APC’ll not take Bayelsa anywhere – Gov Dickson

Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, who is seeking re- election on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party on December 5, faces a formidable opponent in the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva. But the incumbent exudes confidence in this interview that he will win a second term.
Daily Trust: Would you say the threat your greatest rival in the December 5 election, APC’s Chief Sylva poses is giving you grey hair and informed the community-to-community tour you’ve embarked on?
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson: Our people do not know any other governorship candidate contesting for this election other than me as the candidate of the PDP. I have seen the massive outpouring of genuine love and support from the chiefs, elders, youths and women groups. Well, you asked why this community-to- community tour? Part of what I am doing and have been doing is to quietly, in my own way, change the way politics is played in this state. The level of maturity and tolerance I have brought to bear on the politics here is such that you see the opposition campaigning against me as vigorously as I am also campaigning. That is happening for the first time.
When Chief Sylva was governor, we all saw what he did. Even the primaries in his own party were filled with shooting and holding people hostage. Anybody who wanted to campaign against him would be attacked. One of his supporters, Chief Rufus Abadi, knew what happened to him in his own house at Otuan. But some of our people have a short memory. I want to challenge my opponent, Sylva, to sleep in the communities as I have been doing, instead of bragging about federal force. No one knows him at the federal level other than he was used to unseat his brother. Let him go to our communities and relate with them freely as I am doing.
There is a dining hall built by my administration in Okugbie, one of the investments we have made in all the communities. We are not where we want to be yet, but we have made a difference. The Bayelsa people appreciate the roads my administration built and they are all waiting to receive me. The last communities I visited, Ayama and Tarakiri, were very receptive such that for three days they did not go to the forest or farm; they waited for me to encourage me. I cannot thank them enough. These gentlemen called the APC are trying to take our state nowhere. Despite the old names they parade, their communities do not appreciate them, they have no support. I have done what no governorship candidate has ever done – spent two nights in Southern Ijaw and one in Korukoreseigh, where the House of Assembly Speaker hails from. The entire ward waited till about 8pm when we got there. We commissioned their pavilion and a road that we did. They now also have schools and investments. All we are doing is to consolidate, so that by God’s grace, those boarding schools can take off by January. I cannot wait to see these children that I saw in all the communities wearing smart clean uniforms provided by the Restoration Government, with books supplied. I do not see anybody seriously contesting against me, not even my good friend and brother, Sylva, and his APC.
DT: What gives you so much confidence Sylva and the APC will not take over from you?
Dickson: If Bayelsans are self-respecting, and they want other Nigerians and even foreigners to relate with the Ijaw people with respect, then this is not the time to embrace the APC. The Ijaw people will not be put to shame. From the ministerial positions they gave, we can see how they rate Bayelsa. From a state that lost the Presidency, our only permanent secretary has also been removed. Only God knows what will happen next. Our highest-ranked Customs officers have been retired. They gave us Minister of State for Agriculture, but I say no, that is an assistant minister. In effect, it is minister without portfolio. The truth is that Bayelsans must wake up. The elites must learn to put the people’s collective interest ahead of their own selfish interest.
Sylva went about promising people the governorship, but then he became the governorship candidate himself. He also promised everybody the position of deputy governor and he failed them. This is the Jerusalem of the Ijaw nation and cannot be given out to a man like Sylva.
DT: If re-elected, what are those things you would do which could not be accomplished in your first term?
Dickson: We have started a lot of life-changing projects. I came in here to make maximum impact within the available resources and time. Unfortunately, our finances dropped precipitously. Last month, we got only N4.2 billion and after paying the inherited Sylva’s bond, which we will keep paying every month till 2017, we managed to pay salaries and pensions. We cannot even pay the allowances of people working with us. Of course, we are not alone, all states, and even the federal government, are affected. My second term will be dedicated to the completion of most of these life-changing projects that are almost at completion stage, because every project has a gestation period. People like to see magic because of the energy we started with, and because we had resources and we were putting everything in. Now, people think I am distracted. But I am not; it is sadly a question of finances.
Look at the airport, and ask Sylva why he did not do it. He played politics with everything, cleared a site and put a signboard there before the first block was laid. I know what happened to the airport issue, not to talk of the Nembe-Brass road that so much money went into. But now, if you drive to the Amassoma road, you will see the airport. I have awarded the contract for the installation of the navigational instrument. FAAN has come to do the certification. In the next couple of months, we will be landing there.
He could not dualise the Azikoro road that we have completed, and that is the road they are using, going about wielding brooms. There is also the dualisation of the Isaac Boro road. Such big projects have a timeline. If there is a shortfall within that period, the completion time elongates naturally. I just drew a line below his abysmal record and did things differently. I do not believe in using government powers to bring people down. Politics is about using the power God gives us through the people to build and change lives. The Igbogene bypass road project is 35-36 kilometers. We had already done a greater part of the job. After the elections, God willing, these are the things to complete. We will start certain things but they will be minimal because we want to finish all ongoing ones which are about 80 per cent completed.
DT: What do you think would be the effect of the peace accord you signed with the other parties?
Dickson: I signed because that was the right thing to do. My campaign is about peace, development and prosperity. You hear me ask people to accord Sylva the respect that is due him. I am not a man of violence, unlike those who are merchants of violence and cultism. I believe that a political leader and anyone aspiring to lead people must show example. Our society can only develop when we have peace. We have been able to achieve so much because of the prevailing peace and we want it to get better. The police will arrest those with cloned PVCs. We do not need violence in the PDP to win any polling unit. Our supporters are there to vote for us; they will stay there and protect their votes. The votes will be counted and the result declared. Luckily, INEC has spoken up that law enforcement will be at every polling unit. I have sensitized community leaders in every community, so nobody can come to any community to intimidate the people.

Posted on July 12, 2017

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