According to Kathysue Dorey Pohrte, a New York-based certified instructor “to be a leader and to showcase acceptance to his or her followers could be an excruciating task.” However, the acceptance enjoyed by Chief Remember P.N. Ogbe, the Executive Chairman of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, on assumption of duty on Monday 8 April 2013 is a happily different experience. Symptomic of the approval of the new local government administration, individuals and groups of varying backgrounds have been visiting the council’s headquarters to identify with the change. On his part, Chief Ogbe has begun by operating an open-door policy.
As a prelude to kick-starting infrastructural development in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, the Executive Chairman has held sessions with groups ranging from heads of departments to general staff meetings. This he did with a view to defining the administration’s focus in speedily realizing the restoration agenda in all its tenets within the local government area. Others include meetings with royal majesties, chiefs, communities’ development committees chairmen and youth presidents of all communities across the local government area. This posture proves right the assertion of Abraham Lincoln, a one-time American President that “if I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe.” This perfectly describes activities at the Southern Ijaw Local Government Council in the past 45 days.
- Similarly, understanding that security of life and property is a panacea for sustainable development, Chief Ogbe held a brainstorming session with security personnel including Divisional Police Officers of the Nigeria Police Force across various communities in the local government area, heads of the Joint Task Force, the Nigerian Immigration Service. Others are the Marine Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, and officials of the National Orientation Agency. While some of these sessions were intended to proffer solutions to local challenges bedeviling the people, others were aimed at stalling vises of concern to the national economy such as illegal crude oil theft. Already, the area has begun reaping the dividends of these well-articulated meetings.
Taking a cue from the state administration, Chief Ogbe recognizes the place of building institutions in any goal-driven organization. As such, the Southern Ijaw chairman set out to appoint persons with impeccable characters into committees intended to lighten the burden of governance. Such committees include the Southern Ijaw Conflict Resolution Committee intended to resolve age-long communal and intra-communal crises within the area, the Revenue Committee and the supervisors.
The appointment of professionals in their respective fields of study, most of whom are drawn from the academia speaks volumes of the development that this administration yearns to deliver. The current administration believes that governance should be designed as an equalizer. Interestingly, therefore, all appointments made so far have been evenly distributed across the four constituencies in the local government, a practice that many have described as uncommon in the past. More fascinating is the administration’s strict adherence to statutory due process in all of these. As reiterated during the last transparency briefing of His Excellency the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, the Southern Ijaw Local Government Council boss became the first chairman in the current administration to give his stewardship by disclosing the financial status of the Council in the life of the administration thus far. It is worthy of note that in doing this, Chief Ogbe stated that saved funds represent 10% of total revenue rather than 5% as prescribed by legislation.
Just like its state counterpart, the new administration in Southern Ijaw local government council is one which understands the place of traditional rulers as partners in progress. By this, it has restored their pride of place. Little wonder, the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty Nelson Orianzi commended the high sense of maturity as demonstrated by Chief Ogbe describing it as the first in decades. For the royal fathers, the arm of fellowship extended to them is an opportunity of being a part of decision making at the grassroots, a development they consider new, tantamount to building a new SILGA, and capable of venting a common political voice and ultimately an agenda that could define a prosperous future for the people.
Within the past 45 days, the Southern Ijaw Local Government boss has initiated the marine version of a low-cost transport scheme entitled SILGA Restoration Transport. To further buttress and enshrine the free and compulsory education that the state government seeks to record, the local government boss considered transportation difficulties faced by students of the Federal Polytechnic Ekowe and their counterparts of the Niger Delta University Amassoma, thereby commencing the phase 1 of the scheme applying same on two routes – Yenagoa, Oporoma, Ekowe; and Ekowe, Oporoma, Amassoma.
Cognizant that the local government is an infinitesimal part of the globe, Chief Ogbe considered the need to build a Southern Ijaw Local Government Area website. (WWW.SILGA.GOV.NG) This will, beyond the life of this administration, serve a knowledge reservoir, in showcasing the history, people, programmes and projects embarked upon by successive administration, and most importantly, provide a platform for Bayelsans in the Diaspora and the international community with investment potentials that abound in the area. Also, arrangement with a commercial bank to set up a branch at the Council’s headquarters in Oporoma has reached an advanced stage. Undoubtedly, when completed, these will, in no little way, complement current efforts of the restoration administration at sampling investment opportunities that abound in the local government and as well in Bayelsa.
Justifiably, the political antecedents of Chief Remember P.N. Ogbe, have been characterized by honesty, hardwork and dynamism, thus, elucidating the mandate the electorate handed over to him during the Saturday 23 March 2013 elections which saw him emerging as the 21st Chairman of the Local Government Council. Being State Director of the Bayelsa Progress Movement, a political association with slogan “service to the people” speaks eloquently of the service orientation endemic in Chief Ogbe. No doubt, he has, just like Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, been in the vanguard of sensitizing the populace towards good governance since year 2000.
Truly, within the short while, the pathway of Southern Ijaw Local Government Council has shown that when the righteous rules, the people rejoice. Adjudged by all as a divine administration, the people watch with joy unspeakable and great expectations as the Southern Ijaw ship of development is steered to greater heights by Chief Remember P.N. Ogbe.
Godfrey Pondei, Ph.D