David Lyon And The Messianic Cross
The ‘Jonathanian’ style of conceding defeat, whether election was credible or not, is not easy to emulate in politics. In fact, election has become a game that is not over until it is over.
It is especially so in Africa, Nigeria, Niger Delta and Bayelsa State in particular, where cascades of legal and verbal bullets are unrelentingly fired by the losers and winners alike.
Instead of accepting the outcome, legal fireworks are usually fired until Supreme Court to try to upturn pronounced victories. This often goes on until the end of first and second tenures.
In so doing, acrimony, vengeance and administrative distractions also continue unabated in the polity. While the legal and psychological warfare persist, unity of purpose and advancement of the state for the common good suffer immeasurably.
Aggrieved persons have the right to go to court over alleged electoral malpractices. Despite that constitutional freedom, the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State has come and gone.
This is more so as the victory of Hon. David Lyon, is considered as a popular one, given his so-called philanthropy, with which he flawed others who flaunted intimidating profiles.
Therefore, despite disaffections and the unending political fireworks, governance must be on course like water flowing in a river, not minding human wishes.
More over like nature, even government hates vacuum, thus the laws have made it compulsory for a government to always be in place, no matter how badly flawed the enthronement process was.
This is why the outgoing Governor Henry Seriake Dickson had no option than set machinery in motion to hand over the mantle of governance to the new governor, Chief Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Thus, as the celebration of Chief Lyon’s emergence continues until, February 14, 2020 when he takes over the scepter of governance, and beyond, it is pertinent to pensively remind the new governor that the task of managing the statecraft is herculean.
This is due to the perennial problems of greed, exclusion of the masses from public resources; poverty and hunger in the midst of plenty; non-aggressive approach to development; uneven spread of projects; non-prioritization of projects for genuine public interests; a herd of unpatriotic aides who might not give good counsel; sycophancy and above all overdependence on crude oil revenue allocations from the Federal Government. The burden on the incoming governor’s head is therefore, the peoples’ lofty expectation that he is ordained to remove these yokes from the state.
Hence, the most important thing he needs to bear in mind is that, he will be governor to all Bayelsans irrespective of political and other sectional interests that have always hindered good governance in the state.
He should not forget that so much is expected of him, being one of the luckiest persons in the state, to bestride the seat of power. Having won without real party lines, due to mass disaffection on the side of the people, on how the state was governed, Chief Lyon needs to justify his sudden emergence in the realm of power, by sustaining the phenomenal paradigm shift he has catalyzed in the state’s polity.
The populist humility and philanthropism, unique selling features that catapulted him to power, should also really transcend brand characteristics to firmly rooted ‘welfarist’ policies and programs that would meet the peoples’ need for better standard of living. This is because his declaration as governor-elect, caused wild jubilations and hope for better things to come.
The new governor's agenda for the state which revolves around unity, peace and security as the cardinal factors for progress; provision of well-prioritized and useful infrastructures; a buoyant state economy to be private sector-driven and improved standard of living for the people, must be pursued vigorously.
These could be tackled through an integrated sectoral approach: through well-purposed and accessible educational programmes; provision of electricity and potable water supply; revamping of agriculture; works and housing, roads, bridges, residential estates; land and riverine transport, including seaport and building of markets to boost commerce.
Other viable avenues to boost development in the state are establishment of information communication technologies (ICTs), craft, entertainment and entrepreneurship centers to train youths and encourage self-reliance; repositioning of Yenagoa, the Capital City with reserved residential and industrial areas. The creation of rural industrial centers to revive traditional economy; encouragement of local participation in the oil and gas sector; formal social welfare schemes for the needy and streamlining of tax system to reduce the burden borne by payers, should also be accorded premium.
Again, to actualize all the above, the David Lyon administration would need to reposition and update the state companies, ministries and agencies, including the ailing state-owned media houses and other parastatals.
The State-owned Newspaper Corporation, publishers of New Waves; Radio Bayelsa; Niger Delta Television; Council for Arts Culture and the near nonexistent Government Printing Press, ought to be seen as the first port of call and veritable channels for public information, communication and public relations management. They should be repositioned through befitting work environment, multimedia digital online facilities, qualified management as well as training and better remuneration for staff. These are to enable them project the programmes, culture and image of the state and views of the people.
All that was done by the Governor Seriake Dicskon administration, might not need to be discarded, despite the perceived weaknesses of the Restoration Government. Thus, the people-oriented programmes and infrastructures built by the Dickson administration, such as the Health Service Scheme; University of Africa, Toru-Orua; Medical University, Yenagoa, the airport, seaport and other projects, could better be completed or improved upon.
But the, the Lyon administration could revisit the eight-year -long civil service reforms of the Dickson administration, to redress vexing aspects, and prioritize workers’ welfare as well as provide adequate training and funding for effective service delivery by the service. These will redress injustices that the reforms may have caused some persons, create balanced-employment quota among all parts of the state as well as further endear the new government to the people. Really, Bayelsans have not got too much of the gains of the creation of the state, so we need not pretentiously give our chances to outsiders under the guise of being the so-called Capital of Ijaw Nation.
Gone, should be the days that upcoming and top professionals in Bayelsa State were sidelined in favour of non-indigenes. Although good hands could be enlisted from outside, qualified Bayelsans in various professions, especially media/communication which indigenous experts are usually sidelined, should be utilized most in the management of the statecraft. This is to provide leadership training and succession plan while also empowering the indigenes.
The lofty agenda of the new governor will no doubt also be powered by partnerships with foreign and local investors, donors, multinational oil companies in the state as well as the Federal Government.
However, it should be borne in mind that the best ways to attract external partnerships are to first of all provide modern infrastructures and industrial hubs, peace and security, instead of wasting funds to open investment houses abroad to woo investors who will not be eager to invest in unviable places. The state-owned media outfits, including the Council for Arts and Culture, will equally help to promote the investment and tourism potential of the state, especially if connected to internet and satellite broadcast platforms.
If the new governor is to deliver on his populist Messianic mission, then he would have to think out of the box, to generate revenues from untapped solid and liquid minerals other than crude oil and gas; develop and promote the agricultural, tourism, sports and entertainment potential of the state in order to raise funds for development. One test of a manager is ability to be creative and bring water out from even rock, instead of crying wolf only to earn nickname of “weeping governor”. He should not save too much monies for a rainy day if he knows the monies will not appear when the rains fall.
Freedom for, and good relationships with the House of Assembly, the State Judiciary and Local Government Councils, to do their part to support progress of the state are also cardinal. Such relationships should be for sincere motives, not just for protection of the executive at the expense of public interest. There would however need to be checks and balances.
Indeed, the agenda and charisma of the new governor, vis-à-vis the massive support for his election on the plank of an opposition party, unlike in the past, have continued to raise the peoples’ hope for a new Bayelsa.
What is also expected in return is for people from all class and walks of life to support the new government to implement its agenda to meet the aspirations of the people.
Criticisms, especially constructive ones are good, but Bayelsans should criticise rationally, even as the government should allow public opinion to influence policies and programmes.
In this new era, Bayelsans should also think less of personal or clique benefits from the new socialist government and the philanthropic governor. Instead, everyone should think of what to be done to back the government, after which it could be scored for good or poor performance in the end.
All hands must therefore, be on deck to move the rich but impoverished and underdeveloped Bayelsa State forward, instead of passing the buck. And the time is now, to so do.
ETETE ENIDENENIDENEZE is a Media Practitioner/Public Affairs Analyst