By Hon. Austin Ogionwo Febo
Over the years, I have watched with keen interest, the activities that has been going on in my state with regards to leadership and governance of our land, and I weep on how we’ve wasted so many years and resources in achieving nothing for our people.
It is most significant to note, unlike every other state in the federation that suffered neglect due to the long years of military insurrections, Bayelsa State was created at the tail end of the military regime hence being a State whose mal-administration remains the handiwork of basically, democratic leadership.
Bayelsa, a state that was created on 1st October 1996 with an estimated population of roughly 2 million people as at 2005, with the privileged of being amongst the highest earning states in terms of revenue allocation due to its position as an oil and gas producing state, yet it’s such a shame that after 19 years, it is still paired amongst the least developed, least advanced, least educated and least exposed states in Nigeria.
What Bayelsa has experienced in the last 19 years is a total neglect and disappointment of the people’s dreams and aspirations, especially people like myself who as a young man had great expectations and dreams for our state when it was founded in 1996. I felt at the time we could finally build a home of pride, cities of class and communities of hope for our people who had suffered great neglect for a long time.
The Bayelsa of my dream is a State that will utilize its advantage as an oil and gas producing state, in creating a state of pride with amazing architectural structures, good roads linking its few motor-able communities. I dreamt of a State with its sizeable population becoming the desired vacation spot for most Nigerians just like those Caribbean coastal islands, making use of the large expanse of estuaries and waterways for tourism purposes. I saw a state that would become the epic centre of coastal tourism and transportation hub of the Niger Delta. I saw a Bayelsa that would become the main destination of biological excursions, family recreation/site-seeing expeditions along its coastlines and forest reserves. I saw a Bayelsa whose villages and riverside communities would have become a bee hive of activities from tourists, fishermen and coastline transporters, thereby creating a booming economy and employment for our people.
I never envisaged a State that will become this backward, lacking in terms of physical development, high poverty rate amongst our people, high illiteracy level due to poor learning facilities and above all, a society highly proliferated by criminals of all forms and extractions due to lack of jobs.
All of these are as a result of our past leaders’ inability to understand the advantages that comes with living in a coastal/estuarine environment. Our leaders believed that Bayelsa is an oil and gas producing state, and so must be dependent on that resource alone. Yes, I do agree with them but, Bayelsa is worth much more than just relying solely on oil and gas. Bayelsa is first of all a coastal state before oil and gas. Oil and gas is just one of the many natural resources God has blessed our State with, therefore instead of the constant wastage of the resources we derived from oil and gas, which is currently under severe threat, it is time for Bayelsans to seek and vote in leaders who sincerely understand the true nature of the state and her potentials. This is very necessary now than ever before, so we can channel adequately the resources earned from oil and gas into developing a greater and better Bayelsa State. And just like Dubai has done in developing a desert land into a world class tourist destination, we too can build a world class business and tourist State out of our coastal terrains if only we are willing and ready for the change.
About Hon. Austin Ogionwo Febo:
He is the Former Acting Chairman PDP Bayelsa State and the former Commissioner of Lands in Bayelsa State. You can connect with him on Twitter via @febostin.
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