My dear Governor, I am writing to you as a fellow Bayelsan and as your childhood friend and classmate on the seemingly intractable political storm gathering in the state. It is worrisome to me that you have to face such intense opposition both from within and outside your own political party. This made me travel to Yenagoa several times this year to meet with you without success.
During those visits I was reminded by a few people I met at the Government House lounge that being your former classmate, relation or friend did not guarantee one having your attention hence I have decided to write through this medium.
I interacted with a lot of people from diverse backgrounds during my visits and here are my findings which may not be unknown to you but certainly point the way forward.
The global economic meltdown and the drop in revenue accruing to the state as a result of militant activities are no doubt partially responsible for the low cashflow in Bayelsa. But the people have put the blame squarely on your shoulders as their governor. Your people are hungry. And remember that a hungry man is an angry man.
The people have therefore been incited against you. From political opponents both within and outside your political party to the civil servants, legislators and the common man in Bayelsa, they are all angry. How you incurred the “wrath” of almost all stakeholders in the state is an all too familiar story but I am going to highlight a couple of issues here as pointers to the way forward.
Those I spoke with claimed that you have become quite inconsistent when it comes to executing “agreement” reached with your party concerning political appointments. That as a leader, they are finding it increasingly difficult to trust you. As much as I do not easily subscribe to hearsay, it is absolutely important if not sacrosanct for a leader to build trust among his followers.
Civil Service Staff Verification Exercise
You changed the status quo when you commissioned the verification of actual staff strength of the state civil service. An exercise that threatens to expose the fraudulent practices perpetrated by political office holders and top civil servants and condoned by past administrations.
So they are asking; “how dare you?” Allowing you to remain in power to conclude this exercise would tarnish the otherwise excellent image and record of the immediate past administration. There is no doubt that the exercise will eventually free up much needed fund for developmental and socio-economic programmes of government that would benefit all Bayelsans. But that is the least of their priorities now.
I ask you the following questions my dear Governor: Do you subscribe to good governance? Is your government an inclusive or exclusive one? Why is there so much murmuring and in-fighting in your party in the state? According to Mr. Festus Mogae, former Botswana president, “socio-economic and political stability have been identified as products of good governance” Incidentally, Mr. Mogae made the remarks in your honour at your birthday bash recently in Yenagoa.
You need to form an all inclusive government to ensure peace and political stability in the state. Without peace there would hardly be any meaningful development in the state. You have very lofty ideas and programmes to move the state forward, indeed, to transform the state into exporting giant. You have identified key areas where the state has international comparative advantage in economic production outside oil and gas as agro-fishery.
Your international cargo airport project is a laudable one. The Bayelsa Expenditure & Income Transparency Initiative (BEITI) has been acclaimed in many quarters. You have initiated and awarded road contracts that would open up the three senatorial districts of the state which is unprecedented. However, all these cannot be achieved in an atmosphere of strife and political rancour.
There is need for basic unity among all stakeholders such that criticisms, when they are made would be constructive.
I would therefore plead with your Excellency to initiate a meeting with all stakeholders in your party for a peaceful resolution of the issues at stake and follow up with the implementation and all will be well with your administration and our dear state shall not miss your transformational leadership. Remember the Nembe adage: “segiyobo obuerigha” which means the dancer does not know how well or badly he performs. It is only from the cheers or boos from onlookers that he can guage his performance.
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