By Gbenga Oke
FOR Governor Seriake Dickson, coming into office as Governor of Bayelsa State in 2012 was not the best of times as it was a tumultuous moment to lead a state that was bedridden with militancy and a decadent educational system both at the primary and secondary levels.
His first decision was to declare a state of emergency in the Education sector which he believes is critical to ending militancy in the state.
According to the governor, introducing a compulsory and solid educational system in the state was bound to eradicate the militant activities hence his decision to embark on an elaborate programme of scholarship awards – home and abroad- while the decadent primary/secondary education was given adequate attention.
Turmoil-free political landscape
Dickson to many of his admirers, is not an everyday politician especially with the manner he has handled the state of affairs in Bayelsa. For instance, he was the first governor who promised to regularly render an account of monies accruing to the state from the Federation Account. He followed it up with an executive Bill, which was passed into law by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
The law stipulates that the Governor of Bayelsa State must always render an account of all monies accruing to the state, including the Federation Account, to the people.
He believed that a turmoil-free political landscape could guarantee the speedy growth and development of Bayelsa State. As a result, he liberalised the political space by allowing opposition politicians the freedom to thrive. Even when members of the opposition party criticized him, he simply laughed over it. That was how he virtually eliminated political violence, which was the rule in the state before he came to power.
The height of that political tolerance was seen in the build-up to the 2015 general elections when he made available to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and President Muhammadu Buhari, the state-owned Samson Siasia Stadium for their campaign at great cost to his political career.
Attesting to his political sagacity, former President Goodluck Jonathan said of Dickson “When I was dreaming of becoming governor, Dickson was among the few in the meetings we were holding. He was not in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), but he agreed to help. He didn’t want to join the PDP, but I virtually forced him. When I became governor, I appointed Dickson Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and that was how he became a PDP member and later became a member of the House of Representatives.”
He went further, “If Bayelsa is compared to other states in the country in terms of the level of physical infrastructure coupled with the degree of indebtedness in terms of bank loans and capital market, Governor Dickson deserves to be praised.
“I am not expecting the governor to score 100 per cent. There are three key parameters I will like to use to score Governor Dickson. They are: payment of salaries, physical infrastructure and low indebtedness of the state in terms of bank loans and in the capital market. If you compare what has happened in other parts of the country, you will praise the governor.
“People should think more about the way the state is being run and prepared for our future generation.”
Governor Seriake Henry Dickson was born on January 28, 1966, to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Nanaye Dickson of Toru-Orua and a descendant of the famous King Kpadia Royal House of Tarakiri Kingdom, Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria. He had his primary education at Kolobiriowei Primary School, Toru-Orua from 1972 to 1978 and after his primary education, proceeded to Government Secondary School, Toru-Ebeni, Bayelsa State between 1978 and 1983.
In his quest to serve his fatherland, he joined the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, in 1988. It was while serving in the Nigeria Police that he got an admission to study Law at the Rivers State University of Technology, Port Harcourt. The Countryman Governor as he is fondly called, earned his Bachelor’s in Law (LL.B) in 1992 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1993.
Having completed his Law degree and called to the Bar, Dickson was elevated to the rank of a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1994 and thereafter, he left the Police to practice as a Lawyer in a private law firm. He joined the Law Firm of Serena David Dokubo and Co as an Associate and worked at the firm between 1994 and 1995.
From there, he proceeded to another law firm, Aluko & Oyebode in Lagos as an associate. He, however, opened his own law firm called Seriake Dickson & Co in Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
Having practised as a lawyer for some years, Dickson ventured into politics and was made the State Chairman of Alliance for Democracy, AD, in his home state, Bayelsa between 1990 and 2000. He also held the position of the National Legal Adviser to the party.
Afterwards, he became the Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa State in 2006, a position he held until 2007 during the administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in Bayelsa State. In 2007, Dickson decided to go to a higher office and he threw his hat into the ring to represent his people at the National Assembly in Abuja.
He was elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as a member of the House of Representatives in 2007 to represent Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency. Having represented his people well at the National Assembly, in 2011, Dickson was re-elected for the second time to represent his Constituency.
While in the National Assembly, Dickson served as the Chairman, House Committee on Justice. Asides being a member of the National Assembly, Dickson has also held several other positions which include pioneer Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Yenagoa chapter; National Legal Adviser, Alliance for Democracy; National Legal Adviser of the foremost pan-Ijaw Socio-Cultural group called the Ijaw National Congress, INC.
He has also served in several statutory bodies like Council of Legal Education in Nigeria, a member of the Body of Benchers of Nigeria, a member of the Body of Attorneys-General of Nigeria, a member of the Bayelsa State Security Council and Vice-Chairman, Bayelsa State Judicial Service Commission; member of the Nigerian Bar Association; International Bar Association (UK), Nigeria Chapter; Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, amongst others.
Seriake Dickson was elected Governor of Bayelsa State on February 12, 2012 and he is still the Governor of the state till date. He is happily married with children and holds the traditional title of Olokodau of Orua, Olotu Ogbogbo of Oguan. His hobbies include swimming, reading, wrestling, boxing and badminton.