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Bayelsa Poll: Debating the relationship between philanthropy and governance

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Bayelsa state is only three years older than the last (Fourth) Republic of the Nigerian state that began in 1999 running till date. It has produced three elected governors, excluding two that emerged following impeachment and court intervention on an issue of tenure elongation. Until recently, debates leading to the emergence of who becomes governor were not loud. This was because of the one party dominance in the state, where the party, especially the major players decided for the people. The popularity of a Candidate, which comes first in popular democracies before his or her knowledge of the dreams and aspirations and the best way to achieving them, were irrelevant. The interest was majorly to grab power and distribute the state’s wealth among themselves, whereas the majority of people on whom democracy thrives suffer deprivation and poverty of all forms due to their castration and systemic ignorance.

Before the past governors of the state emerged, the electorates were not told to agree to their “selection” because they were “regular” or experienced politicians. We still know the circumstances that made them. In the 2015 contest between Governor Dickson and former Governor Sylva, the debate was not on their political experience needed to pursue the collective dreams of Bayelsa people but on petty issues and propagandas of which: one party being Ijaw and the other another tribe, a candidate being more Ijaw than the other and a candidate being violent and the other not. But today, because Hon. David Lyon, a man of popularity with philanthropic inclination is the governorship candidate of the opposition party, the lines has changed.

The most annoying that the opposition to David Lyon candidacy is strenuously dispensing is the claim that philanthropy is not the same as politics and governance, implying that Lyon is inexperience to lead the state. This is ridiculous. While they cannot kill his altruism, they want the voters to cast their votes against him by making the candidate appears like a neophyte in politics. What is new in politics and governance? They have made these two words sound high and strange to fool and confuse the common man who by all indications is anxiously waiting to cast their vote for Lyon because they believe he has shown enough to sympathetic to their current economic strangulation as a private citizen. Governance ordinarily means to steer, direct or control a group of people or state. More so, is the “exercise of power or authority by political leaders for the well-being of their country’s citizens or subjects”. Politics is only a means to achieving the aspirations of a people. Therefore, it is open to anybody who feels the pulse of the people and is totally committed to helping them attain their dreams.

It does not discriminate on the basis of experience. The most important thing is to have a knowledge of what the people need and how best it could be delivered to them (the how is what matter in political campaigns).

Bayelsans and every resident in the state, if it is true that politicians represent the deliberate and unapologetic hardship and dehumanization they have gone through in the last seven years, then they do not need any regular politicians to thrust them with the saddle of leadership to direct them to the path of development and prosperity anymore; a gross display of unabashedly untruthfulness and egoistic attitude that undermines their yearnings. From every nook and cranny in the state, one can sense that Bayelsans are no longer willing to give their collective wealth to a person (under the pretext of politics) who cannot survive for a day when he is not occupying any political position, so that he fraudulently enrich himself with money meant for human and capital development just to secure the future of his children’s generation and the ones yet to come, whereas the masses are left to groan and complain of an unending deprivation and poverty. They have come to the understanding that the dream of these styled regular politicians is to build empires for themselves with their common wealth with the hope of becoming emperors while they become perpetual slaves to them. The picture is clear: these politicians lack empathy for the people and that is what makes them politicians. And so, when they see one with a heart different from theirs, showing unrestraint love to the people without being a regular politician, they resort to propaganda, trying hard to discredit him.

The name David Lyon, even before he stepped into the political arena, had been resonating with the people for no reason than having a kind heart, perhaps as a gift, culminating in his taken to humanitarian service that has endeared him to the people over the years. And so, when he emerged as an aspirant of the All Progressive Congress (APC), later the candidate, there was the natural, subsisting and swelling show of love in return to what he represents. The people are excited mostly because his coming to the scene coincided with the moment they were ruminating on the hardship and bad governance they have endured in the over seven years of the present administration and the best choice to make in the approaching election to avoid a repeat or a continuation of such an unjustified hardship.

As Ijaw people, we know our problems and it is only an izon-bai izon-bai Ijaw man (one who considers the Ijaw people first before himself), not the hype about experience in politics, that would be more willing and dispassionate to solve the problems. And so, among the two popular candidate, Lyon fits into the sentiment, desires and expectations of the people, mostly because he has long being into the business of reaching out to the people and making them have a sense of satisfaction in their individual endeavor using his own resource as a philanthropist. It is an insult to Bayelsans and their guests if you intend to make them believe that Lyon is not educated on the responsibility of a government to provide the essentials of life to a people it governs. If as a private person, he makes them happy impacting positively on their lives, why not as a governor, where he would use state resource to provide them with basic needs of life. It is with that understanding that the people want him to ascend to the office of a governor even shown that altruistic disposition, to bear on the exercise of political power to graciously set the genuine and all-encompassing groundwork to meet their collective desire of having stable electricity supply, portable water, good road network, accessible health care facilities etc., which are the standard indicators and measurement of good governance.

More so, Lyon is favoured because he is a silent achiever in many respects, adding up to his experience. First, he is an oil magnet in the oil and gas industry owing “six ocean liners that lift oil for multinationals, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)”. His achievement in security is part of the reason illegal oil bunkering has been cut down in the Bayelsa creeks, helping oil companies that once faced serious security challenges to meet their daily production quotas. Now that the state is witnessing insecurity of all kinds, Lyon’s expertise is needed. Even in the politics the opponents have strenuously attempted to treat him as inexperience, he has helped some of his followers like Hon.

Felix wrote from Yenagoa.


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