By: Jackson Ayagbene-Owei
Creek Haven is the seat of power for the Bayelsa State Governor.
Until the restoration administration, Creek Haven was bereft of the trappings of the luxury and sophistication required of the seat of power.
It was during the eight years rule of former Governor Seriake Dickson that we saw the construction of a befitting Governor’s office, a health facility equipped to the teeth, the Golden Tulip Hotel, the Polo Club and a medium size golf course. That administration also put in place a security establishment equipped with up-to-date facilities. This is the nature of Creek Haven as it is today.
Former Governor Dickson tagged his administration “Restoration” because the focus was to restore what the state had lost in previous administrations.
In addition, the developmental agenda of restoration was dictated by the need to put in place institutions and physical facilities that can attract investors to the State.
When Governor Douye Diri took office on the 14th of February, 2020, he christened his administration “Prosperity.”
From 1999 till date, successive administrations have been striving to fill the developments gaps by providing some substandard, fringe infrastructure such as bridges, grade C roads, health and educational facilities not really good enough for a State recovering from two decades of executive purloin.
It is absurd to think that the provision of basic infrastructure can promote investment and sustain prosperity. Far from it. Perhaps the definition of prosperity might have been misconstrued to mean the completion of some ongoing projects.
So far Governor Diri has been at the saddle for two years and nine days and there is no iconic project embarked upon by the government that would suggest that the State is navigating the contours of development.
At this juncture, let us x-ray some of the projects being embarked upon by the self styled prosperity administration.
Since the inception of the Diri’s administration about Five Hundred and Twenty-Nine Billion Naira (N529billion) has accrued to Bayelsa through FAAC.
This is not inclusive of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), dead=weight loans, Federal Government refunds and other interventionist projects sponsored by the EU, UNDP and UNESCO.
In the area of physical infrastructure government has committed an estimated N12billion in the 60-year old Yenagoa-Oporoma road. Bayesians were made to understand that a whopping N4.2 billion was spent on the 4.5Km on the Igbedi Road.
The Glory Drive II Road embarked upon has no cost elements because of the controversies surrounding the initial award of the contract in 2011. The Igbogene-AIT ringroad which was started by the previous administration has not gone half way. The Ernest Ikoli Media Complex may be estimated to cost N2billion including the cost of furnishing. The completion of the Nembe Unity bridge is also counted as one of the achievement of the administration.
Other projects are the Bayelsa Transport Terminal at Igbogene, the Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme building, the Elebele Bridge and the refurbishment of some buildings at the Judges’ Quarters. In total an estimated N50billion might have been spent on infrastructure in the past two years.
However, the administration has never implemented policies and programmes in a transparent manner. Bayelsans can only guess as to the cost of public projects. The award of contracts does not follow due process. Contract values are kept in secret perhaps because of over-invoicing and fraud.
Whereas the administration is doing well in consensus-building, there is no integrated approach to development in the State. Budgets are prepared and approved without legislative oversight.
Most of the assets of government such as the Bayelsa Palm Estate have been allowed to rot. Whereas so much money was spent to rehabilitate the Bayelsa Plastic Industry it is yet to function.
Governments have also scored very low in the area of the Rule of law. A case in point is the arrest and arraignment of the 12 Aguobiri women who only protested that their community should be included in the Yenagoa-Oporoma Road.
Truly, the administration lags in policy formulation and implementation. So many ministries and parastatals are under-budgeted while there are slush funds in agencies that are not relevant to the delivery of services.
For instance, while the education and health Ministries appropriated only N4 Billion each in the 2022 budget, the ministry of budget and economic planning which has no capital budget appropriated N7billion. in the Agriculture Ministry, w whopping N12billion was appropriated but it is one of the Ministries with lesser impact. It parades the highest fraud index in the administration.
Analysis of the administration shows that Bayelsa State is many light years away from prosperity. The Diri administration has not adopted any coordinated approach to the sundry issues of development.
What the administration is doing is to continue where the past administration stopped. At best, the administration could be described as a government of continuity.
There is also the problem of nondisclosure of the cost of contracts, which creates avenues for fraud and manipulation of public. It is difficult to believe that the Diri led administration has respect for public funds. The treasury of the State is not safe in the hands of the kleptocrats surrounding Creek Haven.
If elected president, I will name, shame oil thieves—Atiku to business leaders
Lagos—The 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has threatened to name and shame oil thieves in the country if elected Nigeria’s President in 2023.
Channels TV reports that Atiku made this known on Saturday when he interacted with the Business Dialogue Stakeholders Forum at Eko Hotel in Lagos.
Atiku also said he would confiscate all oil blocs allocated to some Nigerians who have failed to make them operational.
“If you are not going to develop oil blocs given to you, we will take it away and give it to those who will develop it.
“We will also assemble the names of those involved in oil theft, publish same and prosecute them,” Atiku told the stakeholders.
He reiterated his commitment to privatizing the refineries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri.
Atiku was at the event with his running mate and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa.
Both Governors Udom Emmanuel and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Akwa Ibom and Sokoto states; who are the Chairman and Director General of the Atiku/Okowa presidential campaign team, urged the stakeholders to support Atiku for a better Nigeria.
Only 250 psychiatrists left in Nigeria, says association
Enugu—Taiwo Obindo, president of the association of psychiatrists in Nigeria, says the current psychiatrist-to-patient ratio in Nigeria is one to one million.
According to TheCable, Obindo Spoke on Thursday on the sidelines of the ongoing 53rd annual general and scientific meeting of psychiatrists in Enugu.
He said two-thirds of certified personnel leave the country annually.
According to him, this has led to the poor ratio and has made accessibility and deliverability of psychiatric care relatively difficult in the country.
“The standard is that one psychiatric doctor should take care of 10,000 patients. But today, we have one psychiatric doctor to more than one million Nigerians,” NAN quoted him as saying.
“As we speak now, we have less than 250 certified psychiatric doctors throughout the country, and more are leaving by the day.”
Obindo called for the passage of the national mental health bill as amended to ensure proper administration of mental health treatment, adequate funding, and remuneration of professionals.
“Mental healthcare should be incorporated into the primary healthcare system to cater to primary and secondary institutions treating mental health disorders in localities,” he said.
“Presently, the little budget meant for mental health treatment goes to tertiary medical institutions only. Mental health should be fully taken care of at primary healthcare centres.
“Percolating mental healthcare to primary healthcare institutions will save Nigerians transportation, feeding and accommodation costs, and the stress of conveying mentally-ill persons to urban centres where psychiatric hospitals could be found.”
Speaking further, Obindo said Nigerians facing insecurity and forced displacements have continued to face psychological and psychiatric trauma and disorders.
He said the government should ensure that such people recover from the shock they have witnessed.
“It is important that governments and other support groups give them special attention to meet their current challenging emotional, psychological, and psychiatric needs so as not to fall into deeper depression or societal withdrawal,” he added.
FG reintroduces history in basic education curriculum
Abuja—The Federal Government has announced the reintroduction of history as a stand-alone subject in the basic education curriculum 13 years after it was abolished, according to the Tribune.
The government noted that 3,700 History teachers have been shortlisted for the first round of training for enhanced teaching of the subject.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu while speaking at the flag-off ceremony of the reintroduction of the teaching of history and training of history teachers at basic education level on Thursday in Abuja, lamented that national cohesion was being threatened with the country retreating into primordial sentiments.
He said this is because of the lack of knowledge of the evolution of Nigeria following the removal of History from the basic education curriculum.
Adamu was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Nanah Opiah at the event attended by Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar and other key stakeholders in the education sector.
History was removed from primary and secondary education curriculums from the 2009/2010 academic session.
Adamu ordered the reintroduction of the subject in 2019 following widespread condemnation.
Adamu said: “History used to be one of the foundational subjects taught in our classroom but for some inexplicable reasons, the stream of teaching and learning was abolished.
“As a result, history was subsequently expunged from the list of subject combinations our students could offer in both external and internal examinations compared to the subjects that were made compulsory at basic and secondary levels in Nigeria.
“This single act no doubt relegated and eroded the knowledge and information that learners could otherwise have been exposed to. It was a monumental mistake and have already started seeing its negative consequences
“The loss created by the absence of this subject has led to a fall in moral values, erosion of civic values, and disconnect from the past.
“More worrisome was the neglect of the teaching of this subject at basic and post basic levels of education which invariably eroded the knowledge of the evolution of Nigeria as a country.
“The immediate implication of this was that we lost ideas even of our recent past, and we scarcely saw ourselves as one nation and gradually began retreating into our primordial sentiments.”