In Bayelsa, Dickson Enters Reset Mode

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The Newsmaker 

 

With the litigations over, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State vows to reset the state’s political trajectory, writes Emmanuel Addeh
It was meant to be a quiet entry, but caught unawares, Governor Seriake Dickson’s return to Bayelsa after his Supreme Court victory turned a carnival of sorts last Wednesday. The state described by many as ‘sleepy’ suddenly awoke to give the governor a rousing welcome, literally putting it on complete lockdown with the young and the old trooping out in their thousands to catch a glimpse of the man they prefer to call the “Great White Shark”. 
From Mbiama, a border town in Rivers State, through the streets of Yenagoa, drummers and dancers, politicians and professionals, the high and the lowly forgot the economic recession temporarily to hail the “Ofurumapepe” of Ijaw land. 
The governor, as he was to reveal later, was simply ‘hijacked’ by his lieutenants led by his Deputy, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd), his Information Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite and a few other aides, who without his knowledge had organised the grand reception. 
The women danced away like they had just won a jackpot. The men – resplendent in their local costumes – wriggled to the music blaring from the sound system strategically located on the expansive Peace Park, opposite the Government House, where the carnivalesque event took place. And with the park filled to the brim, it was only a matter of time before the governor, long awaited, arrived with the thousands of supporters, who had gone to join his entourage through the streets. 
A quick run through why the state was undoubtedly in a celebratory mood should be sufficient. Indeed, Dickson had just survived a grueling, multi-level legal battle in relation to last December’s governorship election in the state in which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him the winner. 
But not satisfied with the verdict of the electoral umpire, Chief Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against whom Dickson contested decided to seek redress through the courts. 
The details of the legal fireworks in the courts are not the focus of this treatise, but suffice it to say that from the three-man Bayelsa election tribunal which was later moved to Abuja, the seat of power, to the five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, through to the Seven-man Supreme Court, the governor emerged victorious. 
In a spirited welcome ceremony by his supporters after the judgment that validated his election, an elated governor, who danced to the tunes played by the Ijaw musicians on parade, said with the ‘distractions’ over, it was time to face governance and relegate politics to the background until the next election circle. 
“We will rededicate ourselves to peace, security and development. The roads that were not built before will be built, the bridges will be completed, public building projects that are currently going on will be completed. 
“The empowerment projects will be revved up and we will create champions of the people of this state. We are building a Bayelsa that will be a pride to our future generations. Your future in our hands is secure”, he assured his audience, which responded with equal excitement. 
While deferring to the unquestionability of God over His decisions concerning the affairs of men, a visibly happy Dickson, who let his hair down as long as the event lasted, said only the creator gives and takes power whenever and wherever He wills. 
“Power does not come from the east or the west. It comes from God. And He takes it whenever He will, without explanation. Nobody advises Him. He’s is the final court. If not Him, who would make it possible to defeat all these people, who have done all kinds of things? They mobilised all their forces everywhere. Even in your units, you know what you saw and in the local councils what you faced. 
“In an unprecedented election, the whole state, the whole country and the whole world was watching. They thought they had more money. God delivered them to us. You resisted them from doing magomago (from cheating). You defeated them in their polling units. You used your bare bodies to block Armoured Personnel Carriers”, he said, lauding his supporters. 
Taking a swipe at the opposition, the governor counseled the leadership of the APC to return to the state since it was becoming obvious that their hope of getting appointments in Abuja was dimming. 
“We won, they cancelled; we rescheduled and with all their powers, they removed the tribunal from here and took it to Abuja. They forgot that power does not come from Abuja. Their own three-man panel unanimously said you (the people) gave me the mandate freely and fairly. 
“I thought some people will have sense and come back to their senses. They continued to create tension, distract us and vowed to destabilise this state. They went again to the court of appeal in these hard times when people who have sense are coming together to survive; when we no longer even have a centre. 
“They went to the court of appeal and the five man panel unanimously said we won fair and square. We were waiting to see whether they will be reasonable enough to come back to their roots. They decided banking on their so-called powers and went to the Supreme Court with all their bad plans and the full member Supreme Court said our mandate was valid and stands till 2020”, he boasted. 
Waxing oratorical, the Bayelsa leader, who was decked in his customary Ijaw attire, vowed that the Ijaw people would never be intimidated or defeated by any forces, no matter how strong. 
“The Ijaw nation will not be put to shame. Our mandate has been protected. They did everything. After driving us from the centre, they were not satisfied. They did everything to take this place and humiliate us further, but today we thank God that that has not happened. 
“This Jerusalem of the Ijaw nation will never be conquered or intimidated. This state will continue to grow, there will be no politics for now, and we will consolidate on the task of development”, Dickson vowed. 
He also thanked the judiciary for upholding the law, stressing that they remain the bastion of any free nation. 
“I want to thank the judiciary for refusing to be swayed or intimidated to do anything other than facts and what the law presented before them. Let’s continue to call and support the judiciary and not to tear them down because the judiciary remains the foundation of our nation’s stability. 
“There are a few bad eggs here and there, but we should isolate this while attending to the problem, let’s not destroy the institution, because that will be saying goodbye to our national stability”, he advised. 
Sounding conciliatory, he called on all those who were opposed to him during the election to join hands with him to build the state. 
“But all the same, they are all Bayelsans. And I am the governor of everybody. Both those who worked and voted for me, and those who did not, I want to restate my commitment to running an open door policy and invite all of them to join us. It’s no time for politics,” he said. 
However, just before he urged his political opponents to sheathe their swords and team up with him to make the state the envy of other states, he took the opportunity to throw the last jab. 
“Let me call on those who have been on the other side for no reason other than they want appointments that they are not getting. They were thinking they’ll all get big appointments. We are praying for them to get big appointments, but we haven’t seen them. 
“Now that they have seen that those appointments are not coming, let them come and join us. Some were thinking they were going to get free money and become billionaires overnight. We have not seen that. They are even far worse than us. Even that side, there’s plenty hunger”, he remarked. 
The event also afforded several political appointees and the governor’s admirers the opportunity to speak on the court victory. The deputy governor said with the validation of Governor Dickson’s mandate, the efforts of the founding fathers would not be in vain. 
“We have won four times. Like a good wrestler, Dickson has his eyes on the ground. The light is here. Darkness has vanished”, he proclaimed. 
Others who delivered goodwill messages included Secretary to the State Government, Chief Serena Dokubo Spiff, Senator Nimi Barigha Amange, Chief Thompson Okorotie and Chief of Staff, Government House, Mr. Talford Ongolo. 
So also did the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Fyneman Wilson, State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Cleopas Moses, Leader of the State House of Assembly, Peter Akpe, Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Mr. Golden Agagaowei and Women leader, Eunice Akene. 
Senator Amange said he had always been confident that the APC had no case. 
“This victory is for Bayelsa. God has delivered us. There will be peace and development in Bayelsa. APC and their leaders should please come and join us to develop this state. The money they have wasted should have been used to empower their supporters. But now we are ready to even contribute money to appease their people. Let them join us”, he mocked. 
Akpe, leader of the Bayelsa House of Assembly, said there was no need changing a winning team. 
“We have seen the development in Bayelsa. We don’t want to change this winning team. We appreciate the cohesion between the legislative arm and the executive”, he posited. 
Agagaowei, the CNPP chief in the state, who spoke in the same vein, also expressed happiness over the triumph at the courts. 
“It was a great battle, but the CNPP is solidly behind the governor because he has carried all political parties along and appointed even people not from his party into government”, he noted.