BAYELSA: A RESTRUCTURED BUREAUCRACY
It is beyond peradventure that the structure of government and its institutions are wearing a new look in Bayelsa State. The vision of the new leadership is shaping the core values of what governance should be and the basic modalities.
Thus in line with his administration's resolve and determination to deliver on its restoration agenda, Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, has undertaken a fundamental restructure and reform of the state's bureaucracy in a bid to restore and enhance professionalism, promote integrity as well as ensure discipline in the civil service.
At a press conference in Government House, Yenagoa, with the Head of Service and Permanent Secretaries in attendance, Governor Dickson gave a detailed rundown of the newly created ministries and spelt out their long term strategic perspectives to the new order in the state. In actual fact, some ministries have been merged, others split just as some new ones were created.
Most of the ministries also have their roles and functions reconfigured in order to strengthen their capacity to deliver as well as to fast track and aid the rapid implementation of government policies and programmes.
The newly created ministries include the Ministry of State Capital Development, modeled after the FCDA in Abuja with a mandate to co-ordinate and fast track the development of the state capital, Yenagoa. It will be recalled that Governor Dickson during the campaign leading up to the election that brought him into office, promised tocreate a new Yenagoa worthy to be called the capital of the state. The new Ministry of State Capital Development is saddled with the responsibility of achieving this objective.
The Ministry of Youths and Sports will now operate as two separate ministries. There will be a distinct Ministry of Youth and the reason for this is not far-fetched. Governor Dickson, in his wisdom, deemed it fit to have a full- fledged ministry that will focus on and address all the issues as they affect our youths. We have a huge army of unemployed youths and it is only proper to have a ministry solely dedicated and committed to address the myriad of problems associated with our teeming youth population in Bayelsa State.
Similarly, as a well- thought out idea, the Ministry of Sports Development is expected to tap into the vast pool of raw talents in the state, especially among our teeming youths whose energy, vibrant disposition, raw talents and sporting gifts can be properly harnessed and channeled to bring sporting glory to the state. The Ministry of Sports Development will also be saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the establishment of a world class sports academy for the state
In the new policy thrust, the Ministry of Special Duties is a key ministry with a novel structure and a clearly prescribed mandate.
From this ministry , we will have four commissioners appointed namely; Commissioner of Special Duties (West Senatorial Zone), Commissioner of Special Duties (East Senatorial Zone), Commissioner of Special Duties (Central Senatorial Zone), including a Commissioner in-charge of Federal Programmes. Objectively, the idea of this zonal structure is to further localize governance, bringing government closer to the people and ensuring greater level of implementation and supervision of government programmes and policies in these zones.
Arguably, Bayelsa State is still relatively far from anticipated development level compared with other well established states, necessitating such broad and concerted efforts to really jumpstart development, particularly infrastructure. Whereas, the commissioner in-charge of federal projects is expected to oversee and closely monitor the implementation of all federal government programmes in the state such as MDGs, NDDC, Local Content and other key programmes of the federal government in order to ensure that the real purpose and benefits of these programmes are fully derived to enhance the wellbeing the people of the state.
There is also the newly created Ministry of Science and Technology which emphasizes this administration's determination to give priority attention to science and technology. While the Ministry of Lands and Survey will formulate clear policies on issues relating to Land administration, its acquisition and the need to effectively manage issues pertaining to titles and other related land matters in the state.
Yet, the Ministry of Labour, Employment Generation and Empowerment is another key ministry that has been restructured to undertake the herculean task of addressing issues of massive unemployment in the state. The ministry in this regard is expected to collect the data of all unemployed persons in the state, provide the requisite training to make them employable as well as put in place the required framework to empower willing youths to be able to make the transition from being job seekers to become entrepreneurs through a deliberate policy of government on youth empowerment. This is clearly designed to unleash the creative capabilities of the youths in particular to enhance their entrepreneurial drive.
The Ministry of Culture and Ijaw National Affairs is a strategic ministry with a clear cut mandate. The promotion of Ijaw culture, values, history, language as well as the need to clearly define the Ijaw national interest within the context of a united, democratic and peaceful Nigeria are some of issues that form the core mandate of this ministry.
The new Ministry of Tourism Development also defines the new thinking and focus of government to make Bayelsa a foremost tourism and investment haven. Government's conviction to develop and exploit the vast tourism potentials in the state is clearly hinged on the need to depend less and less on revenue derived from oil given the volatile nature of this precious resource. This fact is even more germane since we do not have direct control or say on how the market value of this commodity is determined. Hence, the need to look inwards and tourism has been identified as a major source of revenue, if well harnessed. This administration strongly believes that tourism is one key area that needs to be developed and indeed, it is what the state needs to transform itself in order to achieve a better life for its people. Oil, according to Governor Dickson, is only a tool that can be used to reach this goal.
These are fresh developments in the state bureaucracy, reorganizing the civil service to cope effectively with the challenges of development in Bayelsa State. The traditional ministries of Justice, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Trade, Industry and Investments, Education, Energy, Environment, Budget and Planning, Finance, Women and Social Development, Information and Orientation etc are expected to key into the new vision, propelling the lever of government to deliver on promises to the good people of Bayelsa State.
A critical issue in this regard, however, is the observation by Governor Dickson that fraudulent practices by some individuals which had brought the wage bill in the state to a current level of N5.4 billion was unsustainable as it is detrimental to the quest for rapid development of the state. Yes, there is the problem of ghost workers but the governor is not relenting on his mission to make a difference with clear directives on accountability and integrity in governance.
Gradually, we hope to see current efforts as properly defining the future. No doubt, the challenges are there but there are also great opportunities ahead. Strengthening the bureaucracy will certainly enhance productivity and government success on its policies and programmes are also expected to enhance economic security, political stability, empowering families and organisations to also succeed by creating opportunities and restoring trust in government.
Iworiso-Markson writes from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.