The Bayelsan Leader Who Loves His People

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Seriake Dickson

Sunday Okobi and Ugo Aliogo praise highly the outstanding achievements of former Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Seriake Dickson, who now represents his people in the senate

The story of Baysela State can never be chronicled without the mention of the legacies and indelible footprints of its former governor, Chief Seriake Dickson. His administration brought a new phase of development and transformation of the economic fortunes of the state. When he assumed office, Dickson had his plans and work well cut out for him. His developmental drive was tailored to meet the aspirations of his people, because of his deep understanding of governance especially in a marginalised region such as his.

As an altruist, he was not interested in enriching himself with the crude oil proceeds of the state; rather he was more committed to devising means to ensure that the oil wealth was evenly distributed to placate the long-suffering people of Bayelsa. Though human wants is insatiable, however, his developmental footprint is glaring for all to see especially in the area of human capital growth and infrastructural development in the state. Dickson has shown that governance is not just a continuum, but an opportunity to raise the bars in economic, human and capital development of the state.

On his recent 55th birthday anniversary-his first birthday after a successful service to the state and first birthday as a Senator-his family wants him to know that he has indeed done well.

His brother, Moses Oruaze Dickson, on behalf of the Dickson’s dynasty, who described the former governor as ‘my brother who became my father’ in his tribute to him, said everyone who has come across him (senior Dickson), has a sweet tale to tell. It ranges from how engaging his interactions are, to the abundance of wisdom at his disposal. “Senator Henry Seriake Dickson is a man blessed with many positive attributes. He is, indeed, a man of many parts.

“Dickson’s towering figure never goes unnoticed. A lover of the Ijaw cultural heritage, Dickson carries himself in an exceptional panache in his usual trademark of Ijaw traditional attire combined with a matching bowler hat and a staff. He is my brother, the quintessential family man and public servant, who later became my father,” Moses expressed this in a statement.

He said he owes Dickson his life, adding that he fought a vortex of battles to keep him alive “warding off all attacks to pave the way for my survival as my father figure. I call him my hero. Dickson stood firm to play a protective role that kept me focused. He was my defender, my protector and my provider; a brother in time of need.”

Moses, a Nigerian lawyer and philanthropist, explained in his tribute to senior Dickson that long before their parents passed on, he took over the responsibility of ensuring that he (Moses) had the best form of education, from primary school to tertiary level. He said he was just nine a year-old boy, who was enjoying the little comfort of their rural enclave with limited vision of the future and uncertainty when his big brother decided to take him away to Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

According to junior Dickson in his tribute, “He (Seriaki) spared nothing, despite his meager salary then as a policeman. I went to some of the best schools in Port Harcourt before obtaining a law degree from the Niger Delta University. Perhaps my choice to become a lawyer was also influenced by him after I watched him grow in the legal profession.

“My brother’s penchant for education led him to insist that I obtain a Master’s degree. Today, I have that in my kitty with distinction, and will soon be proud to also brandish my doctorate degree. But he went through difficult times to make all of these happen.

“I remember when I got admission to the university, in the midst of excitement and jubilation, the issue of how to get my fees became a problem. He looked at me and said “Don’t worry, God will provide, I am OZIDI, I work before I eat. I will go and hustle and I will be back. If I don’t succeed, we will sell the generator and raise the money”. That was the only generator we had. I cried. As God may have it, he went to court for a matter and returned with some money which he gave me for my fees.

“My brother took me as his own son and raised me to be who I am today. Aside our late parents, he taught me all the time-tested values I have today, including saying no when it is the right answer. He always admonished me to remain focused on every goal no matter the distractions.

“Seriake taught me humility and to have an early sense of responsibility. I was entrusted with adult responsibilities. I learnt the ability of discerning and forgiving. I learnt from him how to aspire through hard work and integrity. Through him, I also learnt that God remains everything I can ever desire and that has been a guiding principle for me.”

Moses noted that Senator Dickson is a man who always believes in integrity, and raised him to learn how to navigate the difficulties of the world and survive it. He described the senator as a man who loves and lives his life more for others than himself, adding: “While growing up, I often watched him share his little meal with his friends and neighbours. Till date, he doesn’t like eating alone.”

The entrepreneur said his big brother’s inspirational and captivating life is a good example for any aspiring leader. “My endless admiration of him is his profound love for God. It grew beyond our imagination when he delved into full-time partisan politics.

“From his days as the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, to his membership of the House of Representatives and governor of Bayelsa State for eight years (the first since the creation of the state), he lived a modest and religious life. Everything about him was about the Almighty. Little wonder he recorded uncommon achievements.

“Many people will attest that throughout his eight years as governor, he made sure morning devotions were held in his official residence. He will not miss it for anything even if he had just returned from a long trip the previous day. He was later nicked named ‘the choirmaster’ by the state religious team because of his love for leading choruses. He will dance so hard to his best song known as ‘Ikedi’ in Ijaw language while waving his favorite tambourine.

“He instituted the monthly praise night and sponsored an executive bill that was passed by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly that made every November 2 to be the Bayelsa State Thanksgiving Day with a public holiday. Not done, he built the 15,000-capacity magnificent ecumenical centre, a delightful citadel for worship.”

He described Seriake is a rare breed, who sees the future and prepares for it. His tenure as governor was labeled ‘eventful’.

Governor Dickson had remarkable footprints in all sectors of the state. In education, he built more schools, upgraded and equipped existing ones after declaring a state of emergency. The free education policy of his administration and the scholarships awarded to indigent students in various countries up to post-graduate level are also noted as the highpoints of his achievements in that sector.

Seriaki contributions in the state health sector were described in the tribute as a revolutionary. Some of the significant areas in the sector-the Bayelsa State Drug Distribution Centre, the Bayelsa State Specialist Hospital, the Bayelsa State Diagnostic Centre and the Bayelsa State Medical University-are all screaming pointers to his unmatched legacies in the state. Additionally, his administration established the state health insurance scheme, which became a model in the country and introduced the safe motherhood initiative to tackle the rate of infant and maternal mortality.

“The success story in education and health was also recorded in infrastructure, human capacity development, security and the state economy generally. He was a man ready for the tasking job of a governor, and at no time did he take the people’s mandate for granted. Even in the last 24 hours of his tenure, he was busy inaugurating projects, including the landmark Bayelsa International Airport.

“Honours, garlands and awards were given to him in recognition of his efforts to change the face of the state, which hitherto was yearning for development. He was also awarded myriads of honorary degrees by universities within and outside the country.

“While his profile was rising, his enemies were also growing in envy. He never allowed them to distract him with their hatred, falsehood, and frivolous petitions and publications aimed at inciting the people against him. He saw it as wicked politics played by desperate politicians,” Senator Dickson family said in the tribute.

Moses, who is the founder of Goldcoast Developmental Foundation in the state, noted that, as a governor, his brother’s doors were always open even at the expense of his personal security. He added that the former governor was always attending to the needs of his people, stressing that it was such gesture that earned him the sobriquet: ‘Countryman governor’. “His oratory prowess was faultless. He is a man blessed with the gift of spontaneous remarks. An intellectual property he is. He knows how to use words to communicate and inspire people.”

The Senator has been credited to raising young men and women to heights they never imagined. During his time as governor, young people below 35 were commissioners, special advisers, and local government council chairmen. “That was how well he prioritised youths in the scheme of things. He allowed them to make mistakes as they climb the ladder of their political career, his family lauded him.”

“His love for the state made him to support the current state Governor, Senator Douye Diri, and his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewrudjakpor. Despite all odds, he stood by them in the most trying period and always assuring them that it was not over until it is over. When many thought that it was finished for him and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the God that he serves showed up and gave them victory at the Supreme Court on February 13, 2020, which changed the destiny of the state.

“It is not a mistake that he was recently sworn-in as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It was another confirmation of the love his people have for him. Like every position he has occupied, his journey to the Senate will also be outstanding. Indeed, Dickson, my brother and father, is a fulfilled man, who still has so much to offer his people and country.”