I elected to re-publish this article because the RESTORATION ADMINISTRATION of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has, within a short span of less than 200 days, taken radical steps to reform all major institutions to redefine the architecture of governance. These steps are not only commendable but they are sufficient to provide a road-map for accelerated development in the months ahead. The Restoration Agenda is indeed on course.
By: Idumange John
One chapter of Japanese history that arrests my attention with consummate interest is the Meiji restoration era which started in 1871. The Meiji leaders sought economic development as a concomitant of strengthening Japan’s power but they had very scant menu of choices partly because the previous administrations had inadvertently embarked on a policy of dewealthing the middle class and discouraging investments from other countries. Japan under the Samurais was an exploitative regime characterized by extortion.
They embarked on land reforms, which led to a huge loss of the samurai class of its livelihood. It was the restoration of the Emperor and the overthrow of the seven hundred-year rule by the warrior class of samurai- which was essentially feudalistic. The national government tried at first to create government industry to produce particular products or services. The lack of funds forced the government to turn these industries over to private business, which in return for special privileges would accommodate the government’s goals. This was the origin of the Zaibatsu system. With, the zaibatsu system, the Japs began to tap the innovative potentials of people and overseas.
The rise of Mitsubishi, investments in transport, shipping investment in trade and economic prosperity could be attributed to the Zaibatsu. The Meiji policy of using private businesses to promote government policy objectives proved successful. When Park Chung Hee of South Korea wanted to industrialize South Korea, he created the system of Chaebol, the government-sponsored firms such as Hyundai, Samsun, Lucky Goldstar, Daewoo, etc. The program was modeled on the Japanese Meiji Era experience. It was indeed an era of restoration in a holistic sense. Many progressive nations and even regions of a nation have adopted this paradigm to rebuild their economies. It was a kind of modern neo-liberal practice public private partnership.
When major stakeholders in Bayelsa decided to change the current inept leadership in the State, they found in Barrister Henry Seriake Dickson, HSD, a dynamic man who is capable of piloting the ship of State to a safe direction. At his declaration prior to when he had a landslide victory at the PDP primaries on November 19th in Yenagoa, he chose his campaign agenda as RESTORATION AGENDA. In his declaration, he said: “I have heeded the call of well meaning Bayelsans and the entire Ijaw Nation from far and wide to RESTORE glory to our glory land”
The Restoration Agenda is all-encompassing: provision of infrastructure, affordable health and quality education; opening up the State for Foreign Direct Investment, creating an enabling environment for tourism to flourish and running a system based on transparency and accountability. The PDP flag-bearer said this much: “Our government will be transparent and accountable to you the people, you will be informed about revenues accruing to the State and expenditures. Values and high ethical standards of governance will be established to create and maintain enduring institutions to ensure that the development of the State is irreversible. “We will put a stop to corruption and ensure that your resources are used for your development” The rationale for registration has been given strong impetus with the constitution of Bayelsa Elders Forum; the State is set for the reconciliation of the various factions in the polity.
Recognizing that the Sylva administration has abandoned most of the critical infrastructural projects such as the Senatorial District Roads, the Regional water schemes, the Model Secondary Schools, etc, the PDP flag-bearer said: “We will ensure the completion of all abandoned and ongoing critical infrastructure, especially the three senatorial roads and the abandoned hotel projects dotting the streets and landscape of Yenagoa. The Capital City Development Authority CCDA will be re-organized and the Yenagoa City Development Master plan, fully implemented”. The in-coming administration will ensure the completion of all abandoned and ongoing critical infrastructure, especially the three senatorial roads and the abandoned hotel projects dotting the streets and landscape of Yenagoa.
In the health sector the PDP candidate promised “In the Health Sector, we will build modern and functional hospitals in each Local Government Area. We will build centres of excellence for HIV AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases in the State. Children, pregnant women and all Bayelsans above 65 years will receive free medical treatment”.
He also disclosed that educational sector will be comprehensively reformed and overhauled from Primary to Tertiary levels including vocational and technical education. This will involve the redesigning and building of model primary schools with modern facilities. Model boarding secondary schools shall also be built in every Local government area of the State with state of the art facilities. A Teachers’ Training Institute will be established for the training and retraining of our teachers. We will also revive the abandoned Ijaw Language Project to prevent our language from going extinct, he remarked!.
On growing the economy and attracting investments, the PDP candidate said this much: We will establish an Economic Advisory Council which will develop a blue print for a modern economy based on commerce, SME’s, agriculture, energy and tourism, not dependent on our statutory allocations. The Bayelsa partnership initiative will be revived as a frame work for collaboration with and investment partners for development of the State. We will create an enabling environment for peace and security through a zero tolerance for crime and criminality. Yenagoa and Bayelsa State as a whole must be made safe for tourism and businesses to thrive.
The Seriake Dickson administration will also ensure that women will have equal opportunity to participate fully in governance, policy and decision making processes. Appropriate programs such as SME’s, cooperatives, agricultural grants will be set up to provide opportunities for sustainable livelihood for our women. In addition, we will protect the rights of children, especially the girl child. To restore the economy of Bayelsa State means replenishment, and revitalization of all existing programmes and creating new value. The primary idea is to invest in natural resources so we bequeath a secure future for generations with increased value.
Hon Seriake Dickson has decided that his administration will align with the transformation agenda of the federal Government. This implies that Bayelsa State will ensure greater harmony between fiscal and monetary in pursuit of sound macroeconomic policies. The State will also institutionalize the culture of development planning at all levels of government and ensuring that the annual capital budget allocation takes a cue from medium and long term development plans. The Bayelsa State House of Assembly shall perform their oversight functions unhindered by executive interference and such functions will include a policy direction on setting allocation priorities rather than micro-budgeting. The principal goal is to create a situation of full employment, reduce the debilitating effect of poverty and promote wealth creation.
Other critical aspects of the restoration agenda includes: the reorganization of the civil service and local government service for efficient service delivery and to enhance workers’ welfare, training and productivity. Traditional Rulers and community leaders are not left out in the restoration agenda, as they will be supported and strengthened as co-partners in government. Also, a product of the Ijaw struggle, the restoration agenda will ensure that the INC and the IYC, the two organs of mobilization of the Ijaw people will be reinvigorated and refocused for positive national development.
Those who witnessed the declaration of the PDP governorship candidate are persuaded that the restoration agenda shall be based on sound policies, which are budget-driven. This implies that government will take budget implementation very seriously, based on the priorities of the people. The in-coming administration will also include expenditure reforms to block areas of financial leakages. This underscores the strict enforcement of all anti-graft laws to cleanse the mess of the Sylva administration. The RESTORATION AGENDA appears to be a total package of restoration of the decrepit infrastructure, reformation of the institutions of good governance and recovery of the resources eaten up by the locusts and cankerworms in the land.
Idumange John, Deputy President, Niger Delta Integrity Group