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The Rising Profile of George Ombeh

By Walter Duru

The people of Bayelsa state shall forever thank God for not leaving them comfortless, as promised. Just as it was in the days of old, at a point where it seems there is no hope, God manifests his glory as the last hope of man.

Little wonder therefore, people of the state are presently having a sigh of relief, following the decision of a man seen by many as both the Biblical 'Moses and Aaron' of their time, Barrister George Ombeh, to answer the clarion call of being governor of the state, come 2011.

The re-orientation apostle, as he is popularly called, is presently, Government Relations Advisor in the Policy, Government and Public Affairs (PGPA) department of Chevron Nigeria Limited, one of the leading Multinational Oil and Gas Multinational Companies in Nigeria.

Ombeh (GAD) George Awolowo is from Ekeremor town in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Born to Daba Ombeh and Mrs Agbeotu Ombeh (nee Taubede) on 15th March, 1958 at Foutorugbene. He lived in Foutorugbene with his parents, who both have roots there, till 1978 before moving over to Ekeremor.

He is a very brilliant and experienced lawyer. Little wonder then, he was the bride to watch at every of his appearance in court, in his active days in legal practice.

This however came as a result of hard work, commitment, and above all, God's divine favour, as he has always said.

His educational journey was as natural as ever, as he passed through the ropes, in getting to the top. George Ombeh had his primary education at Foutorugbene.

He attended Government Secondary School, Asoama, Sabagreia in present Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA between 1973-1976, but finally finished up in Oproza Grammar, Patani, in Delta State in 1978. He Attended the College of Education, Benin-City (now Ekiadolor) between 1980-1982. And finally obtained the LL.B

(Hons) degree from the University of Lagos and Bachelor of Law from the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island in 1985 and 1986, respectively. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1986.

In pursuance of his life career, he worked briefly with the Sagbama Local Government Council between 1979 and 1980, shortly after leaving secondary school.

After admission to the Nigerian Bar, Barrister Ombeh George Awolowo practiced

Law under the Law Firm of F.D Lott & Co, where he had an outstanding performance

that has remained a reference point in the law profession in the Country.

As an oil landlord, he was interested in the operations of the oil and gas

sector, probably, with the view to understanding its operations and why there is

unprecedented poverty in the region, even in the midst of so much.

Consequently, In 1998, he joined the Oil & Gas industry to work with Texaco

Overseas (Petroleum) Company Unlimited as Head, Government & Public Affairs,

Warri Operations Office.

At the Chevron-Texaco merger, he was deployed to Port Harcourt to coordinate the

Government and Public Affairs (GAPA) department in the Eastern Area Operations,

covering Bayelsa, Imo & Rivers States.

His outstanding performance earned him further promotion, hence, he became Team

Leader in 2004, before he later became the Government Relations Advisor in

the Policy, Government and Public Affairs (PGPA) department, a position he

occupies till date.

His characteristic outstanding performance, as expected, earned him some

wonderful awards and recognition, both locally and internationally. They

include, but not limited to: the Outstanding Performance Award, 2001, by Texaco

Overseas (Petroleum) Company Unlimited; Chairman's Award, 2007 – A Corporate

Office (San Ramon, USA) Award by Chevron Corporation; Leading Professionals of

the World Award, 2008 by the International Biographical Centre, Oxford, United

Kingdom; Selected/included in the Dictionary of International Biography, 35th

Edition, 2009. Published by the International Biographical centre, Oxford,

United Kingdom, among several others.

His political journey in the country started when he contested for Chairmanship

in the old Sagbama Local Government Area, under the platform of the Social

Democratic Party (SDP) in 1990 and in Ekeremor LGA in 1991. He was elected State

Assistant Secretary in same Party in old Rivers State in 1993.

In 1997, Barrister Ombeh (GAD) George Awolowo was elected to the Bayelsa State

House of Assembly, under the platform of the Grassroot Democratic Movement

(GDM). However, members-elect were not inaugurated as a result of national

events of the moment, before he later joined the Oil and Gas sector.

Following the incessant call by Bayelsans for him to return to politics and help

to deliver the state from the shackles of bad governance and maladministration,

he has answered the clarion call, hence, his decision to throw in the hat in the

battle to be the governor of the state, come 2011.

Speaking on his gubernatorial ambition, Ombeh says, “What inspired me primarily

is what I see as the future of the state. Bayelsa State presently is one of the

poorest states in the country, not in terms of allocation from the Federation

account. In terms of the Federation account, Bayelsa is one of the luckiest

states in the Federation.
However, considering the terrain and topography of the area, it is more

expensive to be developed, but I see a great future for the state. Currently,

over sixty percent of the allocation from the Federation account to Bayelsa

State is based on our 13% oil derivation, and the derivation is based on the

production quota of every state and by the supreme court judgement, what

accrues to each state is production from land and water.

If you take a look at the investment profile of major oil companies in Nigeria,

they are now moving towards deep water. No oil company is interested in

developing swamp and land location. The reason is either because of the hassles

they go through, community crises, and of course, activities of militants before

the amnesty came into place. What that means is that if there is no renewed

investment on land production, with time, the production on land and swamp will

fizzle out. In fact, from my own calculation, in the next 20 years, Bayelsa and

many other states within the Niger Delta area will suffer.

If in the next 20 years, the swamp and the land production will get to the

barest minimum, then there is trouble if nothing is done. Before the 13%

allocation was implemented, Bayelsa State was receiving between N900million and

N1.2billion from the Federation Account. Even, as at now, the allocation from

normal federation account is not more than N2billion or thereabout.

Given this reality, this is the time for the state to begin to look at

alternative sources of revenue, which so far, we have not started pursing. If we

do not start thinking along this line, it means that we have nothing to leave

behind for those coming behind us. That is what inspired me to be interested, so

as to deliver the state.
What my government is going to do is to use the resources that are available now

in developing an alternative revenue base for the future of Bayelsa state.

On managing the huge debt profile of the state: ”Well, I am aware that the state

House of Assembly gave an approval to the governor to go in for a N50 billion

bond. I am not aware if all other institutions involved have complied. I am not

aware if the state government has been able to access the bond.

I am also aware that currently, the state has a very high debt profile. We will

put machineries in place to ensure that it is properly handled. We thank God the

Federal Government is putting things in place to address the issue. Given the

efforts of the Central Bank so far to handle and manage debts, I am sure, that

considering the strategies we have already put in place, we shall comfortably

handle, spread the huge sums and still ensure rapid development of the state.

What we need to do is to keep fate and be consistent with the payment schedule

and ensure that we handle same. We will also ensure spending within government,

so that we will have more available to develop and run the affairs of the state.

We will bring the data together, spread them out and be consistent in trying to

get them cleared. Be consistent with the payment schedule. That is what we need

to do”.

On insecurity in Bayelsa State, he explains,”Let me look at it from two

perspectives. The larger Niger Delta struggle that predated militancy, which of

course, by the grace of God has been brought under control by the amnesty. I am

aware that there is now beginning to be some worries because of the long absence

of Mr. President. I like to say that Mr. President's absence from the country is

not deliberate. He is presently not healthy and attending to his health. We

should not use his sickness as an excuse to return to the Creeks. Sickness is

something that is natural. I urge all freedom fighters to continue to keep fate

with the amnesty.
In respect of Political violence, it is unfortunate that some persons have

decided to resort to violence as a means of achieving political power. I believe

that leadership can only be enthroned by God. If you are not ordained by God, no

matter the level of violence, you will not be there. Violence in Politics is

something every right thinking person should condemn. I call on all law

enforcement agencies to look out for those politicians that are breeding

violence. They bring in guns and other dangerous weapons into the state. This is

wrong and must be discouraged. The Niger Delta Area, we all know, that apart

from the genuine struggle, the situation was made worse by those who used these

youths as a means of achieving political goals. It does not help. We should all

condemn it.
On the ultimate solution to the Niger Delta problem, he says:“massive

development of the region and sincerity of purpose are the ways out”.

Advising further, he says, “Bayelsa State, I must say has not had a fair deal

and my advise is that they should be wiser this time around in selecting their

leaders. They must resist every attempt to buy them over, reject the “political

seasonal Greek gift” and ensure that credible persons are chosen.

The ruling class should also realize that they are representatives of the people

and should be accountable to them. They must be transparent and serve with the

fear of God. I am optimistic that God will deliver us”.

Commenting on his vision and mission for the state, he says, “To Place Bayelsa

State as the best organized stable state with an enabling environment for

investment, reduce unemployment to a minimal level and uplift the standard of

living of the people. Turn Bayelsa into a single-city state with huge

infrastructure and make it a destination of choice for both business and

pleasure.
My mission is to provide basic infrastructure, business friendly environment and

re-position the State's Civil Service as well as public office holders for

partnership with the Private Sector to create a self sustaining economy,

independent of Oil & Gas. Re-orient the focus of Bayelsans and instil attitude

for hard work, industry, investment, accountability and transparency.

From all indications, with the decision of Barrister Ombeh to bow to pressure

from the masses to be the next governor of the state, the search for credible

candidates in Bayelsa state has ended, as when a child eats that for which he

was awake, he sleeps immediately.
As one from a humble beginning, who grew up here in the Niger Delta region, he

knows the problems of the region and has solution to them.

In all his years in the oil and gas sector, he was busy empowering and creating

opportunities for Niger Delta people, an act that has endeared him so much to

the people. Little wonder, the call for him to come and take over the state has

become ceaseless. He is a core grassroots man.
Barrister George Ombeh has proved that he is a rare breed. A true son of the

Niger Delta region and a good politician who understands the rules of the game.

Identifying with the grassroots is the first law of the game of politics,

because without the electorate, he would not go far. If he continues in that

spirit, the sky will be his stepping stone.

On the chances of his making it for the Bayelsa state government house, a key

stakeholder, who is presently serving in the present cabinet in the state, but

spoke on the ground of anonymity, emphatically says, “'He is the right

candidate. The truth has to be said. Anybody that wants this state to get out of

its present state and move forward must support him. He has the solution to our

problems. ''


As the countdown for 2011 continues to gather momentum by the day there is no

doubt that despite rumours from certain quarters that some emerging power blocks

are showing tremendous interest in the exulted position, the people have

already set their minds on whom they may be rooting for when the whistle is

finally blown.

A staunch member of the old brigade said in a telephone conversation recently,

that the popularity, outstanding records and vision of Barrister George Ombeh

is making it increasingly difficult for them to penetrate the people who were

hitherto under their control.

He also expressed fears that the principal stake holders and the PDP National

Headquarters may be swayed by what is happening and concede the ticket to Ombeh.


Whether the old brigade will hear this advice and recoil to their shelves and

allow a credible candidate to emerge is, a matter for further discussion.

When the righteous are in power, the people rejoice. Therefore, Bayelsans have

set an eye on whoever that shall attempt to stop this move to deliver the state

from the hands of the 'Biblical Pharoah', that has held the state siege over

time.

All patriotic and well meaning citizens of the state must as a matter of

serendipity, arise and take their destiny in their hands. Enough of bad

governance. Enough of imposition of incredible and visionless leaders.

This is a moving train. Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor!

The time to act is now!

Ebebi's Home Attack: Bomb Experts Arrive Tomorrow
Following last Friday's bomb attack on the country home of the impeached deputy

governor of Bayelsa state, Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi, bomb experts are to arrive

the scene of the attack today,[Monday], as part of the investigations by the

Police.

Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Onuoha Udeka, who dropped the hint

during a telephone interview with our correspondent, expressed the readiness of

the police in the state to protect lives and property.

“Yes. We got the report. My men in the area reported that at about 2am on

Friday, some suspected hoodlums entered the area in two speed boats and went

to his house, opened a security house with dynamites and attempted to enter. I

learnt there was an explosion. That is what the Policemen in that Community told

me. I am yet to know whether the natives prevented them, or what happened. I am

not a bomb expert. We are on it. The bomb experts will be there on Monday on

investigation”, he explained.

Continuing, the Bayelsa Police boss expressed regrets over what he described as

the unwillingness of the masses to volunteer information to the Police and

urged them to do so to enable them function effectively, even as he promised not

to disclose the source of the information.

“My worry is that our people are not ready to give information to the people. I

have and can always assure them that I shall not disclose my source of

information to any body. I am not saying that they should send somebody to tell

me. I want them to report straight to me, to ensure that the identity is not

revealed”, he stated.

It would be recalled that the country home of the impeached deputy Governor,

Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi in Aleibiri, Ekeremor local government area of the state

was in the early hours of Friday, bombed by unknown gun men with explosives

suspected to be dynamites, just as his night guard Doramugha Seibulu was

reportedly shot on the legs by suspected armed youths.

The incident which happened at about 2am threw the entire community into

confusion, as people reportedly stayed off the streets.

The armed youths reportedly invaded the community in four double engine speed

boats, shooting sporadically into the air, and headed to the residence of the

former Deputy Governor, where an attack was reportedly launched.

Niger Delta Standard gathered that substances suspected to be dynamites were

thrown at his residence, destroying its frontage, while the night guards on duty

jumped the fence to take cover inside the building, even as the assailants

followed one of them to where he was hiding in one of the rooms and shot him on

his two legs.
One of his relations who preferred anonymity said that at the initial stage,

they wanted to kill him before they later decided to cripple him for life. The

injured night guard is said to be receiving medical attention at Our Saviour

Hospital, Bomadi, Delta state.

It would also be recalled that sometime in May, Ebebi's Hotel (Latik Hotel) was

besieged by security operatives, when they allegedly found two undetonated bombs

in the premises of the Hotel, just a week after a car was bombed some five

hundred meters to the Hotel.
Hon. Ebebi had before his impeachment, accused the state government