Niger Delta University (NDU) Matters
NDU has been a badly managed institution. As a visitor, I have read the visitation panel reports and I have set up other committees that have looked at various aspects.
I have been Governor for a little over four years and government has been spending close to five hundred million naira every month as wage bill. Shortly after I assumed office, I gave the NDU Governing Council a clear mandate to reorganize how the university is being funded or else the institution may not survive and this mandate was premised on the need to realign the institution and gradually shift her off the path of absolute dependence on government.
Moreover, since they are autonomous and they jealously guard that, they however use that as a right to employ and engage contract lecturers, academic and no- academic staff as they please and at then at the end of each month send the bill to the Bayelsa State Government to pay.
That is a wrong structure and my position on this is not because I am Governor. In principle, it is not right neither is it sustainable. Now that our salary wage bill is high and our revenue dropping, the NDU lecturers are no different from other civil servants in the state.
In the past four years we never owed any salaries but with the terrible short fall in the revenue it became imperative to reorganize and with the 50% payment agreement we brokered with the various unions based on the facts on ground and I sincerely want to use this opportunity to thank the NLC and the TUC members for being reasonable. However, the NDU lecturers insisted on a 100% salaries or else they will embark on a strike action.
Creation of African International University, Toru-Orua
In my inaugural address during the campaigns, I made it clear that we were going to invest massively in education and the results of the investments we have made in primary and secondary education is visible in our performance in all national examination as they keep going up.
We have built several and will yet build boarding schools despite the economic realities. Some of them will resume this year and it will host between four to six thousand young people to prepare them for national and international examinations.
Now that is a revolution and already the test run has started at the teacher’s training academy where about three hundred Bayelsan boys and girls are being groomed for the past three months.
Note that this is the first time in the history of this state where this is happening where we now have students in a boarding environment, where the government is setting up boarding facilities.
The last government that did that was Late Chief Melford Okilo and King Alfred Deite-Spiff both of the old Rivers State however; they did not invest in boarding schools. Now we have stepped it up by building boarding schools.
We even carried out major maintenance for schools that previously have boarding facilities. With this kind of huge investment, you need to have a terminal point and also expand the scope of tertiary opportunities.
General Africa as Chairman of Waterway Security Committee
Bayelsa remains largely peaceful and I give credit to the work of the security agencies and the good people of the state and of course everyone understands the policy trust of our government as far as the maintenance of law and order is concerned.
We do not politicize security and that’s why recently, most of you were shocked when I appointed an APC Chieftain, Africanus Okparasia (A.K.A. General Africa) as chairman of the state water way committee.
Only an open minded, open hearted, without bitterness, forward looking, general interest focused and all-embracing government that could have done that. And he and his team have been carefully selected because they understand our peculiar terrain and also the actors.
Already, their work is showing results. However, I have always called on federal officials not to politicize security when they visit Bayelsa.
My duty here is to give support by mobilizing the state to support the police force, The SSS, Operation Delta safe, the Nigerian Army, Navy, Civil defense and all the federal agencies who are here and I take that very seriously.
That’s why in the past four years of my government, you have never seen the opposition harassed. People go about their normal lives. It is the business of critics to criticize and it is my duty to govern and do what I believe is in the best interest of the people.
As you all know, there is security for everybody in this state irrespective of the political divide and I want that to be a code of operation for all security officials who come to Bayelsa. It is your right to subscribe to any political affiliation but I will not allow anybody to politicize security.
Already, I have made some of these issues known in certain quarters that need to. We have condoned and managed enough from some Abuja based politicians who believe in sponsoring violence and criminality under the guise of one political party or the other.
If they do not desist, we will take formal actions against them. Political ambitions and disagreements are normal but we must all work together to achieve security of lives and properties, maintenance of law and order and ensuring that our country does not suffer any major security hitches from Bayelsa. I will not allow Bayelsa to be used as a launching pad for criminality, violence or any breach of national security.
Killing of Soldiers at Nembe by Unknown Gunmen
On the issue of the security breach in Nembe which is one incident too many. You will recall that sometime last year, in the same community and location, there was this kind of attack where soldiers were murdered in cold blood while protecting our waterways and communities. I’ve just signed a letter condoling with the services concerned on account of that. I like to use this opportunity to offer my condolences to the military command, the commanders, colleagues and families of the soldiers who were murdered in cold blood in Nembe, Bayelsa State.
I will be summoning the Traditional Ruler of the area, the Chairman of the council and after that I will have a meeting with other critical players in that region to discuss the security developments. However, we frown and condemn the action in its totality and we are very concerned. I received briefings as soon as the incidence occurred but these are military security issues and I can only divulge as much information.
I believe that the military has already put out the exact facts and figures and our duty id to work with them and other security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators do not rest, are followed up and hunted down.
They must face justice. Maybe from this incident, we will also get a clue as to what happened last year and also previous security breaches in that part of our state.
The military high command understands that this was an isolated, calculated cold blooded murder and has nothing to do with the peace loving people of Ogbolomabiri and infact the entire Nembe LGA. I want to thank the military commanders on ground for that understanding.
As soon as this incidence occurred, I asked the Deputy Governor of the state who incidentally is from the area concerned to proceed on a visit and his visit gave us further insight and proved to be very helpful also in dowsing the tension and apprehension. The commander of Operation Delta Safe, Admiral Okojie was physically on ground and I want to thank him, his officers and all the military officers for the various steps they took to reassure the law abiding people of the are concerned.
As a government, we have ignited our community information dissemination systems and we are in touch with the people and all are working together with the security agencies to unravel the true identity of persons who carried out this dastardly act so we can bring them to justice.
I use this opportunity to call for calm in that area and assure you all that Nembe remains relatively peaceful and there are no major breaches save this isolated one and therefore call on all the citizens to be at peace and go about their normal lives. I also ask the leaders of the various levels to spend more time in their domains and in their communities so they can be on top of these developments and liaise with the security agencies and government.
Bayelsa State Election Tribunal Matter
I give thanks to God and also appreciate the support of the good people of the state which they have continued to show.
My opponent in the last general election never had any credible case. He lost the election completely and this before the entire world. It is unfortunate that politics in our country is such that political leaders who loose in an election still believe that the judiciary can in some way award them the victory they couldn’t earn through the votes of the people.
I won in seven LGAs and even in the eighth (Brass) as the scientific analysis later revealed. He would have earned more credit and respect by calling to congratulate me like our former president did instead of spreading political propaganda simply because his party controls power at the federal level, claiming a crime was committed in his favour.
That in itself is subversion of justice – a crime. Only Nigeria can tolerate a situation where certain politicians attempt to destroy all institutions in their desperation for power. This crop of politicians are of the perception that the Nigerian Judiciary can be politicized, intimidated, blackmailed and manipulated to subvert the popular will of the people.
This is mindset they went to court with because I’ve read and followed the proceedings all through and between the two of us; we all know who the lawyer is. He has no case to present before any impartial court or tribunal and he does not have a case any day.
The tribunal that they themselves put together looked at everything and said he didn’t have a case and they struck out the case on all the issues he raised. I should think that by now he has realized that the hand of God is involved in this game of power and there’s something in the governorship that counts for more than you which is the people.
That matter was a simple distraction and he has lost again. Having said all this, I must mention that these issues are political and I want to use this opportunity to invite him as I have always done and the few people with him, who make up a tiny minority as the elections revealed still, to join hands with us to build our state at these trying times. I believe he has a role to play as leader of his party and I am waiting to see what he will attract to the state by way of influencing big appointments and contracts in this APC led federal government. I am waiting to cooperate and work with them.