Bayelsa: Why Dickson Needs Four More YearsArticles/Opinion, Latest News, Uncategorized Saturday, September 5th, 2015
By Ayo Balogun, African Examiner – Experience counts so much in every task. In the same regard, attitude and personality go a long a way in all issues and every aspiring goal. Basically, the outcome turns out to be favorable, when a leader (with mandate to serve his people) knows and understands the enormity of the task ahead, as he resumes office and most significantly, submits and allows himself to be guided by the ethics and standard of the esteemed office he occupies. If a leader is favored with this constructive inspiration, to discerning onlookers, the messages that such leader is passing is: ‘I see tomorrow today and the future is now!’
Bayelsa State, South-South Nigeria, is in the news and on the march to make another history. On Saturday, December 5, 2015, the indigenes and residents will file out and vote to determine who is going to be in charge of affairs of the 18 years old oil rich state. It is very certain that the poll which is still three months away, given the unfolding developments among the key contending political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will be a repeat of the Saturday, March 28, 2015 last Nigerian Presidential Election, which was unequivocally adjudged to be very competitive and keenly contested.
Again, there is no doubt in the fact that the above narrative is definitely and interestingly going to play out as well as ‘spice’ the state’s political atmosphere, in the build up to the approaching and decisive poll.
One of the interesting and intriguing dimensions to the governorship election is debate and consensus on the flag bearers of the two contending parties. The ruling APC is seriously challenged in this regard, as its leadership presently battles with how to zero in on a candidate, out of the big names that have indicated interest to contest. On its aspirants’ list are the ex-Governor Timipreye Sylva; the new entrants and former Executive Secretary, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe and one of the latest decampees and former State’s PDP Chairman, Col. Sam Inokoba (rted) who died Wednesday this week in Lagos.
Here, the PDP has an edge over its major rival, as it has settled to return the incumbent contriman governor, Seriake Henry Dickson to fly its flag again and contest for re-election. Except the APC has not been playing to the gallery and simultaneously deploying the mass media to draw undue attention as well as trading in propaganda, the poll again might shockingly end to be a ‘jolly ride’ and the so called main challenger, becomes a light weight and the entire exercise turns to be a walkover for the incumbent Governor Dickson.
On a more serious note, the APC which still battles with the choice of its candidate till the moment, might have a big battle to fight, given some other key factors in favour of the lanky Ijaw born Governor. For instance, Dickson has some traits of progressive in him, which in addition with other sterling qualities, might eventually work in favour of his second coming to the Bayelsa State’s House.
For instance, there was a wild speculation during the last general election that the Governor’s party (PDP) had lost popularity; touch and membership to the APC, therefore, might be disgraced in the poll. What fuelled the rumour in the state and across the country was the extent the opposition then (APC) and its members were allowed to carry on with their electioneering campaign without any hindrance. This was actually the opposite of what transpired in some of the South South and South Eastern States in the March and April (2015) polls.
Dickson’s approach was actually the standard of the “real progressives”, but the situation got twisted and this paved the way for many speculations against him, spread and sold very conveniently. The man himself once publicly declared that, his style was borne out of desire to check the breakdown of law and order in the state and subsequently ensure peace and orderliness to reign in the state. He also dismissed the rumour that he had compromised and was giving tacit support to the APC then. Dickson also once said, as someone who formerly belonged to the opposition, he knew and understood the standard and civilized manner the other sides of the table must be treated and handled.
Governor Dickson has startling and impressive records of human relations. No doubt, he knows when to talk; what to say and how best to make his public speeches. Give it to him, the incumbent Chief Security Officer of Bayelsa to a very large extent, is a cultured, warm, cheerful and an unassuming fellow. These attributes were so helpful and assisted him in managing and surmounting many upheavals in the governance business; party politics and his relationship with people. It is therefore not surprising to hear and read now that despite the severe wrangling between him (Dickson) and the immediate past First Lady Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan, the latter has extended an olive-branch and finally decided to work with the Governor’s camp for victory in December 5 poll.
As pointed out earlier, Governor Dickson saw the future about four years ago, when he was sworn-in, hence, immediately “hit the ground running”. No wonder today, he stands tall with audacity among and before his fellow Ijaw men to seek their mandate for another four years, to finish up laudable projects he started three years ago. Of course, both Sylva and Alaibe as former Governor of the State and ex-top government official respectively, are no push overs, yet, the question is that, is the incumbent really has any edge over his main rivals.
Governor Dickson has pre-occupied himself and “has kept faith” in almost four years of his government and electoral promises to the Bayelsans, with his Restoration Agenda and
vision for a new state. This is evident in evolving and unveiling new economic modem; embarking on infrastructural development and transformation; upgrading educational standard; providing Housing; improving on health and entertainment sectors of the South South State.
Dickson on his own, has tried as much as he could, to be committed to the welfare of the State’s public servants. He had done so well, that he and few other States in the country, despite the recession in the Nigeria economy, which prompted slashes in their monthly allocations and by extension, affected execution of capital projects, has been able to wriggle out of the fix and fulfill his obligations to the state.
In Bayelsa, Governor Dickson does not owe any public servant salary till date. No wonder, only N1.285 billion was allocated to the state out of a total of N338 billion loans recently released as a bail out and shared among the states to settle backlog of the workers’ salaries.
Dickson from all indications is not taking anything for granted on the State’s economic rejuvenation. While the cargo and passenger airport at Amassoma is now 60 per cent completed, his economic diversification agenda, which is manifested on shifting dependence on oil and gas to agriculture and tourism is pursued with vigour. On the other hand, the Eco-park Power generation plants and light manufacturing projects at Gbaranmotu and the Agge Deep Seaport are yet another bold steps towards the industrialization of the state.
If industrialization is gaining this much attention, Governor Dickson did not underrate the significance of Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurship (MSME) in boosting the macro economy of the state. This obviously informed the human capital development through training and empowerment and promotion of SMEs by his government.
It was also out of desire for economic advancement and transformation that led to the establishment of the Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation (BIDC) as a catalyst for investment in the State. Presently, the BIDC is in excess of N25 billion in consolidated assets with offices in Johannesburg and London.
Due to massive road expansion, Bayelsa under Dickson, has been turned into a huge construction site. The roads, bridges and flyovers from Yenagoa, the state capital and across the state, are of high standard and quality. The roads are opening up the State for easy intra and inter State transit as well as aiding bountiful economic activities. As a result of the road networking, residents now drive conveniently to Nembe — a prominent town but inaccessible by road for 45 years after it was first proposed.
On security, the unassuming Governor has been impactful with his administration’s ability to deliver total peace and secured State with provision of adequate and modern security equipment and facilities, which had since successfully sent into oblivion ‘shadow’ security of lives and properties in the State that has confronted the State for many years. Consequently, the once deemed image of Bayelsa has now been redeemed and corrected.
Like many passionate parents will do to their willing children, Governor Dickson inherited a terrible education when assumed power about four years ago. As a result, he wasted no time in declaring state of emergency in the State’s education, a development which has resulted to a new dawn in the sector.
Today, Dickson’s almost four years administration is a proud initiator of free and compulsory education in the State. In line with this, he had built 250 schools with boarding facilities in the State’s three Senatorial districts; motivating teachers; awarding scholarships for local and foreign studies; paying for WAEC, NECO, JAMB registration fees, for prospective candidates. There is no doubt that these approaches have taken its positive toll on the standard of education in the State as well as performance of the candidates. Happily, Bayelsa is currently ranked among the top 10 brackets in national scores.
While health facilities across the state are being upgraded through to control the scourge of counterfeiting drugs in the state and installation of a world class diagnostic centre to treat different ailments, the transportation sector has also been restructured with replacement of motorcycles with the restoration cabs in the state capital, Yenagoa.
The State under Dickson’s administration is promoting the need for re–orientation; societal rebirth, as well as placing emphasis on ethics and values for a new society. Under the present government, the state had hosted several conferences and events including the Jaz fiesta, the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant, the Africa Movie Academy Awards and the just concluded 2015 Nigerian Guild of Editors conference among many others.
Finally, if performance, dynamism and delivery on electoral promises are the score cards and factors to secure votes and be re-elected, Governor Dickson deserves another 4 years to complete his good work.
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