On October 18th 2011, Hon. Seriake Dickson addressed a press conference in Abuja, which metaphorically heralded the dawn of a new era- one of restoration. Indeed, Bayelsa State needs restoration from the locusts that have eaten away the fortunes of the State. The Gubernatorial Aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP lamented how the present administration in the State has betrayed the hopes and aspirations of the people.
His colleagues rate him very highly in terms of his contributions on the floor of the Green Chambers. Henry Seriake Dickson, (PDP, Ekeremor/Sagbama of Bayelsa State), is no doubt a brilliant lawyer and lawmaker. Since he was elected into the lower legislative chamber in 2007, the lawmaker has distinguished himself in the process of lawmaking. At the last count, Mr. Dickson has sponsored about six bills, a feat that is enviable. His contributions to debate on the floor also put him in the bracket of great debaters.
At the committee level, he is a towering figure. He headed the House Committee on Justice, which caught the attention of Nigerians when it raised an alarm over judgment on debts owed by the federal government. The committee had discovered that government owed local debts of about N8 billion and offshore debts of $12 million and £2.5 million arising from court cases. There was also the issue of the planned merger of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Offences and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), which Mr. Dickson and his committee members wanted to sponsor. This never came up because of the anticipation that the merger would lead to the attenuation of the potency of the agencies.
The aspirant has done a lot to protect the integrity of the Legislature. While leading debate on the general principles of the Bill on October 7, Mr. Dickson argued that there was a need to have a procedure that should be followed when a member of the legislature commits a crime. This, he said, would ensure that legislators are adequately protected and thus help to deepen the nation’s democracy.
Hon. Seriake Dickson succinctly unfolded his development agenda on the 18thof October, which is people-oriented in all its ramifications. His development agenda comprises all basic components of good governance. He is seeking to govern Bayelsa State because of the pressure of the people and the need for positive change. He has pledged to pursue an agenda of sustainability of democracy and good governance to ensure transparency and accountability. Accordingly, democratic institutions will be strengthened and the rule law promoted. This would entail a compressive reform and overhaul of the educational sector, from primary to tertiary levels, including vocational and technical education with emphasis on the provisions of infrastructure and the development of science and technology.
The aggressive pursuit of economic development of necessity requires direction. Accordingly, the aspirant seeks to establish an Economic Advisory Council which will lay the foundation for a blue print to revamp the economy by focusing on commerce, SMEs, Agriculture, Energy, and Tourism and encouragement of the chamber of commerce. We shall utilize the advantage and natural endowments of our environment, by investing in the Maritime, Oil and Gas industry, as well other technological innovations to create job opportunities by building and boosting a diversified revenue base of the state to lay a future economy which would not depend on allocation of the Federation account.
When voted into power, the aspirant pledged to complete all abandoned and on-going critical infrastructures especially the three Senatorial roads to open up the agricultural and fisheries potentials of the area. Some of these roads have been on the drawing board for four decades. The new administration will also re-organize of the Capital City Development Authority (CCDA) and a full implementation of the Yenagoa City Development Master plan.
There would be created an enabling environment for peace, security, development and happiness through a zero tolerance for crime and criminality. Therefore to build the Bayelsa of our dreams; we must have a healthy and vibrant workplace, we will therefore build modern and functional General Hospitals in each local Government Area. We shall upgrade all existing Health Centers across the State, train and re-train all medical personnel to meet international standards. We will transform the State Committee on Aids (SACA) into a full-fledged agency to contain the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and build a world class centre for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable disease in the state. We will also provide free medical treatment for children, pregnant women and all Bayelsans. The Bayelsa health service scheme would be reintroduced and all existing health facilities in the state will be made functional.
Hon. Dickson’s development agenda shall give a pride of place to women empowerment. Women, who make up over 50% of the population, would be recognized for their selfless service to the state, especially as bread winners and custodians of our culture. They will be given equally opportunity to participate more fully in policy making, governance and decision making. More gender sensitive policies will be made to promote their appointments to enhance their active involvement in governance. Various empowerment programmes will ensure more opportunities for further development of the women and the girl child.
Hon. Dickson promised to pursue an integrated approach to youth development, empowerment and employment generation, such as the establishment of a Sports Academy, direct labour agency, skills acquisition and technical education as well as the sustenance of bursary and the award of both local and international scholarships to Bayelsans. The State will leverage on the abundant natural resources in the State to pursue aggressive industrialization. There will be a deliberate policy of re-organization and refocusing of the Civic Service and the Local Government system to enhance workers, welfare, productivity and training to bring effectiveness into the public sector. We shall also rebuild the Civic servants training institute to ensure the effectiveness and competitiveness of the Bayelsa State public service workforce. This implies that Public Private Partnership (PPP) and Private Entrepreneurship programmes shall be encouraged for the development of key infrastructure of the state to boast the local economy.
Electricity generation and distribution shall be a cornerstone of my administration utilizing our natural gas endowments. In realization of the importance of title to land as a tool of Business development and wealth creation, my administration. The new administration shall put in place an efficient and accelerated land title processing system in addition to the establishment of a mortgage institution for the provision of affordable housing for our people.
Hon. Dickson acknowledged that the task of redeeming our state and restoring its lost glory is onerous. Nevertheless, by the grace of God and with the co-operation of the people, Bayelsa State shall be rebuilt. Considering the state of decay and rot in the state in the few past years, it is very clear that tough decision lie ahead and selfless and serious minded commitment is needed to restore normalcy and sanity in the State.
The Governorship Aspirant said “those who know me can attest to my abiding commitment to the Ijaw national interest and the Bayelsa project. In my brief years of service to the Ijaw Nation in the ijaw National Congress (INC), my service as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa State and in the years I have had the honour of representing my constituency and the State in the House of Representatives, I have demonstrated single minded dedication and commitment to the protection of the interest of our people, sometimes at great personal inconvenience, risk and sacrifice… I am a man of honour, integrity and compassion in whose hands our State and Ijaw nation will be safe”.
Hon. Dickson pledges thus: when I am elected as Governor, I will build consensus, coalitions and partnerships amongst stakeholders in Bayelsa at home and in the Diaspora, the Ijaw Nation, Niger Delta and Nigeria to unify our cause for peace and development. I will lead Bayelsa State to the assured destination and provide a secure future for our children. I therefore seek your support and prayers in the journey ahead. Let me use this opportunity to express my profound gratitude to friends, allies and the good people and friends of Bayelsa for their kind commitment and confidence in me as the arrow head of the RESTORATION AGENDA.
Hon. Dickson is from Bayelsa West and Bayelsans cannot doubt his exposure in public service. Bayelsa West has not produced a Governor and most people have soft spot for that constituency. In his RESTORATION AGENDA, Dickson captured the pains, misery and frustration facing more than 98 percent of Bayelsa people. There is no doubt that the administration of Sylva lost steam only after the first year. Today, most of the projects initiated by his predecessors have not been completed in spite of huge inflow of resources from the federation account. There is massive unemployment and health and education infrastructure are in a state of decay. Government seems to have lost grip of the security of lives and property as cult-related violence has become commonplace. The disbanded security outfit nick-named Operation Famou-Tanbgei became a tool in the hands of selfish politicians to create a climate of fear, intimidation and political vendetta. The porous security architecture has made life in the State unpleasant, brutish and short.
The development agenda presented to Bayelsa people is people-oriented with emphasis on restoration and improving the quality of lives of the people. The next administration in the State should intensify human capacity building and industrialization. Industrialization should be promoted through massive investment in agriculture with emphasis on rice cultivation. Priority attention should also be given to job creation, as the soaring unemployment in the State is becoming increasing embarrassing. Bayelsa State under this harsh regime has become an unmitigated disaster. The disaster affects all facets of life: insecurity of lives and property, lack of transparency and accountability in the conduct of governmental businesses; official corruption, executive recklessness and deceit; low infrastructural development and ineffective delivery of social services. The restoration agenda has to be holistic and people-centred, but what Bayelsans require now is positive CHANGE and TOTAL RESTORATION.
There is a lot to restore in Bayelsa State:
- Complete on-going infrastructural projects
- Rehabilitating the families of the victims of Operation Famou-Tangbei
- Recovering all stolen wealth and apply same to development projects
- Allow Bayelsans to own-up the process of governance by operating an open government
- To Reposition the Local Government System, which the Sylva administration has rendered ineffective
- Wipe out cultism through job creation and youth empowerment
- Revitalize the Agricultural programmes of the State
- To push for industrialization of Bayelsa State and create an enabling environment to attract Foreign Direct Investment.
- Entrench Transparency at the State and Local Government levels
- To activate the fishing trawlers and put them into productive use
- To revamp the Capital City Development Authority to implement the Yenagoa Master Plan
- To re-organize the Project Monitoring System
- Zero tolerance for Corruption
- Zero tolerance for cultism, sea piracy and gangsterism
- To vigorously pursue transparency and accountability in the MDAs, etc