As the Bayelsa State governorship election, scheduled for November 11, 2023, gets closer, panic has hit the camp of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Timipre Sylva, as his support base is being eroded daily with supporters ditching him for the camp of the incumbent, Senator Douye Diri, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The scenario has also been compounded by the reluctance of the national leadership of the party to support his campaign financially.
Only recently, Sylva’s closest political ally, who is also an immediate past member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Israel Sunny Goli, dumped him for the PDP over what was described as irreconcilable differences.
Also, a few days ago, a platform of former legislators from 1999 till date declared their support for Diri with the motion of vote of confidence moved by a former Sylva’s ally, Hon. Robert Enogha, and seconded by Rt Hon. Werinipre Seibarugu, former acting governor and also a deputy governor to Sylva.
The development is becoming a source of worry to the former minister’s supporters and party leaders in the state.
A close associate of Sylva, who spoke to our reporter in confidence, while taking stock of the political climate in the state ahead of the election, said: “If care is not taken, the way Sylva is going about it, the former governor 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, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, to raise N11 billion to support his campaign.
“The team met a brick wall as the Ganduje was not enthusiastic about the idea. Rather than buying into the idea as the usual practice during a serious election season 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, they left the national chairman’s residence with forlorn faces and utter disappointment.”
Another source further expressed disappointment that APC supporters in the state are frightened by the daily depletion of supporters, defecting in droves to the ruling PDP with confidence in the Diri administration soaring higher.
Community leaders from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area are also angry with the choice of Sylva’s running mate.
“Southern Ijaw people are appalled at the APC’s choice of a deputy governorship candidate. We see it as an insult to our collective sensibilities. Haba, has Bayelsa State become the state of jokers?
“We want Chief Sylva to tell Bayelsans what happened in the case of Atala Oil Field OML 46, whose licence was revoked under his nose as Minister of State, Petroleum. The APC has a lot of baggage to carry and that is just one of them,” John Ebitimi said.
The indicators, according to the sources, are gloomy for the APC, so long as free and fair election is conducted in the state.
However, recall that in the past couple of weeks, the media has been agog with reports about the desperation that has gripped the APC governorship candidate’s camp.
Accusing fingers pointed at their direction over plans to use BVAS machines without appropriate codes, and also the allegation of co-opting fake policemen and INEC officials to manipulate the poll.
Also, the APC team tried unsuccessfully to drag the presidency into their campaign, by trying to enlist the support of the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila.