BY FRANCIS AGBO
When the literary giant, William Shakespeare opined that some people are born great, others achieve greatness, while others have greatness thrust upon them, he had the likes of the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson at heart. The governor’s odyssey in life since his birth shows that he is a naturally born great man. This is not to say there were no vicissitudes at the period of his birth and boyhood which worked to no avail to deny humanity this rare gift.
On Tuesday, January 28, the Valentine Governor whom we fondly call the Country-man will clock 48 years. Having survived a lot of battles especially in the political space, one would have expected the governor to roll out the drums to celebrate with pomp but he has refused to mark the day. To the consternation of many of his aides and government officials, the governor banned congratulatory messages on his birthday and advised those who wish to do so to channel their resources to charity organizations and orphanage homes. But Governor Dickson’s pronouncement didn’t come as a surprise to me because he was simply living up to his conviction as a Countryman!
Typical of the Restoration Governor, he will be on ground on Tuesday to attend to files, hold meetings and intensify his inspection of projects to ensure that they are executed in line with specifications and global standards. Governor Dickson’s 48th birthday comes up 17 days before his government’s two year anniversary which is precisely on February 14, Valentine day.
In less than two years on the saddle, Governor Dickson has changed the governance culture in Bayelsa State, making fear of God, service delivery, uncommon courage, transparency and accountability the cornerstone of his administration. The multiplier effect of this philosophy is the ongoing massive transformation in all sectors. While the church in Nigeria celebrates Dickson as the only governor that promulgated Thanksgiving Law by setting aside November 2 of every year as Thanksgiving Day in Bayelsa State, not many Nigerians know that the Countryman remains the only governor in Nigeria that renders account of stewardship to the people on a monthly basis in a town hall meeting where the accruals to the state, IGR and expenditure are laid bare for public scrutiny.
In the last 22 months, over 350 kilometres of roads have been completed across the state, 15 bridges were constructed and over 50 public buildings/ schools completed, the secretariat of the Traditional Rulers Council in Yenagoa, a modern Police Officers’ Mess, School of Tourism and Catering Management have been completed. Rehabilitation of the Glory Land Cultural Centre and the Government House Clinic among others are now completed and are being put to use. Road linking the old and new campuses of the state owned Niger Delta University at Amassoma has also been completed.
Top among the ongoing projects are the airport project in Yenagoa, Commercial Cassava/ Starch Processing Factory at Ebidebri and two strategic flyovers on Isaac Boro Expressway, Yenagoa. When completed, they will be the first flyovers ever built in Bayelsa State while the Drug Mart/ Pharmaceutical Store undergoing construction is the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Work on the 27km road from Igbogene to Bayelsa Palm and the expanded Elebele – Opolo and Opolo-Imiringi roads have reached advance stage. Others are the Ogbia-Nembe road, dualization of 18 roads and two outer ring roads, three new secretariat annexes, state archives, Museum, Language Centre, Governor and Deputy Governors’ office complexes.
Indeed Dickson seems to be in a hurry to turn the oil rich Bayelsa to Dubai. This may have prompted many international figures like Reverend Jesse Jackson to now visit Yenagoa while investors throng Bayelsa State to explore the investment opportunities. Interestingly, Yenagoa, the state capital has played host to so many national and international events more than ever before. Top among them were the Jazz International Festival and most beautiful girl in Nigeria award.
But as far as am concerned, the most laudable achievement of the restoration government is not the ongoing infrastructural revolution but the prevalence of social justice in Bayelsa. This was made possible because of the person of Dickson and the autonomy the judiciary enjoys in the last 20 months, as the judiciary gets its funding through first line charge, eliminating the scenario where many Chief Judges go cap-in- hand to governors begging for funding!
Born on the 28th January, 1966 in the riverine Toru- Orua in Sagbama Local
Government Area of Bayelsa State to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Nanaye Dickson of Orua, a descendant of the famous King Kpadia Royal House of Tarakiri Kingdom, Dickson is also a descendant of the renowned Obu warrior family of Orua whose trademark is valour, bravery and honour.
Dickson attended Kolobiriowei Primary School, Toru-Orua from 1972 to 1978 where he got his First School Leaving Certificate and proceeded to Government Secondary School, Toru-Ebeni between 1978 and 1983 and obtained his West African School Certificate (WASC/GCE). Dickson joined the Nigeria Police Force in 1986 to raise money to further his education, because his parents could no longer cater for his schooling.
He gained admission in 1988 to the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt to study Law from where he graduated with LL.B (HONS.) in 1992. He then proceeded in 1993, to earn his Bachelors of Law (B.L.HONS) from the Nigeria Law School, Lagos and was called to the Nigeria Bar the same year.
He was Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1994 but withdrew his service to start legal practice in Port Harcourt where he worked with SERENA DAVID DOKUBO & CO. He was an associate solicitor from 1994 to 1995 and moved to ALUKO & OYEBODE, a prominent Law firm in Lagos, in a similar position.
In 1996, he founded SERIAKE DICKSON & CO, a law firm in Port Harcourt and later Yenagoa. He was elected Pioneer Publicity Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Bayelsa State Chapter, a position he held from 1996 to 1998.
In 1998 when all the bigwigs in Bayelsa were either in PDP or APP (now ANPP), Dickson chose to pitch tent with the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and was elected its chairman between 1998 and 2000 and led the party to winning all the elections in Bayelsa West Senatorial District. Indeed, Bayelsa State was the only state the party recorded such victory outside the core Yoruba speaking states. The party apparatchik rewarded him by elevating him to the post of National Legal Adviser between 2000 and 2002.
He was equally elected National Legal Adviser of the foremost Pan-Ijaw Socio-Cultural and Political group, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) from 2001 to 2003. He became a Member of the National Executive Committee (NEC), Nigeria Bar Association between 2004 and 2006.
The crisis in the defunct AD coupled with his desire to help President Goodluck Jonathan who was deputy governor at the time to succeed the incumbent governor, Chief DSP Alamiesiegha forced Dickson to join PDP in 2005 and became the founding Secretary of Jonathan’s political group, Green Movement in 2006. Dickson was appointed the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Bayelsa State in 2006 by then governor, Dr. Jonathan, following the exit of Alamiesiegha.
Since the golden fish has no hiding place, Dickson was elected member, representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. Dickson served as the Chairman, House Committee on Justice. He was re-elected in 2011 but resigned after he was elected governor. In appreciation of his service to his community, Dickson was conferred with the prestigious title: Olokodau of Orua Kingdom. The Tarakiri High Chief is also the Edi 1(pillar) of Ogbia Kingdom.
As a lawmaker, he sponsored so many critical bills which have been passed into law and played a key role in the successes recorded by the sixth National Assembly. But what is not often remembered about Dickson and for which he has not received sufficient encomium was his role in the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill at the National Assembly where he served as Vice Chairman of the FOIB harmonization committee and his delivery of an entire senatorial district to AD in 1998 as well as his amendment of the evidence Act, the first ever since 1954.
The lesson from Dickson’s story is if this man who did not see a vehicle until he was 18 years could work so hard to be governor, then there are limitless opportunities for all Bayelsans to achieve their dreams if they take advantage of the enabling environment created by the restoration government. If Dickson keeps sycophants at bay and sustains his service delivery, Bayelsa will continue to be a cynosure in Nigeria! Happy birthday my friend and boss!
Agbo is Public Affairs Analyst and Media Strategist to Governor Dickson and sent in from Yenagoa via firstname.lastname@example.org