For A Bayelsa Without Buccaneers:A Reply To “SOC Okenwa” -By Doifie Ola

Within the week, a certain SOC Okenwa posted an online diatribe (“Bayelsa: Between Sylva And Gold!”) in which he tried, but to no avail, to cleanse his principal, Mr. Seriake Dickson, of the crimson blotches of his stolen mandate. But, interestingly, as Okenwa’s monologue itself proved, it was a vain attempt to enliven a principal in his season of penitence. Nothing can be changed now – a leopard cannot change its spots.

Even the most laidback of observers in Nigeria today knows that Dickson is a study in democratic travesty, what with the draconian system – administered from Abuja – that abolished democratic competition just to return him. I join Okenwa in condemning “the obnoxious system” that returned his principal, and I join him in asking, “Why did the Nigerian justice system collude with him and gave him favourable judgements that assaulted reason and justice?” This is the question Okenwa, his principal, and others of that ilk should be pondering at this time, lest they waste their season of penitence and be subjected to the harsh judgement of history and God.

Dickson continues to be a reference point for the crisis of internal democracy in Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The electoral farce that railroaded him to Government House, Yenagoa, was a hot topic of discourse in every major political and intellectual circle in the country. All major national newspapers did editorials condemning the charade and calling for a rethink to save our democracy from being eternally sullied for the self-aggrandisement of one man. Radio and television stations ran commentaries condemning the Bayelsa charade. There was no one worth his salt in civil society who did not condemn the improper process that threw Dickson up– except, of course, faceless hatchet men like Okenwa.

But Okenwa shot himself in the leg from the beginning to the end of his strange tirade. In one breathe he condemns the “chronically corrupt political establishment that manipulated guber polls” and allowed people to usurp governorship mandates, in another he praises to high heavens the man generally acknowledged as present-day Nigeria’s worst example of that manipulation! In one breathe he denounces “President Goodluck Jonathan and the hawks in the PDP” for persecuting the respected jurist, Justice Ayo Salami – yet another victim of the imperial presidency in Abuja – saying it is absurd, in another, Okenwa is full of cautious support for the absurd canards and puerile anecdotes that were being pandered about by those who nursed a phobia about democracy in the Bayelsa State governorship race to try to rationalise their unjustifiable moves against our democracy. Yet in another breathe, Okenwa is hailing Jonathan for personifying Bayelsa and annulling the people’s right to nominate and elect their governor. “Absurd indeed!”

Okenwa and his co-travellers are entitled to their opinion on their principal’s disastrous outing in Bayelsa State, for what it’s worth. But the world certainly knows better. No amount of prevarication by a thousand Okenwas will be able to remove the immoral taint on Dickson’s mandate.

Apparently, unable to conceal his origins from the same depraved political family that has made Bayelsa State a laughing stock before civilised humanity, Okenwa proceeded to accuse, judge, and sentence Chief Timipre Sylva for some presumed allegations. The mischievous tone of Okenwa’s conclusions clearly tells where he is coming from. It represents the same process of giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it, the same process that was applied to set aside all known democratic pillars to force-feed the people of Bayelsa State with the Dickson ignominy. This same process is now being experimented by Okenwa, obviously, to try to, yet again, cow the judiciary over Sylva’s trial.

That is not all. Okenwa ends his article on a note of cheap blackmail, in a vain attempt to shut me up. As I told journalists in Lagos last April, there is nothing personal about my position on the contemporary politics of Bayelsa State. The issue is not even about Sylva. It is, first, about the health of our country, then, the future of our democracy, and the rights of our people to freely elect their leaders. What I have done is to project the Sylva side of the story, a story the Jonathan system that produced Dickson desperately wants to keep out of the public domain. There is nothing spectacular about my role.

Okenwa and the other political buccaneers in Bayelsa State have done enough damage to the psyche of Bayelsa people. They have done enough deformation to the democratic institutions of the country. They must now allow the country to pick itself up after their spirited attempts to distort its political progress.


Media Adviser to Chief Timipre Sylva


07 June 2012

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