How Seriake Dickson Is Under-developing Bayelsa State, By Ominabo Wealth Dickson
There are some leaders in Nigeria who go into to power without understanding the complexities of governance. They were never set for power and the hard work on behalf of the people that accompany executive powers. This set of individuals end up with track records of political deficits and under-development within their spheres of governance.
One of such leaders is the governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson. Although, he was a former Commissioner for Justice in the State and a former federal lawmaker, however, these credentials have not made him a Joshua, leader; but perhaps a Pharaoh, considering the state of affairs in Bayelsa today.
Dickson came into power as a child of circumstance; he was foisted as leader by power brokers in the State, at a time when the relationship between the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva and former President Goodluck Jonathan had deteriorated. Sylva was accused of political arrogance, having little or no respect for political stakeholders in the State. Of course, political associates of the former president took advantage of the poor relationship between Goodluck Jonathan and Timipre Sylva to teach Sylva a political lesson. They successfully ensured that he (Sylva) was disqualified from contesting for a second term under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
It was in the midst of this political impasse that some political marketers shopped for Seriake Dickson. Many statesmen in Bayelsa complained about his choice, stating that Dickson was morally challenged. A number of politicians even alleged that Seriake had embezzled some millions of naira during his era as an Attorney General of the State. But other selfish politicians who were eager to become political godfathers ignored words of reasons. At that time it was clear that any person who emerged as the PDP flag bearer in the Bayelsa would emerge as the winner of the gubernatorial poll.
After much politicking, Sylva was frustrated out and Dickson was imposed as gubernatorial candidate of PDP. Consequently, he won the election to become the third governor of Bayelsa State. Dickson did not spend up to six months in office before giving in to frivolities, although there had been some initial rays of hope.
Governor Dickson spent his first two years hosting different economic and cultural summits at home and abroad with the aim of attracting investors. Millions of naira that could have bettered the lives of the average man were wasted on different summits, most of which had no economic benefit to the ordinary Bayelsan. It could be recalled that the State government established the Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC), with foreign offices in London and Johannesburg respectively. The London office was opened in 2014, while that of Johannesburg was in 2013. These platforms – like many critics of the Dickson administration say – are to launder State funds abroad. Is also on record that the Dickson administration has spent millions hosting economic summits which have no economic impact to the fortunes of the state.
Last year, another, opportunity came up for Bayelsans to replace Governor Dickson, whose greatness achievement was vainglory and media showmanship. Unfortunately, because of hunger and poverty, Bayelsans bought into to the philosophy of money politics by Governor Dickson. Voters were induced to vote, not because they believed Dickson had performed well earlier or would perform better subsequently but simply because of the money shared out to them during the election. What Seriake Dickson did was to starve the people (through diverted workers’ salaries) and use state funds for the poll.
Six months after Governor Seriake took the oath of office as the elected Governor of Bayelsa State for the second time, neither Bayelsa State nor Bayelsans have known peace. The State has been the home of violence, with social and economic violence pervading the State. The countryman governor is today seen as a political Achan who has eaten the joy of citizens. He says the government is broke, but profligacy has been the priority of his administration. Dickson is one of the governors in Nigeria with the highest number of political aides.
Bayelsa is the only state in Nigeria that has officially implemented a 50 percent wage cut, a policy that is not only illegal by virtue of the Nigerian Constitution but also inhuman. For the record, issues of salaries are found within the Exclusive List of the Nigerian Constitution, thus a state government has no power to unilaterally review its minimum wage. Governor Dickson knows this as a lawyer, but he prefers to shortchange Bayelsans.
Reports from the media indicate that despite the shortfall of oil revenue in the country today, Bayelsa still ranks as one of the states getting the highest share of federal revenue, while being one of the smallest states and, unfortunately, one of the poorest sub-national units in Nigeria – a mystery only Dickson can explain. The Economic Confidential reported that Bayelsa State received over 8 billion naira from the Federal Government for the July allocation, although the State Government has repeatedly denied media reports that it received anything beyond four billion naira for the. Any discerning Nigeria would know that the State Government is being very economical with the truth, because Bayelsa is the only one among the 36 states of the federation to have come out to debunk media reports on its federal accrual.
Under Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa, “the Glory of all Lands”, has turned to the sorrow of all lands; the State is now renowned for filth and other social decadence. The current administration has paralysed most sectors in the state, from the education, health, power and sports – these sectors are all in comatose. While the governor has showed little or no commitment to funding the state-owned university, the same government has signed a Bill for the establishment of a new university in the home town of the governor under the guise of a public–private partnership.
Before the coming of Seriake Dickson as the Governor of Bayelsa State, the state owned soccer teams excelled in several sporting activities in the country. The Ocean Boys of Brass and Bayelsa United were both crowned champions of the Nigerian Premier League at different intervals, while Bayelsa Queens dominated as champions of the female league for many years. Today, both Bayelsa United and Ocean Boys are wallowing in relegation, whereas the Bayelsa Queens are struggling to remain relevant in the female league.
In the next few months, Bayelsa State would be twenty years old, but the question is: Can the citizens of the State who hitherto saw themselves as the pride of the nation and the Glory of all Lands truly say that there is any form of glory in Bayelsa? The questions on the minds of many Bayelsans at this time are: Why has joy become so scarce in the State? What has the countryman governor been doing with all the financial accruals to Bayelsa, since he cannot even pay workers’ salaries and pensions? For me, I would rather ask: Is Seriake Dickson a metamorphosis of Achan who has eaten the peace and prosperity of Bayelsans?