Like every other electoral process in Nigeria, so much bad blood has been deliberately channeled to discolor Governor Dickson Seriake’s re-election campaign.
It’s about everything, but about nothing. The new singsong is about change and it is evidently clear that Bayelsans are not just keen about this change, at least as embodied by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The skepticism of the people stems from their conviction that arrowheads of change in the state such as former Governor Timipre Sylva among others, masterminded the systematic stagnation of the state. But Bayelsans decided to free themselves by massively voting for Seriake four years back and they are not disappointed because the Governor has unlocked even the secret treasures of the state for all.
It’s on this standpoint that many perceive the December 5, 2015 governorship election in Bayelsa state as a contest within the PDP, with Seriake as captain of the ship. And many have echoed that no matter the extent a house revolts against itself, the pillars would still stand. This conviction is anchored on the understanding that about a decade ago, the story of Niger Deltans in Bayelsa state was not only lamentable, but pitiable. It reached the zenith when indigenes only had vague hopes, with no assurances of fulfillment. But the signature changed when Governor Dickson Seriake sauntered on the stage as the chief administrator of the state.
One recalls with joy, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s poetic rendition of Seriake when he famously declared that “if you fail to perform, Bayelsans shall stone you as done your predecessor.” Jonathan as former governor of the state had first-hand knowledge of its treasures, challenges and the path of remedy. He was therefore genuinely sad that his predecessor busied himself more with the paraphernalia of office than performance. But the same Jonathan unmistakably sighted a future for Bayelsans in Seriake through the PDP.
Consequently, in the last four years, Seriake has demonstrated enough commitment to leadership of his people as evidenced in the widespread development indices. For a start, Seriake inherited a South-South state whose indigenes were ranked the lowest educationally. But the story has changed today with Seriake on board.
Information from the Africa Health, Human & Social Development (Afri-Dev) now places Bayelsa high on the education ladder based on its lowest rate of illiteracy in Nigeria! Angered by the poor state of education in his state, Seriake made education free from primary to secondary school and laced it with robust educational infrastructure. Students are not only enjoying scholarship, but have personal school materials including uniforms and sandals supplied for them by the government of Seriake. This project has swallowed billions of naira in the last few years.
Today, Bayelsa prides itself as a state to compete with others over road and transport infrastructure, as Seriake targets the demystification of the Atlantic Ocean where the treasures of the state are really buried. This would translate into more wealth and resources for the development of the infantile state.
Governor Dickson has not only arrested militancy through fatherly leadership, but has ensured peace and security in the state, resulting into a rebound of nightlife in a state hitherto dreaded even by its indigenes. Tourists and investors now court Bayelsa as a homily destination manifest in its hosting of numerous national events such as the International Jazz Festival, African Academy Movie Awards (AMAA), Caribbean African American Nations, (CAAN) Music Awards, African Fashion Reception, the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria(MGBN) and most recently, the annual Guild of Editors meeting. All Nigerians who have had cause to interface with Bayelsa under Seriake in whatever manner have pleasant tales to recount.
Many erroneously believe that Bayelsa State is only water and oil. But Seriake has demonstrated that agriculture thrives in Bayelsa like in any other state in Nigeria. Through a conscious policy, Seriake has invested in large-scale rice production, palm produce, aquaculture, banana, plantain, cassava plantations as well as vegetables. It only takes the competence of a leader with foresight like Governor Seriake to explore these rare agricultural endowments, the first of such projects since the creation of the state. Soon, Bayelsa would join the league of states who feed other parts of Nigeria with food, which could probably be exported.
Governor Seriake knows that power generation drives the economy of any community and Bayelsa as home of Oil and Gas in Nigeria must be encouraged to be the energy centre of Nigeria. He has written his name in gold in this area too. For the existing Independent Power Plant, Seriake has kick-started the process of increasing its capacity to hit 100 megawatts. He has attracted other foreign investors who are committing millions of dollars to various power projects in the state. Bayelsans have never been happier.
This page cannot recount all that Governor Dickson has accomplished with his first mandate. But the showers of praises on him across the state are eloquent testimony of his peoples abiding faith in his leadership. Seeking re-election and enthroning him again as governor is the least favour Bayelsans are impatiently waiting to extend to him. The state has always been PDP and the people are not just ready to stray into the strange land of change. It is on this score that Seriake recently declared that;
“You can only win election if you are in charge of the grassroots. The PDP produced all members of the National Assembly, 22 out of the 24 members of the state House of Assembly, 105 out of 105 councilors, the entire eight Council chairmen and several government appointees who cut across all units, wards and local governments of the state. Will these people fold their hands and watch the opposition write results? Certainly no.”
Additionally too, former President Goodluck Jonathan is a Bayelsan and has not renounced his membership of the PDP. Even in the last general elections, the state displayed its unalloyed allegiance to the PDP and the people are not just ready to change overnight. It explains former President Jonathan’s overwhelming support for the governor. Jonathan threaded the path of governance of the state in the past and knows that Seriake has etched his name on the development indices of the state in a manner that has shocked even his ardent critics.
The former president knows that according Seriake a second mandate would further consolidate on the gains already accomplished. Therefore, on December 5, Bayelsans are ready to testify with their votes that Seriake is a son that should be allowed to go further afield, through a resounding re-election victory. The echoes of change are not loud enough to diminish the influence of a Governor who has baffled his people with performance.
Ogah, a Niger Delta Rights Crusader wrote this piece from No.5 Ogoriba Street, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.