The second term of the restoration government led by governor Henry Seriake Dickson is, no doubt, winding up.
On February 14, 2020, to be precise, Governor Dickson will be out of government house. His office another man shall take. For the fact that he will no longer be in charge of the exalted office, Dickson will certainly be out of sight.
Bayelsans seldom talk about past governors. So, his name may be forgotten as soon as he leaves office. His name would be replaced immediately by the new man that will be sworn-in on the next Valentine's Day. The Bayelsa state governorship election slated for November 16, 2019 shall reveal Dickson's successor whose name would begin to reside on the lips of every Bayelsans.
However, Dickson would be remembered by his deeds; his actions or inactions during his eight years of stewardship as governor of the largely riverine oil rich state. He will be remembered for the things he did well as well as the things he could have done but did not do.
Some of the land mark achievements of Dickson's sojourn at the Creek Haven which he would be remembered for include the first flyover ever constructed in Bayelsa state. The Toru-Orua born politician would also be remembered for constructing the first airport in the state. Nevertheless, Dickson's name would be worthy of mention as the governor that revived the running of boarding schools which were no longer in existence before his emergence. Apart from revamping the boarding system, Bayelsans will also remember Dickson for his general strides in the education subsector. The people would be eternally grateful to the governor for building new modern boarding schools in all the local government areas of the state.
Furthermore, the people of Bayelsa state will appreciate Dickson for establishing more tertiary institutions, including the University of Africa, Toru-Orua, Medical University, Yenagoa and the state Polytechnics, Aleibiri. He did these perhaps to complement his declaration of the state of emergency on education where he gave free and compulsory education to primary and secondary school pupils and students.The restoration government is also being applauded in the area of infrastructural development.
In the health sector, the number one man in the state would equally be remembered for not only building hospitals but also establishing health insurance scheme for Bayelsans. The restoration government also approved the payment of a monthly stipend of N3,000 to all pregnant women from the first month of pregnancy to two months after delivery.
In the same vein, the outgoing administration would be acknowledged for being the highest employer of labour into the state civil service among all past governments in the state. At a stretch, the present administration employed 1000 graduates. It also engaged over 300 doctorate degree holders as well as staffed another 900 casual workers though these employments are coming on the wee hours of the administration.
However, despite the laudable achievements of the Dickson led restoration government, developmental pundits still believe that the governor may not have written his name in gold. They are of the view that there are some grey areas that he needs to put finishing touches to in order to write his name boldly on the marble of developmental giants in the state.
For instance, the non-completion of the Bayelsa state Tower Hotels and International Conference Centre will be a serious dent on the government of Dickson. Initiated and started by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan when he was governor of the state, the tower hotel was meant to boost the state's tourism potentials and internally generated revenue and also give Yenagoa a facelift and make it wear the semblance of a modern capital city.
When Jonathan became president, he publicly blamed the then governor, Chief Timipre Sylva for abandoning the project and turning the abandoned 18-storey tructure a "monument of disgrace". He also vowed to join Bayelsans to stone Dickson as they pelted Sylva if he also abandoned the tower hotel which he referred to as his pet project. Till date and less than seven months to go, the tower hotel has remained a shadow of itself. It still remains the monument of disgrace that it has been. No work is currently going on at the site of the project now. Can Dickson do the magic of finishing that project in seven months? The ball is on his court. However, an aide to governor Dickson has attributed the abandonment of the tower hotel by the present administration to economic reasons. Daniel Alabrah had told TNN that lack of competent hotel managers to running the hotel after completion made the present administration to forget about the project for now.
On the other hand, development watchers believe that the construction of the Isaac Boro and Opolo-Elebe expressways by his administration has lingered beyond necessary. The construction of those two roads, according to some civil engineers who spoke to TNN in Yenagoa, are as old as the restoration government itself. Their opinion is that Dickson would be doing his administration a great disservice if those capital draining projects end up uncompleted before the expiration of his eight years government.
In a similar situation, the road leading to Oporoma, headquarters of Southern Ijaw local government which has been under construction since the beginning of the present administration has not made appreciable progress. That road, if completed, would have written, with an indelible ink, the name of governor Dickson on the minds of every southern Ijaw man and woman.
Likewise, the seaplane commercial flights services launched by the governor in 2018 at Oxbow lake in Yenagoa did not see the light of the day. Apart from the inaugural flight that touched ground at the Oxbow lake amidst funfair, no sea plane has landed there since then.
Another stain on the Dickson administration is the inability of the restoration government to pay gratuities to retired civil servants since its inception except for few senior civil servants who have got theirs.
Again, the administration would be remembered for allowing darkness to pervade the streets of Yenagoa for so long without making provision for functional street lights as seen in other capital cities. According to security experts, lack of street lights in the Yenagoa metropolis is largely contributing to the resurgence of cultism, armed robbery and other criminal activities plaguing the state capital.
The Dickson government could not also continue the project of reticulation of water in the state capital. The Ministry of Water Resources has continued to blame the none reticulation of pipe borne water in the capital city on ongoing road construction work.
Also underutilized under the restoration government is the multi-million Peace Park resort built by the previous administration which is situated directly opposite the government house and the state secretariat. If well harnessed, the peace park has all it takes to glamorize the heart of Yenagoa as well play the role of a recreational centre for holidaying children and a relaxation joint for adults. Unfortunately, part of the peace park now serves as home for reptiles and criminal hideouts.