GOVERNOR DICKSON IN THE EYES OF HISTORY, BY: DENNIS ALEMU.
By the peculiar circumstances of its birth, the Dickson Administration can be described as a child of necessity. Before its historic inauguration two years ago, Bayelsa State was at the crossroads. There was a series of protracted legal battles over tenure elongation; amidst multiplicative governance deficits in all sectors occasioned by lack of leadership direction and focus, lack of development, paint-by-numbers policies, and a spiraling web of cult-related violence and killings in the streets across the state. The zero-sum approach to governance– a source of constant embarrassment to President Goodluck Jonathan– had led to high devaluation of human capital and political disorientation. As it were, development became severely atrophied. A ray of hope, however, lit up the political landscape of the state when the Supreme Court on January 27, 2012 terminated the life of the previous administration and set the stage for a fresh governorship election.
So when the movement to rescue Bayelsa State from the throes of the Hobbesian state it had sadly become and restore its lost glory was hatched, the lot fell on Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson. Apparently, his choice was informed by his towering track record of public service and accomplishments. In spite of this, not a few doubted his credentials for the gubernatorial duties at Creek Haven. The doubting Thomases in the state feared that the two-tenured federal legislator and former Attorney-General of Bayelsa State did not possess the leadership wherewithal to cut the Gordian knot and make a difference.
Given the socio-political atmosphere prevalent at the time, it clearly stood to reason that the Contriman and his team were up to a herculean task. Indeed so much was needed to be done to restore order, which was necessarily a precondition for any meaning development to thrive. To successfully accomplish that task required much more than just lust for power and material glory. It needed undiluted patriotism, dogged determination and uncommon courage. These qualities define Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, and inadvertently qualified him as the man best suited for the monumental job at hand.
However, two years after his election and assumption of office, the state is singing a sweet new song. We are happy to report that Governor Dickson has within this period not only proved the cynics wrong but has also exceeded the honest expectations of the generality of the people in the delivery of concrete services. The Governor’s accomplishments confirm the fresh orientation and new thinking he has brought into governance through his dynamic policies and programmes, and rugged determination to put Bayelsa back on the right track for rapid development. The concrescence of the Restoration Agenda has brought about a bumper harvest of capital projects evenly spread across the state– something never witnessed under any administration before now in Bayelsa State.
Therefore, the administration’s two-year score-card places the helmsman and his team on the right side of history with so many ‘firsts’ in a state yet smarting from deep infrastructural deficits from the recent past. Every dispensation gives meaning and life to governance in its own way, in line with established traditions. Dickson’s has been mainly shaped by the Restoration Agenda- a rolling development master plan to move the state from the gutters of backwardness to the pinnacle of transformation on the infrastructural, economic, social and political planes. So far, it has been implementing the agenda with admirable aplomb and catholic devotion. It has left nothing to chance in the task of restoring all key sectors of the state and has since rekindled the long-lost confidence in government.
The positive outcomes of two eventful years of focused governance under the Dickson Administration are just everywhere for all to see. It is necessary to note that perception is everything in governance. Determined to change the deplorable state of infrastructure and the general anarchical situation it met on assumption of office, the administration set a difficult performance test for itself. Then it promised to undertake fundamental reform of the governance culture to emphasize transparency, accountability, due process and value re-orientation by all institutions and functionaries of government. Besides these, the government promised to enforce zero tolerance for corruption, and to use the commonwealth of the people to fund construction of good roads, education, promote tourism, generate wealth and develop agriculture, strengthen security and complete the three pivotal senatorial roads.
It seemed a tall order, when the Governor made those promises to Bayelsans. Of course, they were seen then with the eyes of cynicism and considered as some of those regular empty and half-hearted promises politicians are wont to make in these parts. But Governor Dickson’s were different, as his government has delivered on those promises. The obvious implication of this welcome development is that it has creditably passed the integrity test. As we write, historians are busy entering the pass marks on the administration’s sectorial score-sheet on education and human capital development, tourism, road development, power and energy, agriculture, security infrastructure, transparency and good governance, sports development and more.
With the astonishing accomplishments in two years, no doubt ought to be entertained that a new Bayelsa has emerged. This is the consensual submission of Bayelsans after careful permutation of the triple-digit project summary. But they can’t be all wrong on this! The architect of this new Bayelsa, Governor Seriake Dickson, has now taken his deserved place in the history books of great builders of society in contemporary times.
According to Edmund Burke, “To govern according to sense and to be agreeable with the interest of the people is a great and glorious element of governance.” And Governor Dickson understands this perfectly and exploits it to great advantage for Bayelsans, his people. He knew from the outset that his people needed good roads, good and functional education and good health. He knew too that they needed electricity, capacity building, good housing, self-sufficiency in food production, and security. Granted these, he judged correctly that the governance formula that would guarantee success had to incorporate these needs as priority items on government’s scale of preference. He did just that and it had brought about accelerated calibration in the infrastructural and human capital dynamics of the state. Many a commentator has surmised that the Governor has the courage of his convictions. No doubt, he has convincingly proven this through his methodical and measured consummation of gubernatorial responsibilities so far.
The flurry of construction activities going on at various project sites in Bayelsa State today hardly gives any insight into what used to be the state of infrastructure, in the period preceding the Dickson Administration. Having entrenched an era of responsibility where the central focus is service delivery, the Governor now finds himself in the eyes of history as the Nehemiah of ‘The Glory of All Lands.’
We are persuaded, more than ever before, that Bayelsans have only just documented the first two chapters of the inspiring Book of Restoration authored by no one else but Governor Henry Seriake Dickson himself. By the time the remaining six chapters are documented, it will then become a self-fulfilling prophecy for Bayelsans to witness the Dubai envisioned for the state by the Restoration Team.
Mr. Dennis is a consummate writer and media consultant.