The Choice of Chief Timipre Sylva, as Niger Delta Man of the Year 2022

Money Laundering Allegation: US Court Vindicates Petroleum Minister, Timipre Sylva

The Choice of Chief Timipre Sylva, as Niger Delta Man of the Year 2022

By Jacob Abai

The GbaramatuVoice 7th Annual Lectures/Awards event recently organized by the Gbaramatu Publishing Company Limited, owners and operators of the GbaramatuVoice Newspaper, held in Abuja, the capital city of the nation, may have come and gone, but the experience and follow up commentaries promises to linger for a very long time.

Part of these expected commentaries has to do with the Niger Delta Man of the Year 2022 bestowed on Chief Timipre Sylva, at the event. While many have hailed such a decision, describing it as well informed judgment, others, very few in number dispatched the question as to why the Minister of State for Petroleum, when the region is littered with other illustrious sons and daughters that have also distinguished themselves in various field of endeavors?

With ‘malice to none, but charity to all’, this piece recognizes the above question, and states the same as objective concerns. Such a question peripherally becomes more appreciated when remembering that the region is presently blessed with illustrious, self-contained and quietly influential sons and daughters in strategic control of the nation’s different sectors.

The Choice of Chief Timipre Sylva, as Niger Delta Man of the Year 2022
The Acting Permanent Secretary, Engr. Busari Karamu, presenting the award to the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.

But beyond this consideration(s), the truth must be told to the effect that the nation Nigeria has recently benefited from remarkable leadership exploits and contributions of Chief Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State, Petroleum and former Governor of Bayelsa state.

Out of many examples of Timipre Sylva‘s practical demonstration of both creative and transformative leadership prowess open/known to GbaramatuVoice, the one that easily comes to mind is the recognition of his productive and beneficent interventions in ensuring the Petroleum Industry Act was assented to by His Excellency President  Muhammadu Buhari, an occurrence that has further positioned the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as a commercialized public entity presently headed towards productivity and profitability.

Another of his achievement that spurred this award is the reported response by the Federal government (His Ministry, the Presidency, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited), to sustainably end illegal bunkering, illegal refining, and other forms of oil theft in the Niger Delta, pipeline surveillance signed with High Chief Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo.

Most importantly, under his watch, the allocation of oil wells in the country which was in the past years laced in secrecy, was for the first time in the nation’s history transparently carried.

The world is in fact, in agreement with the above argument.

Again, within the last three to four years of being in the saddle as the Minister of State for Petroleum, he has proved to be a clear thinkers and not a muddled thinkers; he has within this space culled down all the nagging challenges in the nation’s petroleum sector into rightful solutions.

In the estimation of the right thinking Nigerians, Timi as he is fondly called by his admirers, has not only led the formerly troubled Petroleum with his head and mind but has become a trailblazer and high level executive that is globally recognized and respected.

Viewed from a wider perspective, it is evident that the Minister’s current achievement cannot be described as mechanical, cosmetic, artificial or rocket science. But a product of a man’s consistent and sustainable efforts to improve his life, that of his neighbours and change the world around him.

The facts speak for it; born on 7th July, 1964 in Okpoma, Brass Local Government Area of present day Bayelsa State. He started his primary education at St. Pauls Anglican School Okpoma and finished at Ajeromi Central School Lagos In 1976. After obtaining his secondary school certificate in Brass from 1976 to 1981, he secured admission into the University of Port Harcourt where he studied Bachelor of Arts, English (Linguistics) and graduated in 1986 with a distinction. He was the best graduating student of his set as well as the valedictorian.

He served the nation for one year at Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, Warri, Delta State, Under the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), thereafter, started his working career with the National Minority Business Council Port Harcourt, as the Executive Secretary. While there, he ensured the creation of opportunities for his people. As it is said, a gold fish has no hiding place, his people soon discovered the potential in him and elected him into the Rivers State House of Assembly 1991/1992 on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC). He was the youngest of the members in the House. His tenure in the house was, however, short lived as the late Sani Abacha truncated the then civilian dispensation. Thereafter, he went into private business.

On the eventual lifting of the ban on partisan politics, he became a founding member of the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) and served as the State Financial Secretary. He later joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and became Political Adviser to former Governor DSP Alamaesigha. He resigned his appointment in 2002 and in 2004, he was appointed Special Assistant to the Minister  of State for Petroleum, King Edmund Dakouru, a position he held until 2006 when he resigned to contest the gubernatorial primary election in Bayelsa State under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He came second in the primary election, losing to Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. By divine providence, the PDP gubernatorial candidate, Jonathan, was adopted by the party as Presidential running mate to His Excellency, Umaru Musa Yaradua of blessed memory. This paved the way for Sylva to be automatically adopted as the gubernatorial candidate for PDP in Bayelsa state.

Sylvia won the Bayelsan gubernatorial election and was sworn-in as Executive Governor on May 29, 2007. The victory was however challenged and was subsequently overturned by the Appellate Court. A new election was held on May 24, 2008, and Sylva was overwhelmingly elected with 588,204 out of about 598,000 votes. He was sworn-in again on May 27.

Sylvia was appointed by President Buhari on Wednesday, August 21, 2019, as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, a position he currently Occupies.

The State Petroleum Minister’s appointment is a return to familiar victory. As earlier stated, he had served as Special Assistant to a former Petroleum Minister in the past. Although he was massively prevailed upon by some critical stakeholders in Bayelsa State to enter the political contest and run for State Governorship Election in the November 2019, President Buhari, having decided to avail the nation of his service in the Next Level Administration, he had to face  new challenge in supporting the rejuvenation of the petroleum sector.

He has numerous achievements to his credit when he presided over the affairs of Bayelsa State of which a few need mentioning. They include: completion of Rivers State Judiciary Complex, completion of Government House Phase II, Construction of Transparency Building, Yenagoa Business Office, Construction of Modern UBE Schools across communities, construction of 52 Link Roads in Yenagoa Metropolis, construction of New House of Assembly Estate, building and furnishing of Multimillionaire GloryLand Castle, Construction of New House of Assembly Estate, New Commissioners Estate etc.

His administration employed over 8,000 youths in Bayelsa Volunteers from all the eight Local Government Areas in the state and ensured payment of salaries and promotion of public servants when due with other bogus welfare schemes for public servants. Sylva’s administration also attracted the Nigerian Law School to Yenagoa, built and furnished the schools and established a special Fund for the construction of New and Upgrade of existing facilities in the Law School, in order to meet the required standards stipulated by the council for Legal Studies. The Administration further provided ICT Training for Bayelsans in Advanced Computer Programmes in India, initiated Amnesty Programme to boost security of the state and it’s economy. Other Federal projects Sylva’s Administration attracted to Bayelsa State  include Federal University Otueke, Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education, and connection of Bayelsa State to the National Grid.

Of course, the challenges are enormous given the unstable price of crude oil in the international market, the inadequate quantity of refined petroleum products by the country’s refineries due to old age and dilapidation of equipment, activities of oil bunkerers, pirates and militant activities and even the fact that the country has to consider alternatives to oil since electricity and other sources of energy are now about to make oil lose its cash flow status few years hence. The matters are quite demanding affairs of this major revenue earner of the country. However, it is said that when the going is tough the tough get going.

With such a rich repertoire of knowledge and experience in politics, business, governance and exposure in public administration, this astute statesman and technocrat is hereby presented for induction as a fellow of the African Institute and the Honorary Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) by the London Bridge Business School and it’s affiliate institutions thereof.

Looking at the above facts, this piece can underline without fear of contradiction that GbaramatuVoice was right in its choice
and decision.

Abai, is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of GbaramatuVoice Newspaper, Warri, Delta state. He Tweets via @AbaiJakes /08030891146

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