Knocking on the Door Again

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Timi Alaibe

Emmanuel Addeh writes that Chief Timi Alaibe, former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission has thrown his hat in the ring in his abiding ambition to govern Bayelsa State

It’s not the first time he is indicating interest to run for the top job in Bayelsa State. But Chief Timi Alaibe, a former banker, businessman and first co-ordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, will tell anyone that this time, the stars are fully aligned to make this pursuit which commenced close to two decades ago, a reality.

A former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Alaibe prides himself as one of the most experienced and widely connected aspirants for the November 16 governorship election in the state.

Born on June 10, 1962 in the Ijaw village of Igbainwari in Opokuma, Bayelsa State, to the family of late Pa Emmanuel Alaibe, Timi, who is the third of five children, has the ‘Blue Ocean Economy’ as a major theme in what he affirms is a mission to salvage the resource-rich state.

He attended the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, from where he graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Accounting and later the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile Ife, Nigeria for his post graduate studies where he obtained a master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA).

To underscore the seriousness of his current pursuit, last Friday, Alaibe was at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headquarters in Abuja to submit his Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms, where he told party leaders and supporters that he was coming into the race to govern Bayelsa State with incomparable public and private sector credentials in terms of management of both human and financial resources.

Not minding the horde of aspirants, the former special Adviser to the federal government on the Niger Delta, says he believes that the more the number of people involved in the race, the difficult it would be for the delegates to make any mistake in picking the right person for the office. He insists that he’s the right person for the job.

Before then, at his meeting with journalists in Yenagoa, Alaibe, who threw more light on his Blue Ocean Economy concept, promising to unveil the full package soon, said it will focus on Food, Security, Fishery, Tourism and Recreation, then Oil and Gas Derivation Products.

Other elements of the concept, he explained, would be Wreck Removal and Restoration, Pollution and Waste Technologies, Tourism and Coastal Development, Shipping, Ports Infrastructure and Services and then Marine Bio-Technology.

He vowed to take full advantage of the resources of the state if he wins the primary, then proceed to be victorious at the November 16 governorship election.

“Essentially, the opening up of Bayelsa to the ocean throws up a lot. I am in the marine industry, so I can tell you quite a lot about it. Do you know anywhere you have a tank farm in Bayelsa State? At the last count, it was reported that Bayelsa and Kogi States pay more for petroleum products, yet we are an oil producing state.

“What does that mean? It means that we do not have the right storage capacity for petroleum products to come in. And where do you move petroleum products to in large quantities if not through the sea. I am not even talking about the fishing industry.

“You heard recently that there are now intruders into our ocean waters, coming to cart our fishes away and these are job creation opportunities. We have serious oil production from here, but there is no oil offshore vessels or service vessels. There is none that is parked anywhere in Bayelsa State.

“Those of us who own such assets, we know that those assets are like aircraft, when they park at your harbour, it is daily payment in US dollars. Internally Generated Revenue will be something else by the time we start investing.”

In his words, his mission would not just be to open up the state to the resources obtainable from the ocean, but to do it in a way that is highly sustainable.

“When we discuss Blue Ocean economy, we want to discuss the use of those facilities in a sustainable way, so that you do not mess up the opportunities which abound or you don’t mess up the ecosystem through these activities.

“Quite a lot will happen. Luckily, we have a natural deep seaport in Agge, the other side we have oil and gas activities which would be easy for the companies there to move in and out. But now, if you have to do that you fly a helicopter into Brass and it’s even becoming dangerous to do that and I know the security expense that IOCs spend to secure oil facilities, movement of oil equipment and personnel to those areas. These are things we want to resolve.

“Don’t make any mistake, I come with strong leadership skills. I come with private and public sectors experience. I have the political capital. I have the social network that would be exploited for the good of Bayelsa people.

“I have strong managerial character and ideas needed to continue from where Governor Dickson will stop. I have quality business strategies to provide jobs for the youth. I have the required experience in conflict resolution. These are indisputable facts,” he added.

Alaibe, who has received several flak for his supposed inconsistency, especially in moving across parties in every election circles, vowed not to leave the party this time, in case he fails to get the ticket in September.

He argued that his defections in the past were due to the exigencies of the time, adding that having finally returned to the PDP, he was optimistic that he would get the party’s ticket to run for the November 16 poll.

Alaibe, who also spoke on his other plans for the state, maintained that insecurity remains a major issue in the state, but promised to tackle it headlong by taking the majority of the youths in the state off the streets and rehabilitating those who are into drugs and cultism.

“You saw me take the forms, you will soon see me submit (he has submitted) them and we are running under the PDP. We will unveil, very shortly, our programmes and the details of our strategic plan for Bayelsa state,” he said.

While bemoaning the insecurity in the state and how it affects investment opportunities, the former top banker, said the abduction of the mother of former Nigerian coach, Samson Siasia, was a pointer to the fact that all is not well with the state.

“If we do not address the violence perpetrated by some youths, no company will come to invest here. Only a few days ago, the mother of our former coach was kidnapped for the second time.

“It tells you that we need to address that sector. It’s not good news and it’s hoisted in the international space in the analysis of the risk of doing business in the state.

“We need to re-image our state and rebrand our state. These people doing these things are our children. So, we are going to be a government that is responsible. We will enumerate our youths and know what they are doing.

“We are not more than two million people. One laptop can enumerate all of us. It’s not rocket science. If you are still into Tramadol, we will address it.

“These things hurt the average parent. We have done this kind of thing before. We will disarm, demobilise, rehabilitate and reintegrate them into the society.

“I am passionate about this. They say they own the street. We need to address it. In the first six months, I will resolve that matter,” he pledged.

He lauded Governor Seriake Dickson for the infrastructural strides in the state and promised to complete ongoing projects if elected.

“In terms of infrastructure, Governor Dickson has invested in some critical projects, let’s not make any mistake about that. He’s still doing some. He won’t complete some. We will complete them and we will address the core issue of the economy. That’s my strength,” he added.

According to Alaibe, his vision for Bayelsa is that of a shared economic prosperity for the people of the state, with the government as a social investor and as an enabler to invite private sector capital.

He also has a defence for his many political defections in the past, which he insists were right at the time as a lover of peace whose ambition is not worth unnecessary deaths and bloodshed, reason he also stepped down at certain points in his career.

“Why should a true Ijaw man murder a fellow Ijaw man just because he wants to win an election? Why should anyone procure arms and train people to kill their fellow human beings so as to pave way for their rise to power?

“Why would anyone desire to swim in the blood of fellow Ijaw men and women so as to attain exalted political offices? This is not just an abomination but an aberration.”

He added, “From our recent history, we have witnessed detonation of explosives at political campaign grounds, campaign offices and homes of political leaders and perceived political opponents.

“You will recall that since 2002 when I stepped into the political arena in Bayelsa State, I have had to pull back a few times in the middle of the contest – not out of timidity, weakness or lack of support base to win elections. Far from it!

“I have always taken such a decision when it became clear that for me to achieve my goal, I will have to swim in the blood of fellow citizens – by matching violence with violence. Instead of this, I have always chosen the path of peace at the risk of my political career.

“Why should I create orphans and widows just because I want political power? In the words of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, is my personal ambition worth the blood of a fellow Ijaw man?

“My position has always been that politics or election is not worth dying and killing for. It is not war. Seeking election to public office does not mean we should kill anyone who stands in our way.

Seeking election to public office means convincing opposing elements with superior arguments. We must not kill the electorate to win election. We can only persuade the electorate to have their votes.”