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Monday, 24 February 2014

My Visit to Bayelsa, Jonathan's Home State

by Okoi Obono-Obla
I was recently in Bayelsa State to supervise the Registration exercise of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the State. On the 3rd February, 2014, I boarded Med View Airline flight from Abuja to Port Harcourt. On arriving Port Harcourt I hitched a ride from the Port Harcourt International Airport to Yenagoa, the Capital of Bayelsa State, the home State of President


What immediately struck me was the derelict and deplorable condition of the East-West Highway that straddles Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta State.

This is despite the fact that on the 29th May, 2007, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan after the late President Umaru Musa Yar’ adua won a controversial Presidential Election admitted to be flawed by Yar’adua necessitating the constitution of a Panel to recommend electoral reforms in the country, became Vice President.

Unfortunately President Yar’ adua was dogged by ill health that culminated in his transition to eternity on the 5th May, 2010. And by the succession process prescribed by the Constitution, the baton of power fell into the hands of President Jonathan who was sworn into office on the 6th May, 2010, by the then Chief Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu after the demise of President Yaradua on the 5th May, 2010.

It therefore goes without saying that President Jonathan has been in the corridors of Federal Power since 2007.

I wondered how President Jonathan who has been in the corridors of power (at the Federal Government level) has woefully and spectacularly failed to muster the political and financial will to see to the completion of the East-West Highway that is so central to the socio-economic development of the South/South Region in particular and Nigeria in general.

I also took a ride along the roads leading to the Ogbia Local Government Area of the State. It is worthy to note that Ogbia is the Local Government Area where President Jonathan comes from. This road is in such a dilapidated and deplorable condition that one of the bridges thereat has completely collapsed to the extent that an improvised bridge constructed with timber and bamboo sticks was used to hold the collapsed bridge to enable light weight vehicles pass through the road. It is an ugly sight to behold that such a bridge will be found in Bayelsa State which has large reserves of crude oil and indeed the State of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

There is such air of discontentment and disillusionment in the State that a visitor can feel it as you walk around the streets of the sleepy capital, Yenagoa. The people of the State groan under the weight of bad governance.

They openly complain that Governor Dickson runs a close government made up of a coterie of sycophants mainly drawn from his part of Sagbama Local Government Area of the State where he comes from.

They openly say that all juicy positions in government and contracts are reserved to close relations of Governor Dickson. They complain of a financial glut and lack of money.

They say the Government of former Governor of Timi Sylvia was better.

The accusation of clannishness is not only made against Governor Dickson, Bayelsan also alleged that President Jonathan only reckons with people from his own group in Ogbia Local Government Area.

The people also allege that Governor Dickson runs his government from Abuja and that he hardly stays in Yenagoa! Bayelsa has very difficult and challenging terrain and topography.

It is a low and swampy land. So it requires plenty of money to construct roads and build houses. To reach many places in the State from Yenagoa such as Brass, Southern Ijaw etc one needs to travel over turbulent and treacherous waters on boat for several hours. But with sincere and concerted efforts these challenges can be overcome or surmounted.

There is no room for excuses. It is do-able because all the city of Amsterdam is built on top of water!

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