Bayelsa Business Council (BBC): Another Conduct-Pipe Like BDIC in Bayelsa?

As Governor Dickson inaugurated another 22-Member Bayelsa Business Council (BBC) to formulate polices aimed at attracting local and foreign investors to the State and as well to shore up her revenue base; the question descending minds are asking is; when will the Restoration Administration tell Bayelsans the “Gain-Income, Increase-Capital and Safety of Principal” from the #10bn Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC) inaugurated in South Africa and London in May 2013?

It would be recalled that Governor Dickson inaugurated Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC) with an initial take-off grant of #10bn, which gesture according to him was to enable the State to diversify from Oil and Gas sector of the economy.

Disclosing this at the inaugural Board Retreat of BDIC, held in Yenagoa, Governor Dickson said this would assist the Corporation in performing its statutory functions, which include attracting local and foreign investors to the State, boosting its economic profile and providing an economic blue-print for the State.

Governor Dickson who in addition stressed the importance of the Board members of BDIC to participate in the present administration’s efforts to turn the economy of the State around added that it has become imperative for the State to diversify from Oil and Gas sector of the economy in view of the non-renewable natural resources and emerging global economic market trends.

On the issue of funding, Governor Dickson disclosed that, “BDIC will enjoy from now till the end of the current budget year a capital injection of between#5bn-#10bn from the government of Bayelsa State to enable BDIC performed effectively and described Bayelsa State as Nigeria’s best-kept secret and investment destination while opening an investment office in London.

According to the State Chief Executive, his administration’s strategic vision is to attract private sector within and outside the country to open businesses in the State in order to create job opportunities as well as create alternative sources of revenue for the State noted with delight that with the opening of the London Office, the State was making a bold statement to the World at large and the investing public, that it is ready for business and eager to promote an excellent bilateral realties with Britain and the Commonwealth at large and used the occasion to disclose that BDIC Office would also open an Education Desk to assist the large number of Bayelsa Students, who are presently on scholarship in various Institutions of Higher Learning in the UK.

In their separate remarks at the official opening ceremony of BDIC’s International Office in London, Governor Dickson said BDIC’s London Office is principally intended to compliment the efforts of Nigeria High Commission in the United Kingdom by promoting trade and investment potentials of Bayelsa State and Nigeria, while the Special Guest of Honour and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Dalhatu Tafida commended Bayelsa State Government for the bold initiative taking in opening an office in the UK., noted that Bayelsa State is one of the youngest and smallest States in Nigeria, yet one of the most enterprising in the country.

He further stated that the event marked the first time a State in Nigeria opened such an Office in the UK and pledged full support and assistance of the High Commission while the event was attended by members of the diplomatic community, business leaders including the Chairman of West-Minister Business Group, Mr. Lawrence Robertson and a high powered delegation from Bayelsa State made up of King Alfred Diete-Spiff, the First Military Governor of the Old Rivers State and Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass, Chief Timi Alaibe, former MD of the NDDC, Major Lancelot Ayanya, Chairman National Oil Spill and Response Agency, Barrister Kemela Okara Commissioner for Trade, Investment and Industry, Tam Alazigha Deputy Managing Director BDIC, Barrister Funkazi Koroye-Crooks, BDIC/London Office, Cyril Akika, Special Adviser to Bayelsa State Governor on Investment among others.

In a related development, Governor Dickson, 10th June 2017 inaugurated a-22member Bayelsa Business Council (BBC) to formulate policies aimed at attracting local and foreign investors to the State and as well to shore up her revenue base with members of the council as Chief Ephraim Faloughi–Chairman, Mr. Harcourt Adoke-Deputy-Chairman, Ambassador Godknows Igali-Vice-Chairman-Public Sector, Mr. Gesiye Asamowei-Vice Chairman Private Sector, Mr. Tam Alazigha-Secretary, Adikio Warmate-Assistant Secretary. Others are Ken Etete, Mrs. Ebi Fumudoh, Dr. Eruani, Professor Azaiki, Mr. Didi Ndiomu, Mr. Guy Murray Bruce, Mr. Elvis Donkemizuo, Mr. Samson Siasia, Mr. Joe Penewou, Chief Fumudoh, Chief Timi Alaibe, Mr. Denzel Kentebe, Mrs. Funkazi Koroye-Crooks, Ms Patience Abbah, King A.J Turner and Dr. Daru Owei.

While inaugurating the BBC at the Conference Room of the new Governor’s Office Yenagoa, Governor Dickson said the council has as part of its responsibilities the laying of a solid economic foundation and formulation of economic policy that will be private-driven.

He further said the mentality of total independence on the government has to change and the only way to achieve this is to formulate policy that will have direct impact on the people and the present administration carefully selected this set of leaders to lay foundation for a private sector driven development of the economy of the State.

In his words; “The State heavily relies on government and her resources and this mentality has to change. Our State is a land of opportunities; our State has potentials to grow its economy. “In order to change the age long mentality of our people and reposition the economy of the State and make it private sector-driven, we need our business leaders who have done well in their private businesses to come together to explore and exploit the abundance business opportunities in the State. “We need your inputs; your professional advice on how to change our story. We expect you to organize Bayelsa in such a way that her story will be told everywhere as a place that is investment-friendly; a place that is ready for investment and as a place that understand the rules of a private sector,” and assured the council of his administration’s support especially in the provision of an enabling environment to enable it function at optimal level.”

According to Governor Dickson, his administration has invested a lot in all the sectors of the economy, especially in security, education, health and capacity building to mention but a few, further stated that the administration has made a lot of investment in security such as that our State by all ratings has been adjudged as one of the most peaceful States in the region. If we create peaceful environment, the next thing is to see how businesses can be developed and grow. However, we can attract people from all sectors to come and live here and do business and called on the people in the region to embrace peace and work together for the economic development of the region.

According to him, the region is fast losing businesses while our businesses are closing down; other areas are smiling to the banks, therefore we need to work for peace and create peace in our State.

In an earlier speech, Commissioner for Trade, Investment and Industry Kemela Okara (ESQ) said the inauguration of the Council would attract investment to the State and encourage various entrepreneurs while in his remarks, Chairman of the Business Council Chief Ephraim Faloughi thanked the governor for giving them the opportunity to serve and reposition the economy of the State through private sector participation, further stated that Bayelsa has suffered over the years, however, with the present administration’s initiative of bringing together businessmen and women to rub minds on how to reposition the economy; the State will regain its glory. The initiatives according to him will assist the State’s new economic champions that will take over the economy of the State.

Accordingly, he said, we will tutor the younger ones; we pledge to share our personal experiences with younger generations to develop our economy; we need patience, dedication and perseverance as these are the keys to economic success,” end of quote:
As a matter of fact, it is easier said than done. The words of our political leaders; they said are now the words of knowledge and wisdom but to what extent these sweet talks and flowery speeches made by Governor Dickson in the past six years of the Restoration Administration concerning the economic growth and well-being of the State is yet to be felt by the people.

Besides, apart from the likes of Professor Steve Azaiki, an astute administrator and founding of Azaiki Public Library in Yenagoa, Chief Faloughi said to be a businessman operating in Lagos, Mr. Harcourt Adoke, Proprietor of Gas Factories in Port Harcourt and Yenagoa, Mr. Denzel Kentebe and Mr. Moses Siasia who are also known entrepreneurs; the rest are unknown in the business environment apart from being active participants in politics whose performance in the economic sector of the State have not positively impacted on the people, but continually engage in power-politics for self-upkeep and sustenance in the State.

Asides, in spite of this gathering of egg-heads at its inauguration in South Africa and London where powerful speeches and encomiums were showered on Stakeholders and State-actors, BDIC has neither attracted industries nor investors to establish industries in Bayelsa to create job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths; rather BDIC turned out to be a political Jamboree, Paper Tiger and an economic retrogressive Investment Corporation to the peoples’ commonwealth since May 2013 to date.

In fact, BDIC has turned out to be one of the biggest economic wastes, political monster, conduit-pipe and a predator of the peoples’ commonwealth in Bayelsa.
Like the BDIC, let BBC never turn out to be another Barbarossiac and plutocratic cartel, aimed at conduit and siphon Bayelsa State funds to personal and family members’ pockets. Experience has shown that since the inauguration of BDIC, it has not attracted any single investor either local or foreign to the State and that in itself is an indication of a total failure either on the part of the government that established the BDIC or the leadership of BDIC, an investment Corporation that lacks clue, focus, credibility and sincerity or probably dead at inauguration.

As a matter of fact, since its inauguration in 2013, BDIC has neither brought economic welfare nor economy of abundance to the people of the State and as a result Economic Observers and Analysts see it as a total failure on its part to attract foreign investors to the State.
According to Economic Watchers, Governor Dickson, who also attended and fully participated in an Oil and Gas Summit held in Houston Texas about two years ago in USA has neither attracted Investors nor Industries to establish in Bayelsa to date.

No wonder, the State is littered with numerous abandoned projects, investment and job creation opportunities while government has not been able to give priority attention to all the investment and job creation opportunities as they are left to rot away in their various project sites cut across the length and breadth of the State thereby unable to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths including women, rather engage them to dance at political platforms and reception grounds for crumbs in the State.

The driver of Bayelsa’s problem today is failure of leadership, poverty of leadership and leadership of poverty to holistically encourage, set-up and develop Industries, Investments and job creation opportunities to attract genuine investors both local and foreign to invest in order to turn around the economic fortunes of the State.

To state the obvious without any equivocation; it is extremely difficult for both local and foreign investors to come to invest in Bayelsa due to insecurity of their investments, criminal militancy; lack of investment by stakeholders who have been in power over the years, plutocratic activities of the ruling elites and other unwholesome practices of mandarin millionaires masquerading as political leaders in the State.
Even the few foreign construction firms that constructed few roads in the past were unable to effectively perform without either fully-armed Mobile Police Squads or Military boots on ground to guard and protect their interest otherwise their safety at job sites were unguaranteed.

For instance, in the past one-year or so the State witnessed several assassination attempts on prominent citizens, several cases of kidnaps, cultism including kidnapping of a nursing mother of nine weeks old-baby and other robbery-related cases reported in the State capital Yenagoa and its environs.
Consequent upon the above, who are those foreign investors that would come and invest in Bayelsa, inebriated with such heinous crimes and criminalities? Besides, the worst violence and criminal militancy ever experienced in other parts of the country is what Bayelsa experienced.

Therefore, Bayelsa’s failure to escape from poverty after over six years of several billions of Naira including Federal Allocations, ecological funds, NDDC Intervention Funds, Bail-out Funds, Paris/London Club Refunds and others are squarely as a result of leadership failure, poverty of leadership and leadership of poverty.

For instance, how would one imagine in a small State like Bayelsa with a population of not more than three million people at most got between #16bnand #18bn monthly from February 2012 to September 2015 before the economic recession is unable to judiciously utilize these funds for the economic growth and development of the State.

Even, during the economic recession period that lasted from October 2016 to the 3rd quarter of 2017, Bayelsa received not less than #12bn monthly allocation and also got several billions of Naira from Paris/London Club Refunds for salaries arrears, yet only one and half months paid, so also in August against September 2017, Bayelsa received #12bn; yet salaries of workers, pensioners and others were not fully paid.

To state without rhetoric or embroideries, the major trouble with Bayelsa of today is that Dillingers, Barbarossas, and Freebooters who should be inhibiting maximum security prison yards are the ones occupying seats of power, residing in government offices across the length and breadth of all the local government areas masquerading as leaders in the State, hence no end to workers’ verification exercises, so also mandarin millionaires and office plunders and their likes are the best leaders occupying lucrative offices.

Also, crooks and quacks who in civilized crimes should be banished to the internal realm of collective disdain are canonized as political demigods, godfathers, heavy weights, political bulldozers and juggernauts and Saints in Bayelsa’s political amphitheaters.

As a result, Bayelsa is marooned aground in the sandbank of underdevelopment because these Dillingers, Barbarossas and Freebooters exchanged their primeval jungle playgrounds for citadel of power.

They have been in the helms of affairs since the return of democracy in 1999, shamelessly celebrating monumental failures, grotesque incompetence and the kind of visionless kleptomania unparalleled in the history of governance in Bayelsa State.

No wonder, Bayelsa State that recorded a total of #12.56bn as Internationally Generated Revenue (IGR) in 2017 and received the sum of #105.25bn from the Federation Account in the same year, yet her domestic debt owed by the Bayelsa State government under Governor Henry Seriake Dickson stands at #219.46bn according to a data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Website, Tuesday 2nd April 2018.