…Mubi’s population much higher than Bayelsa’s 8 LGAs Senator Dahiru
…Who conducted the census, how justifiable is Mubi’s population? Senator Dickson fires back
By Henry Umoru
THERE was drama in the Senate yesterday, following altercation between Senators Aishatu Dahiru, APC, Adamawa Central and Seriake Dickson, PDP, Bayelsa West, over comments on Bayelsa’s small population.
Trouble started during plenary when Senator Dahiru took a swipe at Bayelsa State, saying Mubi North’s population of 2,089,540 was much higher than the entire population of Bayelsa State which is currently 1,704,515.
Dahiru attacked the South South state when she led a debate on the general principles of the Bill for an Act to provide the legal framework to establish the Federal Medical Centre, Mubi, Adamawa State, and for related matters, 2021( SB.668), sponsored by her.
Presenting the bill, the Adamawa senator immediately veered off her presentation, alleging that the population in need of the facility in Mubi was more than that of some states like Bayelsa.
According to her, the town, Mubi, with a total land mass of 506.4km2 and a population of 759,045, is bound by neighbouring nine local government areas. “This together with the population of Mubi North makes it 2,089,540 people (very much higher than Bayelsa State’s eight local government areas, with a population of 1,704,515). “Nonetheless, this historic town has suffered from government neglect in terms of federal presence, especially in the area of tertiary healthcare delivery. “
Senator Dahiru’s argument did not go down well with Seriake Dickson, the immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, who was infuriated. Angered by the submissions, Senator Dickson quickly raised up his hand which the President of the Senate mistook for an intention to contribute to the debate and obliged him. Dickson, who lampooned the Adamawa senator, faulted her claim on Bayelsa population.
He declared that figures presented by Senator Dahiru were not verifiable, arguing in an angry tone that the size of Bayelsa, the physical land mass and the water bodies were thrice bigger than some states in the country. He said: “In my senatorial district, it will take me four days to go round. In my local government, Sagbama, it will take me three days to go round.
“I just felt I should rise to enlighten the sponsor of this bill and by so doing, the rest of the country.
“When people talk about population, they should be careful because if you go deep and ask who conducted the census, who verified what and what are counted, who are the residents and how justifiable?
Noting the dangerous trend the argument was taking, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, interjected and cautioned Dickson against imputing improper motives to the debate.
He said: “Apparently, I have to guide this contribution because you have made your point and, giving our standing orders, we shouldn’t impute improper motives to the submission by our colleagues.
“The discussion is not on the population of Bayelsa or population censors conducted before now. We should rather concentrate on the main focus, which is on the establishment of federal medical centre. “I agree that there are many questions people will like to raise, but I think the essence of this debate is to focus on the general principles and merits of the bill.”
Dickson, however, continued his presentation: “Debates and submissions in this hallowed chamber must be based on justifiable fact.
“I was only rising to enlighten, without prejudice to the merits or demerits of the bill, that the premise that she has put forward as a reason or one of the reasons this bill should be considered is faulty. That should be expunged, it should not form part of it. That is not factual, it is incorrect.’’
Again, Lawan cautioned Dickson against reducing the debate to reaction to comments, saying “I’m sure that is the way you rounded off and let me also say that when you have an opportunity like this, what you do is, if you feel and are convinced that there is an erroneous presentation, you simply bring out the fact, that this is wrong and this is correct.
“We don’t have to come down and reduce the debate to reaction. You were in the House of Representatives before you became a governor, I’m very sure you are very conversant with our process here. We don’t imput improper motives to debates or contributions or interventions by our colleagues.”
The bill was, however, passed for second reading after the rancorous debate.