The essence of governance is to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the governed. But in most cases, especially in Africa and Nigeria in particular, leaders elected to make life comfortable for those who elected them, often turn to become thorns in the people’s flesh.
Rather than introducing people oriented policies and programmes, our leaders prefer playing to the gallery and embarking on white elephant projects ostensibly to siphon public funds through inlation of cost, variation and re-variation of projects.
In Bayelsa state, for instance, Yenagoa, the state capital, had been in earnest need of internal road network to connect the two major high ways in the city until 2007 when Chief Timipre Sylva who was the governor of the state then rose to the occasion. The former governor, in a bid to alleviate the suffering of the people resident in the state capital as well as travelers, initiated the construction of over fifty-six internal roads.
The idea which was seen by many as lofty was to ease vehicular movement and reduce too much pressure on the Melford Okilo and Isaac Boro Expressways. Indeed, all the internal roads were completed before the expiration of the Sylva government. The roads did not only gave a facelift to the Yenagoa municipality but also reduced the habitual traffic jam on the Melford Okilo road and incessant autocrashes that used to occur on the Isaac Boro road.
However, due to the shabby handling of majority of the internal roads which were contracted to indigenous contractors, many of them were not durable. Chief Sylva had no sooner left office than the roads began to show signs of deplorable condition. By the time the successive administration led by Chief Henry Seriake Dickson came on board, the roads had already become deathtraps.
Consequently, many of the roads became seasonal roads as they were only manageable during dry seasons while unmotorable during rainy days. The disastrous nature of the link roads caused untold hardship to both drivers and commuters for a very long time without solution. Some people lost their lives or loved ones to accidents on the link roads while others were maimed for life or lost their valuables while traveling through the dangerous link roads during flood and rainy seasons.
Despite well abreast with the afflictive state of the Yenagoa link roads and the dangers they posed to residents on daily basis, the immediate past government delibrately looked the other way and paid no attention to calls for the rehabilitation of the roads. For instance, Niger Delta Herald took it upon herself as part of her social responsibility to reminded the government several times through critical reports and graphic presentation of the bad state of the roads in order to spur the then government to necessary action but to no avail.
That is why this medium is particularly pleased with the present government of Bayelsa state led by Senator Douye Diri for swiftly swinging into action to answer the call of the masses by bringing the deplorable internal roads back to life within its first one year in office. This shows the sensitivity of a government to the plights of those on whose back it rode to power.
According to the Bayelsa state Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Moses Teibowei, some of the most deplorable link roads where major reconstruction works which involved fixing of drainages took place include: the PDP Road, Okaka Road, Dimrose Road, Captain Ayeni Road as well as the Commissioners’ Quarters amongst others.
This act of listening to the yearnings of the people, feeling their plghts and taking decisive actions is quite commendable and should be the vertebral column of any sensitive and people oriented government.
Speaking on the issue of internal roads, the commissioner stated that the rehabilitation was mainly for the repairs of failed portions to make the roads passible in the main time; that the job was not for the complete overlay of asphalts. However, he noted that on roads such as PDP, Okaka, and Commissioners Quarters, more work was done on them as drainages were also built.