A former two-time Attorney General in Bayelsa state and grandson of the late great Ernest Sisei Ikoli; a frontline pan Africanist and pro-independence politician and journalist of repute, Mr. Anthony George-Ikoli (SAN) is in strong contention to become the PDP Governorship candidate in the forthcoming November Governorship elections.
Mr. Ikoli who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria has outlined a number of his very ambitious plans which seem to be a marked deviation from the normal plans the usual suspects of politicians inundate the public with every election season.
The learned SAN outlined extensively his plans to radically expand and grow the economy of the state, speaking on his “12 Islands Strategy” where he intends to initiate 12 autonomous naturally occurring or man-made islands into a tourism, technology and manpower hub through PPP funding model.
“Bayelsa is home to some extremely serene and beautiful Atlantic Ocean facing beach communities, with naturally occurring fauna and aquatic life. By bringing specialist industries to these 12 Islands, we can initiate autonomous economic zones that create jobs and a sustainable local economy that forces the youths away from vices like militancy and unlocks a deluge of economic prosperity for the state.
Thanks to the outgoing Dickson administration, Bayelsa has a new airport upon which we can anchor this sustained effort towards development of our tourism, technological and manpower services focus. I once visited Israel where I saw first-hand, a thriving tilapia fish farm which I was told was a Billion dollars a year business. What was more interesting however, was the fact that the Israelis told me that their studies showed that the best place in world for naturally occurring Tilapia is right here in Bayelsa state.
As you can surmise already, one of the islands in our 12-island strategy will focus on the production, processing and export of seafood to earn our God ordained share of this lucrative global market. Bayelsa is one of the most advantageously placed locations in the world, we must take full advantage of it.
I believe with a determined focus and a sustained effort; we can turn Bayelsa into a Ten Billion Dollar a year economy from these new initiatives alone and not wanting to conform to mouthing obvious clichés, our plans are indeed a strategic shift away from this rabid focus on oil our country has allowed itself to settle for when in fact we are destined for much more.
If all goes well, a large proportion of our monthly FAAC will go towards a Bayelsa Sovereign Fund which would act both as a future savings and investment fund for the state. We can provide project guarantees from such a fund to investors whilst maintaining an above average level of liquidity as a state”. In terms of his plans for security in what is a state in a restive region, Ikoli draws on the connection and correlation between proper policing, judicial and human rights reform and people centered laws crafted through the state assembly.
“I think one of the major issues in our country today is the fact that there is very little connecting of the dots in our social issues.
Youth restiveness or militancy or however we want to refer to it, has its roots in economic dislocation of disadvantaged young people and their lack of trust in the system. If we can build common ground with this segment of society by restructuring their mindset and mentality, we stand a better chance of improved security in our state.
Restructuring their mentality will involve things like providing a clear path to prosperity and the easy access to the assistive instruments that support them along that path.” Ikoli adds that as an officer in the temple of justice, he will seek to continue many of the judicial reforms he started in his time as commissioner for justice and honorable Attorney General of the state. Some of these reforms he believes will assist in the delivery of universal healthcare and basic education to the generality of the people by writing these as a standard into the laws of the state.
He recalls that in his time as AG, he was instrumental to ensuring a campus of the Nigerian law school was cited in Yenagoa to give validation to his fellow Bayelsans who had hopes of pursuing a law profession. As the primaries of the PDP approaches in Bayelsa state, Ikoli believes he has the grassroots credibility and support of various blocs within the party to deliver the ticket to him for the coming November election.