From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Former president of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof. Kimse Okoko, has expressed optimism that a 20-member Ijaw National Reconciliation Committee, set up by Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, will resolve the lingering crisis affecting INC.
Dickson had, recently, inaugurated the committee, headed by former military governor of old Rivers State and Amanayanbo of Twon Brass, King Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff to resolve the crisis caused by the election of INC president.
Okoko said as long as all the parties are sincere and honest, the problem bedevilling the organisation would be solved. He said the crisis has robbed the Ijaw nation of a voice in the Nigeria polity and the earlier the problem is solved the better it would be for the Ijaw nation.
Okoko, however, warned that in the efforts to solve the problem, there should be no political interference from any quarters, especially the government.
“The committee was set up for a specific function which is to resolve the crisis in the INC and that is the work the committee would do. I have always believed that when people are sincere and honest, there is no problem that cannot be solved. And I believe the committee would be able to resolve the problem. It is solvable. The crisis has given the Ijaw nation some draw backs because there has been no voice for the Ijaw nation. Other ethnic groups are speaking but there is nobody to speak for the Ijaw nation because of the problem. Individuals can speak but it is not the spokesman of the Ijaw nation speaking. It is important we resolve this crisis so that the voice of the Ijaw nation can be heard again. I believe if there is no partisanship, politics and government interference, we shall resolve the crisis. I believe government would not interfere in the process because if it does, I would not be part of it.”
Meanwhile, Prof. Okoko on Friday praised Dickson for transforming the state in spite of lean resources from the Federation Account.
He described the newly built governor’s office as a fantastic building with modern facilities, which would address the office accommodation needs of the public servants and political appointees.
Okoko also gave kudos to the governor for his foresight in building the state International Airport, noting that the initiative will open up the state for local and foreign investors as well create wealth and job opportunities.
According to him, ‘As far as I am concerned, I have always described Dickson as a true patriot of the Ijaw nation, and I can say it anywhere. For example this building, (new governor’s office) is a fantastic building. As you rightly pointed out, where you have very lean resources, you have to be careful how you prioritise your programmes and projects.
‘If you make mistakes in the prioritisation of your projects, then you will suffer the consequences. My advice to government has been, re-prioritise your projects and programmes to fit the amount of money you get. That way, you can get more done. You don’t have to start everything at the same time.
“So, re-prioritise based on the minimal resources that you are getting from the Federal Government now. But unfortunately for Bayelsa, our internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is very low but it won’t remain so for ever. I am sure that as we go on and emphasise the involvement of the private sector, government must have to create the necessary environment for the private sectors to get engage in the state.
‘To achieve this, government should guard against multiple taxes that will scare off foreign investors and it is for that reason that I support the airport that is being built because it is easier for investors to fly into the state. Those kind of projects are priority projects but there are other projects that might not be priority in context of the lean resources that we have in the state.”