ADDRESS OF CHIEF IBORO IGE-IDABA - THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF YENAGOA CAPITAL CITY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ON THE OCCASION OF THE VISIT OF THE BAYELSA STATE COMMITTEE OF SOCIAL MEDIA TO THE AUTHORITY ON NOVEMBER 7,2012
I met John Idumange, the SSA first time when I was trying to make an input into the Masterplan in the not too distant past. We are all members of this family so I do not need to go too much into Memory lane as to how the Authority came to be. But for the past 6 years, both the government of Former Governors Alamieyeseigha and Goodluck Jonathan were able to put forward the Master,we are plan. The first Yenagoa city Masterplan was put together by Herbert Adukeh and later a review known as the Yenagoa city Masterplan Strategy focused on phased development which put more impetus on the development of specific areas of the master plan. Apart from the status; ie the creation of the institution the development of the Yenagoa Capital City still lacks basic technical ingredients to push development forward. You see we are Bayelsans and the responsibility is on us to develop the capital city that reflects us as a people. We are also the defacto capital of the Ijaw Ethnic nationalism and we have to develop a city that reflects that status. Apart from the fact that we are a major contributor to our national wealth in terms of revenue, we also have to develop a city that reflects that status. Developing a city for Ijaw Ethnic Nationality, Bayelsans, the Niger Deltans, South-South and Nigerians at large takes efforts. It is those efforts that are lacking that we would focus on.
First of all, it is the intention of the authority to establish a Base Map. A Base Map that will form the basis of planning and development. We shall also carry out what we call the Land Use Plan and the Zoning plan. These are the basic tools of planning and development. These are the initial technical inputs that we focus to ensure a viable city for us all. And in terms of physical development we still believe that emphasis will be on both commercial and industrial infrastructures which of course are very necessary for our economic development. And the city cannot just grow; the city is composed of people of different ethnic nationalities, custom and traditions. We intend to enlighten all the inhabitants of the city to know that developing a city is the responsibility of all Bayelsans and for citizens to contribute their quota towards the development of the city by adhering to spatial discipline. There is a lot of emphasis on fiscal discipline-management of funds and resources but people hardly talk of special discipline, how we use our space and this is important because almost 80% of activities are conducted on space and they have their rules. The use of Land and its resources define the character and vision of the people. And the people must be aware of their own contribution towards the development of the State and that is why we are interested in your visit. Because with the Social Media, you have a wider outreach and can assist the authority in educating the masses as to their responsibility the development of the city that befits us as a people. So our slogan to all Bayelsans : “Let’s build our city”. On that note, I once again welcome you to Yenagoa Capital City development Authority and I invite you to partner with us for developing a city that will be of pride to all Bayelsans. It is our conviction that the restoration agenda and the focus of government to ensure that initiatives that will better the citizenry economically, socially and otherwise are encouraged and as a strong member of the Restoration government, I think you are also aware that the government has the political will to transform Yenagoa into a World Class City. What we need to do now is to emphasize adherence to the Master plan.
The master plan helps make projects sustainable. For instance the Abuja Airport Road was designed in 1976 and it is still the same design since 30 years because a provision was made for the future. If you are developing a dual carriage way in Azikoro, you don’t need to tamper with the road furniture and infrastructures-that is the essence if planning and sustainable development. The Master plan is implementable. The Master plan is still a viable document for our planning. As I have always said, it is not a cast iron thing, but we should endeavor to adhere to the provisions of the master plan. But we can only adhere to those provisions if certain basic technical inputs are there. You must have an engineering design for you to know the right of way, for you to know the exact setbacks. For the development of basic infrastructural facilities just as you mentioned the commercial facilities the Central Business District CBD.
The CBD should warehouse basic commercial facilities that guarantee the sustainable development of the city: It must be controlled and the only way to control it is to hold the land resources. That is one of the reasons we are emphasizing that for us to properly control developments within the Yenagoa capital city, there must be a deliberate effort on the part of Government to acquire strategic lands. When it comes to development and implementation of the master plan, sometimes you find out that the greatest violators of the master plan (which arises out of lack of synergy) are government institutions. There are aspects of land use that are compatible but others that are spatially incompatible. Putting a housing estate within the core centre of our industrial estate is not only but incompatible. Sometimes when you look at the structures put up by heads of institutions who are supposed to be core planners or implementers of the master plan in terms of location, you know that such facilities are not rational but are based on unprofessional, rudimentary knowledge. So we would collaborate with you to the extent that you assist us in massive enlightenment of the public on the need to imbibe the spatial discipline when purchasing land to always ensure recourse to the master plan. On the other hand we would advice government to take appropriate actions that are necessary to give us a good city - that is part of our responsibility and also to enlighten the government and the citizenry on our collective actions towards building a city. Building a city is a massive investment that can only attract right people to the city if you have a sound land administration and you cannot build a city a sustainable city if you as an authority do not have control over the land.
So the CCDA as a matter of fact must have control over the land. Somebody wants to build a house, someone is allocating a land and you want to control development, how? Is the land allocation in consonance with the zoning? Is the land allocation compatible with the building regulation and standards that are set for a particular zone and particular areas? Also and most importantly is to build the capacity of the institution that drives the forces. All of us must sit down and agree that the authority has enormous responsibility. And if we agree that the authority has that responsibility of delivering a world city, then the institution must have a world class capacity to deliver, in terms of staff. For now we have just 47 staff and those 47 are not permanent staff; for every reason, that 47 are not even enough to control the Swali district not to talk of developing a 15 km square City as Yenagoa. If you are coming into Yenagoa, nobody should tell you that you are coming into a de-facto capital of Ijawland. Lagos State for instance has reclaimed Bar Beach up to 3 km. into the sea .Building massive estates on where you think is an ocean and building two 5 star hotels and that is the enabling environment which you create to attract the right investment and partners in the development process. We shall reclaim lands; provide the necessary leadership to utilize the available resources to put in our best to ensure the speedy implementation of the Master Plan.
RESPONSE BY HON. JOHN IDUMANGE - THE SENIOR SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE GOVERNOR OF BAYELSA STATE ON RESEARCH & SOCIAL MEDIA ON THE OCCASION OF THE VISIT OF THE BAYELSA STATE COMMITTEE OF SOCIAL MEDIA TO THE AUTHORITY ON NOVEMBER 7,2012
You are all aware that Master planning is an expensive and long term project. For instance it took London more than 50 years for their master plan to take shape. Our interest here is to forge synergy in line with what the Governor of Bayelsa State has emphasized several times to the effect that Ministries, Departments and Agencies should work together as a team because team work achieves more. Having been close to the Agency during King A.J. Turners’ tenure as Executive Secretary of CCDA, I know you are likely to face the same recurring challenges as you pursue the dreams and aspirations of this agency.eg Ministry of Works may come to say Why are you doing our job; Ministry of Lands and Survey may also say the same thing. This is why the Authority needs to work in synergy with the relevant Ministries to avoid conflicts. We are also interested in providing a template to report you because the social media world which we live depends on what I may call Digital Darwinism: it is when your voice is loud and your ideas are clear that the society reckons with you. No matter how beautiful a lady may be, if she does not dress well and come out nobody will see her and that is why most of the beauty queens you see are actually not the most beautiful women. So we have been going around to MDAS to see how we can work together, build linkages and forge the necessary synergies for the smooth implementation of government policies and programmes. There are three ways to do it. By discussing it on social media; by coming to take part in some of your activities, packaging them and do effective policy communication using the instrumentality of the social media. For instance, we can provide a blog and task you to give us the content. We can also activate your moribund website and bring vitality into it.
We all know that most potential investors around the world may not know what we have unless we showcase them. Until you showcase our potentialities to the world they will not come to invest. That is why the Governor of Bayelsa State, His Excellency Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson is working frantically to invest in security because once there is security the necessary corollary is tourism will flourish, industrialization will be a reality, and there will be Foreign Direct Investment and other attendant development spill-over effects. Only a couple of days ago, the Governor initiated the Bayelsa Investment Forum in South Africa. Government will take similar steps to strengthen our resolve to bring in investors. The Bayelsa State government will then achieve its main objectives of poverty reduction, wealth creation and employment generation.
Now, I don’t intend to bore you but you will discover that some time ago, if you look across, a portion of land was dredged and cleared we used to call it the Central Business District(CBD), so much money was spent today the place has been overgrown with weeds. I don’t know I may be wrong, but once there is a responsible government in power, once people are ready to work with enthusiasm and commitment, once they are devoted to the reason they came into government, once you are faithful to the restoration government then there is hope for a better performance. Like the Governor said, it is not money that does it not money that does the work it is our collective will; our collective resolve that will do it. The Obama’s Presidential victory in America has proven that it is not only money that can make things happens but the collective resolve of people. Since no amount of money is enough to implement the master plan, the trick we use here is to market whatever we have here in order to woo foreign investors. Foreign investors will come because you cannot develop your master plan alone. Foreigners will have to come and assist. Just take a look at this little flood we are facing. You discover that it is beyond the capacity of the state government and even the Federal Government and that is why we are calling on global partners to come and assist in whichever way possible. So Sir we want to partner with you to ensure that we promote your programmes and policies both to the seat of government and to the people.
So at every point in time we would be able to tell the governor and other decision makers that we need to invest in the capital city. For the past 4 and half or 5 years ago there was a lull in the activities here and I came to the gate and I was almost in tears. I am sure that the restoration administration will fund this agency very well. Why governments establish authority is to fast track the implementation of certain policies and programmes by by-passing the red-tapism of the ministries to ensure that things are done faster. It is on this authority that I assure you on behalf of the Bayelsa Social media committee that we shall showcase your activities. As a promise, at least one member of the Bayelsa Social Media Team will visit the Authority once every week to bring updates on your activities and report same to the relevant publics.
Sir, feel free to let us know where you face challenges, don’t hide it, have confidence in us; and from today we are partners in progress. Let us jointly work in the years ahead to ensure that the Yenagoa City Master plan is implemented. No matter how short the notice may be let us know, and we shall report CCDA on the Social Media. It high time we built a rock sure foundation upon which the coming generation will continue. Thank you for sparing time from your busy schedule to welcome us. God bless the CCDA and God bless Bayelsa State.
Transcribed by Nwokedi Nworisara