OP-ED Opinions 

Bayelsa: The Poor Rich State By Paul Adujie

The population of my home state, Bayelsa, is 2,000,000 and we all live in single-digit Local Government Areas of eight. 2,000,000 people are not too many people.

Bayelsa has the least number of local government areas in Nigeria. How difficult can it be to administer 2,000,000 citizens living in a paltry eight local government areas, compared with Lagos and Kano with 44 local government areas etc?

It is the case that population issues are political in the most toxic sense for a majority of the states; populations are inflated for political purposes. It is, therefore, even doubtful that Bayelsa State has 2,000,000 citizens, with voters register reportage of 923,000. Bayelsa is not, however, alone in this population engineering magic!

Manifestoes are similar to the promotional materials for political parties and persons, acting like a candidate, or who seek political office.

A manifesto is a platform and predicate advertisement, which gives insights to the voters as to what political parties and candidates for elective office, are promising to do or not does, upon being elected.

The governorship elections in my home and corner of Nigeria, Bayelsa State are just a few months away and none of the registered political parties in Nigeria, all 91 of them, have offered manifestoes or written promises of what their political parties and their candidates would do and refrain from doing, upon being victorious at the polls!

Instead, what the world has seen and observed so far, is merely the braggadocios of poor rich parties and poor rich men, who have, in the midst of abject, extreme poverty, unemployment, dearth of public infrastructure, neglected and abandoned projects which have been abandoned outright, the two major parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their swaggering candidates who have paid up 20 million naira each; monies from their vigorous and prodigious personal hard-earned money over the years, profits, dividends, savings and all, paid with ease and without qualms!

Upon paying this outrageous price for this indication of interest nomination forms, the candidates of the APC and PDP, the major contending political parties in Bayelsa State, my state, which is full of squandered promises and yet, full of potentials, the candidates are not telling us or even pretending to be telling us, or promising us, what the aforementioned political parties and their candidates might do, if elected.

But instead, all we are being taunted with, is why West and Not East, East and not South, or Nembe and not Sagbama or Amassoma and not Sabagria must be elected. These geographies are no testament of a can-do and will-do attitude which delivers so-called dividends of democracy to our people.

After all, our state, Bayelsa, is the same state which has proven wrong, the wrongheaded belief that if your local government produces a governor or president, that singular fact would assure, guarantee and make certain social, economic and infrastructural development.

The former President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan was the political umpire and referee for six years, and yet, there is no potable water in Otuoke, despite the federal expenditure of billions of naira on Otuoke Water Works, which did not yield water after all the hoopla of commissioning.

Furthermore, all the roads to Otuoke and all of Ogbia Local Government Areas are bad and impassable 366 days of the year, whether through the Agbura-Otuokpoti – Onuegbum axis or the Otuasegha-Okarki axis or the Emeya-Elebele Bayelsa Palm axis and Kolo-Ogbia Town axis. Ogbia Town is the Local Government Area headquarters!

There are uncountable projects, which have been abandoned by our state government over the years. These neglected projects abound and among them are, the 500-bed hospital on Imgbi Road in Yenagoa, which laid fallow for several years, before 2012 until 2018 when the premises was re-launched by the governor, Mr Seriake Henry Dickson with the help of Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, both men behaving as if these buildings and premises never existed for a day, before February 14, 2018.

Subsequently, the premises were summarily declared Bayelsa State Medical University, and everyone shouted Hooray!

All of our eight Local Government Areas could and can have individual campuses of the Niger Delta University.

NDU Nembe Campus, NDU Ogbia Campus, NDU SILGA Campus, I am sure that we all get the point, which is that a Bayelsa State University with multiple campuses in our eight Local Government Areas would streamline this critical education sector for Bayelsa State.

This will be more cost-efficient and administratively more manageable. One vice-chancellor and senate and governing council, instead of, and in place of multiple vice-chancellors, multiple senates, multiple management teams, multiple governing councils!

How can a governor who regaled us with austerity measures, arguing closure of NDU for several months, and shutting down Imiringi Turbine Power Station, be the same person who has inflicted this plethora of overhead costs, burdening our state and generations to come?

Bayelsa State and Akwa Ibom are peer states. They have identical birth dates. Since the implementation of the derivation principle, Akwa Ibom and the Bayelsa States have received more than a majority of the other 36 States of the Nigerian federation and received more revenue allocated to it from the federal revenues.

Akwa Ibom has a functioning airport, Akwa Ibom has outstanding and solid drainage systems, great networks of roads, a modern stadium and much more! Comparatively, Bayelsa State has no drainage system in Yenagoa or elsewhere and no good network of roads.

Bayelsa State’s Yenagoa International Airport was first planned approximately in 2007, to be at a location off East-West Road, then, a new location was off the road to Amassoma. The completion and commissioning were with pomp and pageantry, but, there are still no scheduled flights for once a week or even for once a month!

Yenagoa International Airport has its Control Towers still under construction, several months after the audacious landings of aircraft which heralded the commissioning with all the hoopla!

How be it, that those posturing and aggrandizing themselves as potentate or would-be governors of our very rich, but, poor state, neglect to mention these things? They have not stated their agreements or disagreements with these policies or how they might tinker with and tweak them for the benefits of all Bayelsa State citizens.

How come no governorship candidate is asking why it has taken eight years, and Isaac Adaka Boro Expressway is still under start, stop and start fitful constructions? Why is Adaka Boro Express a bridge too far?

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