Remaking Bayelsa: The Time For Change Is Now
In 1986 at the age of 19, while my contemporaries were still enjoying the cosy comfort of their family homes, I joined the Nigeria Police and learnt about service to my country Nigeria and fought crime and criminality.
Thirty years on, I am still in the trenches fighting against crime and criminality, upholding the rights of the down trodden and standing for our people; standing against bad governance and oppression of our people.
Today, I announce to you all, that I report again for duty. This time to restore the lost glory and dashed hopes of our dear State. Today, I heed your call to offer myself to restore Bayelsa State to its true glory in accordance with its founding principles as the Jerusalem of the entire Ijaw ethnic nationality. Today I publicly affirm to you all, my determination to reconcile all our people, to rally our people together and to lay the foundation for a Bayelsa of our dreams.
Two weeks ago, I sent a letter to you my elders, leaders, women and youths of Bayelsa, of my intention to enter the gubernatorial race to salvage our dear state from the grip of anarchy, insecurity, bad governance, and reckless abuse of state power and resources without a corresponding sense of honour, responsibility and compassion. In that letter, I set out general principles that would form the basis upon which our development would rest.
I come reporting for duty with a background of service to the country and to my people. Between 1996 - 2005, I again served variously as pioneer Publicity Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Yenagoa from 1996-1998, State Chairman, Alliance for Democracy (AD) 1998-2000, National Legal Adviser, Alliance for Democracy (AD) 2000-2002, National Legal Adviser of the foremost Pan-Ijaw Socio-Cultural Body, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) 2001 -2003. I was also the founding Secretary of the Great Committee of Friends (The Green Movement). In 2006, I served as the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of this State.
In all these offices and responsibilities, I discharged my duties to the best of my abilities and in most cases surpassed the expectations of many.
In 2007, I was elected unopposed into the House of Representatives as member, representing the Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency and became Chairman of the Justice Committee between 2007 - 2011, and chaired several Ad-hoc Committees and sponsored and worked on several bills, some of which have become Acts of the National Assembly. In 2011, in spite of all machinations by the State Government, I was voted in by the good people of Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, who again re-elected me as their representative and I now chair the Committee on Special Duties. Between 2007 to date, I have shown leadership and served the people of my constituency, Bayelsa State and the Nation at large, diligently, with honour, loyalty and dedication to duty.
You all are aware that in 2007, when the present administration in the State was elected into power, we were all full of hopes that the dreams and aspirations of our people would be met and that the foundations of our development which previous administrations laid, would be sustained and consolidated.
This, the Government has failed to do. We are in a democracy and I acknowledge the rights of a few public office holders to hold the view that the present government should continue, to them and to you all, I pose the following questions:
1. Why is Bayelsa the most indebted State in the Country today?
2. What were all these loans and our huge statutory allocations used for?
3. Are we not all tired of LOANS, LOANS, LOANS and more LOANS by which our future has been mortgaged ?
4. What happened to the three senatorial roads awarded, paid for, and started by previous administrations but abandoned by this government?
5. What happened to the Hotel projects started by previous administrations and now abandoned by this government?
6. What happened to BYCAS (Bayesla State College of Arts and Science), the schools for gifted and talented children, the NDU(Niger Delta University), as well as the College of Education at the Governors' home town, Okpoma.
7. What is happening to the Scholarship Board and the disbursement of bursaries to our children at home and abroad? Why has this government allowed the infrastructure of our primary and secondary schools to deteriorate to this unacceptable level? Why has government refused to make timely payments of NECO and WAEC fees?
8. Why the failures in agriculture, health, water, power, airport projects, in spite of the huge sums expended on them?
9. Why has this government replaced the peace it inherited in 2007 with violence, guns and bombs? Why have many lives been lost and maimed by the Operation Famu-Tangbei? Where is Freddy Ockiya of Ogbolomabiri, Nembe and all the others killed by OFT.
My people at this juncture let us observe a moment of silence for Fredy Ockiya and all those who were murdered by OFT, a terror squad set up by the present government to silence you. May their gentle souls rest in peace.
While some people's answers to these questions might be informed by political exigencies and future ambitions, our simple answer to all the questions is that the present government has failed! The government has failed in spite of the improved statutory revenue which has accrued to the State. The government has failed in spite of the historic opportunities that exist now for synergy between the State and the Federal Government at this point in time. We have squandered unique opportunities. We have wasted 5 years. Can we afford another four years of waste?
As a result of these failures and following wide consultations with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, opinion leaders, elders, women and youth groups, I have heeded the call of well meaning Bayelsans and the entire Ijaw Nation from far and wide to RESTORE glory to our gloryland. To do this, we have set up a formidable campaign organisation appropriately called Restoration 2012 with the theme: Our Bayelsa Our Future .
You have demonstrated your desire for change and so we urge you all to come on board and be a part of history, so that when this period is recorded and told in the future, let it be said of you, by your children and generations yet unborn that you saw the drift and the rot and the destruction of our fundamental interests, and you volunteered yourselves in service of our people to protect our tomorrow at great risk and inconvenience. Let history not record you as being on the side of the oppressors of our people who place their personal interests above the common good of our people. So let the change begin now!
I urge you all to join the Restoration team and form restoration committees in all our villages, communities, towns and LGAs as vehicles for the realisation of the change we deserve. Soon I will be with you in all the towns and villages that make up Bayelsa State, to cheer you up and thank you most sincerely for your support, solidarity and prayers.
Tell them in your communities that their government has failed them. Tell them it is their right to reject a government that has failed;tell them that this election is not about Hon Seriake Dickson, but about our collective future; tell them that they must seize this opportunity for change; tell them I Hon Seriake Dickson is one of you who will live and work here and fight for them; tell them to reject those who do not understand their problems; tell them to reject those, who have betrayed your trust; tell them that I am a simple man of honour, dedicated to your service. But most of all, tell them the good news that change has come!
Fellow Bayelsans, by the grace of God and with your mandate, when I am elected Governor, Bayelsa State and the IJAW Nation will not be the same again. I will unfold a pragmatic paradigm shift in the governance culture, through which the development of the State will be assured and made irreversible in favour of our people and their welfare.
Our government will be transparent and accountable to you the people, you will be informed about revenues accruing to the State and expenditures. Values and high ethical standards of governance will be established to create and maintain enduring institutions to ensure that the development of the State is irreversible.
We will put a stop to corruption and ensure that your resources are used for your development
The educational sector will be comprehensively reformed and overhauled from Primary to Tertiary levels including vocational and technical education. We will redesign and build model primary schools with modern facilities. Model boarding secondary schools shall also be built in every Local government area of the state with state of the art facilities.
The abandoned schools for the gifted and talented children will be completed and put to use. No longer will our children and youths take the back seat in the educational development of our country. As a result of the poor performance of our students in the past few years in WAEC and NECO, we will re-introduce the Bayelsa State College of Arts and Science to remedy this situation.
A Teachers' Training Institute will be established for the training and retraining of our teachers. We will also revive the abandoned Ijaw Language Project to prevent our language from going extinct.
We will establish an Economic Advisory Council which will develop a blue print for a modern economy based on commerce, SME's, agriculture, energy and tourism, not dependent on our statutory allocations. The Bayelsa partnership initiative will be revived as a frame work for collaboration with and investment partners for development of the State.
We will create an enabling environment for peace and security through a zero tolerance for crime and criminality. Yenagoa and Bayelsa State as a whole must be made safe for tourism and businesses to thrive.
We will ensure the completion of all abandoned and ongoing critical infrastructure, especially the three senatorial roads and the abandoned hotel projects dotting the streets and landscape of Yenagoa.
The Capital City Development Authority CCDA will be reorganised and the Yenagoa City Development Master plan, fully implemented.
An efficient and accelerated land title processing system will be established to expedite the process of obtaining C-of O's in the State. ( Any body get C-of-O for Yenagoa before? ). In addition a mortgage institution will be introduced to assist in the provision of affordable housing for our people.
In the Health Sector, we will build modern and functional hospitals in each Local Government Area. We will build centres of excellence for HIV AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases in the State. Children, pregnant women and all Bayelsans above 65 years will receive free medical treatment.
Water! Water! Everywhere!! And yet there is no potable drinking water in our state. Our administration will ensure that water will flow in every household in the Yenagoa metropolis. Integrated water schemes will be introduced in every LGA of the State.
Power would be a priority for our administration to stimulate economic development.
My Great women of Bayelsa...Great Ijaw Women.... A dooooh!!!!
I will ensure that women will have equal opportunity to participate fully in governance, policy and decision making processes. Appropriate programs such as SME's, cooperatives, agricultural grants will be set up to provide opportunities for sustainable livelihood for our women. In addition, we will protect the rights of children, especially the girl child.
Great Ijaw Youths!...Great Youths of Bayelsa!! Government will pursue an integrated approach to youth development through empowerment, employment generation and peace building. We will establish a sports academy to harness the sporting potentials of our youths; we will establish skills acquisition centres and promote technical education to take advantage of our natural endowment and opportunities. We will sustain bursaries, scholarships and grants locally and internationally. My administration will focus on human capital development to lay a solid foundation to prepare young Bayelsans for a competitive edge in the global economy.
The civil service and local government service will be reorganised and refocused to enhance workers' welfare, training and productivity.
Traditional Rulers and community leaders will be supported and strengthened as co-partners in government. We will make laws to integrate their roles and responsibilities in governance.
I bring you reconciliation, peace and hope. We will serve you in the best traditions of our founding fathers, leaders and heroes past. I make a pledge that the sacrifices made for the survival and sustenance of the Ijaw Nation and Bayelsa State will not be forgotten. Your tears and blood shall not be in vain. This is the cause for which I am offering myself as a symbol of change. As a product of the Ijaw struggle, I will ensure that the INC and the IYC, the two organs of mobilization of the Ijaw people will be reinvigorated and refocused for positive national development.
From kurokorosei to Kaiama, from Ibeano to Arugbo in the Western flanks let this message go out; that the Ijaw Nation is putting its house together again; that the days of dissonance and contradictory signals and messages are over; the days of desecration of our fundamental values and interests are over; the days of enrichment of others with our resources at our expense are over; the days of self destructive politics are over! We will not be intimidated. We will not give up until Bayelsa is free.
We will rally our people together, we will take steps to defend our fundamental strategic interests, we will give the necessary leadership, direction and support to all sons and daughters of Bayelsa State. This is our responsibility; this is our tradition.
The burden of restoration is heavy. I cannot bear it alone. I need you all on board. I do not have all the answers to our numerous problems but I promise you that my doors will be open to all, my ears shall listen to all and my hands will reach out in fellowship to all. My background of service over the years has trained me to listen and appreciate several perspectives on issues including those I do not necessarily support or agree with. My loyalty will be to you, your interest and welfare. We will dismantle all disparate political camps, groups that disunite us as a people .We will forge one united family of Bayelsans and Ijaw people to achieve our common destiny.
I call on you today to rise up and support this cause, rise up and support this vision for a better Bayelsa, rise up and support the change we deserve as I report for duty. Together we can restore our Bayelsa, our future !
Thank you and may God bless you all.
Long Live Bayelsa State!
Long Live the Ijaw Nation!
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
BEING THE TEXT OF AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY HON. HENRY SERIAKE DICKSON ON HIS OFFICIAL DECLARATION AS GUBERNATORIAL ASPIRANT OF BAYELSA STATE UNDER THE PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY ON MONDAY 7 TH NOVEMBER 2011 IN YENAGOA, BAYELSA STATE.