Governor Duoye Diri: Investing in Knowledge-driven Devt Process
It is an established epistemological fact across the globe that, the development and survival of any nation rest squarely, not in the abundance of its natural resources, but in the massive investment in the educational advancement of its people.The story of Japan is a classic example in the conscious efforts at converting their natural disadvantages to multi-dimensional advantages. In spite of Japans near absence of natural resources, it has successfully built a world class technology-driven economy to join the enviable status of developed nations.
Japan did not go to any prayer mountain to pray for divine intervention, a country known for its choice of atheism. While countries in the Southern pole were grappling with failed leadership, Japan was busy with its conscious drive and investment in human capital advancement through the instrumentality of education, Research and Development, R & D. In Nigeria, the general effect is that of wallowing in abject poverty in the midst of plenty ; this is despite the abundance of natural resources in virtually all the nook and cranies of the federating states. We cannot blame it on natural disaster, neither on accident but on absolute failure of leadership.When the governor of Bayelsa State Douye Diri took over the mantle of leadership, he left no one in doubt that investing in education would form a cardinal agenda and indeed a fundamental instrument in the development process of the state.
Believing in the philosophical treatise of Dr Walter Russel of University of Science and Philosophy, that, ” In vain we build the city if we do not first build the man ” ; For Douye Diri, placing Bayelsa in the bracket of educationally less developed state in national rating is not a cheering euphemism.He told anyone who cares to listen, that he would not only reverse the negative tag on the state, but would ensure that education takes the centre stage of his development plan and indeed occupy a pride if place . Not minding his busy schedule, governor Douye Diri rolled up his sleeves and embarked on executive tour to all the local government areas in the state to personally see things for himself on the state of educational facilities in the state.
On returning to his office, armed with the grim facts about the sorry state of things, he told the state executive council meeting in session, that the situation under his watch was unacceptable; It is sad to mention that some primary schools had only a head teacher and a single teacher, such that he vowed to change the narrative. Apart from giving a marching order to the Ministry of Education to embark on mass recruitment of qualified academic and non-academic staff to boost teaching in the rural areas, governor Diri also commenced a massive construction of school infrastructure and rehabilitation.Among the schools which readily comes to mind are the universal primary education, UPE, at Ovom Community. The school which was in a state of dilapidation was totally demolished and a new eight class room with twelve rooms conveniences for staff and pupils, in addition to the construction of six administrative blocks. Besides citing new schools and construction of school blocks in various parts of the state including Yenezue-Epie community where there was no school over the years.
The state government also constructed and completed several new schools buildings in various parts of the state including Akenfa, Biogbolo, Igbogene and a brand new schools along AIT road at Opolo just to mention but a few. Besides the massive face lift of schools across the state, the state government, as a matter of updating teachers with contemporary skills in Information Technology, ICT, for the first time in the history of educational development in Bayelsa, the state government engaged the service of Microsoft in the training of 12,000 teachers in ICT. This is essentially to equip them for the all important task of building and driving a knowledge-based economy in keeping pace with global practice.
The goodnews today is that, teachers in Bayelsa are being fondly described as digital teachers. In addition to that, the state government introduced as a matter of policy imperative the much needed technical education, with emphasis on practical acquisition of skills to promote self-reliance and entrepreneurship-driven economy. To serve as catalyst towards achieve this lofty objective, the Diri government built technical colleges in each of the eight Local Government Areas of the state. This is not only a paradigm shift from the past, but also to prove the fact that education is the only veritable instrument to bring about any meaningful development . The benefit of this bold initiative will not only change the development narrative of the state in terms of human capital development, but wuld also transform the time-bomb of army of unemployed youths from job seekers to big time players in job and wealth creation. This is no doubt in tandem with the administrations desire to enthrone a regime of prosperity and sustainable development for the good and wellbeing of the people.
Another challenge which seemed insurmountable was that of state owned tertiary institutions which have been contending with the issue of accreditation of courses. The state government views the non accreditation of certain courses as a threat to the government vision to have a functional education at all levels. These institutions are the Niger Delta University, Bayelsa Medical University, Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro College of Education, School of Nursing and the College of Health Technology.Today, it is heart-warming to mention that besides the success recorded with investment in world-class infrastructure demands of these institutions, Niger Delta University alone has secured accreditation of over 70 courses at a streigth; while other institutions are not left out in this transformation.
Moreover, the deliberate introduction of the teaching of Ijaw language in the homogenous Ijaw state by the Douye Diri administration has been received with a wide accolades by the Ijaws within and outside the country. The initiative will not only give the Ijaw people an identity and pride of place in the national scheme but would also help to preserve the cultural heritage and values of the people. According to a retired secondary school principal, Mr. Waritimi Joel, “This policy is well placed. It was really disturbing that the Ijaw language was going into extinction. Language is an essential component of our culture and values.
May God bless the Diri administration for this singular initiative to reposition our identity and pride as a people”.At this juncture, even ardent critics of the administration who go on social media to mount wicked campaign of calumny should not hesitate to concede the fact that the education sector is receiving unparalleled attention for the good and sustainable development of the state. While appreciating the modest achievements so far, the government should not rest on its oars by ensuring that Bayelsa truly becomes the education tourist destination in the comity of states in line with the aspirations of the founding fathers and Bayelsans in general.
This is the time Bayelsans, regardless of the political divide should come together with a unity of purpose to rally round the Douye Diri led administration. We must strive as a people with a collective destiny to avoid activities that tend to pull down our leaders. Tagging Bayelsans as a people who revel in pull down petition writing, blackmailing their leaders in the media and all kinds of campaign of calumny is an ill wind that will blow no one any good in the state.The adverse consequences will only undermine the development of the state and nothing more, nothing less.
Ogoulah, a public affairs analyst wrote in from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State