The Lion and His Burden

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David Lyon

Emmanuel Addeh writes that as a new government takes over the reins of power in Bayelsa State on February 14, the euphoria generated by his electoral victory will decline, leaving Mr. David Lyon, Bayelsa Governor-elect to face his clear-cut job

Any close observer of the political mood of the people of Bayelsa today, will likely identify three cluster of expectations from the incoming government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the governor in-waiting, Mr. David Lyon.

There is a set a people who are palpably clueless concerning what the administration to be sworn-in in a couple of days, precisely on February 14, holds, given that the head of that impending government remains untested both in public service and in the much clichéd murky water of politics.

Lyon’s fairy tale ascension to the highest political office in Bayelsa was not only bewildering even to the keenest watchers of politics in the state, even the beneficiary himself was shocked.

“If somebody dreamt and told me that David Lyon from Olugbobiri would be the elected governor of this our great state I would never believe it. But God Almighty has made it possible. By February 14, by the grace of God, I would be sworn-in as the governor of Bayelsa State,” he told a crowd of supporters during a thanksgiving ceremony recently.

This group of people who do not know what to expect, they appear to have adopted the ‘siddon look’ strategy, summarised to mean an attitude of ‘let’s watch and see’ coined by late politician, Chief Bola Ige, in the heyday of the late Gen. Sani Abacha military interregnum.

There’s yet another collective which seems to be on cloud nine over the taciturn governor-elect’s triumph at November 16 2019 governorship poll. This group literally worships at the feet of Mr. Lyon, a pipeline surveillance contractor from Southern Ijaw, almost singlehandedly picked by Chief Timipre Sylva, a former governor of the state and now Petroleum Minister who has been trying to reconcile with a number of elitist politicians who felt left out in the last eight years.

With a magic wand, this particular pack believes that Lyon, the naturally reclusive 49-year-old, would fix the perennial darkness foisted on the state by a coalition of forces, including, among others, the electricity distribution company in charge of the state, the government and a populace hitherto used to freebies.

Mostly comprising the common people, this classification, routinely refers to the incoming administration as ‘our government’. They tell anyone who cares to listen that Lyon will halt the dangerously skyrocketing unemployment rate in Bayelsa, fix all the bad roads, build bridges across the major rivers in the state and make generosity an official government policy.

He will stop the ‘Mai Ruwa’ or the water vendor malaise in the heart of the state capital, cut the fees paid by the state-owned tertiary institutions, including the Niger Delta University (NDU), the Bayelsa Medical University (BMU), the University of Africa, Toru-Orua and light up the streets of all major towns in a twinkle.

For these people, managing their expectations by the incoming administration, will be a major task, if not an impossibility. If after six months of Lyon’s government, the nagging issues remain unresolved, the support of this set of loyalists may be shaken.

Yet, there’s the group of pessimists with a feeling of déjà vu, who believe that the outgoing governor, Seriake Dickson, will be hailed as a hero when the reality dawns that the incoming government cannot do any magic overnight.

Pundits believe that having been handpicked by Sylva one day to the deadline for the purchase and submission of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) expression of interest and nomination form, then supported by a disgruntled clique of elitist politicians in the last election, Lyon may end up a lame duck if he does not wean off their overbearing influence early in his administration.

The same persons who flock around every administration, according to Mr, Gabriel Inam, a professional photographer based in Yenagoa, are those praise-singing the governor-elect, who strangely has already received an award for ‘Best Governor’ even before stepping into office.

“His Excellency, Chief David Lyon should be careful and mindful of praise singers. The same set of people that are insulting Governor Henry Seriake Dickson today were the same people praise-singing him years back.

“They did the same to Chief Timipre Sylva (now Minister of State Petroleum Resources). Power is sweet, I know you will use it well. But be very mindful of praise singers,” he cautioned.

Inam was probably spot-on. The chaotic history of politics in Bayelsa, from the impeachment of late Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and culminating in the somewhat disgraceful hounding of Sylva from office is confirmatory of how their leaders have come with so much acclaim and departed with harsh criticisms of their activities while in office.

The relative stability enabled by the outgoing administration of Seriake Dickson, will perhaps remain one of the highpoints of his government for years to come.

The Convener, Patriotism Advancement and Community Orientation Network (PACON), a non-governmental organisation, based in Yenagoa, Mr. Ebikebuna Aluzu, believes that there are soaring expectations from the incoming administration, and Lyon cannot afford to fail the people.

“I expect the incoming administration to hit the ground running in terms of service delivery. They need to tackle the issue of welfare and security in the state while also recovering diverted funds. I know the expectations are high but they are genuine expectations from the people and they are not insurmountable.

“The Governor-elect rode on his wide acceptability to power and must not betray the confidence reposed in him by Bayelsans. He must show foresight in governance. Lack of foresight has made governance to seem very difficult in the state. With the right team at his disposal, I expect the incoming administration to take Bayelsa State out of the doldrums,” he said.

On his part, the Secretary-General of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Mr. Alfred Kemepado opined that instead of the rising hopes that Lyon will perform any magic, what he needs is support and cooperation from the people of Bayelsa.

He added that apart from existing challenges besetting the state, every administration creates its own problem, advising that the government should not spread itself too thin, but concentrate on infrastructure that can directly boost employment and productivity in the state.

“People should not expect too much from the incoming administration, rather they should task themselves on how to give it support because what I observed is that people are expecting so much. They should not forget that the man will come in and meet existing challenges and also challenges that will come his way.

“All he needs is total support. He does not need distracting politics. Another thing I expect of the government is to concentrate on the construction of infrastructure. I mean only infrastructure that will jumpstart the economy. What the incoming government needs to do is to create industries. Small scale industries that will employ Bayelsans because majority of the problems in the state is poverty and it is poverty that results to crimes. So, he should tackle that,” he noted.

According to Kemepado, the government in-waiting will also have a lot of work to do in terms of reorienting the youths on the virtues of hard work instead of waiting for free money which most times will never come.

“While doing that he should also create a platform to create reorientation for the youths of Bayelsa because the average youth from this area does not want to work but he wants to earn.

“Lyon needs to create that reorientation so that when he creates the industries the people are set to work in those industries and know that it is hard work that pays, not crime. They have to be patient. He should open the state in the area of infrastructure,” the IYC scribe added.

Lyon has a huge burden on his shoulders. First, he’s a green horn in government, with limited exposure. Secondly, as expected, those who backed his rise from obscurity to political stardom will soon start breathing down his neck. Thirdly, how he handles the soaring projections from the people of Bayelsa will matter in the short and medium term.

However, in his few public appearances, the reclusive oil and gas contractor cum politician has made two points clear: That developing Bayelsa would remain a major plank of his government and that every kobo accruing to the state will be used for the good of the people.

Lyon says his strong belief in God and the future of Bayelsa will make the difference when he assumes office as the fifth governor of the state created less than 24 years ago.

“I believe strongly that God would do something for Bayelsans. I started my life with prayers, prayers from Bayelsans; prayers from pastors across the country and God would do something for us.

“We need not be afraid about the task ahead. The task to govern Bayelsa has been given by God and we must fulfil it not for David Lyon but the people of Bayelsa State.

“In my campaign, I specifically stated it that Bayelsa’s money is not David Lyon’s money. The money for Bayelsans would be used for Bayelsans. Bayelsans have done their part and I would not disappoint Bayelsans.

“We shall tackle security so that investment and investors can come in. I would also advise the youths to come together to build our state,” Lyon said.

If Lyon does well in office, it will be a boost for young people (at less than 50 years) and for those who believe in a clean break from Nigeria’s hegemonic political arrangement. For the incoming administration, the cost of failure will be too much a price to pay.

QUOTE:

Pundits believe that having been handpicked by Sylva one day to the deadline for the purchase and submission of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) expression of interest and nomination form, then supported by a disgruntled clique of elitist politicians in the last election, Lyon may end up a lame duck if he does not wean off their overbearing influence early in his administration