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Dickson and wife
When his Excellency, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, the newly-elected governor of Bayel, mounted the rostrum to deliver his inaugural address, just after being administered the oath of office. It was one address which heralded the dawn of a new era - one of restoration. And it is fitting to describe the new helmsman as a countryman because of his deep-rooted involvement with the people of the state in very fundamental ways over the years. In his thoughts, ideas and focus, it is true that things are looking up in Bayelsa State.

Now a vista of new order is in the horizon.
Understandably, an integral part of Bayelsans as critical stakeholders have also been unanimous that the new vision crafted by the restoration team holds promise for the rapid development of Bayelsa State.

Setting his agenda for the new order, Governor Dickson reminded the people that 'in the course of our campaigns, we promised change and restoration of our lost glory. Today that change has come. Today our Restoration journey begins', adding that ' Bayelsans have voted for change and restoration' and on the strength of this abiding trust, government 'shall undertake fundamental reform of the governance culture to emphasize transparency, accountability, due process and value re-orientation by all institutions and functionaries of government, beginning with my humble self'. This is salutary, refocusing on his conviction that leadership is the issue, leading by example.

Another pillar of the restoration agenda is effectiveness in social services delivery and provision of infrastructure. The Bayelsa State Governor was quite realistic when he stated that 'we will rather use our common wealth to fund the construction of good roads, education, promote tourism, generate wealth and develop agriculture than fund corruption and greed. Be prepared therefore for a fundamental paradigm shift in the governance culture, values and lifestyle of public officials…. I am aware that we will face resistance… but we shall always do what is right in the interest of you the people'. This is fundamental indeed and reassuring because without such bold attempt at redefining quality leadership with its attendant benefit to the people, development is stunted. Agreed, a good government remains the greatest of human blessings and every nation or community should strive to enjoy it. Yes, in the particular case of Bayelsa, government can actually be the solution, effectively serving the cause of the people.

In the opinion of the Governor '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. We will therefore take the necessary decisions and actions, however difficult, however painful, however controversial those decisions and actions may be'. Also, one of the deliverables of financial transparency is government's commitment to announce and publish all revenues accruing to the state. Bayelsans generally believe that when this policy is implemented, it would mean a radical departure from the past regime of operating governmental businesses without involving the people. For all intent and purposes, the Seriake Dickson administration is poised to entrenching a regime of transparency where no one conducts governmental businesses in the dark. This is also reassuring, as it will rebuild the hitherto lack of confidence of the people in government and the process of governance.

So far, Governor Dickson is matching words with action, conscious of promises made by the Restoration Team to inject massive investment in education, critical infrastructure, agriculture, health, as well as peace and security. Yes, the development of human capital is our most compelling and urgent need. That is why we promised free and compulsory education for all our children in primary and secondary schools with emphasis on computer literacy, science and technology. Governor Dickson has accordingly announced the take-off of free and compulsory education at primary and secondary school levels across Bayelsa State. The rebuilding of our educational infrastructure also commences forthwith with a well articulated new curriculum already being hailed as the most holistic approach to educational development ever taken by a Governor of Bayelsa State 15 years after its creation.

While government has promised to give entrepreneurship a pride of place, there is a resolve on the part of this administration to construct roads and other infrastructure to link our people and fast track comprehensive development.

Peace and security are a sine qua non in this regard which implies zero tolerance for criminality and insecurity. 'As a government, we will make all the necessary investment to create and sustain a secure society governed by the rule of law', Governor Dickson declared, just as he also sought partnership with the transnational corporations to enable the state maintain the highest standards of responsible corporate citizenship.

Iworiso-Markson writes from Lagos.