By Timi Seisine
When very unscrupulous, wicked and degenerating ideas are used by the demonic forces of greed to rule a society, society dissolves painfully. When information commissioners, highly placed government officials are compelled to become information misinformation officers, society questions their integrity. When agents and institutions of truth fail to act in defense of truth, falsehood becomes an object of celebration. When government conspires against it citizens there is no government again that protects the rights and privileges of the people. When the leaders of a society generate and protect terrorism, the song of sorrow prospers ceaselessly. When a society loses its voice of dissension it is just a clear metaphor and sign of a conquered society. Bayelsa is in for bad times as the mandate it gave out has returned as an arrow of destruction. The goat that went to collect milk from the mother goat every due season with its breast has constantly refused to give out the milk to the little goats in need. What is the name for such a goat?
Wickedness is a multi- rhythmic drum. It beats mediocrity, it sings the song of inanity, it beats greed, terrorism, vain arrogance, envy, destruction, egocentricity, maximum tyranny, preposterous sagacity and wild fancy. We thought economic recession was the main reason for the earthly perdition in Bayelsa state. Now it is clear that political malignity is the big spirit behind it all. In times like this that the world waits every day for the Niger Delta University lecturers to be settled by government to return to the classroom, the Government of Bayelsa State that cries for money every second is perfecting a plan to establish a parallel University in the guise of Public Private Partnership, a University by the name African International University to be sited at Seriake Dickson’s own town, Bulou-Orua. A private University that passed through the Seriake Dickson House of Assembly. It is not known anywhere where the establishment of a private University seeks and obtains a state law. The implication is that a second Bayelsa state owned University in the overwhelming interest of the Maximum ruler of Bayelsa State against the existence and survival of Bayelsa State Niger Delta University is planned to be established. The approval of the African University by the National Universities Commission as the 43RD state owned University in Nigeria confirms the widely carried suspicion that a new state University has been established in Bayelsa State.
The proposition made by the government of Bayelsa state to pay NDU workers half salary is not a suitable proposal. The simple reason is that the lecturer is not like any Bayelsa worker who gets work done without mandatory research. Research is the basis of his/her scholarship and work. The salary that is paid to the NDU academic is used partly for transport to meet up with his/her teaching obligations and the funding of academic journals and projects beneficial to the University. This is because the university has no accommodation for lecturers who travel from various parts of the country on daily or weekly basis to get their work done. A situation in which lecturers have been denied their salaries for more than half a year only to begin to survive on half salary is condemnable as it is wicked, felonious and bizarre. The half salary will kill academic productivity as it will not only generate apathy in teaching but also encourage cannibalism and lead to poor academic services and low standards in the University. The Bayelsa state government should kill that idea and enter into a different and special arrangement and agreement with the Academic staff of the state owned Niger Delta University that will be appreciated by the NDU workers.
The nonpayment of Niger Delta University workers is clearly a designed fueled by lack of political will not because the government cannot pay. The Bayelsa State information commissioner is simply a merchant of conflict who know the truth but because of profits received from conflict have decided to conceal the truth by feeding the Bayelsa public with very laughable and dangerous information on the true situation of the conflict between government and the Academic Staff Union of the Niger Delta university. Jonathan Obuebite’s claim that student leaders were not present at the venue of the students’ protest because they are aware of the true situation of things is another ludicrous quip. Those leaders have been winning and dinning with him how would they have the moral power to lead the protesting students? That the students protested without them indicates strongly that those leaders have lost their credibility. They have painted a dark picture of a Bayelsa world oppressed by state machinations re-created to suit a ruling elite.
From the defenses put up by the Bayelsa state commissioners for education, information and secretary to the state Government, it is very clear that the Bayelsa State Government is a double-dealing government. A government blooded with high voltage paradox of absurdity. A new University is established in a state that cannot pay its workers, a new University becomes imperative at a time the Governor is scared of huge wage bill, a new University suddenly becomes the solutions to the Bayelsa economic problem, a new University that will increase the Bayelsa workforce and increase the wage bill of the state that the governor is running away from, a new University that will be for only the children of the rich and political class who can only afford its flaming bills. The University will employ not less than seven thousand workers when that is added to the present workforce the wage bill increases astronomically. Perhaps the governor will stop getting scared of wage bill because it is his own University.
The manner in which the establishment of the University passed through the state house of assembly is clearly suspicious. A private University does not need a state law. A University that receives the blessing of a state law is a state University. The education commissioner’s claim that the involvement of the state house of Assembly is just to speed up the process of establishment of the University is another pyramid of deception. Afe Babalola and Edwin Clark did not pass through state Assemblies to establish their Universities. With Honorable Peter Akpe confessing that Bayelsa government will take care of the foundational responsibilities, there is no gainsaying the fact that it is either another government University or Bayelsa government is being leeched to set up a private University. Private business men should not use state funds to build their business empire. No Bayelsan will quarrel with the establishment of a private University, but why involve the State? African University is assuredly going to be a private University after the tenure of Governor Seriake Dickson. It is only an opportunity to tap Bayelsa people’s money through the blessing of state law to build a private University. Governor Dickson’s African University has no place for the poor people of Bayelsa state. Children of the poor that will seek admission in that University will cuttingly cry back to their parents because the school fees will be suicidal. When the flames of the African University consume Niger Delta University that is established for both the poor and the rich, University education in Bayelsa state will become a scare privilege as the rate of Bayelsa youth seeking University education will drop brutally. Bayelsa has vigorously entered a clear season in which it is callously betrayed by its leaders of the season.
On the NDU question, the government position that it has done everything possible to return Niger Delta University workers to the school is very appalling and preposterous. What is the content of everything they have done for the Asuu Niger Delta University? The University workers have only received one-month salary in 2016. And that is January salary. Is that everything the government has done to return NDU workers to school? African University has the face of a bright light that covers its dark intentions. The establishment of the University at this time is transparently wicked and thoughtless. Bayelsa is a state in which political greed and political poverty run together at alarming frequency. Greed becomes a deciding factor of Bayelsa’s prosperity and poverty. It is a state in which the ugly and devouring masquerade of poverty is sent to dance violently. Bayelsa situation in which people suffer and die is a catastrophic humanitarian emergence begging for attention.
For emphasis, the Bayelsa public is aware that in 2016, the government of Bayelsa State has paid only one-month salary to Niger Delta University workers and that is January Salary. This is the seventh month running to an end. Can Obuebite and his master remain without complaint if the federal government decides to starve Bayelsa of federal allocation from where they build their dreams and sustain their living? The Information Commissioner, the Secretary to the State Government and all other government officials who think and act like him have shown clearly that they belong to a brigade of political devotees with cannibalistic vision who have no interest in the welfare of the Bayelsa people. Such a patriotism is dark and against Bayelsa nationalism. They ought to realise that Bayelsa welfare is bigger and more fundamental than the welfare of the minority in government. They are faithful followers without moral breaks. Anything about Seriake is good and whoever or whatever that comes in conflict with Seriake is evil. They have no will of their own, like irreversible marionettes. Gradually and systematically they have become visible conspirators who have no will and dream to do what is right for Bayelsa. It is very clear now that Niger Delta University is abandoned because of the plan of Dickson to establish a state University in his town.
This type of politics is treacherous. It is capable of firming a cruel brand of history that will continue to hurt and hunt Bayelsa state as it will impose communal and regional acrimony within the state, heat up the polity and put institutions in the state on the fast lane of unsteady growth and degeneration. In this democratic era, no governor or government can rule forever. Thus there is no assurance that their dreams will last forever. The Bayelsa geopolitical space requires peace and prosperity beyond the selfish agenda of politicians that offer the seed of vindictiveness and eternally tempestuous disunity in the state. A god now rules the Bayelsa space like a colossus. Unfortunately, like a sadistic deity, this god and his cohorts have decided to sink the glory of the glory land to satisfy their cupidity.
The Niger Delta University is established for a purpose. And this purpose is sacred. Where it is located does not matter. After all, many Bayelsans travelled a long distance across tribes and geographies, across continents to obtain education. Niger Delta University is the creation of the collective vision of the founding fathers of Bayelsa and the rallying point of Ijaw education and nationalism. It is the pride of Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation; it is the gathering house of the Ijaw intelligentsia. Anybody working against the continued existence and robust survival of the University is an enemy of the state and the Ijaw nation. Those who deploy falsehood to stylishly encumber the growth and, or reopening of the University are murderers of the beauty of the present and future generation of Bayelsa and Ijaw youths. There is no higher institution in Bayelsa State that has a solid foundation apart from Niger Delta University. A University that has existed steadily for 16 years, a University that has been counted by the National Universities Commission as the 40th of the 100 top Universities in Nigeria is to die in the wild and flaming throat of a gang of retrogressive rulers is unacceptable. Any attempt to destroy the founders vision and the various fruitful efforts made by past political regimes and managements to keep the University going is a cruel act. The gods of Bayelsa are watching. They will stop violation of Bayelsa balance one day. Government’s full participation in the infrastructural development of Niger Delta University and the Isaac Boro College of Education is a better thing to do than the floating of a parallel University at a time like this that the state complains of no money. History has a visible record of this domestic anti-people’s government as the worst that has ever happened to Bayelsa in recent times.
Rivers state has two state Universities now; it did not kill one to sustain the other. Both Universities are kicking on fine. In Bayelsa it is not what the people want that matters, it is what the Governor wants whether good or bad that matters. Niger Delta University is not fashionable in the eyes, heart and memory of Governor Seriake Dickson hence the once revered institution across tribe and geography in Nigeria is now on the road to perdition. We must save it.
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