How I will govern Bayelsa, by Lyon
by Mike Odiegwu
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, Chief David Lyon, spoke with Senior Correspondent Mike Odiegwu in Yenegoa, the state capital, on his ambition, his programmes, the preparations for the November 16 poll, and the challenges that will confront the state in post-Dickson period.
Why do you want to become governor of Bayelsa State?
Bayelsa State along with a few states are undergoing tremendous crisis of leadership. Bayelsa State is also undergoing great socio-economic and political crisis at this stage. My state is faced with the challenges of total power failure, neglected economic activities and it requires able and dedicated leadership. The state is looking for persons who will provide these amenities to its citizens. I have the requisite qualities, experience, exposure, discipline and the depth of commitment to provide the required leadership to my people in Bayelsa.
What background prepared you for governance?
I come from a family and community that is very conscious of its social responsibilities right from childhood. I have had this vision of participating in processes that will ameliorate harshness in our environment. Such background has also prepared me to make sacrifices. I came from a setting that has given me the commitment to make life better for the generality of our people. I have been in politics since the Third Republic. I was a strong member of the defunct NRC. I contested then as a Councillor of my ward, but it was aborted by the then military government.
I was elected youth president of my community under a tense option A4 election and I won as the youth president of my community, Olugbobiri, in 1996. I was appointed Chairman of Apoi Olodiama Local Government Development Center by the late Chief DSP Alamieyeiseigha government in 2002. I even contested the House of Assembly seat in my constituency, but later stepped down for former Speaker Kombowei Benson, who got the ticket of PDP through in-house harmonization initiated by the leadership of PDP. I was a bonafide and devoted member of the PDP in Bayelsa State, before I joined the APC party. In my business life, which is majorly in the oil and gas industry, by dint of hard work and Gods infinite blessings, I have crafted a niche as a global player. It has enabled me to touch many lives in every facet of human endeavor and to cap it all, I have been a good follower and a committed party man. I always have in mind that, if you want to be a good leader you must be a good follower.
Life itself is a political experience. But, you can see that I have had political experience more than most of the so-called political gladiators. By dint of hard work and God’s blessing, I have excelled in the oil and gas business. By the grace of God, I am the highest private employer of labour in Bayelsa State across the local government areas. I have interacted with best economic giants in the world relating to oil and gas politics and lastly, I have worked with renowned political leaders in Bayelsa State closely. I have worked with leaders such as former Governor Timipre Sylva, now Petroleum Minister, late Chief DSP Alamieyeiseigha, late Senator David Brigidi, Chief Francis Doukpola, and many others.
Why do you think the APC, can win in Bayelsa?
We came prepared and we have robust programmes of action. The problems of Bayelsa are legion. But, I would say our condition currently is that of unacceptable disunity, and abject poverty. I believe that most of our problems in Bayelsa are man made and natural. I have gone round the length and breadth of the state due to the nature of my business. I will assure you that each local government has its own peculiar problem. I have had discussions with various people, community leaders, experts, market women, students and workers. I have been able to work out a programme that will alleviate the suffering of the people. First and foremost, we must tackle the question of disunity, distrust, and division. These are internal and they must be solved first. I will make it a priority to involve every segment of the society. The issue of poverty must be addressed. That is the root cause of mutual distrust and disunity. Unemployment will be addressed.
We will encourage new private investors and encourage existing ones to diversify. In Bayelsa State, people have abandoned the entrepreneurship spirit. We will change all that with more investment, more jobs, and more opportunities. We must also provide link roads and riverine transportation facilities. There will be rehabilitation of farmers and fishermen, whose occupations are almost becoming extinct. They will be granted soft loans. We will kick-start our rural infrastructural development, basic health facilities and opportunities for small scale industries in the rural areas. There will be new initiative on industrialisation and investment policies. We will ensure that our people are fully involved in the oil and gas, petro-chemical and other ancillary industries. The organised private sector will work with the Bayelsa State government under my leadership.
We will develop partnership that will be mutually rewarding. There will be realistic social welfare programmes to help the disabled, the unemployed, the aged and the children. Since much of the nation’s revenue comes from Bayelsa State and with the considerable ecological damage arising from oil explorations, with the difficult terrain because over 50 per cent of 50,000 square kilometers falls within the Niger Delta Basin, we will ensure the Federal Government and the oil companies are fully involved in these areas. We are going to be very serious in this regard. I believe every difficult situation presents an opportunity for initiatives. My mission will be to articulate the yearnings of our people and provide a purposeful, accountable and responsible leadership for Bayelsa State.
My fellow party members are very conscious of their social responsibilities. What we are saying in APC is that, apart from commitment to social responsibilities, there must be an attendant commitment to free enterprise, free market and productivity. People must work hard and produce more. We believe in fiscal responsibilities and prudent management of the economy. The PDP places so much emphasis on left wing issues. I am not comfortable with that. I am for all means to enhance production and development of the entrepreneurship spirit.
How will you convince the Federal Government and oil companies to get involve in all these plans?
The problems obviously are beyond the scope of a state government. First and foremost, we will try to improve on the image of the state in the eyes of the Federal Government and fellow compatriots. We must be seen to be as members of united Nigerian society in all our thinking and ways of doing things. This will definitely bring the Federal Government and other interested partners to our most desired development in Bayelsa State.
But, people complain that most Bayelsa people are lazy. How do you want to instill entrepreneurship spirit in them?
It is not true that the spirit is not here in Bayelsa. In fact, it started here with our early contact with the Europeans. I believe the occupations of our people and their orientation are products of history. It is historical reality that our people are inclined towards civil service jobs, but it has not been always like that. The spirit of competition in our neighbours has always been seen here too. Our forefathers were great traders and successful merchants. Our recent history, however, locked us into a role of working in the civil service. What I will assure, however, is that we will revive this spirit and our commercial inclination. I will encourage self-reliance and productivity with the advantage of our seaports and vast oil and gas resources. We will try to encourage a generation of entrepreneurs who will not be cutting corners. With my experience in business, I know how and where to go about it. Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, has the potential of becoming an international oil and gas financial market.
What is your take on the security situation in Bayelsa?
First and foremost, security is everybody’s problem. Everybody must show concern. I believe that most security problems arise from unemployment, poverty and illiteracy. We shall formulate a security architecture that will embrace all traditional rulers, community leaders, political leaders, young and old from individual communities and local governments, combined with the support of our conventional security operatives, we will have our desire security problem solved. You should know that one of my main business concerns in the oil and gas sector is to provide security and surveillance for the protection of oil and gas facilities, which by the grace of God, I have tremendous knowledge of. We will bring various experiences and expertise to bare to ensure adequate security. Peace and love must reign in Bayelsa State where everybody will have equal opportunity and prosperity.
How do you respond to those who say you came from a wealthy background and that you lack requisite academic qualifications to be a governor?
Everybody in Bayelsa State confronts poverty on the widest scale everyday. I grew up in this environment. Growing up as a school boy at St. Gabriel State School, Olugbobiri, I walked to school bare-footed. I attended Community Secondary School, Olugbobiri. I went to Port Harcourt and attended Rivers State College of Education when it was affiliated to the University of Ibadan. So, you can see I have requisite academic qualifications. My commitment to the poor is one that comes from direct exposure to poverty and harsh terrain. It will be impossible to talk of a Bayelsa man or woman, who has not experienced poverty or hardship. Go to the various communities, you will see the problems. I know this state first hand. I have gone everywhere and I grew up here. My parents grew here. The question of not experiencing poverty is not true at all.