BAYELSA: How Dickson Targets Grassroots For His Re-election
THERE seems to be some form of cordial relationship between Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson and the rural people. This fact came to the fore during his grassroots campaign rallies when community leaders presented themselves the governor’s ambassadors across the state. The idea of ‘’Countryman Governor’’ flows from this closeness with the people. More of the community-to-community campaign tours continue ahead of the December 5 polls.
The unrestricted access of paramount rulers to the governor enhances this intimacy, what with their speed and enthusiasm to roll out the drums and red carpets in each of the communities visited. In recognition of their role, the governor had also provided paramount and community leaders with a hot line, through which he could be reached at all times.
During an interactive session with some traditional rulers from across the state, Governor Dickson bared his mind on a wide range of issues. “This interaction is important because of your crucial roles. Since 2012 when we commenced this journey, the state has become more peaceful. You must share in the glory of this unprecedented feat, but we still must work harder because we still have issues bordering on kidnapping. We have reports that even traditional rulers have become victims, which is very sad. If we have bred children who do not respect their parents, the traditional institutions and the aged, in our society then we have a problem.”
Dickson had sought and got the permission of the landlords. Beginning from the palace of King Mallam Sansmi, where he informed the royal father of his plans to commence his campaign tour in his domain, the governor said, “We are here to inform our father and our leader that we will be entering your communities to interact with the people, their highnesses, women and youth leaders. Our message is how we can secure and consolidate on peace, security, development and prosperity.”
With constant refrain, the governor harped on the message of peace: “Our message is not war. It is not about shooting and killing. Our message is about peace. And to also say that we need you, paramount rulers and your council of chiefs to support our efforts, and support the security agencies to ensure that the forthcoming polls will be peaceful, free and fair.”
The governor emphasized the place of adequate security before, during and after the December election adding, “All security agencies, and institutions saddled with the forthcoming polls, should do their utmost best to see that the wishes of our people prevail, that their votes will not only be counted, but count. This is an isolated election, so all agencies and institutions will have enough personnel to mobilise down here, to see to a successful poll.”
He said that voting will take place in all communities, wards and units, stressing that after voting, results will be collated, counted and announced, for winners to emerge. “So everything about the elections would take place in our state and communities and not in Abuja or Lagos. I want to once again thank you for all the support you have been giving to my government and members of my cabinet, especially in the areas of promoting peace and security in Yenagoa, the state capital.’’
The governor recalled that in keeping with his respect for traditional institutions and the need to strengthen relationship with them, “we have directed automatic classification and recognition of all traditional rulers in charge of the communities. And our thinking is that, by the time the Chieftaincy Laws are passed, particularly the Community Administrative bill, the duties and functions of everybody would have been clearly stated.”
He pleaded that traditional rulers in each community must speak up to ensure that their youth are not used to toe the path of violence. “We know that as we are busy on the path of peace and peaceful elections, others are not prepared for elections. They are preparing for war. But with the assurances we have received, there will be no war in Bayelsa State because of the governorship election. There will be no blood spilled on the soil of Bayelsa. All we need to do is campaign on issues’’.
Extending an olive branch to the opposition, Dickson said: “I want to once again, invite the other side, (APC), to partner with us, the security agencies and traditional rulers in the area of peace. Your Majesty, you have seen the little we have done, despite the financial situation. It is our thinking that with your support and those of your people, in our next tenure we shall finish the entire project that we are doing in your kingdom.
“A number of them are between 60 and 80 percent completion stage. We need to complete them and put them to use. In your kingdom alone, we have an investment of about N100billion, which has never happened before. It is our thinking, that with your cooperation, if elected, we shall work harder to finish these good things we have started.”
His Royal Highness Ignatius Serakieme, the paramount ruler of Amarata, and spokesperson of Epie – Atisa kingdom, responded by expressing his delight on the numerous benefits under Governor Dickson’s administration, especially on appointments. His words: “Your Excellency, you have been doing well. But we have a request to make; we don’t have any higher institution in the whole of Epie land. We have sacrificed so much in terms of land space and whatever the government had asked for. In support, we have been PDP all through; all the leaders of Epie gathered here today have again agreed that they will remain PDP, which is a direct call by our royal father’’.
‘’However, we have a serious problem, which if you can heal, would guarantee you a space in the history books of this community. There has been a clamour from stakeholders in all the major blocs of this state that it is the turn of an Epie man for the December 5 race, but because of our loyalty to you, we set up a committee that got all Epie indigenes to stay action, in order to enable us discuss with you on the need for you to give us an Epie man as your successor’’.
‘’We are very loyal PDP members. And we keep telling our people that if PDP were parents, who nurtured their children, fed them and trained them; and they grow big and turn their back on such parent, if PDP curses them, they will remain cursed. Your excellency, the entire Epie will back you.’’