An appraisal of the literature on the life and activities of this 55 years young man reveals a life packed full with activities, vigor, dynamism, enthusiasm, foresight and leadership skills.
Born on 7th July 1964 in Okpoma, Brass Local Government Area of present day Bayelsa State, he started primary education at St. Paul’s Anglican School Okpoma and finished at Ajeromi Central School Lagos in 1976. After secondary school at Government Secondary School Brass from 1976 to 1981 he secured admission into the University of Port Harcourt where he studied English Language/Linguistic. He served the nation for one year (The Mandatory National Youth Service Corps) programme at Shell Petroleum Development Co. Ltd at Warri Delta State and started his working career with the National Minority Business Council Port Harcourt, where as the Executive Secretary, he ensured the creation of employment opportunities for his people. It is said that a gold fish has no hiding place. His people soon discovered the potentials in him and elected him into the Rivers State House of Assembly 1991/1992 on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC). His tenure in the House was however short lived as the late Sani Abacha truncated the Civilian Regime then. 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 which he served as the State Financial Secretary. He later joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and became Political Adviser to former Governor DSP Alamaesigha until 2002 when he resigned.
As fate would have it he became the Special Assistant to the then Minister of State Petroleum Resources between May 2007 and April 2008 before he was elected Governor of Bayelsa State and served from 27th May 2008 to 27th January 2012.
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 Multi-billion naira Glory Land 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 and ensured other welfare schemes for public servants. Sylva’s administration also attracted the Nigerian Law School to Yenagoa, built and furnished the School 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 Adimistration further provided ICT Training for Bayelsans in Advanced Computer Programmes in India, initiated Amnesty Programme to boost security of the State and its 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.
The New Junior Petroleum Minister’s appointment is a return to familiar territory. 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 the new challenge.
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. These matters are quite demanding as Sylva assists President Buhari in directing affairs of this major revenue earner of the country. However, it is said that when the going is tough the tough get going.
Sylva has gone through thick and thin in the Nigerian Political environment. He has seen it all, through blackmail, betrayals, conspiracy theories, deceit, false allegations and media trial all in efforts to pull him down politically.
But, as asserted by the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo, after the darkness comes the glorious dawn. The glorious dawn is certainly coming for Chief Timipre Sylva, the young but old war horse in the political waters of the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria.
–––Sam Ekpe is an Abuja based Media Consultant