Amb. Godknows Igali

Igali’s agenda and the Bayelsa of our dream

By Robinson Ere

“Having faith in ourselves make us take positive steps. To be a success we must have the confidence in our capacity to take on tasks and challenges that others may be unwilling to confront. This does not mean arrogance. No one was ready to face Goliath except one young man who had self-confidence and was ready to take a bold step” – Godknows Igali

Since the contest for the governorship of Bayelsa State started with 21 aspirants in the race under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), one man stands out with his development agenda that political pundits have described as the Bayelsa of our dreams. This man is none other than His Excellency, Ambassador Godknows Boladei Igali, PhD, who also holds the traditional title of Ibetariowei of Izon and several national and international awards, including Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).

As a Nigerian Diplomat, Administrator and intellectual, Dr. Boladei Igali has held top positions in Bayelsa State (Secretary to the State Government) and at the national level as Ambassador to several countries, including the Scandinavian countries, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Federal Permanent Secretary to two major Ministries. He is a man with deep Christian faith and background.

He has also contributed immensely to the service of his people and state government in various capacities, being at the forefront of the Niger Delta and Ijaw struggle for over 40 years and provided strong leadership, working and galvanizing the strength of other leaders towards ensuring that the Ijaws remain very relevant in the scheme of things in Nigeria. And as it turned out, in furtherance of a new agenda christened “Project Bayelsa,” Godknows Boladei Igali, PhD, has once again, offered himself to serve as he calls on PDP delegates to elect him as their flag bearer on September 3 and Bayelsans to to vote for him during the November 16, 2019 gubernatorial elections.

Dr. Igali has at every stop in his campaign trail in the three senatorial districts of Bayelsa State, consulted and engaged all the critical stakeholders and party delegates to garner support. He has had useful engagements with pressure groups, captains of industry, international organisations, market and women groups as well as the general public. Dr. Igali promises to run an all-inclusive administration where everyone living in Bayelsa will be proud. According to him, “I want to come in as the Governor of Bayelsa State to give we the Ijaw nationality, the fourth largest group in Nigeria, the oldest indigenous group in this part of the world, the aboriginal peoples in this part of the world, particularly part of West Africa, focused and serious minded leadership. A leadership that recognizes our past and has deep understanding of our present situation and has a clear roadmap for the future. Being a father to our people, connecting with our other leaders – like President Goodluck Jonathan, galvanizing the strength of our people, connecting with the younger generation of leaders such as Henry Seriake Dickson and others that have led the state, including of course, Timipre Sylva and others at different levels, working with them to bring our state together.

“I have been able to garner experience in state building and seeing the course of reformation, rebuilding and transformation of nations. This has always been under the hand of serious minded, focused and determined leadership. This is more so in this 21st century when nations find themselves in a greater burden of competing for very scarce resources for the improvement of the lives of their people. These would impel leaders with visionary calling and courage, leaders with character and determination and leaders with the depth and drive to bring about change to emerge on the scene. Even where odds exist, to take their peoples, communities and nations out of the shackles of stunted growth and poverty on a quantum leap into the future”,

If given the opportunity to serve as the next governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Igali said that his work plan would be to ensure that the state leads not just Nigeria in reasonably attaining some of the irreducible standards of modern living articulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The quest for attainment of the SDG goals, which by the way appears to cover every aspect of qualitative and beneficial human existence and environmental order, would be a guiding benchmark.

“I have acronymed our campaign credo as “PROJECT BAYELSA: For the Ijaw Cause, Development & Regional Integration. I therefore, on this occasion, provide a bird’s-eye view, or rather in an annotated manner, a few issues central in our plan. These include, but not limited to the Physical Security and Peaceful existence (Homegrown and community based security, ADR and Dialogue focused solutions, ICT and application of New Technological solutions). Human Security and Human Development (rebuilding and modernization of schools and health facilities for universal coverage, comprehensive health insurance and social welfare, special maternal care, children welfare and nutrition support programme), massive public housing and robust/affordable mortgage scheme. Wide-scale Infrastructural development (urban renewal, roads, embedded gas based power supply agenda and energy efficiency, water supply, optimization of Bayelsa Cargo Airport, Agge Port, specialized harbours, etc) through modern and innovative funding strategies.

Entrepreneurship and low carbon/green Economic Growth, with special focus on Micro, Small and medium sized businesses incubation as well as Downstream oil and Gas Agriculture, The Marine Economy (Deep Sea Fishing, Shipping & Cabbotage Service and Mineral resource exploitation), Innovation and Technology, Youth and Women inclusive and empowerment programmes. Innovative Infrastructure and Social Investment Funding Strategies. Environmental Security & Ecological remediation programme, (revisit the expected Report of Bayelsa Oil and Environment Commission under Archbishop John Sentamu as well as 2012 UNEP), tackle climate change, sea rise and ocean surge, as well as coastal erosion. The Ijaw Question as fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria (language, identity, cultural revival, safety and peace). Promotion of Regional Integration (intra South-South, South-West/South-East, etc). The Nigerian Question. (Advance the Restructuring, Resource control and fiscal federalism, devolution, devolution of power)”.

There is no gain saying the fact that Ambassodor Boladei Igali is adjudged by all who come into contact with his campaign train as the most experienced and better qualified man that can take the Ijaw nation to a higher level of development and prosperity. For instance, while welcoming the leading governorship aspirant to present his manifesto titled Project Bayelsa 2019: My Commitment To The People of Bayelsa State at a consultative meeting of the Forum of Former Legislators in Yenagoa, the State Chairman, Chief (Hon.) Robert Ayalla Enogha described Dr. Igali as, “a round peg in a round hole, a golden fish that Bayelsans have always been proud of.

“Your Excellency, we’re proud to have you here. It’s been a long expectation and we also know that this is one of the places you’ll visit before the 3rd of September, 2019. Your Excellency we’re proud of you and have always been proud of you, particularly with your credentials and this is why Bayelsans need somebody like you. For a State to move forward there must be an element of experienced hands that would encircle the administration. If by the grace of God you win, whether you call us or not, we must be part of your government. We want to be part of your government because we want to aid you. That is why we say we must be around because the state belongs to everybody.

Hon. Ayalla Enogha informed the visiting aspirant that the Forum of Former Legislators is one indivisible entity formed as a very focused and enlightened pressure group that partners in the progress and development of Bayelsa state, and assured him that he is not alone because they are committed to the development of Bayelsa State.

Hon Ayalla Enogha In continuation of his appreciation of Amb. Igali literally broke a long standing tradition of forum by declaring thus:

“Your Excellency, you will now agree with the forum why I said we should not clap when anybody is talking because I’m sure the lecture and the outlines of the lecture alone would have distracted you with claps. We would have left the clapping event for your delegation to follow. I assure you that this place has been visited by at least, 10 to 12 aspirants, but I prostrate to say that we have never seen your type. I’m not mincing words, I’m not also campaigning for you. Just like some of us would think of the political histories of the US and the UK, leaders are prepared, leaders don’t just emerge by emergency. You’re one man that has been prepared for us. And I think by the grace of God, He will hear our prayers. For twenty years, yes. I wouldn’t have written off the twenty years of democratic practice and governance in Bayelsa because I’m one of those who have benefited so much, but we’re putting more on gambles than the reality. You’ve taken us through all the nooks and crannies of administrative management. You do not give us only the aspects of appreciation, but you also brought management to bear on administration.

Administration itself is business and that is what you’be actually exposed to us. You’be taken more than an hour to talk but its like your speech was as short as ten minutes. That is because all of us here are yearning for the development you’re defining for us. All of us here believe in your exposure and experience. We believe in your dedication. Your Excellency, the LORD is your strength.”
“For us, we’re matured enough to take any decision for the State. Only, we appeal to you, that you must break into the powers that be. 24 hours is enough to take a radical decision that would be impactful. Whereas, we believe in what you have posited here and we’all do the needful, we’re only a fraction of the delegates. As much as we can also influence the ward excos, the ones we can influence, we plead with you to break into the powers that be and we pray that God will be with you, go before you and strengthen you. God will show you favor. Truly, I’m not biased, but we think that this is the Bayelsa of our dreams,” he said.

Also speaking on Project Bayelsa 2019, a first product from the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Chief (Hon.) Bright Erewari said of “our own dear Ambassador and devout Ijaw leader: “I’ve known Ambassador Igali, I would say in very close quarters. I’ve known him as a man of deep intellect and industry, so I’m not surprised at the presentatuon he has just made. This is what we’ll get if eventually, by the grace of God he gets to the saddle of leadership that is distinct. My only concern is that a lot of permutation is going on in the State. But I know that human permutation is different from God’s ordination. If it is the will of God, and I want to say, let the will of God always prevail. And so, our Chairman said we want to admonish you. I don’t have any admonition. Perhaps, the only appeal I want to make is that when and if you get to paradise, don’t forget this assemblage. We stand by you, we stand behind you and stand beside you”.

Hon. (Chief) Prosper Nwaguzo is also a first assembly member and his advise to Godknows Boladei Igali Campaign Organisation is instructive.

“Our revered Ambassador, I want to come by what You have noted rightly, the great number of contestants. At a point, people would say “why are they so many?” Why are there so many contestants? But when you look at it from another angle, you’ll see the quality of men that Bayelsa has. Its another protection of what Bayelsa is made of, we have quality men. So that we’re small does not make us to be looked down upon because we have quality men. But among the quality men are more quality men. So that is where the work would come from. As a Diplomat, you have an advantage of using your diplomacy to work. So no one will lecture you on diplomacy now. With a Director-General who has to manage Public Relations, I think your campaign organisation is way ahead of how to get the people. Delegates have masters. Know how to reach to them and you know, this work is a work that can be done not only at noon day, but a work that can be done at night, know how to reach them because among us here in this forum are leaders in their own right. There are some who are delegates themselves, there are makers of delegates.

I think I’ll just end up by saying that when you go back, know how to strategise, know how to go about the work. But honestly speaking, there’s no one who will listen to you, who would not give you your due. When you were SSG, I was Chairman of a Commission and the Governor always handed us over to your office, when you have a problem, go there and I know how you managed the Commissions and the Parastatals. If you can manage then so effectively, I know that you can do better when the load falls on your shoulders. I wish you well,” he said.

In a chat with the Godknows Boladei Igali Governorship Campaign train, former Commissioner and statesman Chief Asara O. Asara said that if we talk about competent hands for now, to drive Bayelsa State, he does not see anyone that can beat Igali’s record.

“We need the delegates to make a government that would be able to meet the aspirations of the masses of this state. That is what we want.”

“As far as Bayelsans are concerned, Dr. Boladei Igali is not a problem. If it’s my decision and I want to choose, you’re the best anywhere. All the aspirants are good, but you’re the best. All the fingers are good, but they’re not equal. Out of all this lot, you stand out. If we really want to do what is right for this state, who can challenge you in terms of connection, in terms of networking, who can challenge you? You’re an international figure, you’re not limited to Bayelsa State. These days, it’s not government that develop, government does not get involved in every bit of thing. The economy now is private sector driven and you must have the connection to lure foreign investors to come. And before they do, they look at the personality, a personality that have been discovered as an international figure. Who will challenge your credentials? You’ve been Secretary to Government, you’ve been Ambassador to Cameroun, you went to Sweden. You were not just in Sweden, you were in charge of Finland, Norway, Denmark. If you’re not competent, will they give you that kind of responsibility, and you successfully did it”, he said.

Ambassador Boladei Igali has said for the umpteenth time that if elected as the next governor of Bayelsa State, he will do more in the area of welfare for the individual. However, only time can tell whether this lofty dream will be realized as the future of Bayelsa presently rests in the hands of PDP delegates who are expected to elect a governorship candidate that will carry the party’s flag to contest general election on November 16, 2019.

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