Off-the-Turf

Former Bayelsa State deputy governor, Chief Werinonpre Seibarugu relaxes by playing the board game of draught, writes Segun James

Ask anybody in Bayelsa State about who is the greatest draught player on the block and they all will almost unanimously point at the immediate former deputy governor of the state, Chief Werinonpre Seibarugu. In the state, the debate is: who is the greatest draught player in the state? Or put more succinctly, who is that player that is strong enough to beat Chief Werinipre Seibarugu, let such person come out for a game?
For Seibarugu, who was the last deputy to Chief Timipre Sylva after the impeachment of Peremobowei Ebebi, the board game is his own way of relaxing. But that is not all. Seibarugu likens politics to draught, where plots are built, traps set for opponents and opposition overwhelmed with crafty moves that leave the uninitiated stupefied.

Just as it is with draught, so it has been with the political moves of the light complexioned Yenagoa native. As a first timer in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Seibarugu beat all odds and left more experienced lawmakers in the house mesmerised as he emerged the Speaker after former President Goodluck Jonathan as governor of the state had picked Peremobowei Ebebi as deputy following the impeachment of the late Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha in 2005.
Seibarugu plotted his way to the heart of Governor Timipre Sylva even though he was a political godson of President Jonathan. Sylva trusted him so much that when the governor’s first election was nullified and a political stalemate ensued as to who should be the acting governor, he became the compromise candidate.

Yet, like his draught board game, Seibarugu continued to plot his politics. When Sylva and Ebebi became estranged and the Deputy Governor was impeached, again, like the deft draught player that he was, Seibarugu plotted his way to the position of deputy governor for another two years.
After the Supreme Court judgment that saw to the removal of Sylva and Seibarugu from office in January 2012, and the refusal of Governor Seriake Dickson to have anything to do with political associates of Sylva, the former deputy governor went back to his board game and started plotting and making moves.

And true to his theatrics, he emerged Bayelsa State Chairman of Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), the political machine of former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. He and his group soon became a torn in the flesh of Governor Dickson until Jonathan lost the presidential election in 2015.
Once again, the great draft player instinct in him came to fore as he plotted his way back to his former boss, Chief Sylva and into the All Progressives Congress (APC) which lost the last governorship election in the state.

Seibarugu was a member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly from 2003 to 2005. He later became the Speaker from 2005 to 2008 and subsequently 2008 to 2010. After the Appeal Court nullified Sylva’s election on April 15th, 2008, Seibarugu was ordered to be sworn-in by the Appeal Court as acting Governor of Bayelsa State. He later became the deputy governor of Bayelsa State from July 2010 to January 2012.
Today, Seibarugu is a big time fish farmer in his Gbarain community country home in Yenagoa. Any visitor to his farm will find him seated with his friends plotting his way around the draught board even as he makes his next political moves.