Gov. Sylva Deserves Commendation on HCD
Rabbi Kushner remarked several years ago that the purpose of life is to share and not to win at all cost. The purpose of life is to grow and to share. This implies that the true meaning of existence is to put smiles on the faces of others, to give people a new lease of life whenever the opportunity presents itself. In a similar vein, John Maxwell defines leadership as getting people to help you when they are not obligated to do so. Simply put, leadership is altruism spiced with humility.
In addition to this, a leader must be receptive, imbued with intuitive insight and the ability to conceptualize and communicate concepts. Above all, a good leader should be a team-builder, nurture a sense of community and be willing to change. A leader is therefore a servant, and servant-leadership is doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don't work for you, you work for them.
One of the principal indices of a developing community is the level of development of its human capital. It is universally acceptable that human capital is a critical measure of development. This view has gained prominence in an era of globalization when knowledge is fast becoming the most important factor of production. The HCD theory posits that people are a country's most valuable assets. In order not to waste the innate potentials of people, they should be trained to contribute optimally to the development of the state. It is against this background that the United Nations advised that developing countries should invest 26% of their budget in education. Sadly however, most nations have not fully complied, yet human capital remains a key driver of the development of nations.
In July, 2010, about One Hundred and Eleven (111), Bayelsa State Foreign Scholarship students in Russia and Bellarus graduated in the 2009/2010 academic year after completing their studies under the state government policies on human capital development. Eleven of the graduates students were post-graduate students. Twenty three of the undergraduates studied in Balarus, Fifty others graduated from Kursk State Medical University, Nineteen from Moscow and four from Ivanova all in Russia. Among the graduates are forty medical doctors, two of which graduated with first class honours. Others graduated in various discipline including; engineering, Agric, Economic. Geology, agro-ecology, the Arts and Pharmacist. The two Medical Doctors who made first class have been given automatic post graduate scholarship by the governor of the State Chief Timipre Sylva to continue their education to any level.
The president of the Bayelsa state Foreign Scholarship Student in Russia and Belarus and all the graduating students, Mr. Perewarifagha Tudou commended Governor Timipre Sylva thus, 'We commend the present governor for sustaining the scholarship programme that was started by previous administrations in the state. Our initial fear was that the scholarship programme might be discontinued when Chief Timipre Sylva took over as governor of the state, rather he truly showed that he really was democratically elected and carries the yearning and aspirations of the people' Perewarifagha Tudou said. His gratitude was not misplaced.
A Don in the State-owned Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State, was quoted as saying that if there is one area the Sylva administration has scored a high mark, it is in the area of human capital development. According to him, the Sylva administration has made substantial investment in education. He recalled that the administration has embarked on a comprehensive rehabilitation of schools, established the Bayelsa State College of Education, Okpoama and invested massively in the Yenagoa Campus of the Nigerian Law School. Also worthy of inclusion as part the administration's achievements is the deliberate policy of extending the Doctoral scholarship to lecturers of the University. More than 50 Lecturers have benefitted from the scheme and they are all now holders of doctorate degrees.
True, Governor Timipre Sylva, assumed office with a clear goal in mind, that of reversing the poor human development indices of the State. Before now, Bayelsa people could not hold their heads high in the corporate world because of dearth of quality manpower. Government therefore sought to place Bayelsa on the map of States with robust HCD record. It was in line with this thinking that informed Governor Sylva to sustain the programme. He believes that human capital is one of the basic prerequisites for development in all its ramifications, and it is against this background that most knowledge-workers have expressed their desire to vote for Governor Sylva to do another tenure in office.
In the Bayelsa State Sustainable Development Strategy (BYSSDS), the Sylva administration planned to improve individual and community health in the State. The thrust of the administration has been to reduce conflict and promote sustained peace; create medium and long-term employment opportunities through the aggressive pursuit of acquisition of higher skills relevant to available opportunities and to invest substantially in education levels to sustain economic stability. Sylva was concerned that Bayelsa State was outsourcing manpower in critical areas of need such as medicine and engineering. The State therefore, leveraged on both medium and long term programmes to build a strong human capital base. In addition, government has created an enabling environment to encourage private sector investment in the area.
It was this policy thrust that provided impetus for the several training programmes for Able Seamen, pilots, Computer Engineers and other middle level manpower abroad. Government has spent substantial part of its budget for upgrading facilities in existing vocational centres. This policy is anchored on the Triple-E Strategy: Engagement, Education and Empowerment.
The Timipre Sylva administration has embarked on aggressive intermediate manpower for the State and enormous resources had been committed to this enterprise. Within the first 15 months of the administration, 140 youths were trained in India on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), while 40 had been trained at Lofoten Maritime College, Norway for Seamanship and Marine Technology. Another batch is being trained on Welding and Fabrication by Air Liquide while Virgin Nigeria is training about 50 Bayelsa youths on piloting with assurance of employment on successful completion of the programme.
Governor Sylva did not limit his HCD drive to high level caliber manpower. The policy is implemented at the intermediate level as well. The famous Sylva stimulus package. Because of the enormous pressure put on family incomes owing to the economic recession, government decided to cushion the effect of the recession. This is in the form of capacity building programmes would designed to prepare the youths to become useful and productive people. Youths would also mount vocational training which seek to impart requisite skills and competencies to develop enterprising and self-reliant youths.
Specifically, Bayelsa youths would be trained in photography and video production; hair dressing and cosmetology; welding and fabrication;- woodwork and furniture making; horticulture and landscaping; Catering and other areas that would promote entrepreneurship. Sylvanomics, as the Stimulus Package is fondly called, is an strategy that is holistic, people-oriented, technology-driven and aligns with the policy of government. The Package is built around the idea of creating entrepreneurs, business leaders and self-reliant people for people-empowerment.
Bayelsa partners with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to build a Skills Acquisition Institute, and substantial commitment has been made in this direction. The state government also reached an agreement with Sony Erickson, a Swedish telecom firm, for the training of 24 youths and engaging them while 20 would study at the Malabo University .
A laudable initiative of the Sylva administration is the construction of a multi-purpose craft centre at Elebele. It would be a centre were skills development will be intensified. This is in addition to the construction and furnishing of Women Development Centres in the 8 LGAs of the State. The policy of the Sylva administration is to provide vocational skill training for empowering the people for entrepreneurship and employment.
Government has also made its intentions known on the need to promote entrepreneurship by setting aside huge sums of money as loans for cooperative societies and to promote Small and Micro Enterprises. The loans will be channelled through the Bayelsa State Micro Credit Administration Agency. The programme shall be guided by the principles of transparency, accountability, prudence and areas of priority. The establishment and reinvigoration of the micro-credit schemes shall improve peoples' access to capital to facilitate the growth of SMEs. The expected benefits include improved access to credit facilities; self-reliance; increased employment opportunities; enhanced household income; wealth creation and poverty alleviation.
The objectives of education in the medium and long-term include the promotion of a friendly early child care and development education in public and private schools in Bayelsa State by 2012; establishment of model primary/secondary schools across the 8 LGAs of the State and the recruitment of 3000 teachers and retraining of 4500 teachers by 2012. This would witness a significant increase as the system expands.
These objectives are achievable because the State has already embarked on the upgrade of the facilities of primary schools as well as the BYCAS model nursery/primary school. Other policies being pursued by government include the strengthening of facilities in selected schools and colleges with a view to providing all schools with teaching and learning materials and the completion of 3 World-Class Model secondary schools.
Government has invested over N1.5 billion to accelerate the pace of work at the Yenagoa Campus of the Nigerian Law School. Governor Sylva has assured that renovation work in existing structures would be adequate for the initial in-take of students by October 2010 while construction will be completed in 2011.
Humans by their nature are insatiable and no leader can possibly have all the answers. The critical thing for a leader to do is to empower people along the road to change. The impeccable record of Governor Sylva in the area of HCD is incontrovertible, and any one who argues against these achievements could be like arguing against the laws of gravity.
Sometime in 2009, the State's Ministry of Youth, Conflict Resolution and Employment Generation facilitated employment for 89 youths with 51 in Daewoo Nigeria Ltd., four with Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd and 28 were absorbed by Alcon Nigeria Ltd. while six got placement in the State Security Service (SSS). while, 30 youths were interviewed and employed by Oceanic Bank Plc. These are initiatives that are unprecedented since the creation of Bayelsa State about 14 years ago. Certainly, Governor Timipre Sylva deserves commendation on Human Capacity Development. It is one of the strong points of the administration.
There is a need for government to expand institutional capacity by strengthening the infrastructure of educational institutions to produce quality manpower. In doing so government should continue to provide an enabling environment to encourage increased investment in human capital by individuals and the private sector. Knowledge is power and education remains the only sparkplug for human development. Governor Timipre Sylva has kindled a flame of inspiration through the HCD programmes. HCD is certainly a leverage for people empowerment in a knowledge-driven economy. Bayelsa people can only hope that the tempo of HCD would gather the momentum of a revolution in the years ahead. Ayebanoa Douglas, wrote from Yenagoa