TRACKING >One of the most profound statements Governor Seriake Dickson made in his first inaugural address to the people of Bayelsa State was to deploy the administrative apparatus of the state to “undertake fundamental reform of the governance culture to emphasize transparency, accountability, due process and value re-orientation by all institutions and functionaries of government.” He went further to stress that “there shall be zero tolerance for corruption under my administration. The days of self-enrichment without labour and funding the greed of a few at the expense of the development of our people are over. I will work hard to plug all leakages and sources of corruption which have been the bane of our development.”
Using the levers of good governance and the imperatives of Public Service reforms sweeping across the country, it is only natural that we cast a bird’s eye view on the positives of the on-going Public Service Reforms in Bayelsa State, which have assumed he momentum of a revolution.
However, the resolve of the Dickson Administration was to sanitize the public sector of the various forms of malfeasance that had undermined productivity, efficiency, and professionalism in the service. Therefore, the administration sought to cleanse the system of the following through the ongoing reforms:
▪ Payroll fraud
▪ Age falsification
▪ Multiple employment
▪ Certificate forgery
▪ Pension fraud
▪ Employment racketeering
▪ Staff redundancy, over-staffing and truancy
▪ Unjustifiable, indiscriminate promotions and placements
The rationale for the reforms is basically hinged on correcting the aforementioned anomalies that had bedevilled the public sector for donkey’s years in Bayelsa State. Government’s position is that workers who have attained the statutory retirement age or that had served the prescribed number of years stipulated in the extant public service rules should leave. It believes that this is the only means by which employment space can be created for young graduates of the state’s origin to take up job-openings created through the retirement of those due.
For those who are conversant with the dynamics of good governance and the global push for lean, accountable and transparent bureaucracy, the on-going reforms should no come as a surprise. Far from that, Bayelsans who have a plan for the future of their children should embrace it with open arms. Pleasantly, a critical segment of stakeholders: chiefs, traditional rulers, women and youths have embraced the reforms ostensibly because they are people-centred; pro-poor and pro-people reforms.
Pragmatically speaking, everything was wrong with the Public Service in Bayelsa State. In the medical profession, when there is an ailment, the veritable first step is a diagnosis to ascertain the real nature of the ailment, and its severity. Further, curative measures are identified and the medicine administered in the right dosage. The same thing goes for any institution that is plagued by multiple ailment. The fraud and patronage network in the Public Service in Bayelsa State is so deep and intricate that only a fundamental surgical operation can remedy he anomalies perpetrated against the collective conscience of Bayelsans.
It is absolutely legitimate for Government to retire staffers that have attained the mandatory 60 years and above.
IT is equally in line with the Public Service Rules that those with double employment, inherited employment and workers who came through the backdoor should be shown the way out of the service. Thus, the Reforms embarked the Restoration administration are not only legalistic but an administrative imperative to save the system from total collapse. In the words of Gandhi, anytime reforms are introduced, the people will protest, then laugh at them and later accept the reforms. In the case of Bayelsa State, a critical mass of the people: youths, women, chiefs, and other critical stakeholders have keyed into the reforms. The reforms have assumed a life of their own. In fact they are now irreversible if Bayelsa State is determined to create a brighter future for our children.
One noticeable trend in the reforms is that the opposition APC is working hard to frustrate the reforms, though unsuccessfully. APC leaders who created this rot when they were in Government uses any opportunity to incite their members and arm the unsuspecting youths to protest. But why will APC be involved in his sinister act?
For doubting Thomas’ the intent of the reforms is to clean up the mess and to entrench an efficient and effective service delivery system. From all intent and purpose, the reforms will open new employment opportunities for unemployed graduates, and regularise those who have been denied promotion to their deserved grade levels. Already, government has lifted the embargo on employment. This sense of equity and fairness will be an added impetus for motivating workers to greater productivity. Another positive of the reforms is the vast options it provides for Bayelsans to engage in entrepreneurial activities capable of generating money for self-employment and sustainability.
What is important is for the Restoration Administration to use the reforms, plug all leakages to conserve resources and empower the youths and women of Bayelsa State. We have all seen Governor’s zeal for youth empowerment is in keeping with his inaugural address.
In Governor Dickson’s inaugural address, he asserted thus: “We will invest in the development of other aspects of human capacity for our teeming youths, such that they will be able to unleash their creative capacities as well as enhance their drive for entrepreneurship”. In his address to mark the 16th year anniversary of the creation of Bayelsa State, Governor Dickson emphasized that: ” Government will use the resources of this State to fund critical projects such as the construction of good roads, education, health facilities, promote tourism, general wealth and develop agriculture, rather than use it to fund the corruption and greed of a few” These two epochal addresses underscored the fact that investing in youths is the solar-plexus and thrust of his administration.
Today, Bayelsa has an Entrepreneurship Centre for youth development and the youths are leveraging on it to acquire tremendous skills.
Youth Empowerment is a process where young people are encouraged to take charge of their lives. They do this by addressing their situation and then take action in order to improve their access to resources and transform their consciousness through their beliefs, values, and attitudes. The overarching aim of Youth empowerment is to improve the quality of life. In the Restoration Administration, youth development is taken holistically.
In its holistic sense, youth empowerment connotes providing young people with abilities, skills and competencies that can enable them manipulate economic processes. Youth development has become so relevant in our society that even partisan observers hold the view that the Restoration Administration is the most youth-friendly administration since the creation of Bayelsa State.
This is true in the light of pragmatic steps taken by the Restoration Administration. We can understand why for the first time, Governor Dickson established a separate Ministry of Youth Development at the beginning his administration. The Ministry was established specially to cater for the need of youths with a view to improving their wellbeing in terms of job creation, wealth creation, skills acquisition and poverty alleviation.
Government hit the ground running by collating database of existing manpower by the Ministry of Manpower Development and that of Youth Development. The data base provides robust opportunity for government to identify training needs; manpower gaps and how to fill such gaps by enabling government to build the capacity of youths for gainful employment or self-employment.
The in-coming Governor Senator Douye Diri will consolidate it for Prosperity