Opinon: As Jonathan Told Bayelsans The truth At Dickson’s DeclarationArticles/Opinion, Latest News Friday, September 11th, 2015
By Bukola Kayode – Ahead of his formal declaration Monday, September 7, 2015, some have dismissed the incumbent Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson of not having the impressive record and an imposing clout to re-contest for the South South State Governorship position. Some cynics even went to the extent of giving impression that Dickson lacks popularity among his people and in the State as a whole; that he is only taking solace in the support getting from his party Leader and the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan. But given the level of turnout at the historic event and how inclusive it was, it was clear and certain that the “busy bodies” have obviously been at work – pre-occupied with their mischief and perfidious ‘brand’ of politics.
In what appeared as the peak of his endorsement of the sitting Governor, Jonathan at the event declared that Dickson was his ‘first political godson’ and impressed it on anyone who cares to listen, to support him (Dickson) in his second term bid. The former President’s reason for staying with Dickson is his milestone of achievement, which touched on many developmental and transformational programmes span over three years ago. It appears that the State has never had it so robust since her creation in 1996. Jonathan and his family’s support to Dickson is overwhelming to the extent that, his wife, Dame Patience, was part of the dignitaries who attended Dickson’s formal declaration which held inside the Samson Siasia stadium,Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
For those who view development and economic growth as the raison d’etre of government and election as the best process to make an in-road to the government, the former President’s approval of Governor Dickson on his ambition to be returned to the State house speaks volume as well as very instructive in the above regards.
For the former President who first made his informal endorsement when Dickson visited him in his Otueke home, Jonathan’s backing is certainly real; no doubt, has come to stay, hence, it’s high time the Governor braced up, while the true Bayelsans equally lend him their support so as to lead him to the deserving victory. Of course, former President Jonathan declared at the formal declaration that truly, power belongs to the people. Indeed, I have no doubt that come Saturday, December 5, the good people of Bayelsa will decide and vote wisely – return Dickson to Creek Haven Bayelsa Government House.
Taking it a step further, Jonathan was right to have declared to the mammoth crowd that witnessed Dickson’s September 8 declaration, that the tough-talking Governor had done so much, therefore, can build on his first four years achievement, if re-elected. Among his score cards is ability to bring down the inherited high debt profile; infrastructural development and prompt payment of salaries. Former President said it was therefore wiser for the Bayelsa people to stick with a man “that will not betray us”.
Residents and those who have been to Bayelsa in the last three and half years will agree with Jonathan, Mimiko, Alamieyeseigha and others who propagate that Dickson had invested in human capital development and physical infrastructure of the State in an
Dickson, beyond building bridges across the largely riverine state to ensure that just like him, no Bayelsan will have to wait till age 18 before he sees a car for the first time. Beyond the much celebrated monthly meeting to account to the people on the State’s finances; rural electrification projects, the swift, yet holistic and sustainable manner in which Dickson turned things around are the reasons many, including myself who live in Bayelsa, admire him and had since concluded that he really deserves a second term.
I will use three sectors, including: education, health care and the criminal justice system to drive home Dickson’s developmental approach as bottom-up; effective and result-oriented.
In three years, 400 primary schools were built; 25 model secondary schools are ready for use; 14 higher institutions established and upgraded; over N6 billion was invested on the state owned Niger- Delta University; not less than N9 billion spent on scholarships and over N600 million was paid as WAEC, NECO and JAMB fees. For two years, Bayelsa now hovers in the top 5 for WASSCE, from being educationally disadvantaged.
On health care, Dickson has totally reformed the all-important sector. Starting from dealing with the little things that matter like improving immunization coverage to as high as 90 percent and providing boat ambulances. The Governor has built more health centers at LGA. Having dealt with primary health care, he moved a step higher to build one referral hospital each, in all 8 LGAs of the State. The investment in hospital infrastructure culminated in tertiary hospitals namely the five star diagnostic centers in Yenagoa and Sagbama LGA are monumental.
Besides, Governor Dickson has also built and equipped a Pharmaceutical storage and distribution Center, dealing with the issue of substandard drugs. And most importantly, to ensure Bayelsans use the new facilities, Dickson established the State’s health Insurance agency.
More revolutionary is the restoration government’s criminal justice sector reform. The Bayelsa government not only invested in use of ICT and high tech surveillance equipment, it resulted to thousands of youths to denounce cultism; gave scholarships, sponsored trainings in Agriculture and now, thousands are members of the state’s security volunteer scheme.
But the icing on the cake is the (financial) autonomy granted the judicial arm of government by putting it on the first line charge.
Surely, the Governor still has much to deliver, especially to those of us who say he is a leader who knows where the shoe pinches among his people. To Dickson’s credit is the Cargo Airport, the industrial park project and the MOUs on power infrastructure. For now, Dickson has taken banking to the rural areas through the state’s Micro Finance scheme. So far, his government has disbursed N50 million for business and N500 million for women in trading.
Still, there’s still a lot more to be done in empowering the poor by a focused Governor like Dickson. But the good work can continue, if and only his mandate is renewed. And given the take of the crowd who joined him in a trek back to Government House from the Samson Siasia stadium, I dare say that not a few Bayelsans have accepted the truth as well as have their eyes on him; working to ensuring that he is returned to the office in a free, fair and credible poll.
Kayode wrote in from Yenagoa; can be reached on 0803 721 7970
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