SERIAKE DICKSON: BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS

8
2884
PENDULUM 
BY DELE MOMODU

Fellow Nigerians, when I woke up yesterday morning in Lagos, little did I envisage I was going to bump into the ebullient Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Seriake Dickson. I was heading to breakfast when I ran into the brand new National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, on the ground floor of my hotel and I congratulated him on his recent appointment. Thereafter, he informed me of the presence of the Governor and said he was sure Governor Dickson would be delighted to meet with me. I replied that I was fine with that especially as I have close friends who have spoken with great enthusiasm not only about the stellar work that the Governor is doing in Bayelsa State on infrastructure and education but also about his wonderful personality and humility. I went on to have my breakfast. As if well timed and choreographed, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Francis Agbo, walked in and I stood up to exchange pleasantries. He told me his boss would like to meet with me asap. So I followed him to the big man’s suite. Those who know him very well profess that he is not just a giant in physique but also in intellect, hard work, executive management and political engineering.

I met the Governor and some PDP Chieftains having breakfast. The Governor looked very relaxed. We hugged, like old buddies, and he made me feel very much at home. He said he follows my articles with keen interest. I thanked him for the compliment. After he was done with breakfast, he invited me into his bedroom for a one-on-one chat. He was very frank and candid. He said he was in Lagos to reach out to aggrieved members of his Party, PDP, particularly those from the South West who were miffed about not getting the Chairmanship position, as they lost to Mr Uche Secondus from Rivers State. I recalled that he had been similarly assigned the role of brokering peace and facilitating a settlement during the imbroglio for leadership of the Party, that saw former Governors, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sherriff, pitted against one another, in an epic battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court, before Makarfi emerged victorious. I am assured that Governor Dickson is not only a peacemaker but a kingmaker.

I fired the first shot. “Do you think PDP can bounce back in 2019 now that it seems your convention has produced more bitterness than joy?” He responded that he and his reconciliation team would do everything possible to achieve unity in the Party. He admitted that no serious Party can treat the South West like outcasts without getting punished resoundingly at the polls. I was stunned by his revelation. The South West has some of the most enlightened voters in the country. “We need every vote we can get and South West is definitely included…”

I told him that the battle ahead is going to be tough, especially the Presidential election. He agreed with me that PDP would have to field a very strong and formidable candidate against a man like Buhari. He agreed that putting a weak candidate forward would hand over the presidency on a platter of gold to Buhari. I’m glad that he knows it is not going to be a walkover. We dovetailed into who and who can match Buhari in PDP. He picked them one by one while I gave my analysis and impression of them. “What do you think of Atiku?” he asked. I told him minus the age factor, Atiku is certainly one of the most prepared candidates in the country. Also, he would need to work hard at cleansing the corruption charges levelled against him. And that is not always an easy task. He agreed that Atiku is very experienced and has the wherewithal to run a great campaign.

“What of Rabiu Kwankwaso?” He asked. I was surprised and taken aback by his question which suggested that Kwankwanso who is a well known APC stalwart might be on the verge of crossing over to PDP like Atiku. The rumour mill has been agog with news of such an impending monumental defection and this to me was the first that it might be true after all.  However, I did not bat an eyelid. I merely candidly replied that “I like Kwankwaso for one main reason, his performance as Governor of Kano. I’ve just received a publication detailing his incredible strides in Kano. I’ve never seen a Nigerian leader with such eye for meticulous planning and execution.” The book is titled THERE WAS A GOVERNOR: A COMPEDIUM OF SEN. (DR.) RABIU KWANKWASO’S ACHIEVEMRNTS (2011-2015). According to the book, over 6000 projects were executed. If it is true, then Kwankwaso would be a good material for the transformation of Nigeria from a third world country to a first world nation. I told the Governor such a feat should be replicated nationally and I look forward to meeting Alhaji Kwankwaso very soon to find out about his presidential ambition.

It was obvious that Governor Dickson was picking my brains and I gladly obliged him. “ What do you think of Sule Lamido…” he asked, calmly. I told him Lamido is very experienced but I’m not sure of his national appeal. He has also been weakened by the incessant and endless harassment of his family by EFCC. The next question was unexpected. It turned out that instead of me interviewing him, he was now the journalist, probing adroitly like the skilled advocate that I am assured he is. He asked about my preferred candidates and I mentioned Donald Duke, Nasir El Rufai, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Wasiru Aminu Tambuwal, Oby Ezewesili, Peter Obi, Babatunde Fashola, Charles Soludo, and others. I made him realise in effect that my leaders of today criss-crossed Party lines. For me, these are leaders who know their onions and have proven their mettle, but require proper executive powers to be very effective in steering the affairs of State.

The Governor told me that his dream is to have leaders who would see themselves first as Nigerians and in so doing believe in and commit to the need to develop a country blessed with so much potential without reference to religious or ethnic sentiments. He said he was fortunate to have a dual Nigerian background, as he hails from both Bayelsa and Ogun State. This makes him to feel comfortable wherever he finds himself. He strongly feels that every Nigerian should similarly be comfortable whether or not they have the kind of background that he has.  This can only be accomplished when the entire country is industrialised to such an extent that infrastructural facilities abound everywhere to generate, employment, income and growth.

He is very excited about his government’s policy on education. As far as he is concerned, no stone should be left unturned to educate the people, because it is only from sound minds that the kind of vision and dedication necessary to take Nigeria to the level that it should be, can come. This is why he and his government have invested greatly in the youths through education and one of his proud achievements is the link with Lincoln University in America where the State has more than 20 students studying various disciplines.  Indeed history was made earlier this year when a Bayelsan, Perewari Victor Pere distinguished himself as the best graduating student of that University and was honoured with the status of Valedictorian and delivered the valedictory at the University’s commencement.  The Governor stated that he felt proud to be a Nigerian on this accord and considered this a vindication of his education policies. He believes that investment in education will pay off eventually.

In concluding our chat, he told me that no matter what happens, PDP will get its groove back. For him, it was necessary to ensure not only the stability of the polity but also to institutionalise our democratic mores and structures. Whilst, I have no evidence that this will happen soon, I agree that Nigeria does not need a one-party State. As to the PDP bouncing back soon, I can only say that in Nigeria, nothing is impossible.

TEN YEARS OF OVATION CAROL

How time flies indeed. Ten years ago, we decided to start a project that would promote our young and talented artists. It was anchored on the spirit of Christmas as we felt that it was our opportunity to create a platform where we would not only give something financially  to worthy causes but we would also transform the lives of artistes in music, fashion, comedy and the performing arts generally. We decided to call the event Ovation Red Carol and one of the first decisions was that it would be a fun event and free to all.  It all started like a joke but today it has really caught fire. The event is now not only watched live in Nigeria, it is televised and streamed all over the globe.  It is based on our belief that in all things, technology must take the forefront and we must show that Nigerians and Nigeria are advanced despite out other shortcomings.

Apart from being a launch pad for various young talented artistes, and showcasing some mega international and domestic performers over the years, the event has become an annual entertainment jamboree which people look forward to, even before the current one ends.

It is gratifying to note with all sense of humility and modesty that people have congratulated us at Ovation for pioneering this kind of event on the grand scale that we have, as this is now being replicated in many parts of Nigeria.

We have been fortunate to have very good partners in this venture who have supported us with their time and resources.  They transcend every area of our national endeavour and we consider ourselves and the nation truly blessed. All those that have shared the adventure with us are important and dear to us but we cannot but mention the spectacular efforts of our first sponsors, versatile international bankers, UBA, and lately, international telecommunications giant, Glo. This year we also have had the honour and pleasure of including the Esther Ajayi Foundation in the list of those we are working with in order to continue engendering a special Christmas occasion for our teeming supporters and the generality of the Nigerian populace.

 We are grateful to everyone for their support and participation in this grand project and pray for God to bless us all in this Christmas season. Thank you very much.

  • Arabakpura

    The way Dele moves through People’s bedrooms to answer questions about Presidential candidates with an ASAP invitation, I hope he will not have cause to look for his head one of these days!

  • John Paul

    “He is very excited about his government’s policy on education… This is why he and his government have invested greatly in the youths through education and one of his proud achievements is the link with Lincoln University in America where the State has more than 20 students studying various disciplines”
    —————————————————————————————————
    Not so fast !

    The time when Nigerians celebrate people that received their bachelor’ s degrees, master’s degrees, or even Ph.D’s, outside Nigeria, is long gone. Thousands of Nigerians, domiciled outside Nigeria, acquire degrees from foreign universities every year. But that does not mean anything

    It does not matter where a person received their degree or what type of degree that they acquired. What matters is the skill that they have acquired, after thousands of dollars was paid for their education.

    Have they acquired skills that are relevant to our economy

    If the 20 students that Bayelsa State is paying for their education, are studying courses like history, literature, English, other humanities, or even law, it is a waste of time and a complete waste of money

    That money would have been best spent training Bayelsans on skills that are relevant to our economy. Skills that Nigeria imports every year from China and other places. Like waste management, crane engineering, dry walling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, anesthesiology, website design, software design, computer programming, swimming pool construction and maintenance, etc

    As for that Bayelsan, that we are celebrating – Perewari Victor Pere – that scored a first class in computer science. Before we pop the bottles of champagne, we should ask ourselves whether Perewari acquired any skill that is relevant to Nigeria’s economy. If not , it was a complete waste of money paying for his “first class” degree in Lincoln University

    In 2017, we must move away from the mentality where a degree is like a chieftaincy title. We must focus on the skills that we have trained our young ones to acquire, and not on the degree that that they have under their belt.

    Otherwise, what we are going to have in our hands, is another generation of entitled Nigerians, who having no skills that are relevant to our economy, and who end up becoming fuel marketers, parasites, and other types of rent collectors that are weighing down our economy

    • Daniel Obior

      You appear to be mostly talking about vocations here, rather than university degrees. For instance, a serious university will award a degree in Computer Science, which will include software design, computer programming, website design, etc. Secondly. most degrees are relevant to the economic development of a country. However, some degrees are more relevant to some countries, depending on technological advancement and economic status. In the case of Nigeria, one can see that degrees and training in the areas of technology and applied science are more needed. That is not to say degrees in the liberal arts are not needed. They may be less needed. After all, we still need people to teach such subjects, at the minimum.

  • MDG2020

    My Candid opinion about 2019 are as follows,
    1) There should be no presidential election as long as buhari decides to go for a second term, this is to avoid killing, destruction of lives and property often associated with buhari’s presidential ambitions. The resources for a fruitless presidential election should be channeled to paying workers and pensioners their backlog.
    2) PDP should concentrate their effort at recovering the ground lost in some NW, and NE states at the gubernatorial, Senate and Reps level.
    3) There should be no election in the SW except for Ekiti and Ondo, the only two democratic states in the SW. Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, and Osun, should be left for Tinubu as usual to pick and install their governors.
    3) The Whole of SS, SE, NE and NC should continue to improve on their democratic ethos, because eventually, it will be beneficial to them when Nigerians finally decides to restructure or go their separate ways.

    • “Korede

      You descend so low to this point just because of the fear that your democratic choice may not be the popular choice? This is funny.

  • Christopher

    Somebody please educate me here…Is Dele always lodging in the same Hotel with these politicians or he simply moves around with them just to butter his bread. So many coincidences in Dele bumping into one politician or the other. He coincidentally bumped into Atiku Abubakar, Goodluck Jonathan, now Seriake Dickson et all.
    Is it possible Dele is becoming a paid hatchet man for the same corrupt politicians he publicly lampoons week in week out during his days of social activism? Is he running short of cash that much to compromise his sanctimonious toga for brown envelopes, regardless of the source? I bet Dele will be willing to launder image for the great kidnapper as long as the brown envelop is same size with ghana must go bag. Perhaps, Dele is about to descend a very bumpy cliff in his rough ride to political Golgotha, he needs as many willing fellows in his driver’s seat.
    Dele’s conscience is up for sale but buyers be ware…caveat emptor!

  • Mr. Wilson

    Political Psychophant.

    Every politician you meet is doing spectacularly well. Even the Bayelsa we all know, there is God.

  • chyke

    Kiss and tell journalism. The conversation with Dickson was supposed to be a private discussion, but all was spilled for Nigerians to read. Again since Dickson was credited with some intelligence by Dele, was he using the Ovation big mouth to fly a kite. Interesting days are coming