It was, perhaps, not fortuitous that he was christened Godknows. His parents must have had some inkling that his trajectory in life would be phenomenal; that the Almighty God had predestined him for the top of his callings. And wait for this: Boladei, his middle name, as transliterated to me by an Ijaw daughter abroad, is “one’s turn has come”. That is also quite profound in the contemplation of Godknows Boladei Igali’s earthly voyage, encapsulating his public service engagements and his current political exertions.
As a public servant, he attained the position of a permanent secretary. In the Foreign Service, he was Consul General to Cameroon and later rose to the position of an ambassador of Nigeria to the Scandinavian countries-Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway. In the academia, Godknows is an academic of repute with a PhD in Political and International Studies from the University of Venezuela, in his kitty; and, he has to his credit, the authorship of a number of books, including “Perspectives on Nation-State Formation in Contemporary Africa”, “Global Trends in State Formation” and “Signposts to Success”.
In 2011, Igali aspired to be governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The President Goodluck Jonathan supported Seriake Dickson to win the ticket. Igali has thrown his hat in the ring for the 2019 governorship ticket of the PDP. The Bayelsa governorship is thus the next definite terrain that Godknows has set forth at dawn to seek to conquer. But he has a number of formidable aspirants with whom he is scrambling for the ticket. But he is not bothered. He is simply enamoured of his contemplation and consideration of a better-administered Bayelsa State.
He captures his perspectives of a greater Bayelsa State in his widely-publicised manifesto christened: “Project Bayelsa 2019”. Instead of appropriating it as “my manifesto”, he used the royal “we” and “our” to indicate a sense of collective ownership. He knows he cannot do it alone. According to him, “‘Project Bayelsa’ is a new vision, a new direction and God knows we can do it.” That was the strong message with which he signed-off at the bottom of the cover page of the manifesto.
Divided into four critical sub-heads of human capital development and wellbeing, infrastructure development, economy and industrial growth, and peace and security, the manifesto of the governorship aspirant, who has put his nose to the grindstone ahead of the September 3 primary election of the party, elucidates on his commitment to the people of Bayelsa. And what are the specific offerings on the plate of this restless mind, for instance, in the area of human capital development and well being?
Read him: “The human capital development strategy as Governor of Bayelsa state will focus on the attainment of these key issues: provision of free quality education, and implementation of social investment programme; provision of qualitative health care system through the establishment of Primary Health care Centres in all 115 electoral wards; awareness and access towards 40 percent affirmative action for women in elective political positions and appointments; and, construction of central water projects in different parts of the state with a water reticulation to surrounding communities for the provision of potable water.”
His focus on infrastructure development is on the construction of roads and bridges to link all major towns in the state; construction of medium-size gas fired power generation plant with mini-grid to power major communities and industrial estates; construction of four industrial estates with the requisite facilities; accommodation, electricity, roads, etc, for the purpose of industrial development; establishment of three agricultural cluster farms in the three senatorial districts with requisite infrastructure; and, construction of major drainage infrastructure in the State capital and Local government headquarters and major towns.
Igali’s offerings on economy and industrial growth focus on policies that will drive growth in technology and innovation with a requisite investment; investment in information and communication technology; formulation of laws that will aid the ease of doing business in the state; development of Agge Deep Sea Port as well as industrial harbours in Akassa and Koluama; establishment of three agricultural cluster farms in the three senatorial districts with requisite infrastructure; establishment of 200 informal new start-up businesses into the economy every month with targeted upgrade of 30 to 50 to small and medium enterprises annually.
They also include the revitalization of Bayelsa State Palm to become profit-making venture; massive investment in the cultivation of plantain, rice, banana, sugar cane, fruits and vegetables; heavy investment in agriculture by providing support to farmers. According to him, “the potentialities of the Nigerian maritime industry are estimated to be worth over N50 billion annually if explored to the fullest due to its vast coastline. Bayelsa State, being one of the states having littoral status, can explore this untapped potentiality to fast-track the socio-economic development of the State.”
He added: “My administration will invest heavily, through Public Private Partnership (PPP), in the following areas of the maritime industry: exploration of the untapped offshore mineral resources; construction of fishing vessels in the state to engage in massive deep-sea fishing; and work in collaboration with NIMASA to explore the full potentialities of the cabotage industry.”
Indeed, these and other plans can only be realised in an atmosphere of peace and secured environment. Declaring that the importance of security could not be over-emphasized due to its contribution to the socio-economic development of every nation, Igali asserted that Bayelsa State was not an exception in the contemplation and provision of a good security architecture to fast-track the stability of the economy through the influx of investment to the State and the protection of life and property.
“It is the duty of government to protect its citizens, economy, institutions, property and the environment. Therefore, we will be focusing on two major areas of security, which are security of life and property; and, security of the environment. Security of life and property is important for the protection of physical assets, government institutions, infrastructure and lives of the citizens. Environmental security is important for the sustainable development of the state and general wellbeing of the citizens,” he declared.
To bolster the security of life and property in Bayelsa, Igali promised the strengthening of security agencies in the State (Police, Civil Defence, DSS and Military) with the provision of modern security equipment to combat insecurity; establishment of Rapid Response Unit to take up emergency security challenges both on land and in the creeks; setting up of emergency toll free lines to report breach of security; reformation and strengthening of the neighborhood security (Bayelsa volunteer) to assist security agencies, mostly in the community level to combat the scourge of cultism and other vices.
Igali further assured that his administration would formulate policies to combat the scourge of oil exploration effects on the environment (gas flaring and oil spillage); work in collaboration with NIMASA to explore the full potentialities of the cabotage industry; establishment of special funds to tackle coastal erosion, and ocean surge; and, formulation of policies to combat deforestation.
Indeed, the challenges of realizing “Project Bayelsa” are quite huge. It requires Igali’s Midas touch. There are a plethora of third party endorsements of Godknows Boladei Igali’s capacities to step in the driver’s seat. According to some of the significant endorsements, “he is bold, courageous, competent and ready to serve; he is an astute administrator, suave, reliable, and extremely humble; he is poised to transform Bayelsa State. He is a tried and tested leader with ideas and vast experience. He is a true Izon patriot. Igali will bring prosperity and progress to Bayelsa; he will break the jinx of under-development. Igali is proven and capable.”
He needs time and chance to validate or consummate this fidelity. The Bayelsa PDP primary election scheduled to hold on September 3 and the subsequent governorship election (if he scales the two hurdles) provide opportunities for Bayelsa people to invest their faith in the man whose time has come (Boladei).
· Ojeifo contributed this piece from Abuja via[email protected]