Alameiyeigha, President Jonathan suggested that missiles, stones, pure water (sachet water) and rotten eggs should be thrown at corrupt public officers.
President Jonathan didn’t complete his tenure as Bayelsa Governor before he was nominated as the running mate to Umaru Musa Yar’dua, he later became President while Yar’dua was incapacitated. With the dismal performance of the incumbent, the Chairperson of the Publicity Committee of the Assembly of Niger Delta; Ibifuro Tatua said; “Sylva didn’t only meet an empty Treasury from President Jonathan, but a huge debt burden, which Sylva refused to disclose publicly for the sake of decency and respect for his kinsman and predecessor.”
At this juncture, I believe I’m on point if I declare that elected Nigeria’s (Bayelsa particularly) leaders are promoted above their highest level of mental capacity, because with the huge revenue from Federal Government, there’s no reason why Bayelsa should still be ranked as one of the poorest states in Nigeria.
So tell me, Is Bayelsa state leading the race as the state that has produced record breaking number of corrupt political office holders?
Drop comments below and engage Lanre (@lanreneville) to continue the discussion.