Echoes of development in Bayelsa State: Episode 19; 22 years of democracy Is there any cause for celebration?

Bayelsa State was created out of the old Rivers State in October 1, 1996 by the military administration of General Sanni Abacha (now late). The State was ruled by military administrators who incidentally were not indigenes of the State from the 1St of October 1996 to the 29th 0f May 1999 when the military handed over power to democratically elected governments. During this period frank talk has it that there were much complains from the indigenes alleging lack of development and marginalization by the military administrators who are not from the State without minding how much was coming to the State as revenue. However, since the beginning of this democracy in May 29, 1999 till date, Bayelsa State has been ruled by Bayelsa indigenes with drastically improving financial fortunes from the Federation account and the 13% derivation fund.
As at the time of the creation, the State was at the point of near zero level in terms of physical development which literally and empirically implied that we had all ample opportunities to plan, design, develop and monitor the development of the State in a professional and sustainable manner that by now Bayelsa should have been the best planned and developed State in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case as it stands as an unplanned and undeveloped State in all areas despite the revenue that has entered the State treasury over the years. The level of underdevelopment is such that no algorithm of regression analysis will be able to determine its flow pattern. No wonder, a former Governor who deceptively wished the State to be Dubai of Africa and Jerusalem of Izon Nation and deliberately never navigate words with actions, ended it with the name “FOREST CAPITAL”. May God help us.
The major reason for the lack of development is that, there has not been knowledge-based considerations in running the affairs of the State. You like it or leave it; the truth is that more than eighty percent 80% of considerations for offices in the State are for elemental selfish interest and not for the collective interest for the development of the State. Most of them have little or no knowledge or idea of the offices they are elected or appointed into and doesnt have the humility to learn and make the offices productive enough for the development of the State but are Satisfied so long as their personal interests are sustained no matter how derogatory and unproductive it may be. It is on this datum that the Governor of the immediate past administration always referred to his appointees as “MADAM MUST GO MARKET” anytime he addressed them. It is also a sad memory and commentary to note that, a former Governor of the State used to tell his appointees (SA’s and SSA’s) that they have nothing to advise him and that he only brought them to earn salaries.
It is disappointing and frustrating to also note that no administration has ever developed or prepared a blue print/work plan or programme that sets a target of physical and human capital development to be achieved within the tenure of the administration and to be sustained and improved upon by successive administrations. The result of this lack of work plan is the random and uncoordinated approach of doing things haphazardly without any defined and refined order, neither is there any planned target of achievement. A globally renowned entrepreneur said “One of the tests of a leader is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” The lack of development of Bayelsa State have reached a state of emergency so it should be treated as such.
Be reminded that, the regular pattern that has been operational by all the past administrations had been an impressive take off between the first year to the next six months and the graph will go down except this current administration where the first-year experienced minimal activities, may be due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other planning activities the public may not know. Another exception in this order is the administration of His Excellency Goodluck Ebele Jonathan which was short-lived by virtue of his elevation to become the number two man of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. While the graph was rising during the short period of his administration, one cannot categorically say whether it would have continued in the rising or the graph would have nose-dived. However, I will not hesitate to say that, with his posture of humility and listening to and accepting productive professional ideas, his administration may have brought succour and joy to the people of the State in terms of physical and human capital development if he had continued. I have said it in several fora that the level of success of a political appointee in any administration is directly proportional to the extent the employer wants him to succeed despite the knowledge and ideas he brings to the system.
MY ADVICE: It is my feeling that the near zero starting of the current administration probably due to COVID-19 or any other reason is a pointer to the fact that the administration must have used that period to develop a comprehensive and sustainable workplan that will be executed to change the narrative in the State and if it is so let Governor Diri and his team execute it whole heartedly for the benefit of the State, but if not so, it is not too late to commission relevant and committed professionals to actualise that. Strategic planning approach that provides a vision and policies for the development of the State should be adopted with regular monitoring and reviews with space for stakeholders input.
It is my candid and sincere wish that Senator Douye Diri should be critical enough to identify committed and development-oriented people to actualize the yearnings of development in the State thereby writing his name in GOLD in the history of Bayelsa State. On this note I wish to make reference to Episode 18 of my publication captioned “Life and legacies of Leadership”. Life existence on planet earth is a book with chapters of blank pages. whatever you write on the blank pages of each chapter is an attestation of your journey on earth even after your exit to the great beyond. Amongst all the chapters, leadership is the biggest and most pronounced and what you write on the blank pages of this chapter become your major history and is passed on from generation to generation, be it positive or negative. It is the reason leadership chapters of past and present leaders are visited always for public and private discourse.
Knowledge is power and ideas rule the world should be applied in the affairs of the State. Note: You cannot develop beyond the qualities of your knowledge.
Quote of the episode. An American Theologian; Tryon Edwards said: “He that never changes his opinions, never corrects his mistakes, will never be wiser on the morrow than he is today”.
Bayelsa must rise.
Surv. Furoebi F.S. Akene; FNIS; FNES is a development consultant.

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