inister of State for Petroleum Resources and former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, has called for calm and restraint over the nullification of the election of All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, David Lyon, by the Supreme Court.
In a statement he personally signed, Sylva also apologised to President Muhammadu Buhari for the disruption caused to his programme in Bayelsa by the judgement of the apex court.
The Supreme Court, at its sitting last Thursday, voided the election of Lyon on the grounds that his running mate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, forged his credentials.
The court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue the political party and candidate with the second highest votes and requisite geographical spread Certificate of Return, hence Senator Duoye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was subsequently sworn in as governor on February 14.
The development generated protest and violence, forcing the police command to impose a three-day curfew on the state.
In his first ever statement since the apex court’s verdict, Sylva, who is the arrowhead of APC in Bayelsa, enjoined people of the state to “shun all acts of violence and lawlessness.”
The minister noted that though recent events in the state are as painful as they are regrettable, people should not take the law into their hands “in the greater interest of our state and the political stability of the country at large.”
He said the APC leadership had directed its team of legal experts to study the Supreme Court judgement critically and proffer legal options available to the party accordingly.
Sylva maintained that despite the temporary setback, the APC in Bayelsa remains strong and its members resolute in support for the ideals of a greater and prosperous Nigeria as envisioned by Buhari.
He said: “I want to use this moment to call on all the people of our dear state, Bayelsa, to kindly shun all acts of violence and lawlessness.
“Also of great importance to me is to extend my profound apology to our President, H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, over the avoidable disruption to his busy schedule which was caused by the events of the moment.
“I am aware that Mr. President and his wife, Aisha Buhari had concluded arrangements to travel to Bayelsa to witness the inauguration of the APC governorship candidate as Governor of Bayelsa State. I, therefore, extend my apology to Mr. President and members of his entourage.
“To the good people of Bayelsa, I would like to emphasise the need for restraint at all times. No doubt, the events of the last few days are as painful as they are regrettable. But, however tempting it might be for anyone to take the law into their hands, such temptation must be resisted in the greater interest of our state and the political stability of the country at large.
“The leadership of our great party, the APC, has directed its team of legal experts to study the situation critically and proffer legal options available to the party accordingly. We should, therefore, all remain faithful to, and have confidence in the wisdom and ability of the party leadership to provide direction at this very sensitive time.
“Once again, I call on all people of Bayelsa State, irrespective of whatever differences there may, be to eschew violence and respect the security measures put in place by appropriate authorities.”
But, yesterday, Governor Diri urged Sylva, Lyon, and other figures in opposition parties to join hands with him in building the state.
Speaking during a thanksgiving service at the Gloryland Chapel, Government House, the governor declared that he would run an all-inclusive government, hence the need for the cooperation and support of all leaders of the state, including former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Diri, who thanked God for giving him the mandate, urged all his supporters to be magnanimous in victory.
“I will be governor of all, be it PDP, APC and others. We must remain united and ensure peace in our land. That is the only time we can be talking of development. Let us work together,” he stated.
The governor said his priority was to bring development to every part of Bayelsa, adding that he was willing to consider even members of opposition parties for appointments under his administration.
“Our administration will not condone crimes and criminalities. No development can take place in the atmosphere devoid of peace,” Diri stated.
In his sermon, the guest preacher, Apostle Zilly Aggrey of Royal House of Grace International, said no man should take the glory for the declaration of Diri by the Supreme Court.
The cleric warned against frivolities in governance, stating that the governor should be wary of bootlickers, sycophants and praise singers who would run down other people for personal gains.
Aggrey noted that Bayelsa is too rich in resources to be poor and urged the governor to initiate projects that would have direct bearing on the people.
The cleric called on the people of Bayelsa to continue to pray for the new governor and his deputy to provide them effective leadership.
Dignitaries, including first Military Governor of old Rivers State, King Alfred Diette-Spiff; Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Monday Bubou-Obolo; Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Justice Kate Abiri; PDP State Chairman, Moses Cleopas, members of the National Assembly, senior citizens and party loyalists, attended the thanksgiving service.