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Creating The Bayelsa Of Nigeria Before The Dubai Of Africa - Politics - Nairaland

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Creating The Bayelsa Of Nigeria Before The Dubai Of Africa by babasanti: 1:17pm On Aug 13, 2016
By all standards, Bayelsa is about the smallest state in Nigeria. With an estimated population of over two million people and a landmass of 21,110km2 with a massive aquatic environment which makes up 70% of the entire state. Bayelsa is blessed with abundance of crude oil and natural gas resources and a wide coastline connecting the Atlantic Ocean. Yenagoa the capital city and commercial nerve centre of the state boast of one major road connecting the city centre to Mbiama a neighbouring community in Rivers State. Since its creation in 1996, by the late head of state General Sani Abacha, Bayelsa has had its fair share of social chaos ranging from periodic youth restiveness, oil pollution and environmental degradation, not also forgetting the evil of mediocre leadership which has become a part of our national life since 1966.

For a state the size of Bayelsa with one of the largest per capita income amongst the sub national governments in Nigeria, the pathway to success shouldn’t be a difficult ride as it is today. Then again, underestimating the power of mediocre leadership is a lesson we might never learn, because time and time again democracy in Nigeria has pushed up money bags whose visions fail to inspire our aspirations as a people, other times the vision is non-existent at all. The catch phrase during election campaigns in Bayelsa is ‘Making Yenagoa the Dubai of Africa’. Since the return to civil rule in 1999, various political aspirants cutting across different political parties have told us their desire to transform Yenagoa to be the Dubai of Africa without a roadmap to industrialization, without increasing access to quality primary education and of cause without a practical solution to widespread insecurity that has bedevilled the region in recent years.

Infrastructural Deficit
20 years after creation as state capital, Yenagoa remains the largest slum in Nigeria today, with absolutely nothing on ground to show for the huge resources accrued to it since the inception of democracy. In fact Yenagoa got her first flyover bridge after 19 years of creation, and this wasn’t to solve any traffic problem but like the governor rightly noted, it was constructed to improve the aesthetics of the state.

Bayelsa sits on water yet getting potable water to drink remains a luxury for the teeming population. One begins to wonder what role the ministry of water resources plays seeing that water hawking on trucks is the order of the day. The government of the day needs a reassessment of its priorities; this should be done by cutting down on the size of government drastically. There’s no justification whatsoever to have more than 12 government ministries in Bayelsa. Creation of a ministry or department of public works/utilities that actually works can reduce government spending and absorb up to four dormant ministries. I don’t see the need for any governor to have more than 10 special advisers. One will be tempted to ask how special their advises are, seeing the sorry state of the economy.

Asides sharing of fertilizers to local farmers, one is yet to see any meaningful policy formulation and implementation from the Bayelsa state ministry of agriculture over the years. Governance is about alleviating sufferings and creating opportunities through implementation of practical policies, and this is where the ministries come in. The ministries aren’t just created to pay salaries, but as a vehicle to drive growth and industrialization. Bayelsa has land good enough for rice farming and oil palm cultivation and cultivation of numerous other cash crops. Beyond the lip service being paid to diversification of the local economy, what role has the government played to make agriculture a business venture and not a means of just poverty alleviation? What policies have successive governments put in place to support the sector beyond mere sharing of money over the last 20 years? Food storage facilities and processing plants are in short supply in the Niger delta and Nigeria at large, when will the government key into this area and make massive investments by partnering the organised private sector thereby raising revenue and creating employment on the long run? Government ministries should be drafting policy papers, economic blueprints and roadmaps etc. just anything to make the system work. In Bayelsa today, the biggest industry remains the state government hence with all her resources Bayelsa is at best a civil servant state.

Nothing slows growth and development more than issues of insecurity. The Government of Bayelsa should forget about organising investment summits if they aren’t ready to tackle insecurity head on. Criminals or militants should never be pampered in whatever guise. Legislations bothering on destruction of government properties should be enacted with hefty punishment meted out to culprits. The era of amnesty and state pardon for criminals should be long gone for good.

Seeing that the Nigerian economy is skills based and no longer certificate based, it will be naïve on the part of Government to ignore the connection between insecurity, unemployment and poverty. Government should invest massively in skills acquisition and support small and medium scale enterprises. Government sponsored skills acquisition programmes shouldn’t just be centred in Yenagoa alone. The first step to redemption is awareness of ones limitations. The government should accept the challenges the state is going through and bring all hands on deck to salvage what is left of a dented economy. The time for politicking is over let the healing begin.

Tari Martins is the Founder Niger Delta Integrity Initiative. He tweets via @tarimartins10

Re: Creating The Bayelsa Of Nigeria Before The Dubai Of Africa by Rival(m): 2:41pm On Aug 13, 2016
Nice piece. I had so much hope when Dickson came on board only to realize he's all just a mouth action governor. APC will fit him perfectly! It's so sad things are the way they are in Bayelsa in view of what could have been achieved if resources had been put to proper use.
Re: Creating The Bayelsa Of Nigeria Before The Dubai Of Africa by Malocity(m): 3:53pm On Aug 13, 2016
Am just waiting for some persons to come and blame GEJ. Wailing waillers

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