Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, Thursday urged the Federal Government not only to suspend but cancel the controversial Ruga settlement policy, describing it as provocative.
Dickson who said that the policy of Ruga settlement was inimical to national unity and cohesion also noted that the project was divisive and unhelpful to the unity of the country.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the governor on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, on Thursday, said that Dickson spoke on the first day of the interdenominational prayer and fasting service for the 2019 gubernatorial election at the DSP Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall, Yenagoa.
He said that Bayelsa under his leadership would not give out any inch of its territory for the establishment of any such Ruga settlement as proposed by the Federal Government.
He stressed that any move to grab land in the state for the purpose of building Ruga settlement would be challenged.
Dickson suggested that those involved in cattle business should be encouraged to go into ranching rather the RUGA settlement arrangement.
“I said it some days ago and I’m saying it again that Bayelsa will not be part of RUGA. That is a most provocative, divisive and unhelpful policy. We call for the immediate cancellation of that policy.
“Under me as leader of this state, Bayelsa will not have even an inch of land available for any Ruga settlement. It will not be allowed and it will be challenged.
“People should be encouraged to go into ranching as a business and not be moving around causing problems and mayhem. That’s what we will support, not Ruga settlements. Do we have Ijaw fishermen settlements in other states?” he questioned.
Also speaking on the qualities of the person he expects to succeed him, Dickson said that the next governor of the state should be a person of courage, who should be able to speak out on critical issues affecting the state.
He stressed that anybody aspiring to occupy the office of governor of Bayelsa State should be able to speak out, say the bitter truth on critical issues irrespective of those involved.
The governor explained that the state decided to organise the prayer and fasting programme to seek the face of God in the process of selecting the next leader because of the enormous influence of the office and the need for the right person to succeed him.
He restated his calls on Bayelsans to prevent the emergence of any governor who could use political appointments to lure the people to cultism and other evil practices.
Dickson maintained that he had led the state in the direction of God as shown clearly by the fact that he did not lure any of the 1500 political appointees into occultism as, according to him, was the case with certain persons in the state.
“This transition is not about me. So many people in my shoes will be relaxing but we are still working from morning till night. This transition is about our state, about our people, about Christians possessing their possession. We have made a lot of progress. We want good committed, patriotic, decisive and compassionate leaders.
“My prayer is that the person God will raise for us will do better than I, that person will not fail. The way I have worked for our people, defended their interest, spoken on behalf of the people,” he added
The governor lamented the attitude of the political class some of whom he said would even react with bitterness when universities, an airport, good roads, health facilities and key developmental projects are built in the state.
He lamented that Bayelsa was the only state where a governor had not completed eight years to hand over to a successor, but expressed delight that God was changing the story.