HON. WARIBUGO SYLVA—-EXPOSED
By: Ayebanoa Douglas
According to Edmund Burke “Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. Men have a right that these wants should be provided for by this wisdom”. Nigeria embarked on fundamental reforms at the Local Government level in 1976. The reforms were aimed at introducing uniformity in the system and entrenching fiscal autonomy – making the Local Governments an autonomous third-tier of government. These reforms notwithstanding, there appears to be a desperate search for grassroots democracy in Nigeria. About three and half decades after those sweeping reforms, local governments are yet to grapple with three main challenges.
It is stating the obvious that LGAs in Nigeria lack financial autonomy – which underscores the basis of true federalism. Although LGAs draw allocations from the federation account, the States have preponderant powers over the monies allocated to them in terms of imposition of levies, statutory and non-statutory deduction. Essentially too, the conduct of council election is at the behest of State Chief Executives. The Law Making powers of Councils are subservient to the State Assemblies. Their operations, especially those related to finance are under the tight scrutiny of the State, and as it were, the LGAs are devoid of administrative, legislative and financial autonomy.
In Bayelsa State, the eight Council Chairmen were sworn in about 8 month ago, consequent upon their electoral victories. In Nembe Local Government Council, Hon. Waribugo Sylva – a first class graduate of Management, of the University of Port-Harcourt, clinched the Chairmanship of the Council and he has practically demonstrated that a leader can make a difference in the lives of a people.
Years before his political ascendancy, Hon. Waribugo had dreamt about using the instrumentality of leadership to transform society. In this onerous enterprise and worthy journey of self-actualization he considered the dictum that “charity begins at home”. As a transformational leader, he keyed into the vision of Aristotle who convinced his kinsmen in Athens that “It is better for a city to be governed by a good man than by good laws”. He has since inception, brought his zeal, sagacity and passion to bear on his policies and programmes to transform the Nembe kingdom
As a man who places premium on the provision of physical infrastructure, human capital development and efficient delivery of social services to enhance the living standards of the people, he did not tarry to take three critical steps to kick-start his administration.
Firstly, the chairman embarked on meet-the-people tour of the LGA with a view to identifying development gaps and priorities of the various communities. Secondly, the chairman conducted a needs Assessment survey to be able to feel the pulse of the people concerning government polices at the grassroots. This was done in order to prioritize development polices and programmer within the limits of available resources. Thirdly, he consulted with traditional rulers, community Development communities CDC, Chairmen, opinion leaders, youth groups and women Associations. The culmination was a condensation of the needs of the various communities comprising the LGA. These needs have been aggregated to provide a basis for policy formulation and implementation.
Having assessed the needs of the people, he set about the macabre task of providing the very basis needs. To provide Nembe with a facelift, he awarded contract for the clearing of bushes and waterfronts at Ogbolomabiri and Bassambiri. Prior to his assumption of office, the water schemes in Nembe were utterly broken down. He resuscitated these dilapidated water schemes and completed the reticulation work that was abandoned by the previous administration. The administration of Waribugo Sylva immediately started the reconstruction of modern toilet facilities in Nembe while simultaneously renovating broken down toilets. The provision of these facilities has positive implications for the hygiene and well being of the people.
In Nembe Bassambiri, he refurbished the existing power plants that were in not operation. Today, the two power plants are in full operation. In order to complement the State government efforts at peace-building, the Council embarked on the building of a new Divisional Police Headquarters in Nembe- Bassambiri.
While these laudable programmes were being executed, Hon. Sylva cleared a backlog of salaries and allowances owe to staff of the Council, which he inherited from the previous administration. This is an uncommon feat achieved by the Chairman within the period. In addition, the Chairman has done superlatively well in other philanthropic gestures such as payment of school fees for indigent students, underwriting the medical expenses of the elderly and other forms of assistance to the vulnerable.
It was the same spirit of altruism that propelled him to initiate a welfare programme christened “Let the Elders Smile” – a programme in which cash and food items are distributed to 150 elders on a monthly basis. The programme is being coordinated by the office of the wife of the Chairman of the LGA. The programme was designed to put smiles on the faces of the elders and it has achieved that purpose.
One multi-million programme the administration initiated and completed is the building and furnishing of the Chairman’s lodge including perimeter fencing. Hitherto, it was a standard practice for the Chairman to spend huge sums of money on hotel bills when top government functionaries and Heads of Government Agencies, Parastatals paid official visit to the Council. The completion of the lodge has distinguished Nembe LGA as one of the first LGAs to have such a befitting edifice in Bayelsa State. In the light of the magnitude of the project, the edifice was commissioned by the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State then.
NELGA collaborated with an Oil servicing Company in the area to engage in a multi-million Naira dredging and land reclamation project. Today, the dredging of 50,000cm of sand has been successfully completed. The reclaimed land has already been earmarked for the building of an ultra-modern recreation centre – the first of its kind ever to be embarked upon by any LGA in Bayelsa State. Part of the sand has been used to sand fill and reclaim State School 1 field, in Nembe-Bassambiri. Prospective estate developers in the community will tap from the sand for building and construction work.
Pursuant to his capacity building programme, the Chairman procured laptops for principal officers of the Local Government. This is done to enhance their ICT skills and to facility administrative businesses in terms of transparency and accountability. The top echelon of the personnel of the Council will ultimately benefit from ICT training and equipment.
The Chairman of Nembe LGA is imbued with rare leadership qualities. He is emotionally mature, courageous, and visionary and has a sense of public need. He is considerate of the persona-social need, listens to all viewpoints to develop an enduring spirit of cooperation. He has demonstrable ability to manage conflict in addition to dealing with complexity policy issues. It is on record that he is the only Chairman in Bayelsa State that has been to initiate, see through and pass two fundamental bye-laws – all geared towards boosting internally generated revenue.
In the first quarter of 2011, the Waribugo administration will focus on improving the quality of education because literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. The Chairman recognizes education as a tool for daily life in modern society, the bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development. This phase will focus on the rehabilitation of schools, the provision of much-needed infrastructure and capacity building of teachers who administer education. Recognizing the burden of graduate unemployment, Hon. Sylva has resolved to establish Skills Acquisition Centres to complement the State Governments’ efforts in imparting skills that would make recipients to be self-employed.
Recognizing the fact that literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity, Hon Waribugo has laid out a plan for the sensitization of the people on their civic rights and obligations. Already the Council has kick-started the process of capacity-building of boat drivers on the maintenance of safety standards. The practitioners of other vocations and pseudo-professions will equally benefit from such capacity building gestures. The present administration in NELGA will ultimately provide a road to human progress and the means through which all can realize their full potential.
He promises to be the best Chairman in Bayelsa State, as he demonstrates transformational leadership at the third-tier of government in the State. And within a short period of 8 months, his achievements are watershed in the annals of the history of Nembe LGA. He won four awards in a capacity building workshop organized by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. Earlier, he had hauled 4 separate awards in the University of Port Harcourt by virtue of his academic excellence.
Hon. Waribugo Sylva is a member of the Ergonomic Society of Nigeria, the Nigerian Institute of Management, and the Institute of Strategic Management, Nigeria. He is Fellow of the Institute of Public Management, Nigeria and the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria, ICEN. On July 12, 2012, he is one of seven recipients of the Fellowship of the CERTIFIED INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT. Waribugo loves management such that he uses management principles in the practical governance of his people.
He has been able to conquer the initial hindrances that stood on his way to accelerated development. He has initiated people-oriented programmes capable of creating enduring impact on the lives of the ordinary citizen. For the first time in decades, people from the Nembe LGA can attest to the fact that the third-tier of government is working – courtesy of the managerial and leadership acumen of Waribugo Sylva. In the words of Peter Drucker, management is doing things right while leadership is doing the right things. Hon. Sylva knows the way and goes the way of transforming the people for self-discovery, empowerment and sustainable development. Wari-Sylva is the much needed catalyst that can accelerate the development of Nembe Local Government Area. He has demonstrated that Nembe LGA is working.
Ayebanoa Douglas – a public Affairs Analyst wrote from Yenago