Wednesday, July 23, 2008

BAYELSA AND THE CANONISATION OF PROFLIGACY


The nation’s media and even the Internet world were once again, awash recently with essays and commentaries relating to the performance or otherwise of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s 9 month-old administration as well as the involvement or otherwise of Mrs. Patience Jonathan in a money laundry act. Of particular interest is Dr. George Allen Fente’s treatise, the Press Secretary to the Governor’s response, a rejoinder from one Mass Movement for Good Governance and a recent pasting on the web by Maxwell James on hysteria, not the solution. Given the expected gamut of published reactions and counter-reactions which subsisted mainly in the conscious misrepresentation and malicious distortion of facts, steeped in a torpid language, truth, cannot but be sacrificed on the altar of personal interests just as the Marxist thought postulates that “in the grip of political psychosis, truth, reason and common reason give way to instinct, passion and emotions”.

According to the Press Secretary and the Mass Movement, Gov. Jonathan has firmly put the State on the “highway of progress” with the introduction of Government taxis to ply the nooks and crannies of Yenagoa and its environs, the piling work on the Ekoli Bridge, on-going construction of the road to Ekeremor through Amassoma, Ekeki and Amarata Housing Estates under construction, payment of salaries, health and educational institutions being face-lifted, the hosting of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Mariam Makeba, Richard Grozny, Brain Brown and the Senators of the Federal Republic. The Movement further believes that Gov. Jonathan has moved the State from the “abyss of backwardness and dark alley to the limelight as the State has now become a destination of choice in the South-South”.

From the foregoing, it becomes evident that it is either the Press Secretary/Members of the Movement have become musicians of imagination, erecting a tapestry of fiction and poetry of seduction constructed in cadences of irony or are suffering from a diseased state of thinking hitherto associated with patients of exaggerated self-importance who feed fat on the filthy lucre that emanates from the Creek Havens. A penetrative gaze a the advertised achievements of Gov. Jonathan will bring to the fore, an embarrassing degree of mental aridity, factual inaccuracy, logical inconsistency and linguistic incoherence bordering on serious hypocrisy and falsehood. To say that the procurement and distribution of taxi cabs to ply the nooks and crannies of a Creek town is to say the least, a sad recourse to pedestrianism in the thought process of developing a State that hibernates in aquatic splendour! One does not need a visit to Bayelsa to discover that the alleged piling work on Ekoli Bridge (a project initiated as far back as 1971), Ekeremor to Amassoma road construction and the Ekeki and Amarata Housing Estates are nothing but mere redistribution of forks and knives to pathetic jobbers and entrepreneurial sellers of conscience to cut from the State’s large portion of the national cake with a view to using same to facilitate the Governor’s re-election next year. These projects which have become interminable 419 enterprises, were awarded, not with a view to meeting perceived needs of the generality of the Bayelsans, but with an ominous goal of empowering a new choir of political vultures whose rapaciousness could put all leeches, buccaneers and vampires to shame.

One sad commentary about our democratic experience is the wanton glorification of responsibility and irresponsibility as dividends of democracy. In saner climes, the performance of a Leader’s statutory obligations and constitutional functions such as Staff welfare, Community welfare and Institutional strengthening do not constitute achievements (or giant strides as we say here). It is a Leader’s capacity to craft and fashion out a vision that will manifestly translate into the total liberation of his subjects from the interlocking clutches of poverty, socio-economic exploitation, geo-political domination, ethno-cultural dislocation as well as a neo-fascist enslavement implanted by past years of myopic and tyrannical leadership (the Bayelsa story for the past nine years) that constitute what is known as achievements in office. It is in line with this intellectual wavelength that Plato posited that “our object in the establishment of the State is the greatest happiness of the whole and not that of any class.” But sadly here, a Governor will gladly tell the whole world that some of his numerous achievements are payment of salaries, donation of vehicles to all industrial unions and payment of medical allowances in arrears. It is tragic, indeed lamentably tragic that we are blessed with the Goodluck of a Governor who has turned the Bayelsa Civil Servants into civil slaves and the entire Bayelsans into the Willing who are led by the Unknowing and are doing the impossible for the Ungrateful and have done so much for so long, with so little that we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.

To us Bayelsans, the talk in some quarters that Gov. Jonathan has turned the State in to a destination of choice in the South-South that Dr. Kaunda, Makeba, Grozny, e.t.c can come to is not only gibberish but a nonsensical baptism of wastage that has become a favourite pastime in the Creek Havens. A concurrent juxtaposition of the over $1.6 billion that accrued to the State in the past 9 months and the Governor’s major achievements vis-à-vis the AMA 2006, The Senators’ Forum, The HIV/AIDS Walk, e.t.c will accentuate nothing but a monumental canonisation of profligacy and acute misapplication of a people’s funds and priorities. Ostensibly whirling in the unfathomable stupor of inferiority complex and corruption stigma occasioned by Alamieyesiegha years of pillage, the Government felt that the only way of gaining relevance once again in the comity of civilised States, was to go cap-in-hand to Organisers of major social events in the country (including the forthcoming NAFEST), begging for hosting rights with full sponsorship and backing from the State Government. Thus in the blind pursuit of this vain glory, billions of naira meant for the infrastructural turnaround of the State, provision of state-of-the-art medical facilities (in view of the prevalence of oil spillage and other concomitant diseases associated with riverine areas), and the erection of socio-economic resorts/tourist beaches (the TINAPA example), have been misdirected into the facilitation of these jamborees. Suffice it to say that these jamborees do not end up achieving the purpose of Government sponsorship in view of the fact that they always leave a sour taste of rueful astonishment at the extent of profligacy in the minds of the Visitors/Participants in these programmes who usually leave the State with memories of Bayelsa as a State where its indigenes are hungry, homeless and hopeless in the midst of plenty, mere attendants at the shrine of canonised profligacy.

The current investigations by EFCC in to the money laundering act committed by Nancy, Mrs. Jonathan’s sister really makes one to wonder if the State is jinxed or under a spell of some sorts, or have we now become a State of the unfortunate, governed by the unwarranted for the benefit of the undeserving? Inspite of the litany of shamefaced denials emitting from the Government and its paid agents, Bayelsans are yet to be told in clear terms who Nancy really is, what the nature of her million dollar business is, the extent of her sister’s (the First Lady) influence in her business, and the role of the Government in encouraging other businesswomen like her in the State. However, one thing that remains constant as the northern star in all these calculated attempts at window dressing a malignant cancer is the fact that Mrs. Jonathan and by extension, the State’s First Family, cannot be extricated completely this web of economic crime committed by their confidante. Moreover, for a Governor’s wife whose recalcitrance to her husband’s directives led to the untimely death of a young and promising Commissioner of information in car crash, and whose stock in trade of late is hopping from one State Ministry to the other, placing outright demands for contracts for her fronts and cronies cannot but require the services of a Nancy!

Maxwell James and the Mass Movement also informed Nigerians that “Gov. Jonathan has re-branded and stabilised well and brought it to the level where everybody in Nigeria now wants to associate with Bayelsa, and its time for everybody to get involved in moving the State forward.” The above assertion is symptomatic of the typical Nigerian political speech, which is merely a conflation of meanings, encoding a universe of sly, slippery and cynical significations that manages the magic of appearing to say something while essentially obscuring issues. In what way has the State been re-branded? Re-branded into what or as what? Is everybody in Nigeria associating with the State now because it has become a tourist delight, a hub of socio-economic activities in the Niger Delta or a place renowned for less than frugal expenditure where hostage taking (and probably suicide bombing) has become a way of life?

The age-long aphorism of “moving the State forward” should be denounced for what it is, an empty, stultifying clause that oozes deception. Owing precisely to the beguiling attractiveness of the spoils of office, our Leaders usually fixate on the metaphor of propulsion, mistaking the image of motion with the idea of progress. Moving the State forward into what? Crises, chaos or crass corruption? Of course, a State can be moved forward into crises, chaos and crass corruption when a Government elects to sponsor factionalisation amongst its many unregistered youth bodies. Our recent history is replete with Leaders that have moved us forward into ineptitude, misery and unimaginable self-enrichment.

It is understandable that it is far too early to expect “giant strides” from an administration that is just 9 months old, but the truth still remains that solid steps and actions imbued with the innate capacity to engender qualitative development of the people and infrastructural resuscitation can be made in 9 months. A baby that cannot crawl, cry or be cuddled in 9 months is only fit for a paediatric reclusion, and not the Creeks. Oil rich Bayelsa, the glory of all lands, has gone through a most excruciating journey for the past 9 years in the hands of renegade-leaders who have only succeeded in perpetrating infrastructural decay and backwardness, thus presenting her as a standing example of an institutional irony, and can ill-afford, the speeding antics of a snail, in its destined march to greatness.

Bayelsa deserves a better deal – a clean break from the past!

Atâyi Babs

Kpansia Epie

2006

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