Sunday, 31 July 2016


Last week the National University Commission confirmed our fears: That the new has come to jettison the old. We should brace ourselves for more excruciating times. Yes, there is no time we can say we have truly enjoyed the didvidents of democracy since the Military Administration handed over to civilian Government in 1999 when we elected our first Governor Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha till date. But at least, we never find ourselves in such truculency where we have to trade our children for a bowl of rice. No! We never did. At least not for the political class. It has always been good to be a politician in this state. Ask around, they will tell you a man celebrated his first One Billion Naira (N1,000,000,000.000.00) sometime ago, when he was deeply involved in state politics. It has always been a dream to be a politician in Bayelsa state. But the story is not the same for the vast majority of us-fishermen, subsistent farmers, brick layers, carpenters, traders, unemployed youths, and the rest living below the N18,000.00 minimum wage. We have perennially been in government's total neglect. Prone to insecurity, exploitation by Politicians, disease, economic instability, communal clashes, flood, oil leakage, to mention but a few. We are used to hard times. At least, so we thought until now.

In fact, the last three months have been terrifying. Jet fighters have been hovering around our roofs, while Avengers were having the time of their life bringing down the country's oil production to zero percent in the creeks. We cried, we called, we complained, but our Governor was stone deaf. Like he too had contacted an ear infection.

Three months now, we have been sitting at home. Our schools, all suffering from infrastructural decay have been under lock and key while ASUU and Government keeps playing 'ping-pong' with our future. Our parents have died without their gratuity, leaving us the Youths with the burden of providing for the household with no sustainable means of livelihood. Those whose parents are alive are not very much different from us as they are spending money in this excruciating times, undergoing verification exercise so they can get just 1, out of 17 months salary.

Yet, there is no inspiration from Creek Heaven.

There has been blame, lies, more blame, excuse and counter-excuses. The commissioners of this administration are in a tabular rasa. The Government itself seems to consist of its Virtual Team. Where we only get to see government's achievements in 5 years online. Public relations have cascaded to warnings, insults and abuses from the Governor and his Aides.

The Legislature is unconcerned. As long as their Allowance keeps coming. They are more concerned with making anti-people's Law when they are not writing Congratulatory messages to the Governor for his successful return from his 2 week holiday, then they are congratulating him for his victory at the Tribunal or passing a BILL within 24 hours for the establishment of a certain 'University of Africa' to be cited at Toru-Orua, the Governor's village. While Government policies either haunts the poor masses or add more zeros to Executive's account.

In all of these, the Judiciary, hope of the common man is reticent. Lady justicia must have been gagged by the proliferating hunger in the land. The people are left on their own.

This is the condition we find ourself in Bayelsa state.

Of course, this is a pessimistic scenario but it does not in any way capture the asperity of our plights. We Bayelsans need a strong dose. For too long, we have sold ourselves the insane idea that by some magical stroke of good leadership, things would get better and lost touch of reality. We live in denial of reality. Such stroke of good Leadership will not happen. Not while we continuously trade our votes for paltry sums, and tow the line of 'core ijaw' and 'non-cor ijaw'. A political system cannot just change from within; it has to face pressure and implode first.

But we do not want to put pressure on government. Instead, we want our social critics to “proffer solutions”. This reasoning is another insanity we have sold ourselves over the years. It has become so standard that we expect even a boli vendor to provide us with a political solution the moment she starts asking questions about governance. As if government cares. True, public intellectuals may engage society to broaden perspectives. Non-profit entities may volunteer to fix certain issues. Everyday citizens may agitate for a particular course of action. But, in the end, it is not the duty of the intellectual, the charity or the ordinary citizen to fix socio-political problems. This is the duty of government. This is the reason we create governments. It is the reason we voted government. And I hope the Bayelsa New Media Team and the Governor's aides gets to understand this.

We elect our public officials to think about us. We empower them with the full resources of state. We pay them in taxes and our collective resources. We house them, feed them, transport them, nurse them, clothe them, and may even bury them when they die in exchange for just their concern over our affairs. Not to share money for us, or fly us in private jets, just a little concern from them will suffice. Is that too much to ask?

Yet, we should be grateful to our ijaw government.

We keep getting excuses for why things are not working. We are rebuked and insulted by public officials and Government aides. We have become whipped and accepting. We blame ourselves for the lack of social development. We invest government with resources then absolve it of responsibility. Instead, we challenge ourselves to work harder, to do better. And when our social critics call out government, we tell them to shut up or “proffer solutions” we ask  them: "what have you done in your own little way to make Bayelsa better?". Think of that: we order our social critics to fix things while we accept excuses from our elected leaders. Of course, our public intellectuals have degraded from the irreverent impartiality of unyielding social thinkers to the simpering partisanship of special advisers 'wannabe'.

This is madness.

If you criticize government, you are opposition. If you criticize opposition, you are government. When will they realize that some of us are ONLY interested in good governance?

The station of Bayelsa state is depressing. We are at fault for this, but not because we are lazy as the Governor said, stupid or rumour mongers. We are no more lazy, stupid or rumour mongers than the citizens of most developed states. Instead we are at fault because we love our government officials more than we love ourselves. Because they are more Ijaw than we who voted them into power. We respect corrupt public authority more than we respect our dignity. Because we have turned government into religion, replacing healthy cynicism with blind faith. And obvious truth with unflinching hope. We look at each other with angry eyes, like we want to scream and curse at this Government but it is as if hunger has finally silenced us.

Those who speak the truth are the enemies of IJAW. Those who asks genuine questions are tagged state enemies. There's too much pretence. Too much lies. Too much cover ups. And excessive sycophancy. Those who speak the truth are 'blacklisted.' Facebook accounts are for sale. Facebook Overlords after their own bellies. Journalists are slaughtered by brown envelops. The story of Bayelsa. Almost everything in Bayelsa is a scam. Organised scam against common people. It's such a shame.

And now we are on our own.

Because those who foist this on us are silent. No one is saying anything, and no one cares to ask why the unusual silence from the Godfathers.

Difficult times are coming. But we have to start demanding better things. We have to stop comparing ourself negatively with like states and start comparing ourself positively with other states. If Anambra can do it, so can Bayelsa state. We have to stop being schoolchildren, grateful for small favours. We have to develop the confidence to demand, to learn dissatisfaction. There is no magical change out there. Only our collective interrogation of this government will force a change for the better. We have to #OccupyCreekHavean till we get our entitlements.

Aluzu Ebikebuna Augustine can be reached via his E-mail address

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