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EDITORIAL: Bayelsa in endemic poverty, hunger


Bayelsa state one of the largest oil producers of the country with a wetland heavily endowed with several natural and mineral resources is in endemic poverty and hunger as corruption hijack the development of the state. 

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This is occasioned with the socio-cultural effects of flood on the people which have displaced several communities and render families homeless, business activities disrupted and vulnerability to various forms of predicaments.

Development which is a process that creates growth, progress, positive change or addition of physical, economy, environmental, social and demographic competent is seriously lacking in the state.

Sadly to note is that, energetic people who are willing to work and earn good living conditions roams about the streets of Yenagoa, the state capital and in the communities of the rural areas due to lack of industries and other programmes that would cater for their living, twenty four years after the creation of the state.

Bulk of the people of the state who engaged in fishing, farming and social and economic activities have also been disrupted by the activities of sea pirates, environmental pollution and degradation.

There is a large number of the population under nourished as hunger is most prevalent; large portion of the population ravage with extreme poverty resulting many premature deaths.

 Poor governance of the water resources in the state has constrained the social and economic activities of the people through pollution of the environment, destruction of the biodiversity and annihilation of the traditional approaches to natural resources conservation by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) hereafter as Shell, Texaco and state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

This is also aggravated as no efforts are made to promote sustainable Rural and Urban livelihood.

It is disgusting to note, all measures supposed to be taking to reduced deep poverty and hunger in the state such as reduction of school fees in tertiary institutions owned by the state government to lessen the financial burden on parents, gender equality, cutting infant and maternal mortality, improving access to reproductive health services, and adopting national strategies for sustainable development is also lacking.

There is no free access to health facilities, adding to the fact that there is no prominent health institution that can actually cater for the health needs of the people. This is exemplified by the fact that major health problems in the state, were taking to the overseas countries for treatment.

 The state, may be is in dire need of leaders - formal and informal - who can enthuse a vision that may stir up the people’s hearts and elicit that invaluable buy-in.

The state as Nickname(s): "Glory of all lands"; indeed the name does not improve the social, economic and political well being of the people, as abject poverty, endemic corruption, nepotism, winner takes all, mismanagement of public resources, infighting among the political class to pilot the affairs of the state occasioned with greed and selfishness amongst others has been the cardinal motive behind the present state of Bayelsa.

This has been a large problem in the state since its creation; successive state governments have not been able to address and repair the issue. The state, as a result, has an almost non-existent commerce. Thus, there is no price control for goods and services, making Bayelsa state as number one state in the federation that prices of everything that make life comfortable is the most costly in Nigeria.

There are roadblocks to a strong democracy in Nigeria at all levels of governments. Many government institutions do not adequately engage with citizens or the private sector, and lack the capacity to carry out their mandates. Further, civil society lacks both the capacity and the resources to effectively engage with government and advocate for change.

The nation’s land use decree of 1978 alienated the people of the area from the management of the resources that comes out from their land; that bad political leadership that is parochial without the interest of the people was one of the major challenge; high level of fraudulent corruption in the state stands as a hindrance to development of the area; lack of control on environment and implementation of environmental laws is also a challenge, and that poverty is in the increase in the state.

Poverty is seen as a more serious hindrance to the development process in Bayelsa.  It has made it quite uneasy, if not impossible, for the state to achieve the level of development in accordance with its set goals of attainment.

The Bayelsa that serves as one of the major livewire of the states of the nation’s treasure depot is worst heat because the oil exploration and the exploitations going on in state impoverish the people of the area the more. The oil companies operating in the state established their headquarters in non-oil producing state like Lagos, thus depriving the state from internal revenue to augment Federal Allocation to developing the state, noting that that the limited resources of the state were mismanaged by successive administration.

This is worsened by the fact that the state has concentrated on the oil alone as a major source of revenue without considering how the state can be taken care of as to cushion the effects of such operations.

The mono-economic practice resulted to the centralization of production line mainly on oil. It diverted the attention of very many Nigerians to the oil sector, thereby relegating the agricultural production sector that even attracted the outside world particularly the British government to colonize the area, and Nigeria in her early years before its formation as an entity by British arrangement known as Nigeria.

Be it as it may, it is categorical to affirm that agricultural produce are the major source of raw materials required for industrial production and a major source of employment too.

Therefore, it is pertinent to acknowledge the fact that, for an improved development to occur in Bayelsa, there is every need, as a necessary condition, for the state to refocus to the agricultural sector as a way of diversification of the economy.  This will create a lot of jobs that will help to reduce poverty and curb the crime rate in the state.

It has been proven to be ideal because in other developing countries, agriculture has helped to improve their economic growth for instance, in Malaysia, Brazil, India, Ghana, etc. In addition, it is obvious that agricultural sector do improve economic growth that will create the enabling opportunity for a nation, state to achieve human capacity training which will result to human capacity development (HCD). Realizing that a jobless and unengaged person is prone to evil thoughts, which usually lead to indulging in criminal activities that will disrupt the peaceful existence, within any society. Agricultural sector helps to engage a lot of people to ameliorate their living condition. Poverty has equally frustrated a lot of Bayelsans at large, to the extent that a good number of the population have turned deviantic and engage in all manner of fraud to ensure survival.

Development as a process that creates growth, progress, positive change or the addition of physical, economic, environmental, social and demographic components is seriously lacking in the state.   The purpose of development is a rise in the level and quality of life of the population, and the creation or expansion of local regional income and employment opportunities, without damaging the resources of the environment. 

Development is visible and useful, not necessarily immediately, and includes an aspect of quality change and the creation of conditions for a continuation of that change.

Poverty is the main cause of hunger in the world. This is true in rich and poor countries alike. It is true no matter whether people live in urban or rural areas. Most people who are hungry are living in extreme poverty, defined as income of $1.90 per day or less. But, in Bayelsa, many people do not have even N10 daily.

Any fluctuation that pushes food prices up creates additional hardship. Basic grains such as wheat, rice, and corn make up the largest share of calories among people in developing countries who are hungry. The prices of these grains spiked and hunger surged long ago in the state.

Indeed, Bayelsa state is an abject poverty and hunger predominant state as it seemingly produce nothing apart from the mineral resources to sustain living.

Checks show that many people and their families were dying in silent as a result of lack of basic necessities of life to sustain living.

Several Bayelsans are in distress and coma. Buffered


by poverty, hunger and diseases for years, they have entered the terminal consequences of decades of neglect by governments that profess to serve the people. Malnourishment, one of the excruciating effects of poverty, has push the Bayelsan food sources that cannot protect their body as some families for one week cannot see any tangible food item to eat to boost their immune system. He is at the mercy of all types of illness with no money for the exorbitant hospital bills. The next day you pass on to the great beyond as has been happening every day.

It is dehumanizing to behold your fellow Bayelsa agonized in silence hoping no help from anywhere except from God and the government.

The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly spelt out that sovereignty belongs to the people from where government derives all its powers and authority. And more so the essence of government is to use public resources for the promotion of the welfare and common good of the people. But it is sad to note that those that ascend the throne of leadership abandoned the people through selfishness, greediness and corruption, by siphoning public funds into private coffer, running autocratic and dictatorial system of administration that debarred the people to say anything, hence you are crucified.

Democracy which is the government of the people, by the people and for the people is now a government of the few privileged people who takes decision according to their wishes to actualize their personal gains at the expense of the people or public interest?

The mass media assigned with the duty to promote the fundamental objectives and Directive Principle of State Policy and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people to promote accountability and good governance is seen as an enemy, while fighting against poverty, seeing public funds being diverted for private use, building mansions, purchasing this or that at the detriment of the poor masses who are looking for a cup of garri to eat. The situations if not urgently check, Bayelsans will be grinding out their last phase of meaningful existence.

It is a fact to note that the state is under an obligation to control the national economy in such a manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.

Accordingly, the state is required to direct its policy towards ensuring that the “economic systems is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individual or group.

But it is shameful and noxious to note that this is grossly lacking in the state thereby subjecting the masses into object poverty, hunger, misery and squalor while most of those at the helms of affairs have continue to be acquiring wealth in different ways including to pack and hide in boxes, pits, tanks and big containers.

The unabated poverty had it origin since the creation of the state 24 years ago based on the fact that the “State Government” is the only industry existing in the state that both the public and the private sectors depend for survival.

The workers and retirees  are the minor industries in the state that provide the existence of the citizens of the state as their salaries and pensions when paid circulates to the markets and other sectors thereby sustaining lives and property.

Obviously, any delay in payment salary and pension affects all the sectors of the state as the “State Government is the only industry.

Also, the perception that Bayelsa is oil rich state in the federation is another predicament that brought about abject poverty in the state as high cost of living in the state cannot be compared to any other state in Nigeria.

In Bayelsa, the value of naira falls drastically comparable to other parts of the country as what can be sold N100 in other states is sold N500 or more in Bayelsa State.  Another major factor that is responsible for the poverty and hunger in the state is the activities of the oil companies. The oil companies’ exploration and exploitation activities has polluted and devastated the environment and the ecosystem thereby destroying the main source of the livelihood of the people since farming and fishing are the main occupation of the people. 

The gas flaring and oil pollution since crude oil was discovered at Oloibiri in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State in 1956 has made many food crops and fishes to disappear because of the pollution and devastative effects on the soil and the rivers.

The situation has destroyed the soil nutrients and aquatic life, so, certain food crops no longer grow in the environment as the fishes also disappeared because of the pollution and devastation effects on the soil and rivers.

The Ijaw man right from origin is a brave and hardworking man. There is no lazy or idle man or beggar in Ijaw land like some tribes in Nigeria. Many unemployed youths and the real peasant farmers are ready to embark on intensive farming to curb poverty in the land despite the adverse effects of the oil exploration and exploitation activities that has caused on the land, rivers and the entire environment. But, their desire is a nightmare as intensive farming needs enough money to actualize it. It is also a fact that over the years the genuine farmers in the state have not benefited from any or tangible soft loan facility from anywhere to encourage farming and fishing.

And more adversely to the fishermen, are the activities of the sea pirates on our waterways that often disrupt their activities.The nature of the poverty prevailing in the state is one that you cannot describe. It is sympathetic to note that many families especially those living in the Bayelsa state capital, Yenagoa could not even afford to buy a bottle of kerosene or a single food item among other basic necessities of life.

The same poverty in the state has compelled some prominent Bayelsans to selling their properties auction just to sustain living, while those who don’t have properties to sell are dying in silent. The alarming rate of poverty in the state is one that some who has beautiful buildings and motor could not even afford to produce N1000, talking of what to eat.

There is fear that if an urgent step is not taking to address the present predicament facing the people, more persons will die pre-matured death. It is apparent to state here that funds accruing to the state from the federated account and other sources should be use judiciously to meet up the yearnings and aspirations of the people.

Government should do everything possible to avert poverty in the state by giving  equal opportunities and sense of belonging to all; to feel the impact of the nomenclature “The Glory of All Land”, but should not see politics as one that the “ winner takes all or formulate policies that will lead to autocratic or totalitarian system government.

The epileptic power supply and fraudulent electricity bills in the state is another major area that constitutes abject poverty in state. The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company should be call to order to shun imposition of fraudulent exorbitant electricity bills on consumers.

The federal government should increase the statutory allocation of Bayelsa state and abolish all obnoxious laws that debarred the people to control their God giving resources. The EFCC and ICPC and Code of Conduct Bureau should be alive to their statutory responsibilities devoid of fraudulent practice by fishing out those diverting public funds for personal use to impoverish the populace.

It is expected that henceforth, Bayelsans should be their brother’s keeper. They should unite and see their fellows Ijaws problems as theirs. The people of the state should see themselves as an indivisible entity and join the security agencies to fight against all ills in the state to enhance her desired development.

Those at the helm of affairs in government at all levels should henceforth stop diverting public money for personal use to promote poverty, hunger, misery and squalor in the state.

The state belongs to all and all should have equal rights to benefit the socio, economic and political resources of the state.       








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