By its press release dated Tuesday, August 11 2020, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given notice that the Bayelsa Central Senatorial re-run elections will hold on Saturday, October 31, 2020. This is a very welcomed and cheering development for which I join other Nigerians and Bayelsa Central Senatorial District citizens to express profound gratitude to INEC.
BAYELSA CENTRAL IN SYNOPSIS
The Bayelsa Central Senatorial Zone comprises of three Local Governments namely; Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA, Yenegoa LGA, and Southern Ijaw LGA. Unknown to many, this is one of the most important and valuable electoral constituencies in the country. This is due to the fact that it is home to a preponderant portion of the country’s oil and gas resources; both onshore and offshore.
It is host to Shell Oil and Gas fields (Gbaran, Zarama, Etelebou, Epu, Koroama, Nun River, Diebu Creek, and Seibou fields), Agip Oil fields (Tebidaba, Ogbainbiri, Perigbene, Azuzama fields), and Chevron and Conoil Oil fields around Koluama community, etc.
Other critical assets are; the large portion of the national Gas endowment of 186 trillion standard cubic feet and provides a one-third of all Gas supply to NLNG Bonny, through Shell’s GBARAN CPF – the largest gas plant in Nigeria. It is also home to both Bonga FPSO and Zabazaba Oil fields (the country’s most important Oil & Gas infrastructure, deep offshore).
In addition, it is also one of the zones with the largest share of the country’s coastline with great potentials for the development of marine economy especially deep-sea fishing and maritime transportation. It also serves the protection of our coastal strategic interest, being the most deltaic, most riverine, and most coastal part of the country. This constituency, especially my own Southern Ijaw Local Government, holds critical importance to the strategic interests of Nigeria’s peace and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
Unfortunately, despite the importance of this area, large sections are bereft of government impact and not even connected by road. The paradox is that, after 60 years, these heavily oil producing areas can only be accessed by water transportation.
Having survived the high points of the difficult times of militancy, it is only proper and indeed well deserving that this important part of the country is well represented by its “first best eleven”. This is in the best interest of its people which include the rich multi ethnic mix from across the country residing in the state capital, Yenagoa, the overall interest of Bayelsa State, the Ijaw ethnic nationality, and the overall good of the nation.
MY CALLING TO CONTEST
On the occasion of my 60th birthday, it was distinctively humbling to receive the amounts of goodwill messages that came from around the world regarding my public service. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and many other leaders had referred to and commended my “over 30 years of selfless, sacrificial and brilliant service to our country.” National elder statesman and father of Ijaw nation, Chief (Dr.) Edwin Clark applauded my “great and incomparable service to the Niger Delta, the Ijaw nation, and Nigeria” and finally, the historical society of Nigeria of which I am a fellow and lifelong achievement award recipient stated; “thank this brilliant scholar for his contributions to knowledge the great role he played in bringing the teaching of history back to the classroom.”
These are enough summary of my 33 years of Public Service, the first 28 years as a career diplomat rising to become an Ambassador to several important countries in Africa, Europe and Latin America. This was followed by 5 years of service as a high-ranking Federal Permanent Secretary with a reformist mind, track and approach. While serving the Federal Government and leaving robust footprints in all my assignments, I also helped develop my state especially through scholarship programmes to hundreds, recruitment of many into Federal Service and siting of critical federal projects. This is excluding ad-hoc duties on several federal assignments as Secretary to Bayelsa State Government, and front-line Peace Envoy in the Niger Delta to both President Olusegun Obasanjo and late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua. I have also made my mark in the academic and literary world having authored several books, including the 2015 award winning book “Perspectives on Nation State Formation in Contemporary Africa”.
In post-retirement from public service, my singular contributions have dwelt on putting efforts in building a peaceful, harmonious and just society; a nation that represents the best aspirations of our founding fathers and aligning with current global realities. Unlike many of my colleagues who opt to live post-retirement on a well-deserved quiet, I am poised to continue striving towards making my voice to be heard and protect the interests of my people. The forth coming Bayelsa Central Senatorial election therefore, offers me the opportunity to pursue my quest of not relenting in standing in the gap especially for my people and the rest of the nation. I therefore intend to contest the election.
Having parted ways with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), I have not failed to take advantage of a very welcoming door for relevance and self fulfilment offered to me by the All Progressives Congress (APC) at all levels. I therefore hope to contest the election under APC which I must say at present, controls the heart of majority of the people of Bayelsa State.
No wonder in the results declared by INEC for the November 16, 2019 governorship election, the APC scored 80% in Bayelsa Central and 71% in the rest of the state. This was before the judgement of the Supreme Court which brought in the current Governor. My decision regarding the APC platform is therefore in sync with the feelings of my people who have chosen that route, and it will be very much insensitive as one of their leaders to act otherwise.
Additionally, this gives us the advantage to work with the Federal government at the center, which has begun to show great responsiveness to our problems including the reimbursement of N38.04 billion expended on federal roads by Bayelsa State government, the N20 billion Naira released for the East-West Road, and construction of the 17-story headquarters of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board in Yenagoa.
Also in Bayelsa, mostly in my constituency, planned construction of the Oloibiri Oil Museum and Research Centre, Construction of the Oil and Gas Hub in Bayelsa State, funding of the Azikel Oil Refinery in Gbaraun, construction of the Lubricant and Disinfectant Plant in Polaku, and construction of Home Gas Cylinder Plant also in Polaku.
If all these are achieved in the past one year, we hope to leverage on being part of the ruling party to bring more to our area, and this I believe is a sound reasoning from which none can take a contrary position.
WHAT WILL I DO?
As a Senator if elected by the grace of God, I will obviously not re-invent the wheel but learn from others there before me. Additionally, I will bring my robust public service experience to render better service to Nigerians in general, and my people in particular. Amongst others, I will strive to:
Compliment the efforts of the Federal and state governments by bringing meaningful development to Yenagoa, the state capital.
Leverage copiously on my international and national contacts, to bring change and development to all the three local governments in Bayelsa Central.
Focus on attracting job creation, employment generation, and entrepreneurship development programmes in my area.
Create access to scholarship and education grants for our young people, both nationally and internationally.
Promote inclusion of our women and youths in all economic and social programmes as a matter of priority.
Place attention on attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in my senatorial zone.
Lead the vanguard for the restoration of our environment in many communities that have been seriously polluted and degraded as a result of oil exploration in our area.
Work tirelessly for constitutional amendment on various issues, including creating additional Local Government Areas in Bayelsa, and especially the Central Zone.
Pursue rigorously constitutional review for overall restructuring of Nigeria as much as possible to be in tune, as originally enshrined in the 1960/1961 constitution.
I therefore call on my co-aspirants, leadership, and members of APC in Bayelsa State to support me to clinch the party ticket. I also appeal to our friends and brothers in PDP to smell the coffee and join to elect me as a Senator. Bayelsa was once a PDP enclave, but we have since moved predominantly to the APC at all levels.
Let us eschew the policy of bitterness, character assassination, innuendo, lies and worse still, violence and anti-democratic tendencies. On the contrary, I look forward to healthy conversations on issues and debates on what bothers us the most as a people. I have been one of your leaders before and cannot lead you astray. Join me and let us move our zone and state further.
May God bless the APC
God bless Bayelsa Central!!
God bless Bayelsa State!!!
Godknows Boladei Igali PhD, OON
TUESDAY, AUGUST 25TH, 2020