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The Return of Sylva

In Nembe mythology, Opu Abadi is the great sea that swallows all. Nothing is too big for the sea to consume. In today’s society, Opu Abadi is also a title reserved for the ultimate warrior or the consummate political leader, who despite all odds, always overcomes his enemies – the ultimate survivor, and there can only be one Opu Abadi at any given time.
Today, in Nembe, this title is held by
Chief Timipre Sylva, former governor of Bayelsa State. Politics is truly a funny game. One moment you are down and the system that propped you suddenly withdraws its support, leaving you to tumble so rapidly that, when you fall it only takes the grace of God for you to rise again. So is the case of Timipre Sylva.
Before now, it was generally agreed that by virtue of his position as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, former President Goodluck Jonathan was generally acquiesced as the political leader of the Ijaw nation.
But today, Sylva is now being acknowledged as the political leader of the Ijaw people. How he will handle this heavy responsibility as he dominates the political space in Bayelsa State will determine so much as the people begin to find new direction.
His case is made more difficult since he has to be the leader of a people that are scattered over six states – Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom. For a man with ambition to make a second coming as the governor of his state, this is undoubtedly a daunting task.
This may be the reason he is being prevailed upon not to contest the governorship of Bayelsa State, but to play the role being discharged for the Yoruba people by Senator Bola Tinubu: to be the leader of a people who have never had a common leader because of their republican nature.
It is a daunting task for an ambitious young man, who wants to be the king than just the kingmaker. But how this agenda being pushed by some persons who see the larger than life political image of Sylva in the Bayelsan political field as it affects their own ambition plays out will be determined in the next few weeks as the political leadership in the state seeks a new direction.
Since his dramatic emergence as the leader in the political equation in the state, his political enemies are believed to have deployed to work. Although Sylva is yet to announce his intention to contest the governorship election in the state, the mere mention of his name seems to send jitters down the spines of his perceived opponents.
Surprisingly, believed to be one of his ardent critics is his kinsman and Dickson’s social media guru, Dr. Idumange John, who would stop at nothing to bring down Sylva.
But like it was with President Muhammadu Buhari at the height of the 2015 elections when all sorts were employed to bring him down, Sylva has continued to soar as many of the political leaders in the state have been leaving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in droves to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in apparent acceptance of his leadership.
If there was something most political leaders in the state agreed upon, it is the forgiving spirit of Sylva. After he was prevailed upon by Jonathan to accept and allow some of the National Assembly members (2007-2011) who spent their entire term in the legislature opposing him and his government, Sylva did not hesitate.
This was the reason why they stood by him at the height of his travails in the hands of Jonathan and why he is still bitter at Jonathan for his unforgiving spirit. Today, all his political associates and aides who left him last year to pledge loyalty to his opponents are back, and as it is usual with him, he has welcomed them back into the fold.
Even after he believed that he was rigged out of the last senatorial election for Bayelsa East, which he lost to media mogul and chairman of the Silverbird Group, Ben Murray-Bruce, Sylva had surprisingly withdrawn his challenge of the election at the Tribunals, a move that still baffles his opponents, who were ready for the legal battle.
Now, the main focus of Sylva is the governorship in which he is yet to declare his intention. His party, the APC and political camp are believed to have made a lot of inroad into the PDP, leaving the one time largest political party in Africa bleeding dangerously.
Thus as the governorship election moves closer, what role will the Opu Abadi, the mighty ocean, play?