Sylva has a Blueprint for Building a Functional Economy
The Prosperity Administration has killed Bayelsa Palm and cannot revamp the Bayelsa Plastic Industries. Governor Diri has no idea on how to increase the Internally Generated Revenue. The Peace Park is like a Cemetery. Diri has equally abandoned those projects that are capable of generating revenue. The Diagnostic Centre built by Senator Dickson has been abandoned too. No well-meaning governor will misappropriate Agric Loans and divert budgetary provisions meant for Agriculture and allow the multi-billion Ebedebiri Cassava Processing Plant to rot away. In fact, the false prosperity mantra has brought about poverty, hunger, disease and hopelessness among the People of Bayelsa State. For three years plus, governor Diri has been telling Bayesians just one story that he is constructing roads. Indeed the present administration has no blueprint on how to create jobs, improve livelihoods, increase the IGR and make life more meaningful for the people of Bayelsa State.
Sylva has designed a programme to build a functional economy. Under the development agenda, Sylva will do the following:
1. Invest Massively in Agriculture: Build a sustainable blue economy, which will contribute to food security, improved livelihoods, create employment and increase the IGR of the State.
2. Revamp Bayelsa Palm, expand production and like the Palm Industry to local producers through cooperative societies, with a multiplier effect on job creation and poverty reduction.
3. Deploy resources to cultivate the rice farms Develop two rice fields by the end of the second year, and progressive develop the rest to turn Bayelsa State into a rice producing State.
4. Procure Fishing Trawlers to engage in deep sea fishing. Cold stores will also be built and given to local fish traders. The industry will leverage new technology to engage the active segment of the youths.
5. Sylva will also revamp the Bayelsa Plastic Industries. It is essential to note that in his first tenure, Sylva established the industry for the production of plastics for export to other countries. When the industry produces at installed, the plastic industry can provide jobs for 600 Bayelsa youths. So many private businesses will also spring up. Wholesalers will play a huge role and transport companies will experience a boom.
The in-coming Sylva administration seeks to create 20,000 jobs in the first year and progressively add 10,000 jobs every year. It is estimated that 40,000 jobs will be created and more than 80,000 families will be lifted out of poverty.
Sylva Will Implement the Yenagoa City Development Master Plan
The Yenagoa City Development Master Plan was initiated during the Alamieyeseigha administration. It was for the purpose of implementing the Master Plan that the Capital City Development Authority was established. The Master Plan was designed to urbanize Yengoa as a model City. Besides, the Master Plan was designed to control the development of not only Yenagoa City but also serve as a frame of reference to the development of Sagbama, Ogbia Town, Oporoma, Twon-Brass, Kaiama, Ekeremor and Nembe. During the 2022 floods, corpses floated- an indication that Governor Douye Diricannot even maintain the Azikoro cemetery. This is the lowest we have come.
Sadly, the Yenagoa City Development Master Plan has been largely not implemented but also distorted. The CCDA was deliberately refunded. Projects embedded in the Master Plan were yanked off and replaced with caravans and illegal structures. The aim of the Diriadministration is to develop SAMPOU his home town at the expense of Yenagoa. Diri’s refusal to revamp the internal road and non-supply of constant power supply to Yenagoa is a deliberate attempt to de-market Yenagoa.
Now, the Central Business District is an area earmarked for corporate Bayelsa. The CBD is horribly distorted. Diri has allowed people to build schools, fueling Stations and kiosks.
WHAT SYLVA WILL DO:
1. Clear up the CBD and allocate lands to companies and corporations to build high rises and company headquarters.
2. Complete the 5-Star Hotel and International Conference Centre to enhance the aesthetics of Yenagoa Metropolis.
3. Build a flyover at the Etegwe-Tombia Roundabout. The original Yenagoa Master Plan provides for a Master Plan in that area.
4. To fund the CCDA (now Planning Board) adequately to discharge it’s statutory duties of development control.
5. Sylva is poised to do extensive work on the drainage system in Yenagoa including canalization of the fresh water swamp to the Atlantic Ocean. This is to curb the perennial flood challenge to secure investments.
6. Revamping the internal roads and dualizing new roads to be constructed is an integral component of the urban renewal programme of the in-coming Sylva administration.
The fake prosperity administration has vowed to distort the master plan to de-market Yenagoa City. The Sylva administration will restore the original plan of YENAGOA WITH ALL THE PARAPHERNALIA OF A STATE CAPITAL.
Sylva Will Restore Transparency and Accountability In Governance
SINCE 1999, Governor Douye Diri is the luckiest in terms of monies received from the Federal Government and the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC. In three short years, the Prosperity Administration has received N1trillion. Even Dickson who was governor for 8 years received only N1.05trillion. In the FIVE YEARS Sylva was governor of Bayelsa State, accruals to the State was not up to N700 billion. Diri has received Federal Government Refunds and huge derivation arrears of more than N209billion. It is sad to note however that apart from the ongoing road projects, there is nothing much to show for the humongous amounts of money received by the government. In spite of the generous allocation from FAAC, government has also taken huge bank loans totaling about N90billion.
Part of the challenge facing the Douye Diri administration is lack of transparency and accountability. Governor Diri cannot publish the cost of projects. Contracts are awarded to fronts and cronies and such contract values are often over-inflated. For instance, it has been discovered that less than 40% of levies and taxes collected is remitted to the Bayelsa State Internal Revenue Board
Example is the LEVIES COLLECTED FROM KEKE. One of the Governor’s Cousin MR. DOUBRA KUMOUKO collects Keke levies and remits next to nothing to government. He is one of the richest men in Bayelsa State now. The same thing happens in the transportation unit of government house.
Loans are not judiciously deployed to development projects. Some projects are awarded twice. Monies are often diverted with impunity. The area of Agriculture is one example of Diri’s insensitivity to the plight of Bayesians.
Diri also misappropriates COUNCIL FUNDS, SUBEB funds and SDG funds.
Diri has budget the sum of N36billion to the Agricultural sector for THREE YEARS. In 2020, the State Government misappropriated the N3BILLION CBN Agric loan. In December, 2022, the State obtained another N8billion Agric Loan from the CBN. Therefore the total money received by the State government for Agricultural development is N47bllion yet none of the RICE FIELDS has been developed. Government does not own a Cassava farm and that is why the CASSAVA PROCESSING PLANT IS DORMANT. Bayelsa State is being run like a private estate, with layers of inefficiency and political support groups draining the State’s treasury.
WHAT SYLVA WILL DO
• Publish all income and expenditure of the State on a monthly basis.
• Award contract in the full glare of the public.
• Issue cheques to pay contractors in the public.
• Adhere to the Public Procurement Act as amended.
• Every government contract will be subjected to bidding and tendering.
• Not to divert SUBEB monies and SDG allocations but to utilize them to deliver value.
• Conduct elections as stipulated in the Constitution at the Council level.
Transparency and accountability are key elements of good governance and the Sylva led administration with uphold the highest level of transparency and accountability.
Sylva will Industrialize Bayelsa State, Create Jobs and Reduce Poverty
The macroeconomic objective of every government is to create jobs for the army of graduates, create wealth and reduce poverty. During his first tenure as Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva established the Bayelsa Plastic Industries. Sylva also ensured that the Bayelsa Palm Estate had a Management Team and worked optimally. All these industries have been rendered moribund by the present administration.
The NEW SYLVA PARADIGM will emphasize Technical and Vocational education. This is predicated on the fact that unemployment is a. looming large in the State. We have quality graduates in so many areas who are not gainfully employed. In response to this challenge, Sylva will invest massively in training relevant to the gas industry.
Sylva will establish THREE main TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL centers in each of the Senatorial Districts in the first year. Progressively, the administration will establish one Technical/Vocational Centre in each of the right LGAs. Recruitment into the centers will be fair and equitable.
A critical component of the Sylva development agenda is the establishment of of a GAS-HUB where youths will be employed in GAS CYLINDER MANUFACTURING, MANUFACTURING OF INDUSTRIAL GAS and LPG GAS MANUFACTURING. Bayelsa State is as rich in gas production as in crude oil. Therefore, youths will be trained to work in industries that will maximize the value chain. In doing so, the administration will leverage on the up-coming Petrochemical industry in Odioama, the already existing ObunaghaLNG and the Brass LNG. An estimated 20, 000 people will be employed in the gas-hub and its subsidiaries.
SYLVA will build partnerships with AGIP, SPDC, TOTAL and other oil majors to execute major projects with huge positive multiplier to Bayelsa State.
Sylva will encourage Ago-business enterprises. To this end, the policy thrust of government is to register 100 Business Enterprises in each of the Eight Local Government Areas. These business will form a Cooperative Society of farmers in Rice, Cassava, Plantain and aquaculture in tilapia, catfish etc. A Bureau will be established to manage and administer the Cooperative Society. The New Sylva Paradigm seeks to create job opportunity in industries to be established in partnership with viable stakeholders in the oil and gas industry.
Sylva will place premium on Human Capital Development & Students’ Welfare
During his first tenure as governor of Bayelsa State, Sylva realized the fact that Bayelsa State needed a stock of formidable manpower for accelerated development. He therefore invested massively in human capital development and vigorously prioritized the welfare of students across board. Sadly, most of the programmes he had put in place have been bastardized or painfully removed by successive administrations. The prosperity administration has worsened the situation, by relegating education to the background. Now, Bayelsa Students pass through avoidable hardship in our own institutions. Indeed some of them drop out of school for their inability to pay user fees.
The incoming Sylva administration will revamp education by adopting viable strategies as follows:
1. Adequate funding of tertiary Institutions: The Diri administration gives a paltry grant to state-owned tertiary institutions. The Convention practice of funding institutions adequately shall be sustained. Government paltry grants to Institutions will be abolished.
2. Restoration of Overseas Scholarship.
3. Restoration of payment of Bursary to Students of higher institutions.
4. The Higher Education Loan Scheme will be expanded and administered with equity and fairness.
5. Expansion and sustenance of free education. Here, the practice whereby students are given deadline to pay fees and closing of portals shall not be sustained.
6. Promotion it Techno-vocational education.
7. Setting up an ICT Academy to be known as BAYELSA ICT ACADEMY, where Bayelsa youths will be trained in all aspects of ICT to provide manpower for the e-governance infrastructure in the State, shall be implemented from day one.
To achieve the aforementioned objectives, the budgetary allocation for education shall not be less than 13% of the total budget of the State. This shall increase to 15% in the 3rd and 4th year of the Sylva administration.
Sylva will be Intentional in Job Creation & Increase the IGR of Bayelsa State
In 2022, Bayelsa was ranked as the 2nd multi-dimentionally poorest State in Nigeria. Under the present administration, government has not made any effort at job creation outside the mainstream bureaucracy. So many NGOs rate Bayelsa State low on transparency and accountability. As a State, we are the least in IGR and more than 90% of revenues are sourced from FAAC and derivation funds. Now, there is a catastrophic plunge of the IGR from over N1billion under the Restoration administration to less than N500million under the prosperity administration. This implies that there is a huge financial leakage in the system.
The incoming Sylva administration will intentional in pushing policies that will create employment and increase the IGR of the State. A few of the strategies are outlined below:
a) Set aside 3% of the budget for promoting SMEs by way of soft loans.
b) Establish an agency to be known as Bayelsa Employment Agency, which will be charged with the responsibility of coordinating the job creation initiatives of government.
c) Embark on a policy of zero tolerance for corruption especially in the remittance of taxes and levies.
d) Embark on more public works such as constraints that will require the employment of people with intermediate skills.
e) Empower the Local Councils to run viable businesses with private sector operators.
f) Registration of Agro-business cooperatives to engage people in production and manufacturing, using locally sourced raw materials.
g) Initiation of Elders Welfare Scheme. This scheme will pay a monthly stipend to elders who have attained the age of 75years and above.
h) Initiation of Graduate Entrepreneurship Scheme, where a loan of not more than N1million will be extended to graduates who want to start any revenue – generating initiative.
The incoming administration will reinforce transparency and accountability and fight payroll fraud. In addition to reconfiguring the ICT architecture of the State, the administration will reward excellence, entrench a performance-based merit system in the public service.
Sylva will Entrench General Good Governance
Bayelsa State under the present administration is a victim of governance deficit. There is an over-bloated bureaucracy without merit and performance. Some Ministries carry out overlapping responsibilities. The main Secretariat Sylva completed during his first tenure is now poorly lighted. Water is no longer flowing and the elevator that was fixed stopped working after 14 days after. Power supply is epileptic and motivation is poor. Added to the low morale of civil servants is the inability of government to pay and effectively implement promotions.
Things are worse at the Council level, where the N30,000.00minimum wage is yet to be implemented. Bayesians are indeed not happy about the unbridled State control of Council treasuries. Indeed, the local government system has been hijacked and governor FoiyeDiri’s assault on grassroots democracy is ferocious and unmistakable. There are still reports of isolated incidents of payroll fraud and non-remittance of taxes and levies. The mainstream bureaucracy is rotten, in more ways than one. The incoming Sylva administration will revamp good governance in Bayelsa State.
The following policies and actions will be taken to improve the poor governance culture harassing Bayelsa State.
1. Reduction of the Cost of governance: The Sylva paradigm will merge Ministries and Agencies performing the same functions. For Instance: the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will be merged with the Ministry of Ijaw National Affairs. Instead of duplicating MDAs, the administration will use the stock of manpower in other economically viable sectors. Layers of inefficiency will be scrapped.
2. Entrenching a Merit-Driven System. One of the evils of the Civil Service is the perpetuation of the culture of mediocrity. So many set pushed up the ladder because of political connections. Merit of often sacrificed on the altar of political considerations. Promotion and appointments will be guided by merit and performance. Every policy decision will be merit-driven. This will titrate the reward system in favour of equity, fairness and justice.
3. Emphasis will be on Efficiency: Resources accruing to the State from the SDG office, SUBEB and other funding agencies will be deployed for maximum impact. The culture of waste shall be abolished.
4. Openness in Governance: This will be facilitated by the deployment of sophisticated ICT infrastructure. More resources will be invested in training the workforce with emphasis on ICT. Payroll systems including pension’s administration will be automated to curb the incident of fraud. The e-governance unit and that of the Due Process will be reorganized for efficiency.
5. Training and Retraining the Workforce: Bayelsa State deserves the best workforce and we can only rejuvenate it through training and retraining. The budget will ensure that recurrent expenditure does not command more than 37% of the total budget. This will free more money for capital projects.
In addition, the Sylva administration will re-establish and rebrand the dead companies. These may include:
• Bayelsa Dredging Company
• Bayelsa Fisheries Limited
• Bayelsa Construction Company, and
• Optimally Utilize the Ebedebiri Cassava Processing Plant.
Resources from these productive sectors will be channeled to housing, construction of internal roads and rural development.
On November 11, 2023, Bayelsans will make a rational choice by voting Timipre Sylva for governor of Bayelsa State.
Compiled by the Coalition for Good Governance
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