By John Ovie
The Bayelsa Development Initiative (BDI) has carpeted the Bayelsa State Government led by Governor Douye Diri for abandoning assets, programmes, projects and policies designed to revitalize the economy, empower the youths and create employment opportunities in the state.
The BDI National Coordinator, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, in a statement, wondered what had happened to the Bayelsa Oil Company (BOC) Limited, which was once active and caused traffic along the Otiotio Road.
Describing the BOC as a graveyard, Eradiri a former Commissioner in the ministries of Youths and Environment said virtually all state owned companies, established with the laudable aims of improving the economy had become moribund.
Eradiri lamented the conditions of the Bayelsa Dredging Company (BDC), Bayelsa Plastic Company (BPC), Bayelsa Property Development Company (BPDC) saying they had become inactive.
He observed that all the media outfits owned by the state such as the Bayelsa TV and the Bayelsa Newspaper Corporation had either been abandoned to rot away or neglected to function without the required equipment.
He said: “The New Waves, our local tabloid that employed hundreds of people has gone moribund. The Ernest Ikoli Media Centre inaugurated recently to accommodate all the state-owned media outfits is like whitewashed tomb.
“It is simply a mere structure without furnishing and equipment to keep the media outfits in them running. What exactly is Douye Diri doing with our collective resources?
Eradiri said nothing tangible was happening at the 60,000 ton-capacity Cassava Processing Plant at Ebedebiri, 45,000 bird poultry farm and Bayelsa 500 pond fish farm.
He said: “There are many other laudable initiatives that could have engaged many Bayelsans and stimulated the economy for growth. But they have all been rendered inactive and abandoned by the Diri’s administration. Unfortunately there is no strategic and deliberate plan by this clueless state government to revive them.
“The north is quietly preparing for the post oil economy and developing the infrastructure and businesses that will sustain their economy. Leaders in the Niger Delta especially in Bayelsa State are giving excuses , consolidating incompetence, squandering the future of our youths and the unborn then recruit the same youths, whose future they are mortgaging, to defend them.
“The northern leaders are training their youths for the future opportunities especially in LNG Train 7. But we failed to train our youths. Kaduna, Gombe, Kano, Lagos have trained their youths in preparation for the LNG Train 7 kickoff. Go and see those working there. That investment is being developed with international funds and employment is based on core competence.
“I once suggested to leaders and even told the governor at the time I was a member of the Project Advisory Committee (PAC) in the construction and implementation of the GMOU process that we must earmark a percentage of funds accruing to communities as a result of oil royalties for special education scholarship to prepare our youths for the oil facilities.
“I strongly believe that having such a critical mass of professionals will provide a pool of trained workforce in all fields and compel oil companies to employ our people.
“My state Bayelsa is far behind and rapidly moving towards a failed state if we don’t ensure we get the right leadership to pilot the affairs of this endowed state. We rank about the worst in every known developmental indices.
“You can pretend but the facts are staring all of us in the face. Look at the economy, the Igbo people are closing their shops and leaving the state in droves. The education section is in taters and in a state of neglect. No business is going on. Trucks and heavy duty equipment have all relocated out of the state.
“Go out at night, the town is like a ghost town. Nightlife is dead, poverty is endemic. Begging and prostitution are now the ways of life for our youths.
“Now is the time to decide whether to continue to complain or take action to better our situation. With the right leadership, all the moribund state-owned assets and companies will be revived to create jobs and grow the economy.
“A leader must have a vision, knowledge, the intellect and capacity to inspire the people to actualize the vision. This is the kind of individual that Bayelsa needs to turn around our fortunes, stimulate the economy and create the badly needed jobs for our youths.”