Standard-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) in the December 5 governorship election in Bayelsa State, Moses Siasia, in this interview says his candidature is about a movement by the down-trodden. Siasia, who dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is poised to restore the glory of Bayelsa through the movement.
By Abiodun Alade
Ahead of the December 5 governorship election in Bayelsa State, it is said that you have launched a movement. What is it all about?
The movement I’m talking about is one built by the people of Bayelsa State. It is about that farmer in Nembe whose farm has been destroyed by oil spillage with no compensation or support from the government. It is about our young ladies that have been forced into prostitution by inept leadership. It is about that child that will go to school without food and will still learn in an environment not conducive enough. It is about those market women whose stores are looted on daily basis. It is about those students stranded abroad because the government failed to pay their scholarship. It is about the people in Yenegoa who has no portable water to drink. This movement belong to the people who read and heard billions of naira being allocated to the state but see no visible development. It is about that girl who is about to be raped. It is about that contractor who is afraid of being kidnapped. The movement is about restoring the glory of Bayelsa.
So the race is not about me, it is the movement of the Bayelsa people and their quest for purposeful leadership and transformation. It is about the cry of the people against imposition and recycling of old hands. Moses Siloko Siasia is opportune to be at the forefront of the movement.
In PDM, the people found that reliable partner that recognises their voices. The Peoples Democratic Movement recognises that the movement of the people cannot be stopped by money or by a few powerful in the society.
Like the symbol of the party which is light. It is time to bring illumination to the dying state of Bayelsa. It is time to rescue the state from its bleeding. It is time to ensure even distribution of wealth. No longer shall few people decide how majority of the resources of the state will be shared among themselves.
There is no doubt that elections in Nigeria largely depends on how deep your pocket is. Do you think you and your party have what it takes to give other candidates from large political parties like the PDP and APC, a good run for their money?
Look, if some people have enriched themselves with the resources of the state and because they are seeking elective post, they decide to share part of the money to the people, let them continue. The people will collect the money and still vote for their conscience. Many people have told me that ‘Moses, we will collect their money but we shall vote for you’.
Bayelsans know that I have not taking a kobo from the purse of the state, rather, I have used money from my business to cater for the people. I have given scholarship to students to study abroad. Eight of them are in London. I provided educational materials to the schools in my area and since 2012, parents and guardians don’t have to bother about buying school uniforms or educational materials for their children or wards. I have empowered entrepreneurs, provided platform for them to succeed. I wouldn’t give money to buy votes because Bayelsans are not cheap. More so, they know better now.
My unblemished record speaks. Small wonders, artisans, Keke riders, market women are donating to my campaign because it is their project. The youths are championing my campaign because it represents them. The aged are rooting for me because they want a prosperous future for their children; they have seen waste, they have seen a few opportuned to be in government building mansions while majority of the citizens live in squalors and wallow in abject poverty.
As the election fast approaches, the campaigns are getting steamer, and candidates are now evidently using hate campaigns, deriding their opponents to score cheap political points. Do you believe in hate campaigns?
I have pledged not to run a campaign of hate. As a youngman, I do respect elders. I respect the governor, he has done his best for the state. It is also same for the former governor, Timi Slyva. But the state needs fresh ideas now. The state needs a governor in tune with reality. The Bayelsa people needs a governor who can turn the state into the commercial epicentre of the South South region and by extension, the whole country.
Bayelsans needs a governor who has excelled in the private sector with unstained record to bring change to the dying state. A governor that can make the state the delight and destination of investors. A state of eight local government areas with a population less one million and blessed with oil and gas among other resources should not have high rate of unemployment and criminality.
If the resources of the state are adequately put into use, Bayelsans and all residents of the state should be comfortable.
Don’t you also think your age is a major challenge to candidature?
I am shocked when people say I am too young. Developed countries are being led by people of my generation. So, is Bayelsa better than them? The few governors that have done well in Nigeria, were younger in age but competent.
When you look around Bayelsa, you will find the spirit of entrepreneurship, self-reliance, mutual cooperation, respect and resilience. But sadly, the government has failed to harness these potentials of her peoples. I believe the time has come for us to restore the glory of Bayelsa and her people.
I see the possibilities and the future if we can commit to excellence in thought and deed, championed by purposeful and people-oriented government. Certainly, this is why I am leading the movement for the restoration of the glory of Bayelsa.
So, can you categorically tell us how you are going to restore the glory of Bayelsa with this movement?
I have two points agenda for the state
The first is job creation. The rate of youth unemployment in the state is worrisome and it is a threat to her future, bearing in mind the societal problems associated with unemployment and under-employment. When elected as the governor of the state, we would build world class skill acquisition and sports development centres in the eight LGAs within one year of our administration.
We would develop and strengthen the capacity and resources of existing institutions that provide training for skills and entrepreneurship. We would work with all lending institutions to provide special training for Bayelsans, they will be required to provide soft loan facilities for those trained to enable them start their business.
Our government will create 30, 000 jobs in one year, attract 5 fortune 500 companies to invest in critical sectors in Bayelsa. We would build a new deep-sea port to bring trade and facilitate the export of our goods. We would empower civil society groups to complement government institutions in all areas through training and mentorship. These are parts of what we will do in tackling the high rate of unemployment in the state.
Again is Education which is the pre-requisite for building a strong, sustainable future and it is the bedrock of our development plan.
Illiteracy and ignorance reduces human confidence and self-esteem and impedes the ability of an individual to effectively contribute to the society. For this reason, we will place a very high priority on education so that this generation will be 21st century compliant. We will collaborate with relevant agencies, stakeholders to uplift the standard of education in Bayelsa. Structures will be built to meet international standard, teachers trained and retrained; they will also be motivated in the discharge of their responsibilities.
When a child has good schools to attend, adequate learning materials, incentives such as bursary allowance, scholarships and free education from primary to secondary school with inspired and competent teachers, the child will be motivated and properly equipped to aim for higher goals.
We will revamp all technical colleges, ailing and historical secondary schools and Science Centres for academic and vocational excellence. We would restructure the educational system by recognising certifications and associate degrees for employment and academic advancement as obtains in developed countries.
Other key strategic sectors
In achieving these two points agenda, we would also address the key strategic sectors like quality health delivery by ensuring the health sector earned the trust and respect of the people. We will partner with the Federal government and other stakeholders in the improvement of electricity. We would explore other sustainable sources of affordable energy. The rural areas will no longer be thrown into darkness. We would introduce electronic badge system for security.
The government will ease means of transportation by establishing a drive and own tucking system, build trailer parks, invest in water taxi system for the riverine communities among others.
We would boost agriculture and make it attractive and rewarding. We will tackle the security challenges in the state to ensure that Bayelsans can go to bed with both eyes closed and also earn the trust of investors. Bayelsa will become the hub of tourism and technology advancement.
This government will not be the government that advertises the sinking of boreholes as achievements, rather we would build world-class facilities because we cannot achieve our aims without the required infrastructure. So we would build and complete the project.