By Ebi Felix
Politics, like religion, has a season billed for intense political gaming and activity. It traditionally marks a time when everyone involved in the game troops out to register and demonstrate their level of consciousness prompted by the duty to sustain a government or effect a change to the direction of an unending journey of political development. In Nigeria, 1999 was the year that marked the season the nation had another round of political motion to continue her journey after the previously failed attempts since its inception in 1914. That was when Bayelsa had its first season of political engagement among its populace after it was birthed in 1996, putting to an end the era of military governance.
This is 2020 and we do know that a few seasons have come in-between. And, in those much reckoned seasons, we have seen the celebrated civilian moralists, the political actors and gladiators split themselves into different or opposing camps just to contend for the throne of power located at the state’s capital, Yenagoa. This has not been without all the deceptive promises and mantras sold out to the people calculated at getting their approval, even though there is an underground contrivance to make them inconsequential in most cases. Because it is usually something contended for and won by a party, there is the promise to do better; in a case where there is an administration in place and begging for a second term, or the promise to bring “fresh air” by opposing party on the ground that the ruling party has failed to make the Bayelsa people realize their aspirations.
Majority of discerning Bayelsans will not forget November 2019 just so soon because they are not oblivion of the condensation of uncertainty in the state as the consequential pandemic of the year, leading to the shock of February 2020. The year provided them the opportunity, after their painful observations about the faring of the Rt. Hon. Seriake Dickson’s led PDP government (styled restoration), made an earth quaking decision to revolt against his party’s governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Senator Douye Diri (of the prosperity mantra), by massively voting the APC candidate, Chief David Lyon, with the hope that he will do well to make their dreams and aspirations come through. Their hearts were overwhelmed with joy by the victory and the prospects of a brighter future was set on a high note of certainty when, at the eve of the anticipated transition, the court judgment on the validity of Lyon’s deputy’s nomination came and murdered the joy of the people and destroyed their hope for a certain tomorrow.
The disappointment was incalculable and the desire to return to the path of hope and a progression to the attainment of their dreams could not be insured or restored by any means. But then, if they were more concerned about the often imagined “promise land”, the person who takes them there does not matter, judging by the story in the Bible. Being religious they are (I say this guardedly), they could see a connection of the drama of their political misadventure with spirituality. And by a way of implication, they were to see God’s hand in it by an uninspiring judgment of the beneficiary of the judicial pronouncement, the PDP’s candidate. The reality is that they have a “miracle governor ”that even their religious inclination will be willing to accept and hoped that their expectations of a better state comes through the Diri’s administration miraculously.
Meanwhile, the miracle governor has spent six months in his four years administration. While there has been unseen motions that appeal to the spiritual minds, there is virtually no cue that the mantle in swing with the miraculous accreditation and beatification is not allergic to earnest physical gesticulations premeditated to assure the people about their state in transition from a hollow “Restoration” nuisance to another prosaicism of “Prosperity”. Ordinarily, one expected the miraculous turn of events on February 13 2020, and actions thereof, to result into an immediate interconnected upshot of evidential strides of the seemingly favourable and advertised prosperity, but here we are: a state pulled off-shore like a damaged boat in the creeks. In these months running, His Excellency seems waiting for a miracle to form his cabinet, which possibly will be made of angels that when swing into action will make things happen mysteriously. If this is believable, what about this religio-centric reliance that was not able to wave off the intrusion of the powerless coronavirus disease into the state with a record of three hundred and forty-two infected persons and twenty-one dead casualties, (the figures at 8th August 2020). This is besides the bragging of Hon. Alfred Agbedi, member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal constituency in the state that the virus would not come near the state because it had a miracle governor. If this would be the case, is it not a forecast and conjuration of fear and uncertainty into the span of this miraculous administration? Where is God in this political inanity?
Bayelsa, as it is at the moment, is ruined and bewailed soundlessly by a habitually miserable people. This is unfortunate and ridiculous when one has to think that the previous administration of Dickson that prided itself as the best ever is the foundation of this transition to a governance meltdown. A situation where the former governor’s political son, despite his claim of being ordained by divinity is in a fix to immediately breathe life into governance to effect a euphoric atmosphere is a pointer to a feature of a transition to a tragedy that awaits us in the state. Dickson had done enough to turn the state to Dubai, a representative image of paradise, hadn’t him? We can easily recall his bragging. The miracle governor would have had no challenges to contend with if the Dubai had fell off from the former governor’s imaginary conception to reality.
Is it not shameful that all the dubious ongoing projects that were stopped before and at the eve of the transition remained unattended to in the last six months? Appallingly too, when the present administration clocked one hundred days in office, the only thing it had as its achievement was a plan to expand and uplift the face of the Tombia roundabout as a part of the new government’s urban renewal policy. As this article was being produced, known to be the first and only physical development project of the miraculous government so far, the expansion work has started though, but poorly and unimpressive. The worse is that it looks abandoned even, as the site would reveal. Visibly, users of that axis of the capital city can see the lack of seriousness and unpreparedness of the prosperity government after unabashedly awarding the contract to an inexperience contractor that has begun to do a poor job without caution.
In fact, a transition from a celebrated jinx breaker, the purported hero who went home unapologetic without paying the state workers their January salary before his exit on February fourteen, is suspicious and scandalous. What is the pride and heroism in a former governor who could not be inspired by his transparent briefing initiative to tell the people how much he was leaving in the state treasury for his successor to inherit-of course we knew his intentions were malicious going by his last minutes actions: all because he wanted to endanger the administration of Lyon that never came to fruition following the court judgment.
It is unfortunate that the mischievousness intended for Lyon is reaped by perhaps an unsuspected successor of the lineage of the former governor.
Up till now, Bayelsans, generally, do not know where the January money went to. And amazingly, the piety intoxicated governor that should demonstrate the religious virtues of godliness and faithfulness to tell the people some hard truth, has remained permanently mute. You see, except the gullible electorates, we know God is just a name or an instrument of conquest to the politicians. The pious governor will not say anything because, he was a product of the Dickson’s financial recklessness who only succeeded in tricking the naïve Bayelsans with the irritating colouration of having a divine mandate. The moral baggage is frightening and remain the government as far politics is concerned. We were not surprised when, in less than a month, he went ahead to borrow almost three billion naira (#2.9) to buy operational vehicles for his new appointees who were indisputably greed infected politicians that had already stolen heavily from the state in the last administration; who ordinarily would sacrifice their possessions to serve the state. This action, which received public disapprobation, was the first warning augury that nothing good was going to come out from the God’s own administration. And till this moment, things have not shown that the forecast of the people were not wrong.
For the six months, nothing less than sixty billion naira has been received by this government; if we are to put the average at ten billion naira for each month. Going by the #2.82 billion reeled out as the February 2019 wage bill for civil servant’s salary by the former Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha Jonah (rtd.), the current wage bill will not take more than forty percent of say ten billion naira as the least of monthly allocations to the state. Payment of salary is what the government has been doing statutorily. So, where has the remaining percent gone to? If the billions cannot be translated to a spring in meaningful and people-oriented projects in the state now, then something, like it has always being, is wrong with this God’s own administration. Eight years did Bayelsans wallow in despair and the fear is ripe that all the prayers, sacrifices and energies dissipated to ensure that the next four years bring them joy had been offered in vain. The holocaust of the past years had not let go. Senator Diri must prove the extra-ordinariness in his designation as God’s own governor.
Felix wrote from Bayelsa.