In a rare show of political maturity, Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to give his predecessor and minister-designate, Chief Timipre Sylva, a substantive ministerial portfolio in the interest of the state.
Dickson made this appeal during media chart at Government House Yenagoa.
He said the position of a junior minister, popularly called minister for state, should not be given the minister designate from Bayelsa.
The governor, who spoke while fielding questions on why he congratulated his predecessor and political rival on his appointment as a minister said his gesture, was borne out of his principle of “politics without bitterness.”
Describing Sylva as his ferocious and formidable opponent, Dickson said though he defeated his predecessor in their last political clashes, they remained brothers after and elections.
He appealed to Sylva to use his ministerial portfolio to bring development to Bayelsa urging him not to toe the path of a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who he said spent his tenure attacking his government.
He said: “What I displayed when I congratulated him was political maturity and tolerance. We have been in the trenches for close to 10 years now, not talking bit attacking ourselves. He is a ferocious and formidable opponent. But I triumphed in the elections up to the tribunal to the Supreme Court. In the last general election, he led his party as usual and I led the PDP and you saw the clash.
“Bayelsa has not had the kind of opposition we have had. My politics is without bitterness. I fight hard when I need to for survival. Once I beat you we become a brothers and friends. He is a brother and a friend actually. We are not still in talking terms even now.
“You remember about four years ago when Lokpobiri was appointed minister. He was a campaign DG against me. At that 2015 elections, I faced the toughest political betrayal. They all ganged up against me. You had Lokpobiri as the Director-General and Minister; Chief Timipre Sylva as candidate and Chief Timi Alaibe in the APC with others that defected to the APC but I won all of them with the support of our people.
“Even after that, I congratulated and directed senators to support Lokpobiri. He has not acknowledged that till today. It didn’t stop him from being my political opponent. Nor do I expect Sylva not to be my opponent.
“Sylva after I gave the directive to the senators not to oppose him; we can have our local fight, the man has loyalty to his party and they recognized what he has done because for me I like loyalty but I have not seen enough loyalty in my system.
“When I see people display loyalty, I like it. He brought his reaction, appreciating me for my openness and it was quite gracious too. I wish him the best. Even as we fight and oppose ourselves, he remains a former governor and also believes that the office must be respected.
“I wish him the best and expect that he will use the position as a minister to develop Bayelsa. Bayelsa will like to have a substantive ministry not a junior minister, a “Grade A ministry”. And I expect him to use the position to bring development to the state and add to what I have done.
“This airport would have been a federal project. We need federal support. He should have a good ministry not to do anything for me but to support people and impact on the development of our people. The former minister Lokpobiri only attacked me for building an airport. We don’t need that kind of bad belle politics. They told me he did two or three boreholes, which is good; after all, he was just a junior minister.”