Bayelsa guber race: Keniebi Okoko, new kid on the bloc

He is one of the newest entrants in the race to Creek House in Yenagoa who is giving other aspirants sleepless night as JOY EMMANUEL writes.

The race for Bayelsa Government House is becoming more interesting as 25 aspirants jostle for the tickets of the two leading political parties: the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC).

The 2019 governorship election in the state is no doubt unique especially with the array of political juggernauts, bureaucrats and erstwhile chief executive officers of companies with equally impressive credentials.

The ruling PDP basking in the euphoria of its dominance for  20 years appears determined to maintain its hold while its arch-rival, the APC, is not leaving the battle to chances.The new kidSo far, PDP has over 20 aspirants while APC parades four leading men ready to match PDP.

Among the 25 aspirants is Pastor Keniebi Diton Okoko, a renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist who seems to be giving other aspirants sleepless night, sources within the PDP say, due to his experience in business and philanthropy.

So far, many have attested that he would perform well, if given the opportunity, citing his record in the private sector where he distinguished himself. Some are however quick to point out that his experiences in the private sector may not be enough credential to lead a state like Bayelsa with diverse interests.

“Meeting these diversities and differences is by no mean an easy ride,” a PDP chieftain in Yenogoa who would not want his name mentioned in the report, told Blueprint.

He however agreed that Okoko’s roadmap released to the public recently in Yenogoa, was a clearly-designed one especially for a state crying for development in infrastructure, industries and education. 

His plans

A peep into Okoko’s roadmap which he tagged: ‘Redemption 2019’, shows his focus on six core areas of development: security, education, health, economic-growth, urbanisation and development.

Commenting on these focal agenda, he told Blueprint that, “The six areas are foundational cornerstones for every society that aims to become a hub for enterprise development and industrialisation.”

While giving insight into how he would handle the security sector, he said he plans to create new security framework that would address  security threats in the state in order to encourage investors, in addition to making the state safer for Bayelsans. 

“I plan to improve on coordination among security agencies. Safety and security can only be achieved when  different agencies, institutions and actors are working together.

Lack of coordination contributes to inefficiency and to that extent increased insecurity. A strategic communication programme would therefore be devised to support the implementation of our security policy,” he said.

Speaking further, he said .“A society and its citizens can prosper only in secure and safe environment. Similarly, no current and potential investor would make further investment in a place where their current investments are neither safe nor secure,” he noted. 

He said he would create a safe and secure Bayelsa by implementing a state-wide security policy that would serve as framework to meet the basic security concerns of all residents of the state particularly when many states  are facing security problems like kidnapping, robbery, insurgency and communal clashes, among others. 

With Bayelsa ranking third on the human development index according to a 2016 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the aspirant said the sector must be upgraded.

According to him, the value of education is significant to the prosperity of the state, promising therefore to expand the existing infrastructure, improve the knowledge and skills of all teachers as well as the attitudes of all Bayelsans to ensure they become life-long learners.

He is particularly concerned about the reading culture in the state, promising to decentralise the state library system; renovate, equip and transform the Bayelsa state Library to on E-Library.

“We shall promote technical and vocational education and training by upgrading the Government Technical College, Ekowe to a world class technical, vocational education and training centre,” he vowed.

On the power sector, he plans to embark on massive electrification of the rural communities.

He said, “Previous rural electrifications schemes in Bayelsa state have not yielded much due to low population density, low consumption, difficult terrain and subsequent high cost of implementation, operation and maintenance. In addition to that are the long distances from the grid system which result in greater electricity losses that require more customer- support and equipment.

“The challenges are not insurmountable and would be addressed head on in order to transform Bayelsa from a ‘gas exporter’ to  ‘power exporter’.”

He equally explained his plans on other sectors including health and economic growth. Okoko explained that he understands the challenges of building a prosperous society especially with the state’s natural endowments. 

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