June 13, 2024

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Dickson Left Bayelsa In Ruins -Security Consultant

12 min read

Kingdom Blessing, a lawyer and security consultant speaks to TNN on the development challenges in his home state Bayelsa, pouring invectives on the administration of the immediate past governor, Senator Seriake Dickson which he preferred to call a scam.
He also said Dickson owed the Yenagoa people an apology. Find out why, in this interview that was transcribed by EDITH CHUKU.

For a few days now you’ve been in Bayelsa State. What are the things that you have seen that have changed after your last visit and what have you looked out for that you have not seen?
Really, it’s still a disappointing, sorry state. But I will say there is a glimmer of hope in the sense that His Excellency, Senator Douye Diri will not want to go the way of others in history. How do I mean? Each successive government has done their beat believing that what they did was the best at the time, didn’t really leave a landmark lasting legacy. In fact, successive governments after His Excellency, Chief D.S.P Alamieyeseigha of blessed memory have made him a hero of sort, because I know that Alamieyeseigha came under severe criticism, not just by opposition party members but even within the PDP family at the time because they were yearning for good governance and what Alamieyeseigha did at the time wasn’t seen as good governance then. But today, I can tell you for free that Alamieyeseigha indeed was a hero in good governance. Why? His projects, programmes and developmental policies are still evidence to the length and breadth of the state.

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Look at the education sector, the health sector, infrastructure. Why am I saying this? You will juxtapose this side by side with the inflow of resources at his disposal at the time. It therefore goes to show that we were hasty in our criticism of his administration. Mind you, Alamieyeseigha did five years, he didn’t do eight years, it therefore presupposes that if he did eight years, there would have been fiscal development that would have been appreciated a lot more today.
Fundamentally, the state was not indebted throughout Alamieyeseigha’s tenure. He sent students abroad for studies, that’s human capital development. Most of those students today are lecturers in different universities or higher institutions. Most of them today are in different government parastatals and agencies as employees of government. If his plans and programmes were rejigged in a way to show progression, it would have been a lot better today. But you see the problem we have that every governor that comes into office brings out his own developmental agenda, and most times they don’t follow through and then we have problems. Unfortunately Goodluck’s tenure ended with his completion of Alamieyesiegha’s tenure because he was deputy governor at the time and then he moved on to be the vice president of the country. His Excellency, Chief Timipre Sylva took over. He was so embattled when he was sworn in, his distractions were much, but yet, he embarked on projects. He tried to sustain the legacy of the administration he inherited, knowing and believing that government is continuum. Remember he lost at the court of appeal, which was the apex court after the tribunal at that time and I think a bye-election was done between him and the AC candidate, Ebitimi Amgbare, which (he won). But that truncated his plan. By the time he came back, with the indebtedness, and then the political divide, the crisis that erupted, I won’t say he lost focus, but his tenure was truncated at some point, he couldn’t do a second term.

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And then we had Dickson. His Excellency Senator Dickson came with a good hype, a good plan and programme, and we were very hopeful, one key project he started that we thought he was going to see through was the external ring road, the second one we were thinking he was going to complete the second phase of the Glorylandland drive, and other fantastic projects and programmes he initiated in his first one year and afterwards it became more of media hype. He set up the BDIC, Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation, with so much fanfare. He went to South Africa, he went to London, he went to New York and all of that. For me, I will say it was a scam because he didn’t bring back home anything. But I know what happened in some areas, that I will leave for another day. He initiated some policy thrusts that were quite eye- catching; one of which iswa the transparency briefing of the financial inflow and outflow of the state. He proposed a bill, the assembly passed it, he accented it into law, for compulsory savings. But when he left the office after eight years, I will want to know how much was left for Senator Diri to inherit in the compulsory savings account? It’s a rhetorical question because he won’t answer, but if I should answer the question I’ve asked, nothing, not even hundred thousand was in that account for Senator Douye Diri to inherit. Rather, Senator Dickson piled up the debt profile of this state. His contracts were over bloated and none, no project that we will say is a meaningful project is being enjoyed today by Bayelsans and non-Bayelsans that are resident in this state, save the private university at his community that he transferred into a mini city status and then made sure that the state capital remained the forest capital that he had intended.
He owes the people of Yenagoa an unreserved apology for calling Yenagoa a forest capital because that word will keep hunting him. Yenagoa fed him, Yenagoa made him what he became, Yenagoa made him what he is and all he could tell us is that we are a forest capital, what do you think we have in the forest? He must apologize to us, otherwise we will keep hunting him with that word. We loved him when he came into office but he derailed. It was more of media hype. Every project he initiated, look at the airport, he spent over N70billion to build the airport and the airport cannot be utilized. What are you talking about? You will waste people’s money as though it’s your personal money. We don’t have any roads. Look at our road, the one we manage to have is full of keke. What we used to see in India movies growing up, that we detested, that we were laughing at that time, little did we know it will befall us. Keke has become our limousine. We don’t have internal roads to drive on. All the internal roads that were constructed by His Excellency, the former president Goodluck when he was governor, the one that was constructed by His Excellency Chief Timipre Sylva, they’ve all gone bad, they can’t be fixed and we had a governor that had so much money at his disposal, and then he became so wasteful and most of those monies are stacked in personal pockets. Do I shock you? When they lost the election in 2019, of course you recall that it was until the eve of the inauguration that the Supreme Court gave their judgement, so they had all the time to prepare and perfect their handover notes. Do you know the handover note they were preparing? Vandalizing everything they can vandalize, in Government House… Of course you heard, the deputy governor came to the media, the deputy governor distanced himself from what was happening there, up to mattress were carted away, doors, vehicles. Government is continuum, why will you take government vehicles away and turn it to your private vehicle? Because you want the other person that is coming to succeed you to suffer, and that’s why when Senator Douye Diri was starting his administration, he started on a rough ride. But he has no excuse; but we will not allow him to fail, we will engage him constructively, we will criticize him where we have a reason to, we will advise him through our criticism, we pray he listens, because they have people that are always around them looking at criticism as a personal attack. No, it’s not that. Good governance is for the benefit of all. The rain does not know the roof of any man. That is what governance should be. When you govern there is no party affiliation in good governance, good governance is for the benefit of all.
So, even the education sector that Dickson was reported to have paid attention to, are you also saying he did not do well?

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There is a Latin maxim that says res ipsa laquito.” For the benefit of those that will require translation, it says the act speaks for itself. He declared a state of emergency in education, he tried. But the schools are in a sorry state as we speak. Therefore, what they do, is carry out a programme that will exit with them. You know in Nigeria there is something that happens when you want to receive what we christen August visitor, you mop up your house, you clean it, you sweep, you paint if you could, you clear the grasses and everywhere looks neat. When the visitor comes, oh! Fantastic, the best of meal if you can provide. We practice hypocrisy in governance. That is what we see here. They are all window dressing. I tell you why this happened because I tried to find out. I did a research, I said, why is it that most of these projects fail, either they are not finished or they are not done properly. When you appoint a commissioner, he must work with your blue print; your blue print is your vision, it’s your plan and programme on where you are going, where you are taking the state to in terms of development. So, each ministry and parastatal will work with that blue print as your vision for you to actualize your desired objective. In a situation where you appoint a commissioner, you appoint the contractor that will work in his ministry, he brings a proposal that he knows those whom he think should go through a building process, to be qualified, and then go and execute those projects, you rail road your contractor into their own programme and say this contractor will do this job, and then the contractor is claiming that he was directed to work with the commissioner by the governor, he becomes arrogant, what happens? He cannot take instructions from engineers in the ministry? He will do whatever he likes. Why because you must pay him, and even the payment goes by directives. So you can’t get the best of any of the appointees. No government succeeds like that. For you to appoint me as a commissioner, it means you know my capacity, you have confidence in me that I will deliver based on the blue print of the government. So, a situation where you appoint me and then you tell me how to do my job or function as a commissioner, if you wanted to be a commissioner you would have appointed yourself. Unfortunately, most of the political appointees are very beggarly, so they can’t even tender their resignation; they can’t speak truth to power because they are afraid to be fired. I tell you one truth, no governor will appoint me and use me without giving me room to function in that office that he has given to me, I will resign.
Let’s assume you want to call Bayelsa a ship. Are you saying Dickson left a wrecked ship for Douye Diri? Are you saying he destroyed that ship in eight years before leaving, are you saying he did nothing that you could see in eight years?
I will be unfair to him if I say he did completely nothing. But you see, for a state that is in need for development, development programmes must be compact, must be feasible, must be compressed, must be directional. If you go into the city, the village, it’s a glorified, urban slum. People build facing any direction and all directions as they please. There is no development control. In other climes, development is clustered. I visited a part of Houston in 2009, by 2012 when I visited that part again, I got lost. Why? Because by that 2009, there was a high way that was traversing the length of that axis, it wasn’t built up, it was partly built, cluster development, housing estate. By 2012, the whole area was built up and they’ve moved to any other area. We don’t even have land here, Houston has huge, vast land, here we don’t have, yet government is not controlling the building pattern. The development pattern, we just build anyhow, scattered houses everywhere, we are mixing standard houses with… I don’t know what to call it. Government is not controlling development.
Okay so you believe he left…?

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(cuts in) Dickson misdirected himself at some point. He became a Lord unto himself and created his own empire. He wrecked the ship he was building. As we speak, if Senator Douye Diri is not careful, before he will find his balance to direct his government to actualize his dream and desire as he has christened his government prosperity government, it will end up in the dream land because almost every sector is begging for attention, almost every sector. Go to the local government, I’m not even talking about the local government, they are yet to see candle, not to talk of light of day, so it’s a problem, it’s a huge problem.
Okay, what’s the way forward?
First of all, he needs to man up as a governor, rejig his cabinet, stop being a beautiful bride that is courted by every man, trying to please everybody; work for your name, leave a lasting legacy, appoint your team, fire when they don’t fall in line, give them the tools to work, let them know that they’ve been appointed to achieve set goals. Give them a target, timeline, provide the necessary resources. When you commit little into a faithful man’s hand, he will do much with it, we are not saying he should, he doesn’t have a magic wand, but you see, when you see a government that has taken off, and has a direction, even if he doesn’t get to his destination, you will appreciate the little effort he made. But right now, this government, in fact we are not seeing a government yet, a situation where more than 90 per cent of his appointees owe their allegiance to Senator Dickson, I don’t have a problem with that, but the point is that they can’t work with him the way they should work with him. I believe and I perceive in my mind that there is suspicion among them. That in itself is going to frustrate the process. The deputy governor was commissioner for works for seven years under Dickson, you expect his loyalty to be to Douye Diri? It’s not going to happen. The assembly barely exists, because most of the members have their allegiance to the deputy governor and Senator Dickson. Ordinarily, it shouldn’t have been a problem because even Senator Douye Diri is a product of Dickson’s administration. Senator Dickson stood by him, fought for him, made him governor. Having made him governor, our parents gave birth to us, but should they control us in adulthood? No. All he needed to do is step outside and guide him, but you know what? Diri cannot shine and outshine Dickson, with Dickson’s team surrounding Douye Diri. It can’t happen. I wish Douye Diri well but he should know that it can’t be business as usual, we are not going to keep quite anymore. He needs to speak up and tell us where he is taking us to, where is he leading this state to? There is a timeline for his administration, it’s four years, one year is gone, and by the way, it’s not even four years because the last one year is for politicking. So he has just 24months left, there is no time, and he should stop complaining about no money, no government has all the money, America as rich as they are, they are still indebted to China, United Kingdom as rich as they are they are indebted, if you borrow the money and carry out the right infrastructural development, investment will flow in, those investors will pay taxes for their businesses, government will be able to repay their loan, but a situation where by you take loan to buy vehicles that will go through wear and tear, that will not produce any money, you can’t succeed with that. Investors are not pushed, they trace where they will have return on their investment. Today, a plot of land, the best you can get in any area in Yenagoa is seven million, that same plot of land will not appreciate in value in the next five years, if the economic activity of the state does not pick up. But if you take that money and go to another state that is focused and invest in it, the multiplier effect is huge.

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