What is being done to address the upsurge in criminality particularly
kidnapping and armed robbery?
Let me say that we sounded the alarm some months back about the upsurge in
violent criminal activities in our state. And there is a correlation
between the rise in the political tempo because of the Governorship
election and the upsurge in criminal behavior in our state.
Everyone knows what we have been able to achieve in the area of law and
order. This is not just me or government or security agencies observing
but it is an account that everybody who is a Bayelsan will tell you . The
moment the presidential elections were concluded and the other party
became victorious, elements who are on the other side developed
governorship ambitions and that immediately impacted on the security and
law and order of the state.
The conduct of their primaries was characterized by violence. Once there
is a lapse in enforcement of law and order and once people take the law
for granted, people hide under the garb of politics to procure arms and
ammunition as part of their election preparations.
The mayhem in Brass, southern Ijaw and Ekeremor and all of that was a
build up in arms. And what has worsened it in Bayelsa State and in this
country is that up till now that those who killed and maimed in Brass
and even destroyed other people’s houses have not been arrested,
interrogated or charged to court.
Those who killed and maimed in Southern Ijaw are still going about freely
and are even protected by the agents of state. That is the situation of
things that we have come to see in the past couple of months and that of
course has a direct bearing on criminal conduct because if crime is not
punished, then the law loses its deterrence and society gradually
deteriorates to a situation where life becomes short, nasty and brutish.
I hope that we do not get there. Governors are called chief security
officers, but that is only a name. The gentlemen who control the federal
levers of power for now have created a notion which they can disprove, but
a notion which is fast gaining currency in Bayelsa that if you are APC,
you can kill and maim and procure prohibited weaponry and destroy people’s
houses and the state agencies will be powerless. In other words being a
member of APC confers immunity in Bayelsa. That is the situation we have.
Bayelsans have to manage and live through it. We have managed it for the
past few months and I believe that after the January supplementary
elections, the majesty and supremacy and authority of the law once again
will be brought to bear on conduct of criminals in the state.
I expect the civil law enforcement agencies to do more. I have raised a
few things about the conduct of some officers of the military and I am
happy to report to people of this state that those issues are being
attended to, but the civil law enforcement arms, the police, the
department of state security, need to know that they cannot be an arm of
the APC or any other political party. We expect them to take steps to
ensure that people who have violated the law in this brazen manner,with
impunity are brought to book. I am aware of some arrests and prosecution
that have started but the people of this state would want them to do
In the area of kidnapping, you know that even my own younger sibling is
one of the most current victims. I appreciate all the concern that has
been shown but let me make it clear that as Governor of this state, every
kidnap case affects me the same way. Every kidnap is condemnable and must
be treated purely as a crime that it is and we all must work together,
get information speedily to the security agencies and collaborate so that
we can flush these criminal out. You are aware my commissioner is also
one of the latest victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and
their families but for now we are treating these as crimes in their own
right and for us to take caution that there should be no finger pointing.
A crime has occurred, these are criminals but we do not want any finger
pointing. At this point investigation has commenced, people should
cooperate with the law enforcement agencies handling these matters.
Apart from the kidnapping and the induced political violence, our state
is generally peaceful. Those who will come out to vote on the 9th of
January should not forget to vote for security and continue to reject
and say ‘tufiakwa’to all those whose politics is about killing and
maiming and cultism and arming people to kill and shoot other people and
destroy their homes. Our state cannot grow in the hands of such
characters. The first condition for development is law and order, and
that is why for me no criminal can hide under any partisan color. If
there is any criminal that is in support of PDP, please security men
apprehend and take appropriate law enforcement actions. I do not condone
crime and criminality in my politics, everybody knows that. And unlike
those whose politics is about blood and destruction, I am in politics to
build, protect lives and properties and not destroy. So Bayelsans, on the
9th of January, 2016, those who are yet to vote in southern Ijaw and
other units should reject the APC and Slyva for trying to plunge our
state to criminality. I do not need anybody to kill anyone because of my
elections, I have never bought any weapons for any body and I will not. I
have never encouraged anybody to be armed in course of supporting me.
That is the type of leadership we need in this state. Not a cultist, a
criminal, a guy who doesn’t know the distinction between criminality and
proper conduct and instead of spending money talking to people you spend
money to buy weapons and on election day they go and ambush people and
high jack those materials and run away with them and you claim to
everybody that you have votes, scores that nobody voted. What a shame
they are turning our state to be.
My dear people of the state, be calm, go about your normal businesses,
these things will be attended to. It is unfortunate that they have
happened and a scenario has arisen that the agencies that have statutory
responsibility appeared to be not very proactive but all of this will
change. what I can promise is that at the security council meeting that
was held, we reviewed our strategies and some of you may have started
seeing some security presence more. Bear with us if you are stopped and
searched and asked questions because those are steps we have taken so
that we can be on top of the game but ultimately all of you have a duty
to ensure that we protect lives and property, and do not forget to vote
out those who feel that if you disagree with them in politics, you should
be killed. Reject them, reject violence.
In the face of dwindling and delayed allocation, how has the Bayelsa
state government under your leadership coped with the payment of salaries
of workers and pensioners especially in this season of Christmas?
This is a very serious issue and I have not hidden the truth from
Bayelsans. We also know what is happening at the national level and this
is even not peculiar to Nigeria. It is a situation faced by all economies
that are dependent on oil revenues because the oil price has dropped to
as low as $34-35 per barrel as against when it was selling for 120 or
more dollars per barrel. And it is still going down. That should tell
everyone that the national economy and therefore the economy of this
state is in very grave danger and I have been sounding this alarm but
because of the prudent way we have been managing and the sacrifices the
situation here is not as dire as in most other places. Most people
especially workers and pensioners are taking theif entitlements for
granted but they should please also bear with us to understand the
national context under which some of these things are happening. Our
total wage bill alone ie without any other expenditure of government is
about N4.6b. every month and for the past three months consistently, what
we have been getting is about 3 to 4 billion. You can imagine the
The gentleman when he was governor, you know the debt he left behind
which we are still servicing. So it has been very difficult. Most of them
do not even know that for the past 3-5 months, my own office has not had
any expenditure for running cost. We know how we manage and same goes for
other offices . We manage to pay the salary obligation of workers and
last month I know that what we received could not go round after paying
standing obligations so some workers could not receive their salary and
now this month we thought they will share the excess to support
government expenditure at this festive period. As you know for the past 3
years we have been paying salaries before people go for Christmas. We
even pay bonuses. I have been doing that for the past over 3 years . I
pay Christmas bonus for every civil servant in the state running into
over a billion naira now. But this year, they just finished the FAAC
meeting this morning, FAAC was delayed for this month, and today is 23rd.
When they concluded and I got the figures, they are even worse than last
month, meaning that we are not in the position to do all the things we
would have loved to do for the people, particularly at a time that I have
enjoyed this overwhelming support in winning elections convincingly
despite all the odds and the violence and intimidation.
Right now as I speak, we have not got our remittances from FAAC. And to
worsen matters, tge federal government has declared tomorrow and Monday
a public holiday. That is the fix we are in now, but I have been talking
to our bankers and begging them to see what they can do, I have told them
nobody in treasury should close, let them pay to as many people as they
can now because it is not conceivable for workers and pensioners who are
old people to have a bleak Christmas without having anything in their
homes. I feel very bad. It is not peculiar to Bayelsa but applies to all
other states which are dependent on the federal government. That is why
we in Bayelsa need to be less dependent on government. Now you are seeing
that the oil is almost selling for nothing. So government does not have
money to fund people’s life styles. Government does not have money for
people to have free money as it used to be in Bayelsa which if you did
not do made you a bad man. This free money has already dried up, it is
not feasible. Now when we are spending N4.6b and we are getting just
about N3b, how do we generate money to make up for the balance? That is
the challenge we all have in Bayelsa.That is what we will do and engage
all strata of our society to see how we can reposition our state to
prepare for the challenges ahead. But right now, I have directed the
finance team not to rest or go anywhere. The banks too are working with
them and for the first time I have spoken with the MD’s to see how they
can raise some funds to support us. But if with all our best efforts you
do not get anything or all your due,it won’t be because we have not
tried our best. FAAC just ended this morning, usually FAAC should have
been done early last week and by last week, allocation from FAAC should
have gone to the states because Christmas month, payment of salaries
usually commences say 17th or 18th so that people can prepare but
unfortunately the federal government I think were sourcing for funds
because the federal Government itself has no money. So those who are
running to Federal Government thinking that they will ‘chop money yanfu
yanfu ‘ will be completely disappointed . Already those who thought that
the NDDC was there for them and they were promising all sorts for people
in Bayelsa have received their first shocker and the good news is that
more shocking news is awaiting them from the APC led federal government.
Here too the situation is challenging but we are working hard. Nobody in
Government House got any salary, nobody has anything but we are trying to
see what little we can make available for our people so any small thing
you see this Christmas, please my dear people, appreciate it. If you
cannot get your allowances before the public holidays, you will have it
at the next working day, but just know your government is not resting.
The electoral umpire, INEC has scheduled the re-run elections for
Southern Ijaw and a few other local governments to hold on the 9th of
January. What is the outlook on that?
My reaction has been in the public domain. First, I and my party should
have been declared as winner because I won six out of the seven local
Governments but INEC said because of the registered voters that had not
yet cast their votes and in order for them to play safe there was need to
conduct the supplementary election.
That supplementary election became necessary because as attested to by
local observers as well as international observers some people just stole
electoral materials, kidnapped electoral officers and just wrote results
the way they liked it which in itself is a criminal act. It’s like
breaking into INEC’s strong room and stealing all the electoral materials,
forms EC8A and EC8B, kidnap electoral officers and force them to sign, put
the forms in the pocket and go to every office in Abuja, telling them that
you have the result of the election and that you have won the election.
That’s the type of criminal activity that the APC candidate and some of
his supporters indulged in. That’s the kind of nonsense and impunity that
played out on that day.
What they don’t know is that the conduct of elections has become more
sophisticated. Now, It is PVC and whereby votes are recorded
electronically. So anybody who is serious about winning election should
not be going after just pieces of paper but getting to convince the
electorate to vote for your candidate. That is what was missing and INEC
did the correct thing by canceling the election in Southern Ijaw.
What makes an election is the votes and not Forms EC8A and EC8B. So, the
next election I hope will be better. My reaction is that INEC did what is
right as any other decision would have questioned the credibility and
integrity of INEC itself. We are getting ready for the supplementary
polls and in Southern Ijaw, in community after community I will defeat
Timipre Sylva fair and square. He will be thoroughly humiliated.
He is not banking on the votes of people but on terrorizing and killing
people and all those who are his accomplices will be brought to book at
the end of this exercise because nobody can subject our state to this
level of bad press and anguish and go free.
You were at the recent meeting in Abuja with INEC and other parties.
Given the incidents of violence and destruction that happened on Dec 5
and 6, are you sure there won’t be a repeat of such cruel incidents at
the supplementary election slated to hold January 9th?
At the INEC interactive session a lot of issues were raised. One is that
the military ought to be at the outer cordon and not to be at the
immediate vicinity of the election and not be in possession of any
sensitive electoral material. That point has been clearly made. The point
has also been made about the movement of voting materials straight to the
So, it’s not going to be bringing together of all electoral materials at
Oporoma in one place where people can go in and pounce on them to steal
The security forces are better prepared now, as they know the terrain
better and in any case the theatre of action has reduced. It’s no longer
the whole State, it’s Southern Ijaw Local Government Area with 17 wards.
I believe that the security agencies have the personnel,particularly the
police, Civil Defence, the DSS. The military, because of our terrain
will still have the responsibility of providing security cover at the
Very clearly we have no problem with institutions but with the conduct of
some officials and those problems are being attended to. We will work with
them and create enabling environment for our people to vote. Bayelsa
people are resilient people, not people that can be intimidated by anybody
because what the APC is banking on is to intimidate our people.
I know he is going around writing names of people that will go out to
intimidate people which is nonsense because if you want people to vote
him, he should talk to people, engage them and convince them. I have
people I’m also engaging even though I have overwhelming majority. Is it
by force to become a governor? It is not by force. You can’t start
killing and maiming everybody because you want to become a governor or go
to Abuja and tell your party people to come and kill your brothers and
sisters and burn down houses because you want to be governor.
And in any case for all practical purposes this election is already over.
This election is already won by us comfortably and lost by the APC and as
I said in my last interview on AIT, this election is a PVC-based
election. If you are misled to carry a gun and bring result to INEC, it
will only be cancelled which is what Timipre Sylva did planning with
security agencies and making our people to vote at night. I could not
have wasted my time to do that, which is why I campaigned the way I did.
How is he going to look at people whose houses were burnt down in Brass
and people who were killed?
No leader should show this level of desperation for power. And in any
case he is a leader we already know. Even if we go into election a
hundred times in Southern Ijaw , I will defeat him. They had to
manipulate figures to get unrealistic number. Even in his own place Brass
I defeated him and the records are there. I won in Brass, won in Akasa,
won Egweama, won in Odioma. They only won in places where they assaulted
people in Twon Island. Twon, Okoma and Iwouma and they falsified the
result. Even in Brass I won more wards than him. It is 6 over 7. In
Brass, in Nembe I defeated him.
So if he couldn’t defeat me in a fair election in Brass and Nembe, is it
in Southern Ijaw that he would defeat me?He is only amassing weapons to
intimidate the people using some misguided elements as it were and
claiming that they have federal government cover to do terrible things.
They will regret it because even in community after community where
materials got to at night, the people waited to vote for me and they are
angry now and the turn out will be even more to vote for me. Timipre
Sylva is not going be able to hijack materials again, so anybody he is
trying to use should think twice. That will not happen again. The
security agencies will not let that happen, INEC will not let that
happen, the communities will not let that happen. I and my party will not
let that happen. Why is he afraid of voting and is rather terrorizing
people and abusing national security officials for his own selfish
He should campaign on issues and let the people vote as I am doing
instead of cutting corners. We should all abide by INEC’s rules. Let the
materials get to the communities and let them vote. But he wants to
impose himself on the people by fire by force and by fire by force we
will resist him. At Amassoma women and youths stood up to block armoured
tankers, Communities stood up and they are going to stand up more.
The security agencies will not allow lapses any more. I have received
assurances to that effect. Southern Ijaw has registered voters of 120,000
but only 109,000 collected their PVC’s. And in the results that we have
had no local government had voter turnout of more than 40 percent. It is
either 30 percent or 50percent, which should be about 50,000 to 55,000.
And clearly I will have majority of these votes, so this election has
been won and lost. The APC has lost this election. The APC leader should
tell that man not to destroy even the APC.
He shouldn’t destroy the directorate of State Security , the Police, the
military,. These are military institutions bigger than anybody. These are
ational Institutions. Where was he when we won Yenagoa, Ogbia, Kolga
Nembe? He lost Ekeremor. lost Sagbama and wants to put young people in
southern Ijaw in danger, to kill people for him in an election he knows
he will never win.
Yenagoa has the largest registered voters of about 138,000. In Yenagoa
which has the highest literacy rate with highest density, only about
50,000 voted. Which is just about 40 or 30%. INEC already knows the voter
turn out, international and local observers know it, we all know it,
security agencies know it. And he is suddenly thinking that he will get
some misguided young men living in the past who do not know that these
things are monitored electronically and they go after ordinary paper.
That is the kind of election he is bragging about, telling people he had
70,000 votes. It is only in Nigeria that this kind of thing will happen,
If it was in other places he would have been arrested and be facing
trial. And I hope that this country will also get to this level.
Bayelsans should beware, especially those in southern Ijaw. Do not allow
yourself to be used, this election is already won by us and lost by APC.
What are your plans for your next term in office to ensure that civil
servants execute your plans, your aspirations and your dreams to ensure
that the Bayelsa of your dream becomes a reality?
I am telling them to get ready so that we can partner and work together to
build a better Bayelsa, not a Bayelsa of needless rumor and acrimony but a
Bayelsa where people show understanding. For example in the year 2016, the
economic outlook is not very bright at a national level so these are
issues we all must bear in mind, that people must come to terms with. Do
not allow the politicians and other detractors to use you. Civil servants
are so important, we will do more about training and welfare and I will
meet with them more regularly this second term but they need to show more
understanding as we move forward. Bayelsa is committed to welfare and
minimum wage. I do not believe in reducing minimum wage at all, I am
rather even in support of enhancing it where possible. Finally,good
people of Bayelsa, it is a great privilege and honor to have an
opportunity to be of service to you. You have already decided for the most
part. The elections are over, having won in 6 out of 7 local government
areas declared. Even in the last one which was Brass , we won more wards
than the son of the soil and that tells you a lot particularly what will
happen in southern Ijaw. We defeated them in Nembe. That tells a lot
about all the units where election will be conducted and even in southern
Ijaw. You in southern Ijaw cannot know Timipre Slyva more than those in
Brass and Nembe local government areas. . It is our belief that year 2016
will be a prosperous and triumphant and victorious year for all of us as
we assume duty for a second term. By your grace and the grace of God.