Governor Seriake Dickson
Segun James in Yenagoa
Undaunted by the outcries that have so far greeted his decision to have a Bayelsa State coat of arm and anthem, Governor Seriake Dickson Wednesday signed a bill legitimatising it into law.
Dickson waved off claims of secessionist plan by his administration saying the decision to create a new identity is nothing new as many other states in the federation had done same in the recent past.
The bill, known as the Bayelsa State Symbols and Songs Law 2012 was among the eight bills passed by the state House of Assembly.
According to the statement issued Wednesday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the new law will provide a unique opportunity for government to make a clear pronouncement on the real intendment of the law.
According to him, “Bayelsa State is a federating unit in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, created and recognised in the constitution with rights, powers and obligations.
“That all structures, organs and officials of the state operate under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“That our decision to have state symbols and songs, are as a result of our belief in true federalism as a cardinal cornerstone of Nigerian nationhood and it is in exercise of our inalienable rights as a federating unit.
“This is a right, which we cannot be denied of since several other states with the same rights have equally exercised.
“That the decision taken by our government in this regard is also as a result of our commitment to the propagation of ijaw culture, language, history and ideals.
“That this decision also creates a platform for us as a government to rally our people for positive development within the context of a united, egalitarian and democratic Nigeria.”
Commenting on the controversy generated by the decision of the state to have its own separate identity from that of the Federal Government, Dickson at an interactive session with newsmen at the Government House on Tuesday night said the intention of the state was misconstrued by critics, saying that fears of secession is misplaced.
“Bayelsa is now like the melting point of national politics and if these people cannot hit the head (Jonathan), they will continue to hit the stomach (Bayelsa). To them hitting is hitting. This is just a question of federalism and national identity.
“if you go to Lagos State, the crest behind the Governor is the crest of Lagos not the Federal Republic. Unfortunately, this is the Nigeria of today. People sensationalise.
“Other states have done it long ago. Because I want to do it and they are screaming. We want to promote tourism and if visitors come in, we will present them with our plaque and it denotes our identity. I know people will understand and you know that I am a politician of conviction and not convenience.”