The federal and most other state administrations have been celebrating and presenting their score-cards for a one – year period. Bayelsa state however came under the aggressively proactive leadership of Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, only a few months ago after his electoral victory on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP), yet he has made strides comparable to many of the other states and indeed can be said to be set to give other South-Southern states a good run for their progress and development by the time he is one year in office, going at the current rate.
Within the first 100 days the new governor redesigned the architecture of governance in Bayelsa state as a first step towards rearing the Ijaw Nation’s image and set the first paces in the journey towards making Bayelsa state the most developed in Nigeria in the next ten years. He said, “We just have to break away from the past, if we must make progress in the state.”
That, Governor Seriake Dickson says, is the CHANGE WE DESERVE, to quote the mantra of the Bayelsa state Initiative which is out to RESTORE the long troubled and hither to forsaken people of the heart of Ijaw-land.
We all know that peace and stability are key ingredients for the pursuit of meaningful and sustainable development. So, post Amnesty, Bayelsa state became more amenable to development but it had yet a lingering headache: CULTISM. So the new governor went to work swiftly and has now outlawed the bad practice which holds down the people and holds back the state from joining the national development train.
When the Governor came on, he decided the trend had to change and change fast, for a new generation of leaders to emerge from the old trenches-based one, totting Ak-47 rifles and scaring the daylight out of law-abiding citizens. Governor Dickson appealed to their patriotism and sense duty and talked them out of the trenches mentality, to the extent that now they tell the former evil mentors, “I beg I no dey oh!” each time an attempt is being made to get back into the old ways.
Desperate, the old regime leaders changed tactics and as Governor Dickson put it, from “using the stolen state resources to procure Ak-47 rifles for thugs and criminals” who operated in the Niger Delta in manners similar to what the Boko Haram mostly in the Northern states today, just to affirm political supremacy – they soon switched to paying young energetic men money and buying them drugs and Ak-47 guns and dynamite for improvised explosive devices (IED) to wreak havoc. But the ever pro-active governor has within three months started getting the message to sink in: no cultism here!
Says Governor Dickson: “You cannot be associated to anycult group or any criminal gang and be in the system with us; it is not possible, because I do not tolerate it.” Reason he adds, is that, he has “played politics and fought more political battles than this, yet I did not have a cult group!”
Also outlawed in Bayelsa state under the new leadership are piracy and kidnapping, with stipulated severe punishment as a deterrent. An Adviser to the governor who says he closes as late as eleven o’clock at night and go home freely without incident attests to the new level of safety of lives and property in Bayelsa state.
The anti-corruption stance of the new administration and the publication of the allocations from the Federation Account while concentrating on exploration of Internally-generated Revenue (IGR) have attracted the Civil Society community in the state to him and his team, as is expressed by a notable advocate, Princess Elizabeth Egbe who heads the National Anti-Corruption group in the area. Princess Egbe is happy and she and her group hope that the tempo of zero tolerance to corruption will be sustained.
The Bayelsa state Strategic Projects Account and the Bayelsa state Compulsory Savings Account have started yielding results already. The Private sector, the new administration insists, must drive the economy and development of the state. To access those funds, the Governor himself needs the concurrence of two thirds of members of the state House of Assembly.
The Projects Account which has garnered over N32million is dedicated to funding projects in the key sectors of the economy, while the Savings Account is aimed at putting aside for the future substantial amounts of money for the state which currently depends of Federation Accounts allocations, so it can cater for the rainy day.
For a healthy fit people in a peaceful state, Governor Dickson as early as March 2012 mooted to the Health Ministry an idea which has become reality: Monthly Peace,Unity and Fitness Jogging programme organised by the Sports Commissioner Etima Obordor, with the Governor himself leading the first one, after the Sports Committee Chairman Boladei Igali-led Panel had surveyed and submitted its report which the governor adopted.
Senator Emmanuel Paulker commended the scheme and underscored the importance of health to unity, why legendary golfer King Alfred Diete-Spiff of Twon Brass supported the view that a sporting people are a healthy people capable of lifting weight but no longer illegally lifting oil as Governor Dickson bears zero tolerance to criminality.
Governor Seriake in order to secure a better and safer environment for Bayelsa state, has set in motion the establishment of a Partnership Initiative aimed at peer monitoring between the state government and exploration companies in the area, according to him “so that we can monitor what our people are doing as well as what our guest-companies are doing on our land.”
The temporary arrest of the progress triggered off by the beginning of the full implementation of the post- Amnesty programme, the master-stroke played by late President Musa Yar’Adua can resume in earnest and Bayelsa state can be truly liberated from decades of neglect and environmental degradation.
Dickson is in Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit alongside his countryman President Jonathan, and should have a lot to give and plenty to learn from the conference, coming from the overexploited and environmentally pillaged South-South which harbours the bulk of the nation’s wealth and current source of livelihood in its mono-product economy.
Indeed to better appreciate what Governor Dickson is upagainst and to meaningfully follow his actions in the Restoration Project by Kontryman , we must recall three short but significant sound bites, from his post inauguration speech:
“ As a product of the Ijaw movement, I am aware that I was not just a candidate of Bayelsa State but of the entire Ijaw nation. Let me therefore thank all the Ijaw people at home and in the diaspora for their prayers andunflinching support. To all I jaws wherever they may reside, let me reaffirm that Bayelsa will be continue to be your Jerusalem and I will be your Governor too…
To do nothing now about the corrupt, decadent and self-serving status quo, poses a clear and present danger to the very existence of our state and will be the greatest disservice to our aspirations as Ijaw people. If Bayelsa fails, the Ijaw nation also fails and so will the Niger Delta with grave consequences for national stability. This, we cannot allow to happen…
To all my brothers who took part in this electoral contest with me on the platform of other political parties, yesterday we were opponents but today (presents us) an opportunity for partnership in the service of our people for a greater tomorrow. ” [ Emphasis ours ]
Bayelsans in Diaspora who are being encouraged to return home where the heart is, share a sentimentally strong historical attachment to and pride in the heroic exploits of late patriot and illustrious ‘son of the soil’, Isaac Adaka Boro. Before now and since the Chief Alamieyeseigha era, monies were spent to take people and material abroad to celebrate the designated Isaac Boro Day. All that will henceforth be conserved and Bayelsans abroad will see the celebration right in Kaiama as an opportunity to visit home and by the time they see adequate change and incentive for a permanentor at least longer stay back home, your guess is as good as ours what will happen.
All Bayelsans must put the politics of succession saga behind them and heed the call to all to join hands and build a new, strong model Headquarters of the Ijaw nation. The time to do that is today. Aloa O!