Tuesday, June 2, 2009

R.K. OPALUWAH: The Life & Times of A Matriarch

Saturday the 4th of June 1932 conveyed many significations to different people in different planes. On the spiritual, was the Lord seen, sitted pleasurably on His throne with the heavenly host of angels enveloping in Davidic splendour round about Him. Tantalising the heavenlies to this frenzied height was the birth of a child that would yield the expected harvest of souls as well as usher in a generation that will please God. And lo, it happened, beyond the sweltering congregations on the earth, from the luminous mountains of theologian heights, to the glorified high places of divine servitude, it happened in Dekina town of all places!

 

On the physical plane was the rapturous joy and celebration that erupted in Dekina following the birth of a baby girl to the family of Mr & Mrs Gabriel Arinka on Dekina market day! To Mr. Gabriel Arinka, the Kabba-born Road Overseer and his lovely wife, Mrs Mary Tonidunni Arinka an astute businesswoman, the decision to settle down in Dekina was indeed divine, what with the coterie of blessings that came their way and the loving acceptance of the Dekina people. In appreciation of all these, they decided to name the then little bundle of joy as RUTH KASUWA GABRIEL.

 

Growing steadily with strong religious inclinations and spiritual belief, which stemmed from her parents’ unflinching Christian background, little Ruth was introduced to the CMS Church where she was led into the Christian faith and was baptized. She rose to become a Lay Reader and was later confirmed – an Anglican faith process which must be accomplished before partaking in the Lord’s supper. Also, owing largely to the beguiling attractiveness of western education and the need to harness her intellectual potentials which her enlightened parents saw a far-off, Ruth Kasuwa was made to acquire education when it was considered the exclusive preserve of men in Africa! She triumphed excellently where others failed and fell by the wayside thus justifying the confidence reposed in her by her parents.

 She began her academic pursuit at Native Authority (NA) School Dekina before proceeding to Government Middle School where she passed out brilliantly with a Middle II certificate in 1950.  Shortly after, Ruth Kasuwa Gabriel met and fell in love with a Medical Officer by name Mr. John Akor Opaluwah (of blessed memory) who she later married amidst pomp on the 1st of January 1954. The marriage remains till this day, the first inter-tribal marriage in Igala land’s recorded history. The newly married Mrs Ruth Kasuwa Opaluwah went further to Women Training Centre Kabba where she successfully bagged her Grade III certificate in 1954 and then a consecutive Grade II certificate from Our Lady of School Anyigba in 1958. Still not comfy with the apparent status quo, she further upped the ante in her teaching career by bagging her National Certificate in Education from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1984.

Armed with these credentials, she bestrode the teaching profession like an inscrutable colossus beginning from her stint as a Pupil Teacher/Grade III in N.A Schools at Dekina, Odu Ogboyaga, Agojoeju and Anyigba respectively. She later held forte as a Grade II Teacher in Bishop Crowther Memorial School, N.A School and Qua Iboe Primary School all in Idah. On the 1st of November 1984, She finally retired as Headmistress II at Qua Iboe Primary School Idah after putting 33 years of untainted meritorious service to the nation thereby advancing the frontiers educational system in Kwara, Benue, Kogi states and Northern Nigeria in general. She was indeed a Teacher and a Citizen with a track record of extensive investments in the educational and moral resuscitation of her nation.

 

Shortly after retirement, Mama R.K lost her husband to the cold hands of death and faced with the harsh realities of widowhood, she took a plunge into the world of fulltime business, distinguishing herself once more in both wholesale and retail distribution of household items and appliances with extensive contacts in Onitsha, Ibadan and Kaduna. Thereafter, she became a Member, Board of Directors, Samsonite International Ltd.

It is noteworthy that all through Mama’s life, she never lost touch with the essence of her spirituality as she ceaselessly dwelt in the epicenter of God’s will for her life. The biblical injunction of “whatsoever thy hands findeth to do, do It to the glory God” found its truest expression in the life of Mama as she tirelessly contributed her time, treasure and talent to the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth. Her footprints in the annals of Christianity in Igala land and beyond remain indelible. From the Lay Reader position in the CMS Church, she became an active member of the Baptist World Alliance following her marriage and the establishment of the First Baptist Church in Igala land. She started from the lowest rung of the ladder as an Usher and then Secretary of the Baptist Women Missionary Union (WMU), Sunday School Superintendent, before becoming Women Representative to several Nigerian Baptist Conventions and Kogi Baptist Conferences. She later rose to the highly visible post of Vice President of the Kogi Baptist Conference. In recognition of outstanding contributions to the growth of the Baptist faith in Igala land and Kogi State, she was ordained a Deaconess of the First Baptist Church Idah, Kogi State in 2000.

Still in pursuit of greater good for the greater number of people, Deaconess R.K Opaluwah in 1989 identified with politics of the progressive hue in Igala land, led ably by one of her ex-pupils – Dr. Stephen Achema (of blessed memory). Her focal commitment to the selfless ideals of the Achema political school of thought catapulted her to the position of Caucus Leader of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and later National Centre Party of Nigeria (NCPN), which comfortably won elections into various offices at all levels in Igala land. The inception of the 4th republic saw her emerging as the Inaugural State Woman Leader of Kogi State’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998.

Her flawless mastery of all the eight major languages in Kogi state (which is not unconnected with her cosmopolitan upbringing in the old Dekina town) and extensive network of contacts throughout the three senatorial districts in the confluence saw her re-elected a second time in 2000, and a third time in 2003! Mama Opaluwah (as she was fondly called by her teaming supporters and followers) was always at home in Kogi west senatorial zone (her zone of origin) with the likes of late Senator SB Awoniyi, Generals Jemibewon, Ogbeha and in Kogi Central, the likes of late Senator A.T Ahmed, M.Y Obaro and Senator Salihu Ohize (who served in the same state EXCO with her) all fondly referred to her as “Mummy”. In Kogi East, a zone she represented for ten years, she was a darling mother to all irrespective of political affiliation. 

It is prudent to note that Mama R.K Opaluwah’s tenure as State Woman Leader and Chairperson Kogi Women Mobilisation Committee (WOMBCO) witnessed the return of Kogi state to the mainstream of Nigeria’s politics as she vigourously campaigned and mobilised Kogi women for the 2003 gubernatorial polls which saw the PDP coasting home to victory for the first time in the state. It is to her credit that her tenure witnessed an unprecedented participation of women in Kogi politics as well as the election and appointment of Kogi women to commanding heights within and outside the state. This she achieved through effective advocacy and enlightenment campaigns throughout the state.

                                       

To further translate her vision for Kogi women without governmental or party restrictions, she established in 2003, the Ruth Kasuwa Opaluwah Foundation (RUKOF), an NGO that is primarily dedicated to the promotion of the rights of women and children, advocate respect for the rights of widows and create awareness on the needs and problems facing them, campaign against gender-based violence and build peace in the home, advance the health, sexual and reproductive rights of women as well as mobilise women against the societal ills of HIV/AIDS, child Abuse, labour trafficking and poverty.  She organised several workshops, training conferences and advocacy campaigns, which went a long way in translating these objectives into tangible realities for her beloved Kogi women.

Mama R.K voluntarily stepped down from office at the end of 2007 before the expiration of her last tenure in 2008. This according to her, wasn’t unconnected with her dissatisfaction with the dangerous descent to self-serving and do-or-die politics of the present era. In acknowledgement of her selflessness and passion for development, the President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed her as a National Commissioner with the National Consumer Protection Council, Abuja in 2001. President Umar Musa Yar’Adua also followed suit by appointing her into the Governing Council of the Federal College of Education, Katsina, Katsina State in 2008. In addition to these, Mama received numerous awards, which include the Africa Woman Achiever’s Gold Award 1996 by Vision Africa, and the Woman of Merit Gold Award in 2006. In her citation by at the award ceremony, the magazine described her thus “an indefatigable social activist and a known defender and advocate of the rights of women and children. A time-tested educator, she put in 33 years of meritorious service as a teacher. Mama was a reliable force in politics. In Kogi state, she is respected across party lines as a venerable Women Leader, having been elected three times consecutively as the Woman leader of Kogi State PDP.” She was also a recipient of the Nigerian Religious Leadership Merit Award (NRLMA) in 2007.

                                                

Another award came her way in 2007 when she won the 3rd Voice of Africa International Magazine Achievers’ Platinum Award for Global Excellence in Women Empowerment and Socio-Economic Development of Kogi State and Nigeria. In her citation, the magazine stated thus: “ we have been following your activities and noted the sterling qualities exhibited by you in your endeavours and service to the nation. The positive impact you have made in the life of those fortunate to come across you and for the development of the nation has not gone unnoticed and is worthy of recognition and celebration.” Widely traveled, Mama has been to Israel, Holland, China and South Korea.

                   

After about a year in full retirement from activities, Mama Ruth Kasuwa Opaluwah, who gave birth to eight distinguished children namely Engr. Samson Ameh Opaluwah(Ph.D), Mrs Comfort Ajifa Daniel, Dr. Emmanuel Ali Opaluwah, Mrs. Esther Quddus-Okele, Mr. Amade Peter Opaluwah, Mrs. Ojone Julie Adebayo, Mr. Ojodale Amos Opaluwah and Mr. Atâyi Ezechiel Opaluwah,  finally breathed her last, transiting peacefully to eternity in wee hours of 7th May 2009, exactly 27 days to her 77th birthday on earth. There is no gainsaying the fact that Mama will be affectionately missed by all who came in contact her, what with the warm smile, large heart and a convivial spirit that are all patently hers! Mama is survived by children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

 

Atayi Babs

Ikoyi – Nigeria. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Project IGALA: A FAct FIle

PREAMBLE 

Igala land has long been enmeshed in a seemingly endless quest for an Organisation that will amongst several others Point a way forward for the race, Set Igala land in a specific direction, direct the actions and workings of Igala people, Articulate a definitive stance on where and how Igala land should be in a decade, century and a millennium, Marshal strategies that will manifestly translate the peoples’ hopes and aspirations in to tangible realities, Lay a rock-solid foundation for the much-awaited Igala Renaissance, Advocate and inspire confidence in the viability and sustainability of the Igala Project, Encourage and foster the ideals of Unity, Peace and Love as worthy basis for individual development and continued corporate existence, Evolve sustainable political and intellectual structures that will train and equip the generation-next to take over from the fading generation

 

The quest for this all-encompassing organisation that will answer what is now known as the IGALA QUESTION has no doubt been tortuous, painstaking and expensive as it has taken Igala land through several years of political experimentation, economic docility, cultural dislocation, social inertia, and absolute impotence and irrelevance in the scheme of things nationally. All these have contributed, in no small measure, to the present socio-economic and political realities of widespread poverty, disease and colossal illiteracy garnished with low Child Education that are rudely stalking in the face today.

 

Stating the obvious in unmistakable terms, Igala land today has become a perfect picture of underdevelopment with neglect, poverty, disease, thuggery and illiteracy as totemic icons of fluctuating existentialism. Blessed with one of the biggest coal reserves on the planet (Okaba, Ogboyaga) and with over 12 natural and solid minerals such as iron ore (Egeneji), Marble (Itobe, Ankpa), Crude oil (Ibaji/Alade), Kaolin, hydo-power capacities (Ofu/Itobe) tucked under its pregnant belly, the region still shamefacedly flaunts itself as the habitation of some of Africa’s poorest people and probably the region with the worst case of neglect.

 

The need to arrest the present rising wave of violence, thuggery, crime and prostitution in the land further accentuates the need for an Organisation that will discourage the ascendance of the twin evils of prostitution and armed robbery through pragmatic means. Campaigning against and eliminating disdainful acts such as the glorification of armed robbery, prostitution and the mad rush to cities by our Daughters and Sisters through the instrumentality of an organisation that will activate affirmative and decisive actions aimed at providing amenities and schemes that will keep them gainfully employed and busy at home remains a viable panacea.

 

Igala women still disproportionately suffer the burden of poverty, reeling heavily under the pangs of hunger with majority of them living on less than one dollar per day! As primary agents of child welfare, they are victims of widespread and persistent discrimination in all areas of life, and put their lives at risk every time they become pregnant. They are still increasingly susceptible to HIV/AIDS and other killer diseases. As unschooled adults, they have less to say socially and politically and to be able to support themselves.

 

Also, Igala women’s rights and access to land, credit and education are still limited not only due to legal discrimination, but because more subtle barriers such as their workload, mobility and low bargaining position in the household and community prevent them from taking advantage of their legal rights. These problems affect their children and households without a male head are at special risk of impoverishment with no capacity to immunise their children or know how to help them survive. The imperatives of an organisation that will pragmatically curtail this state of affairs cannot be overstated

 

Igala land today, yearns earnestly for prompt actions aimed at directing the energies of our youths to worthy and scholarly ventures, continuity and youth participation in leadership, credible and responsive leadership, better deals for her sons and daughters in the Nigerian project, and full integration in to the global village through the provision of current technological inventions, limitless access to super information highway and world-class systems of mobile communication.

 

For an ethnic group that wears the toga of poverty and neglect like vestigial crowns, a clearly defined and people-oriented, multi-stakeholder development Organisation that is evidently meant to raise the people’s standard of living above the poverty line, and go beyond that to create favourable conditions for social stability, greater productivity and economic prosperity in the nooks and crannies of the land can be said to be a right step towards reclaiming a people’s lost glory and redeeming years of squandered opportunities.

 

Hence the need for an Organisation replete with men and women with a common belief in turning around the Igala situation through the fusion of ideas with passion, and by acting with integrity, serving with love and working for communal peace and progress has become imperative. An Organisation that will, through the instrumentality of intellect, focal commitment to shared values, and unwavering abhorrence of individual success in the midst of communal failure, raise the intellectual tone of the Igala society, cultivate the public mind, purify the Igala taste while supplying true principles to popular enthusiasms and fixed aims to popular aspirations as well as giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideals of Igala renaissance.

 

An Organisation with a capacity for catalysing sustainable People-Development as well as an everlasting resource for generations unborn whilst functioning as an ideas-house that will facilitate and shape the exercise of political and socio-economic power as well as refine the intercourse of private life in Igala land remains an absolute necessity in Igala land’s destined march to greatness.

 

It is in the light of the above concerns that Project IGALA (also known as IGALA ADVANCEMENT FOUNDATION) navigated into existence on the 5th of October 2005 and incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a non-governmental organisation on the  4th day of March 2009.

 

PURPOSE & GOALS

Our purpose is to create opportunities for group interactions leading to the overall development of Igala land through educational, infrastructural and cultural interventions as well as etch Igala land on the pedestal of global relevance.

 

The goals that bind us together are:

a)     To give tangibility and strength to the Igala voice, acting and speaking as the pan-

         Igala organisation in all matters that pertain to Igalas and Igala land.

b)     To increase Igala people's economic power by improving their access to technologies

appropriate to their skills, incomes and environments.

c)    To assist community based initiatives that will help Igala people to improve their standard

of living.

d)    To catalyse sustainable People-Development and facilitate and shape the exercise of

political and socio-economic power as well as refine the intercourse of private life in Igala

land

e)        To promote developmental projects that will ensure the equal access of women as well as

men to resources, services and training.

f)         To raise the intellectual tone of the Igala society, cultivate the public mind, purify the

Igala taste while supplying true principles to popular enthusiasms and fixed aims to popular aspirations as well as giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideals of Igala renaissance

g)        To carry out practical project work across all aspects of small-scale          production, project identification, planning and funding in Igala land.

h)    To raise the people’s standard of living above the poverty line, and         go beyond that to

create favourable conditions for social stability, greater productivity and economic

prosperity in the nooks and        crannies of the land

i)      To offer advice and assistance to Igala communities, NGO's and    governments and also

raise public awareness of issues that affect rural development, in order to create a

favourable climate for change.

j)      To put Igala land on the front burner of national prominence and global relevance.

k)     To print and publish in the newspapers and any other periodicals,          books or leaflets what

the Organisation may think desirable for the    promotion of its objects;

 

MISSION STATEMENT

For the attainment of an enhanced life and a brighter future for Igalas in a free, equitable and conscientised Igala society through pragmatic but coordinated efforts in capacity building, advocacy, networking and mobilisation.

 

Membership

Membership in the Organization is open to all individuals of Igala descent, spouses and other individuals who share in the goals and aspirations of the Organization, without regard to gender, religion, creed, age, political affiliation, disability or social status.

 

ACTIVITIES

Project IGALA achieves its set objectives through the following activities:

Seminars, workshops, symposia, enlightenment campaigns, rallies, lobbying and publications. We also reach out to our target group (Igalas and Igala land) at all levels as we render services to them in areas of financial aids, scholarships, civic education towards sensitisation and mobilisation for the upliftment of fundamental human rights and advocacy for political and economic reforms in that regards.

 

We also offer vocational skills training for economic empowerment and self-reliance. These services are rendered through the coordinated efforts of Project IGALA staff, Volunteer corps comprising members, Professionals, related NGOs/Associations, and institutional personnel networking with Project IGALA.

 

FUNDING

Project IGALA is funded through annual membership subscription, donations from friends, partners and well-meaning individuals. Other sources include returns from investments, grants and sponsorships from individuals, donor agencies, governmental, non-governmental and international organisations.

 

STRUCTURE

Project IGALA is run on a tripodal structure headed by the Board of Trustees, the Executive Committee and the General Assembly. The day-to-day management of the organisation is undertaken by the secretariat which is run by the Moderator, Scribe, Finance Secretary and Chairmen of the following standing committees: Agriculture, Culture & Tourism, Education, Empowerment, Environment, Finance & Appropriation, Health, Information, Infrastructure, Investments & Securities, Judiciary/Human Rights, Women Development, and Youth & Sports.

 

 

CONTACT

Igala Advancement Foundation

Suite 14B, Sabon Dale Complex,

526, Awolowo Way,

Jabi – Abuja

+2348032494999 / +2348061339904

E-mail:igalaproject@gmail.com

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IgalaProject /

 

 

 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Maxwell James Goes Home!

The death has been announced of Mr. Maxwell James Odaudu. Maxwell died in a ghastly motor accident involving the convoy of Bayelsa state's Chief of Staff at Ughelli while they were on their way to a wedding ceremony at Asaba on saturday the 28th of March 2009.

Maxwell, a distinguished media consultant specialising in Niger Delta affairs, was the Managing Consultant of MediaMax Consulting Ltd at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State until his death. 

Born on the 24th of September in the seventies at Jos, Maxwell, who hailed from Olowa, Dekina LGA of Kogi state, obtained his first degree in French Language from the University of Jos and a second degree in International Relations from the University of Port Harcourt in February 2009. 

He began his career at the office of the Deputy Governor of Yobe state where he did his national youth service and later at Academic Associates Peace Works (AAPW) Port Harcourt, where he coordinated the Niger Delta Non-Violent Elections Project. He is survived by aged parents, 3 brothers and 3 sisters. 

Burial arrangements are as follows:

3rd April 2009 -
Service of songs at his residence: No. 12 Felicia Villa, Samphino Hotel Road, Kpansia-Epie Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

4th April 2009
Body leaves Bayelsa State for Kogi State

4th April 2009
Internment at James Odaudu's Compound, Olowa-Elika, Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State





"Bayelsans Are The Most Misunderstood Nigerians" - Maxwell James




Created on 1st October, 1996 by the late General Sani Abacha administration, Bayelsa State will clock 12 on 1st October, 2008.
Naturally, this is an occasion that calls for a big celebration by the government and the people of Bayelsa State, including non-indigenes who for one reason or the other make Bayelsa State their state of residence. In line with our usual tradition, your favourite Biographer Magazine has come up with a special publication to commemorate the 12th Anniversary of Bayelsa State.

Our Executive Editor, Akinleye Temidayo, took out time to interview Mr. Maxwell James, a renowned media figure and Managing Consultant/CEO of MediaMax Consulting on his views on the state ahead of the 12th anniversary celebrations. As an indigene of Olowa-Elika, Dekina LGA of Kogi state, getting Maxwell James down to an interview in his expansive home at Felicia Villa in Kpansia Epie, Yenagoa was easy owing largely to his souring popularity in the area and in the state as whole.

We serve you fresh excerpts of the interesting chat. 

THE BIOGRAPHER: Please Sir/Madam; kindly tell us about your good self.
MAXWELL: My name is Maxwell James I was born in old Plateau state to parents of Kogi State origin. I am in my late twenties and have been a freelance journalist with particular interest on the Niger Delta conundrum. My corpus of works in national media endeared many patriotic sons of the region to me who felt my unbiased, incisive, rational and robust contributions as well as advocacy in the region could be a road-map to the much needed solution to the myriad of problems that have bedevilled the region for decades. In view of the above, I was called upon by a development based nongovernment organisation (NGO) in the region to coordinate the Niger Delta Nonviolent Project sponsored by DFID, UNDP, USIP and NNPC. The project which also included a 13 episode television advocacy programme entitled Solution Hour for Peace on AIT and NTA successfully engaged a teeming youths numbering 1400 across 20 LGAs in 3 core states of the region – namely Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta. Presently, I am the Managing Consultant MediaMax Int’l Ltd and also run a youth oriented NGO called Centre for Youth Development and Productivity all in Bayelsa. I am a holder of bachelor degree in Foreign Languages from the prestigious University of Jos and currently running a post graduate programme in International Affairs in the University of Port Harcourt.
 THE BIOGRAPHER: Who are the Bayelsians?
MAXWELL: From my personal experience and also to be candid with you, an average Bayelsan is a hospitable, industrious, warm, fun loving and receptive person with enormous propensity to extend hands of friendship and care to a total stranger.  I said this from my 6 years old relationship with couple of friends from Bayelsa state. Worthy of mention are Honourable Maxwell Oko, Mr. Samuel Ogbuku and couple of others who took me as their brother since I met them in Abuja. On a general scale, Bayelsans are the most misunderstood Nigerians. The agitation and quest for their right within the context of the Nigerian state as encapsulated in the Yar’Adua administration citizen diplomacy agenda must not be misunderstood as hostility against Nigeria. Rather, it should be seen as a people’s desire to regain their inheritance as evident in the negative consequences of oil exploration and exploitation to fishing and farming which are their traditional trade.     
3)   THE BIOGRAPHER: What is your assessment of the performance of Governor Timipre Sylva so far?
MAXWELL: Just excellent. Chief Timipre Sylva is a man of destiny and a treasured commodity to Bayelsa. As someone that is fully resident in Bayelsa state, I will say the governor has brought charisma, leadership focus, dexterity, style, vision and agility to bear in governance. Some examples will suffice; Even the opposition parties in the state recently converged on the state capital and gave the governor a pass mark for spearheading what many observers term ‘developmental revolution’ .
 My brother, you will agree with me that the challenges to peace and development in the state before now were herculean; the governor within a short while was able to contain the rising national and international expectations of bringing about peace and tranquillity to the admiration of many observers. If you read one of my articles entitled, Hostage Taking: Lessons from Bayelsa, you will observe that I chronicled the strategies adopted by the governor in dousing the spate of hostage taking in the state. These strategies I contended were communication, consultation, training, education, engagement, rehabilitation, peace enforcement and non-payment of ransom which the governor himself christened the “3Es”. 
In fact, the youth class has never been so empowered in Bayelsa like in the present administration. From the Chief of Staff – Government House, Mr. Samuel Ogbuku, to many cabinet commissioners, youths are given tremendous opportunities to serve as example to their peers. Youth development is a cardinal state policy in Bayelsa state today. Take for instance the series of training in ICT, Aviation and Marine Engineering in India, United States and Norway respectively, all geared toward developing the human capital of the state. These also include good engagement plans both locally and internationally for all beneficiaries. 
The governor’s mostly liberal collection of ideas about infrastructural development, youth empowerment and vocational/technical skill based education, agricultural development especially fish farming, gender empowerment and wealth creation, rural transformation, friendly and enabling environment for foreign investment, private sector driven economy, improved internally generated revenue, strict compliance with the Yenagoa master plan, fiscal discipline and reform, state – of – the – art  health care delivery system and environmental sustainability and remediation are all areas the government has scored an A in my thinking.   
 It is to the credit of Chief Sylva that Bayelsa state is set to become the hub of oil and gas arbitration in Africa following the award of the multi billion Naira International Peace and Arbitration Center project in the historic town of Oloibiri. Remember also the state readiness to build the first ever Local Content Capacity Development Institute to increase the participation of Bayelsans and indeed the Niger Delta in the oil and gas sector.
 The internal roads construction, the state beautification as evident in state-of-the-art- millennium park in Onopa, the planned industrialization of the state and the Central Business District (CBD) development that is expected to house sky scrappers to leverage on the state economic potentials are all significant milestones in the annals of Bayelsa history.
 In the final analysis, the governor’s leadership style based more on furthering consensus and consultation than on imposing his own ideas has endeared him to many.  Above all, he has risen beyond everybody’s expectation in terms of delivering the goods of democracy. 
THE BIOGRAPHER:What is your message to the people of Bayelans State?
MAXWELL: Well, I will admonish bayelsans like George Soros – the renowned and celebrated billionaire who is reputed to have spent over 5 billion dollars of his personal income to developing countries. The global investor and philanthropist observed that “ Governor Sylva is a man with vision who is serious about finding lasting solution to the problems of the state and it is to that extent that I intend to support him” therefore I will urge bayelsans to support the vision inspired governor. 
THE BIOGRAPHER: What really prompted the people of Bayelsa to agitate for their own state then?
MAXWELL: I think there are many versions of stories regarding what led to the creation of bayelsa state by late General Sani Abacha. But the most credible to my mind is the desire to have a monolithic Ijaw enclave that can serve as a hub of all Ijaw nations thereby creating a common ground to harmonise all the perceived marginalisation of the Ijaw people being perpetrated by the Nigerian state. As headquarters of all Ijaw people worldwide, the Bayelsa state Chief Executive must be recognised as the Governor General of the Ijaw Nation (laughs)
THE BIOGRAPHER: Bayelsa State clocked 12 on 1st October, 2008. Do you think the state has justified the reasons for its creation?
MAXWELL: Yes, I think so. Bayelsa today is a huge construction field. Also, consider the developmental strides I mentioned earlier. Therefore a lot has changed; physical structures, human development, name it.
THE BIOGRAPHER: What are your expectations from the present Government in the next five years?
MAXWELL: Simply put, the government must maintain the developmental momentum and meet my expectation of imagining Bayelsa state as the Dubai of Africa!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Maxwell James IS DEAD

The death has been announced of Mr. Maxwell James Odaudu. Maxwell died in a ghastly motor accident involving the convoy of Bayelsa state's Chief of Staff at Ughelli while they were on their way to a wedding ceremony at Asaba on saturday the 28th of March 2009.

Maxwell, a distinguished media consultant specialising in Niger Delta affairs, was the Managing Consultant of MediaMax Consulting Ltd at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State until his death. Born on the 24th of September 1978 in Jos, Maxwell, who hailed from Olowa, Dekina LGA of Kogi state, obtained his first degree in French Language from the University of Jos in 2004 and a second degree in International Relations from the University of Port Harcourt in February 2009. 

He began his career at the office of the Deputy Governor of Yobe state in 2005 where he did his national youth service and later at Academic Associates Peace Works (AAPW) Port Harcourt, where he coordinated the Niger Delta Non-Violent Elections Project. 

He is survived by aged parents, 3 brothers and 3 sisters. Burial arrangements are as announced by the family.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Idah on Fire Over N60 Million KGSG Contract !

A seeming largesse of N60 million contract to construct fence around selected secondary schools in Idah LGA awarded by the Kogi State Government to Idah PDP youths, in furtherance of the Government's youth empowerment scheme has reportedly gone awry following an outbreak of unmitigated violence amongst various factions of the youths in the area. 

According to an impeccable source within the PDP hierarchy in the Local Government, trouble started on Friday 13th March 2009 when news filtered in to town that the N60 million contract, which was overvalued for empowerment purposes and approved by the State Governor for the teeming PDP youths, has been hijacked by the Chairman of the state's Local Government Service Commission, Barr. Ocheja Dangana and the Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth Empowerment, Mr. Friday Sani (Aka Makama) who both insisted on cornering N25 million of the entire sum, believing that N35 million was enough for both the contract execution as well as the empowerment of the youths. Barely few hours later, the already restive youths discovered to their chagrin that four of their leaders namely Sam, Kamaru (Hajia Dangana's son), Ike and Onalo have perfected plans with the powers-that-be to corner the remaining N35 million.

All hell broke loose as three different factions of the youths sprang up feeling outsmarted, and stormed Ega, Sabongeri, Igala-Ogba and Aija areas of the town with pump action rifles, knives and amulets of different hue in a murderous search for these four leaders, destroying cars, houses and properties belonging to the four leaders and their relatives. All through saturday night to sunday, heart-shattering sounds of guns boomed from different quarters of the town as the youth leaders reinforced and embarked on a retaliatory mission, leaving in its wake, tears, sorrow and blood. So far, no lives have been declared lost as all the youths are said to be under the heavy protection of strong bullet charms but two supposedly innocent inhabitants of the town have been rushed with bullet wounds to nearby Ibaji Local Government Area.

Piqued by the intra-party wrangling and violence that greeted his Government's pilot scheme to empower youths in Idah through award of contracts and a planned implementation of the scheme in other parts of the state, the state Governor, Alh Ibrahim Idrisu promptly revoked the contract on Monday the 16th of March 2009. The news of the revocation exacerbated the already tense Idah atmosphere as the angry youths went on rampage in a staccato of gunshots and wanton destruction of properties last night. As at press time this morning, a house belonging to Audullahi Onicha was razed down and a newly acquired car belonging to one of the youth combatants was vandalised and destroyed.


Efforts made by PDP elders of the town to invite the Police into the matter were rebuffed by the Police authorities in the LGA who stated clearly that they lacked the firearms and the human capacity to bring the situation under control. In a private chat with journalists, the DPO, stated his helplessness in the situation as the boys in question, according to him, are backed by very influential forces that are more superior to his. He expressed his disenchantment with the situation of things in the town, stressing that his posting to Idah happens to the his most turbulent so far.

In a similiar vein, the Executive Chairman of the Idah Local Government Council, Mall. Musa Haruna Idoko revealed that he has already briefed the State Governor who is the chief security officer of the state on the situation of things and the need for his intervention. He stressed further that the LGC is not empowered to deal with security issues of such proportions as the Council has been operating on zero allocation since January, necessitating the payment of quarter salaries to all its staff. A clerical staff of the Local Government Council confirmed that he was paid only N1, 000 as february salary out of his N5, 000 monthly pay.

Meanwhile, an extensive manhunt for Sam, Ike Kamaru, onalo and one Enejo is currently on as they have reportedly fled the ancient town.

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