A former Chief Press Secretary to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Governor of Bayelsa state, Dr. Conrad Welson has posited that Bayelsa is a failed state that does not need to celebrate as it clocked 25 years of creation on October 1st, 2021.
Bayelsa State was created on the 1st of October, 1996 by military fiat under the regime of Gen. Sani Abacha of blessed memory.
The founding fathers craved diligently, holding nocturnal meetings, traveling far and wide and making consultations towards the actualization of a homogenous ljaw state.
They were driven by a strong desire to bring development to the door steps of the Ijaw people whose natural resources had been plundered for years while the inhabitants groaned in penury with their sources of livelihood despoiled and their environment degraded as a result of oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities by the International Oil Companies (IOCs).
When Gen. Abacha eventually made the official pronouncement for the creation of Bayelsa state, on that auspicious day, spontaneous jubilations erupted across the ljaw nation. People of the young state were filled with joy and expectations.
After a short period of military rule, which ended in 1999, civilian governors took over the reigns of Bayelsa state with Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of blessed memory as the first indigenous governor to govern the state.
After his unceremonious exit from Creek Haven, his deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan succeeded him and administered the state for about 18 months before fate took him up to become Vice President of Nigeria. He was succeeded by Chief Timipre Sylva.
After he held sway for five years as the third civilian governor of the state, Sylva, in an unceremonious fashion, was also shown the exit door by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which he then belonged, thereby paving the way for Chief Seriake Dickson, now Senator, to come in as the fourth civilian governor.
Dickson ruled for eight years and was succeeded by his political loyalist, Senator Douye Diri who is the incumbent governor of Bayelsa State.
Meanwhile, the Silver Jubilee of the creation of Bayelsa state has sparked mixed reactions as stakeholders are divided in their views is as to whether the event is worth celebrating.
Welson who spoke to TNN on the telephone said Bayelsa at 25 years of creation was still dwelling on mediocrity.
He opined that despite huge funds that had accrued to the state, information at his disposal showed that Bayelsa is currently ranking as the least viable state in Nigeria.
“We are in a very, very bad situation. Bayelsa, from information available to me, is the most unviable state; the state that the recurrent expenditure is almost equal with that of Rivers state. It doesn’t make sense; meaning that the state is bankrupt.
“That is the state me and you struggled for, a state we all fought for; a state we sacrificed for, a state we did everything for,” he lamented.
On whether there is reason to celebrate Bayelsa at 25, Welson, who is also a university lecturer responded rather sarcastic, saying “l am not saying there are no good things to celebrate.
“People are building houses now. People that were messengers in Port Harcourt (old Rivers state), they crossed over to Yenagoa and they became supervisors. Account Clerks came to Yenagoa and became Accountants, and they have built houses, they have built hotels and businesses all over the place, they have built filling stations.
“Illiterates have become local government chairmen, illiterates are in the House of Assembly, militants are this, militants are that. Anybody that says good things are not happening, that person is a fool. People who could not have bought a car in their lives are now driving multiple Jeeps, what else do you want to hear?”
However, the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, New Yenagoa City Development Agency, Mr. Jacob Akpane, who spoke to our correspondent in a telephone conversation said there was every reason to celebrate Bayelsa at 25.
Akpane averred that it is only those who are ungrateful to God for using Gen. Abacha to give the ljaws a voice through state creation that would not find a reason to celebrate Bayelsa.
He pointed out that though development may be slow but the state had made tremendous progress compared to when the state had not been created.
“We have every reason to celebrate. Despite the insecurity in the country, we, in the South-South and Bayelsa in particular, are living in peace. Bayelsa has been adjudged as the most peaceful state.
“There’s one man people normally cast aspersions on, Gen. Sani Abacha, but God used him to sign Bayelsa into law as a state. If Bayelsa was not created, some of us that are now in positions, whether big or small, wouldn’t have got such opportunities.
“Some of us wouldn’t have been able to build our own houses and buy the cars we drive today. It is because we got independence from Rivers state. If the entire country says they are not going to celebrate their independence, Bayelsa has the need to celebrate our independence from Rivers state.
“We are living in a state that is peaceful. We have a governor that is focused, a governor that is performing, hardworking and a deputy governor that is supportive. We have a governor that has the welfare of workers at heart, a governor that has successfully commercialized the state owned International Airport.
“We have a governor who is constructing the two important senatorial roads, and who is negotiating the third senatorial road from Nembe to Okpoama.
So, we have every reason to celebrate Bayelsa state at 25.”