Strategic Factors and Options: The Credibility of the Ijaw Nation

by Priye Torulagha

6. Due to the extensive concentration of power, creative ideas that are suggested by well-meaning Ijaw citizens are ignored. In fact, such ideas are viewed as threats to those in power, hence, are ignored. Due to lack of creative ideas in the administration of government, governments in Ijawland tend to operate without any systematic plan. If Ijawnation were to be developed, the political leaders must put up a dedicated team of individuals who are specialized in various aspects of development. There are Ijaws who have the wherewithal to design and institute a workable electrical system somewhere in the world. There are Ijaw sons and daughters who have the technical know-how to turn Ijawland into the computer Meccah of Nigeria. There are Ijaw sons and daughters who can institute an economic development plan that can turn Ijawland into a modern center of economic activities in Nigeria and West Africa. There are Ijaws who have the educational and technical know-how to create, develop, and institute urban development plans. There are Ijaws who can establish and operate financial services, thereby, turning Ijawland into a major financial service sub-region of the country. Unfortunately, such people are not encouraged. The Peoples Democratic Party System encourages mediocrity and self-serving individuals to dominate the political process.

To reduce the concentration of power, it is necessary to delegate authority and make people accountable in the performance of assigned tasks. This will lead to an open governmental system, thereby, increasing accessibility, efficiency, and effectiveness.

7. The reach of the government does not extent beyond the state capital and local government headquarters. If anyone wants to accomplish a task involving government, the person must go to the capital or local government headquarters, otherwise, nothing happens. This means that governments in Ijawland are not designed to fulfill the aspirations of the people. Without a public transportation system, it is difficult for many citizens to even go to the state capital or local government headquarters. In short, Bayelsa could end up like Rivers State in the sense that it could become a one city state. Rivers State has been in existence since May 1967, yet, it has only one city. Everything is concentrated in Port Harcourt. Bayelsa could end up with Yenagoa being the only modernizing city as everyone rushes there to put up a building. .

8.A considerable number of high level public officials do not seem to have any clue about strategic planning, goal setting and outcome achievement. They are in government because they know somebody or are members of the Almighty Peoples Democratic Party. The PDP, in short, is wrecking havoc in Ijawland because it allows people who do not know what they are doing to dominate government. The PDP is the main source of political tension in most parts of Ijawland since party leaders constantly try to dominate the political process. Sometimes, one is compelled to theorize that perhaps the PDP deploys the current spoilt system in order to recycle wealth out of the Niger Delta. It does so by putting Ijaw and other minority faces on government and then use them to siphon off the wealth of the region.

9. Clean and safe drinking water continues to be a luxury for most Ijaw people. It is easy to assume that a government dominated by the Ijaws would move very quickly to provide safe and drinkable water in every community. It is also very easy to assume that local government bosses in Ijawland would work hard to ensure the provision of water, public buildings, electricity, and health clinics to their constituents. This is not the case, hence, people still fetch water in the open river as they have always done in the past.

Due to lack of effective planning and coordination, the rate of development and rehabilitation of existing infrastructures and institutions is very infinitesimal, as the following indicate:.

  1. The schools are in a serious state of decay. School buildings, equipments, and furniture are dilapidated. In short, the schools are unworthy of being places for imbibing and advancing knowledge to future leaders of the ethnic nation. Most secondary schools have no laboratories. This means that science courses cannot be effectively taught. The fact remains that in the contemporary world, science and technology are very critical in ensuring the advancement of industrialization and modernization. The Opuama school situation is simply a tip of the iceberg concerning the deplorable educational situation in Ijawland.

  1. Teachers are highly disrespected. Sometimes, they are not paid. Retired teachers sometimes go for months without retirement benefits. Due to hopelessness, teachers and principals are compelled to engage in extracurricular business activities in order to keep up with the Joneses who are living in castles. Ijaw officials are forgetting a cardinal truth which is that in order to ensure progress, tranquility, social equilibrium and able leadership, it is necessary to produce a well educated youthful population. In order to produce a well educated youthful population, it is absolutely compelling to build and equip schools that can provide high quality education. It is doubtful whether the existing refugee camps known as schools in Ijawland can provide high quality education to Ijaw youths. In other words, the current crops of Ijaw public officials are cheating the future leaders of the ethnic nation by either knowingly or unknowingly under-equipping them with the necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies that they need in order to become able leaders in the future.

  1. Employment seems to be based upon whom you know. If you know somebody, then a job is guaranteed. On the other hand, if you do not know anyone, employment is impossible. Similarly, if you know somebody, you get a contract. On the other hand, if you do not know anybody, then contract is not possible. The concept of MERIT does not apply. Thus, a sociopolitical and economic fault line that could come to haunt the ethnic nation is being planted and germinated as some youths are perpetually unemployed while a few are able to gain employment as a result of the fact that they know somebody or have name recognition. In short, Ijaw leaders either knowingly or unknowingly establishing a socioeconomic farm and planting political seeds that could result in the germination of perpetually angry political youths who feel cheated and deprived, thereby, wanting to pay society back violently. The signs are all over the place. By failing to provide the youths with the necessary educational and technical skills, those who are looting public funds to build gigantic private homes and hotels are simultaneously planting the political seeds that would grow to threaten them and their offsprings in the future. The kidnapping of relatives of elected public officials and the wealthy is indicative of the future direction of political crimes in Ijawland and the Niger Delta.

  1. Local government workers are at the mercy of local government chairs and secretaries. It is not uncommon for LGC chairs and secretaries to embezzle entire budgets allocated for payment of salaries of their workers. Thus. local government employees have no rights whatsoever. It is indeed an abomination for an Ijaw to work for an Ijaw state and not being paid for months. It should be recalled that the people of Patani had to take legal measures against their local government representative about one or two years ago.

10. Representatives and senators generally do not seem to be aware that the power of the purse lies with them and not with the chief executives, be it the president or the governors, since in theory they are the true representatives of the people. Unfortunately, they surrender the power of the purse to the chief executives. As a result, throughout the states in which the Ijaws are found, the governors control the budgets and the parliamentarians act as house boys and girls, begging the governors to share the loots with them. Thus, the governors seem to be free in spending their state budgets while the parliamentarians appear to be very powerless due to the fact they have compromised their positions, hence, cannot constitutionally and legally check the addictive financial behaviors of the chief executives. Generally, it is the responsibility of the legislative branch to check the activities of the executive branch of government and to make sure that executive branch officials do not abuse their official powers.

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