ONE YEAR OF GOVERNOR DICKSON: A REVOLUTION


Thursday, Jan 17, 2012
________________________________
By Daniel Iworiso-Markson

“The beginning is the most important part of any work…for that is
the time at which the character is formed”.-Plato, The Republic

It is now almost a year since Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson took the
oath of office to assume the mantle of leadership as the fourth
elected Governor of Bayelsa State. But even as I write, it only
seems like yesterday.

Yet, it gladdens the heart that within this short period, substantial
achievements have been recorded, simply because the Dickson-led
administration had been in a terrific pace to re-order things; actively
reforming and transforming the apparatus of government and
institutions to an acceptable standard and in fulfilment of the
Restoration Agenda.

For Governor Dickson and his team, this past one year has been
pretty challenging, no thanks to the messy scenario that was
inherited where the vital structures of government and
administration were largely abused and immersed in corruption and
gross inefficiency. But thank God, things are now looking up, the
leadership vision and sense of purpose realigned and reinvigorated.

However, it is relevant to look back and appreciate the fact that at
the inception of this administration, Bayelsans had reached the limit
of what they could cope with because government had virtually
abdicated its responsibility to the people; indeed  the basic essence
of governance were almost gone. This was the reality. So we met a
state literally begging for a new type of leadership and desperate
for change.

Fortunately, by their collective action, the people got a leadership
they deserve in a democratic fashion and now there is a glimmer of
hope. Admittedly, the last one year has been mixed within the
context of unforeseen natural disaster but it is assuring that the
government has also been quite pro-active in managing the
situation and delivering on its promises to the people. Of course, it
has helped that the Dickson Administration  had a clear agenda and
understanding of what needed to be done to get the state out of the
messy past. And with the right leadership and strategic thinking, the
myriad of problems confronting the state are being tackled
headlong and the people can now see visible results.
Essentially, the major difference has been innovative and altruistic
leadership just as commitment by the state government has really
advanced the welfare rights of Bayelsans so remarkably.
Government has been forthcoming in promoting basic human rights
while also creating and enforcing basic laws and implementing
policies and programmes needed to deliver on its campaign
promises.  Quality services are now the rights of the people
because government believes it is the peoples’ entitlement in a
democracy.

Today in Bayelsa State, many people can attest to the fact that a
new and rising paradigm has taken root in the state. Indeed, if there
is anything this administration is known and appreciated for, it is
that it is dreaming big dreams, sometimes far beyond what its
resources can accommodate in the short run. For this noble
objectives, some critics have accused the administration of taking
on too many projects but the good thing here is that we are
breaking new grounds with lasting footprints..

The huge strides undertaken by this administration in the last one
year effectively strikes a chord with the essentials of Governor
Dickson’s leadership vision: an ambitious template which would
ensure an impressive stewardship that satisfies the basic, broad
interests of the people of Bayelsa State, creating great economic
opportunities as well as making a beautiful statement in
infrastructural development.

Truth be told, when one takes a critical look at what has been
achieved by this administration in its almost one year of being in the
saddle, not minding the terrible hiccup and huge set back caused
by the catastrophic flood, which rendered most of our people
homeless and made complete mess of their livelihoods, it is worth
applauding and commendable that this administration still managed
to record such an impressive outing within one year.   

The various policies and programmes now being implemented
across the state are so instructive and they come with great
benefits to the people who are equally thumping applauses in
appreciation. Of note is this administration’s remarkable feat in the
area of security. The dizzying pace with which this administration
was able to turn around Bayelsa State from a haven of cultism and
violence and criminality to a situation now where the state is clearly
adjudged as one of the most peaceful and secured states in Nigeria
is simply amazing to behold.

Even more salutary is this administration’s ability of ensuring that
the ingredients of good governance are firmly in place – formidable
institutions, transparency, accountability, popular participation and
consensus-building.

It will be recalled that Governor Dickson spent the better part of his
first 100 days in office laying the foundation for good governance.
Now, we have in place some sets of policies which are products of
courageous and progressive decisions that have further
institutionalized the concept of good governance necessary to run
an integrated agenda which truly works for the common good.
A critical offshoot of this concept of good governance is the need to
be transparent, accountable and prudent.

Without failure in the last one year, every month, Governor Dickson
has kept faith with his promise to engage the people of Bayelsa
State to brief them on the income and expenditure of government in
line with the law which makes it obligatory for all tiers of government
to publicly declare all revenues that accrue to them as well as a
summary of expenditures.

In appraising the performance index in the last one year, it is also
pertinent to match Governor Dickson’s campaigning promises with
current outcome when he said: “In the new Bayelsa we all sought to
build, we will build new roads, create new investments and
infrastructure and other critical infrastructure and create the
enabling environment for improved investments. We must create a
new Yenagoa worthy to be called the capital of the state”.
Today, it is interesting to note that almost one year after winning a
landslide victory at the polls and assuming the mantle of leadership
as Governor of Bayelsa State, the campaign promise has since
turned out a reality.

It is on record that major construction firms such as Julius Berger,
Setraco and Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company
(CCECC) have all been mobilized and are currently on site working
round the clock to deliver the roads and bridges that will open up
the state for improved investments.
As at now, the Dickson-led administration, given its commitment to
delivery and action in all matters, has contracted out the
construction of over 275 km of roads across the state, in addition to
18 bridges and two fly overs – all under construction in its first year
in office.

More road contracts were also recently awarded and the
contractors duly mobilized to begin work in earnest.  Recently
awarded to CCEC with due mobilization is the road from Yenagoa to
Oporoma that was abandoned several years ago, the work is on-
going.. The contract has also been awarded for the construction of
Sagbama-Ekeremor road and clearing of that road is in progress.

This administration within the last one year also took the decision to
review the road from Nembe to Brass. As a result of the flood
disaster, government decided, with the advice of very competent
technical team, to raise the height of roads in the state to 7 metres.
With a difficult terrain such as ours, the cost of construction is about
4 times of what you will ordinarily get in most states outside of the
Niger Delta, yet this government is wholly committed to keeping to
its promise and the mandate of restoration.

Conceivably, the airport project clearly stands out as a notable
developmental stride undertaken by this administration within this
one year of is existence in office.

The Dickson-led administration is seriously partnering and working
with the Federal Government to construct an airport in Yenagoa
and as we speak, site clearing of the airport is going on and the
construction will commence once the clearing of the site is
completed.

While working in partnership with the Federal Government to deliver
an airport of international standard in Yenagoa within the next two
to three years, the Bayelsa State Government under the able
leadership of Governor Seriake Dickson took the initiative to award
Dantata & Sawoe, the contract to construct an airstrip that would be
ready for use  within a year pending when the bigger airport will be
ready. Governor Dickson while presenting the cheque to Dantata &
Sawoe, publicly extracted from the company a commitment to
assure Bayelsans that the airstrip project will be ready within
specified period.

Clearly, it goes beyond platitude to remark that this administration
has done so much so fast within so short a time, creating history of
its own in comparative terms, a development that has inspired hope
amongst a vast majority of our people. The ‘Contriman’ Governor
has delivered impressively on the restoration agenda  he promised
Bayelsans on February 14, 2012, when he took the oath of office.
This is the hallmark of a purposeful leadership.

Governor Dickson surely in the last one year has left no one in
doubt that he is fully in charge.  His distinctive leadership style is
rare but common only amongst great leaders.

His energy and passion for service is addictive. Governor Dickson is
noted for fiscal discipline and holds the view that government
budget should dwell more on capital expenditure and less on
recurrent. Little wonder he is constantly working hard to reduce the
recurrent cost of governance, which according to him, is the reason
why our development as a state has been held down for this long.

His approach has always been to adopt a stern and unremitting
administrative policy of living within our means and income. This
was one of the reasons which informed his decision to launch a
stringent regime of fiscal policy as well as the need to institutionalize
a savings culture.

This ultimately led to the opening of two separate strategic bank
accounts. The first is the Bayelsa State Strategic Development
Account, which today has a balance of N24.5billion. This account
has since been put to use to fund strategic investments in
infrastructural development, agriculture, tourism, education, health
and security —all for the benefit of the people.

The built up reserves of the Strategic Development Account placed
the state in a vantage position to award various road contracts as
stated earlier and it is in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility
Act, which requires that contractual commitments by government
should have adequate funding provided. Even with the payments
issued to contractors for all the roads, schools, hotels, airport,
hospitals and other public infrastructure currently under
construction, the credit balance left in this account stands at N17.5
billion to date. This administration must be commended for its
prudence and foresight to operate an account of this nature that
guarantees constant liquidity to fund critical developmental projects
without recourse to borrowing from the bank or through other
means. This is a positive revolution with strategic economic
advantage for the state.

The second account is the Bayelsa State Strategic Reserve &
Savings Account. It is an interest yielding account dedicated to
providing savings for the rainy day. This account readily became
handy during the flood disaster, as the sum of N1.5b was
immediately approved by the State House of Assembly which was
released to the State Emergency Flood Relief Committee to
address the immediate challenges posed by the flood.  It is to the
credit of the Dickson-led administration, for its ingenuity in creating
this account to serve as a form of stabilization for the state’s
economy in the event of unforeseen shock as was the case with the
flood.

In the last one year of such people-oriented government in the
state, especially with the crisis of the devastating flood that wrecked
havoc on the entire state and with most of our communities
submerged; in addition to the untold hardship and misery that the
flood brought upon our people, we saw the exhibition of raw
courage and outstanding leadership by Governor Dickson, as he
rose to the occasion, and in the process inspiring confidence in all
of us even at such moments when all hopes seemed lost.

Indeed, in the last one year, we saw Governor Dickson rising up
boldly to square up with the various challenges associated with
governance, especially in managing very complex and sensitive
crisis situations.

As we turn a new page to usher in another year of purposeful and
focused leadership to Bayelsans, having formed the desired
character of providing service, it is pertinent to call on all to rally
round this administration for consolidation and betterment of all.

Daniel Iworiso-Markson
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State

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