Text of an address by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State during his swearing-in for a second term at the Samson Siasia Stadium,Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Sunday, February 14, 2016.
My good people of Bayelsa State. My victorious people of the Ijaw Nation who like our fathers before us have shown that this great and proud land of good and great people can never be conquered. Friends and fellow Nigerians.
First and foremost, we thank God Almighty for making today’s historic event possible. Today’s event coming at the end of all the political trials and tribulations I have had to manage in the last four years from within and without manifesting in different shapes and forms is a testimony to Gods faithfulness and mercies and shows also that power comes from God and God alone. For who is he or she that will speak and it will come to pass if God has not commanded it. Truly God alone holds the key to the destinies of men and nations.
Today is clearly the Lords doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. I thank you all for joining me in rejoicing and showing gratitude to God Almighty, from whom all power flow. I also thank you for joining me in gratitude to the good people of Bayelsa state for their confidence in me. Indeed this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Let the good people of Bayelsa State rejoice !
Let the sons and daughters of the Ijaw Nation rejoice!
Let all people of goodwill in our nation and beyond rejoice!
As we gather here today, let us not forget the long and exciting journey that has brought us here. The electoral contest for the governorship of our state will undoubtedly go into the annals of Nigerian political history as a reference point both for study and inspiration on how a people can rise to defend their democratic rights and dignity against forces of desperation and oppression. After giving glory today to God, I thank all persons whom God used, in diverse ways, to make this day possible.
I begin by specifically thanking my mother, wife, children and other members of my family whose incredible sacrifice, support and prayers made it possible for me to devote my life to public service all through these years.
Let me express my profound gratitude and immeasurable appreciation to you the good people of Bayelsa State who stood resolute in the frontlines across the length and breadth of this beautiful land to cast your votes and defend your dignity.
Armed only with your Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), you confronted anti-democratic forces in their varied manifestations including savage violence of the most extreme kind and we prevailed together. I assure you that when the history of this period is written, generations unborn will accord each and every one of you a place of honour as a testimony to your courage for rising up to defend the pride and integrity of our people.This victory was not as a result of my might, prowess or intellect but purely by the hand of God through you the people. And so I dedicate this victory to God and you the people…
I salute you the good and resilient women and mothers of Bayelsa State!
I salute you the brave and proud youths of Bayelsa State!
I salute you our revered traditional rulers, elders and fathers of this great land!
Permit me also to acknowledge the pivotal role of the elders, and leaders of our great party especially the acting National Chairman, members of the National Working Committee, acting chairman and members of the BOT as well as the National Vice Chairman of our zone and members of the zonal working committee, for their good sense of judgment in supporting my candidature and standing with me all the way.
I thank the teeming members, leaders and officials of our party in the state beginning with our committed state chairman, the various caucus chairmen, and all the officials of the party down to the ward level for their support and contributions.
I thank all the members of the Restoration Campaign Organization led by the Director General Hon Fred Agbedi, the deputy DGs, all officials and members of the campaign team. I want to salute the Chairman of the Campaign advisory team, Distinguished Senator Barigha Amange who stepped into the big shoes of late Chief D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha.
I want to particularly thank my brother governors in the PDP, ably led by Governor Olusegun Mimiko for their abiding support and encouragement.
Let me appreciate the roles played by the relevant national institutions-the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), its ad hoc staff especially members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the security agencies. You performed your statutory roles as best as you could in very challenging circumstances, in our very difficult terrain.
I thank all NGOs, foreign and local observers as well as the Media for their keenly sustained interest and vigilance in the course of the elections. Your extensive professional reportage brought a state election into such profound national and international focus that made it difficult to manipulate. This should send a clear message to those who think that a man who lost in 7 out of 8 LGAs in full glare of the world can somehow snatch victory through the back door by hoping to manipulate the judicial process just because his party controls the central government.
The recent posture and pronouncements of the highest court of the land gives us confidence that such antics and schemes would not succeed.
Politicians who seek authority to govern people in our democracy must derive power from the people’s vote freely expressed through the supremacy of the ballot box and not through subterfuge, intimidation, blackmail or manipulation. That is subversion of the constitution itself
Let me place on record, our immense appreciation to the diplomatic community, particularly the diplomatic delegations that visited Bayelsa State before and during the elections, for your interest and commitment in the development of Nigeria’s democracy.
To my dear friends from across the length and breadth of the country and beyond some of whom are here, I thank you sincerely for your continuing solidarity and support. To the clergy and my prayer partners across the country and beyond who stood firmly with us in prayers, I am deeply grateful. God bless and reward you all.
To all Nigerians and people of good will across the world, most of whom I have never and probably may never meet; for raising your voice to insist that the right thing be done, from a grateful Bayelsa State and the Ijaw Nation, we say thank you.
This victory is not for us alone.
This victory is for you the good people of Bayelsa State.
This victory is for you, the proud and resilient people of the Ijaw Nation.
This victory is for all lovers of democracy in Nigeria and beyond, who embarked on spontaneous celebration and flooded us with congratulatory messages following our victory.
I am not surprised that our electoral victory has spurred a rebirth of our party, the PDP and inspired a new sense of hope in Nigeria’s democracy. Our experience from the last elections in Bayelsa shows that our system is far from being perfect. We must continually commit ourselves to work together to strengthen the internal processes of our parties and improve our electoral system. Thankfully, this victory has helped to sustain the plurality of our democracy and discountenance fears that Nigeria could slide towards a one party state. Let a thousand flowers bloom in our garden of democracy!
In my inaugural address four years ago, I pledged not to play politics with your development. I also promised not to play politics with your security. I said so because of the inescapable truth that development is not possible without security. You are all living witnesses that before we assumed the leadership of this State in 2012, insecurity and violence was so prevalent that our people lived in fear while killings by state-supported cultists was a daily occurrence. Consequently, several businesses closed shop or moved out as the atmosphere in the state was clearly not conducive for commerce or any development to take place.
Four years down the road, you are witnesses to the enormous transformation that has occurred in our security landscape. The return of night life, commerce, influx of visitors, new residents and businesses as well as atmosphere of peace and security that prevailed prior to the build- up to the last election, is eloquent testimony to this fact. The security strategy, architecture and infrastructure that we have put in place are second to none in Nigeria. In the next four years, we shall consolidate and expand on these by increasing our investment in security.
We totally condemn the violence visited on our people under the guise of politics and elections. Today, we acknowledge the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters who were victims of this mindless bloodletting. We honour the memory of those who paid the supreme price and empathize with those who still bear the physical and psychological scars. But let no one be in doubt of Government’s resolve to use all available legal and legitimate means to bring the perpetrators to book.
Now that elections are over, we must strengthen the synergy between citizens, the State Government and security agencies to recapture the peace and security that prevailed prior to the elections. Bayelsa is the epicenter of the Niger Delta, critical to the security, stability and economic prosperity of our country and the Gulf of Guinea region. Therefore, our government remains committed to working with the Federal Government and security agencies to secure our nation and its people.
We should work together to root out kidnappers, cultists and other criminals who vandalize national economic assets. The imperative of this partnership dictates for instance, that no government official or functionary at state or federal level should use their position to encourage or facilitate crime and criminality under any guise.
Similarly, security officials at federal or state levels should not be intimidated from executing their statutory functions for fear of retribution. Nobody, regardless of political persuasion should be allowed to subvert national institutions or undermine the security and stability of the State or the Nation. Our experience in Bayelsa State in the recent past has shown a tendency to misconstrue membership of the political party at the center as cover and license to kill, maim and destroy while security officials look on helplessly. Let us not allow partisanship to slide our country into anarchy. The consequences will be too grave.
With the conclusion of the elections, we are already beginning to see Bayelsa return to its prideful place as one of the most peaceful and secure states, due to measures we have put in place in collaboration with security agencies. I urge all our people to continue to support and cooperate with the security agencies, enduring whatever inconveniences some of the security measures we have put in place might cause. Elements of a more comprehensive security strategy would be unveiled in due course.
Building on our achievement in security, you are aware of our transformational programmes in human capacity and infrastructural development. I acknowledge that our pace was slowed down in the last one year because of the nation-wide economic downturn largely due to sharp drop in global crude oil prices. I thank you the good people of Bayelsa State and our development partners for your understanding in these trying times. In retrospect, it was a wise decision to have embarked on such ambitious and robust developmental projects at the time we did. Clearly there is no way we could have even embarked on projects of such magnitude and impact with current levels of funding.
While many of these legacy projects have been completed and put into use, this consolidation mandate will enable us complete on-going projects for the benefit of our people. The Airport project, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and other infrastrutural projects for instance are already at advanced stages of completion.
Faced with the reality of dwindling revenue, the wisdom in our strategy of diversifying our economic base beyond oil and gas to focus on agriculture and tourism is now justified more than ever before. We shall complete and put to use our fish farms, cassava starch processing plants, and other agricultural initiatives as well as hotels and tourism facilities to create jobs for our teeming youths and complement revenue from oil sources.
We have already laid the foundation for encouraging entrepreneurship amongst our people, through the establishment of the school of entrepreneurship, to arm our youths with the requisite skills to do business and create jobs for themselves. This should reduce over-dependence on government and political patronage. The establishment of theIzon-Ibe Microfinance Bank with presence in all the local government areas of the state will complement our entrepreneurship drive by promoting access to credit for small and medium scale businesses.
Our extensive tour and engagement with our people during the course of our campaigns has highlighted the critical need to focus on rural development and empowerment. Let me assure our people who dwell in our rural communities that this government will work for you and empower you more than ever before.
A key focus for us in the next four years is to expand ongoing rural electrification schemes and build on our massive investment in power to drive industrialization. We have already concluded a gas purchase agreement with SPDC to service our energy hub. We call on investors to come and make additional investment in power and take advantage of our rich natural gas endowment.
We shall start the building of the industrial park and renew our invitation to investors to take advantage of the opportunities in Bayelsa- the world’s best kept secret. In this next four years, priority attention will also be paid to massive housing development projects for various segments of society.
Together with our investment in other sectors, Bayelsa is on course to realize the full benefits of our restoration agenda. This is the benefit of the continuity and consolidation you voted for.
To the opposition, let me say I respect your right to hold different views. Your participation in the process made this contest more vibrant and our victory more worthwhile and legitimate. Yesterday we were opponents; today, we must be partners for the security, development and prosperity of Bayelsa State. I now invite you all to join me in this enterprise of consolidating the gains of restoration. Let us work together to move our state forward.
I salute the leaders and members of the opposition majority of who are already amenable to this new thinking of building a united and prosperous Bayelsa. In the nearest future, we shall be convening an all-Bayelsa Summit to discuss our common challenges, aspirations and the way forward. Arising there-from, we should be in the vanguard of leading our region to engage our brothers in the Nigeria Project, and to build a stronger and more egalitarian country.
Ours is one of the greatest nations on earth and we should all be proud and equal citizens, respecting our diversity and accommodating our differences. This was what our founding fathers fought for – a Federal Republic of Nigeria.
No people or group has felt the burden of sustaining the Nigerian project like we have. We have over the years been forced to live with environmental hazards as the price for national prosperity and survival. Our heroes led by Isaac Adaka Boro joined the Nigerian military to fight for the Unity of the country, paid the supreme to keep Nigeria united.. Our leaders like late Ernest Ikoli, Harold Dappa Biriye and Melford Okilo built vital alliances with political leaders from other regions to forge the basis for the Nigerian project which has been mutually beneficial. So undoubtedly, we the Ijaw people are firm believers in the Nigerian project. Nigeria has also kept faith with us in various ways especially with the election of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as president in 2011. The outcome of the last election in 2015 notwithstanding, our commitment to the Nigerian project remains.
We will not relent in working with other stakeholders and allies to perfect our union and address issues of environmental, economic and political inequities. Let me make this point clear again, the interest of the Ijaw nation is best served within the context of a united, democratic, egalitarian, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
Leaders at all levels should not destroy but work to strengthen these alliances to serve our country better. On our part, we will mobilize the Ijaw nation and the rest of our region to re-engineer these alliances, strengthen the foundation of our country, guarantee the survival of democracy and spread prosperity to all.
In conclusion, while thanking our people for their support, solidarity and prayers, we solicit your understanding and co-operation as we strive to consolidate on the gains made on security, peace, development and prosperity. As I said in my inaugural speech four years ago, Bayelsa and the Ijaw Nation will never be same after us. Bayelsa is still in safe hands.
I thank you and God bless you all.
Long Live Bayelsa State
Long Live the Ijaw Nation
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson
Executive Governor, Bayelsa State,
Federal Republic of Nigeria.