Thursday, December 5, 2019 7:36 am
By Fidelis Soriwei
His love for the Bayelsa people and indeed the Ijaw nation is incontestable. His efforts and commitment to development of Bayelsa State is beyond the realm of what can be controverted.
As Governor of Bayelsa State, Governor Dickson protected the interest of the people and pulled down barriers and limitations and exploited new frontiers in extending love to Ijaw people outside Bayelsa. As a Pan Ijaw nationalist, the heavy responsibility and deliberately restrictive protocol of Creek Haven could not hide him from his people.
He christened Bayelsa ‘the Jerusalem of the Ijaw nation’ and lived this declaration in ways too bold to controvert. The Governor demonstrated a consciousness about the history of the Ijaw struggle, the plight of the Ijaw people outside Bayelsa and dreams and the aspirations of a receding generation of Ijaw Leaders buried in Toru-Ibe State that was not created. His actions and decisions are mostly anchored on the promotion and protection of the Ijaw interest within the Nigerian State.
He did not look away from the need to unite the people who are balkanized across the six states of Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom. As a former National Legal Adviser of the Ijaw National Congress he knows that the Ijaw nation is always on edge whenever Bayelsa, the homeland, is the issue.
Perhaps, his belief in the Ijaw cause made him to take what struck many as an audacious step to establish the Ministry of Ijaw Affairs. He appointed the Pioneer President of the Ijaw Youth Council with a track record of passion for Ijaw matters, Dr. Felix Tuodolo, as the Commissioner for Ijaw Affairs in the ministry he created in 2012. He followed up by setting up a committee on the Niger Delta. He rejuvenated the Ijaw spirit, and forged a strong sense of brotherhood among the people. His passion for the things that touch the people within and outside Bayelsa was electric.
From his days in the House of Representatives to the Bayelsa Government House, Governor Dickson has never developed cold feet on issues of collective concern to the Ijaw nation. He creates express access for respected Ijaw leaders irrespective of state to reach him. The uncountable number of unscheduled meetings with these elders would bear testimony to Governor Dickson’s open door policy to his people. He listens to the legion of problems of the large number of people that besiege his lodge on a daily basis to inundate him with all manner of issues from morning till late in the night. Again, the medical records of several notable Ijaw leaders are screamers of Governor Dickson’s passion for his people.
To reinforce the belief that love and passion are better shown in practical terms, Governor Dickson constituted the Niger Delta Committee comprising 46 Ijaw people outside Bayelsa. For the records, the non Bayelsa Ijaw members of the committee include: Fred Brisibe, (Delta), Karibo Lawrence, (Rivers), Ojoto Okubo, ( Delta), Christopher Anthony (Delta), Peace Adim Dappabriye, (Rivers), Ibitomie (Dapo’s-Biriye (Rivers), Gladys Calmday (Rivers), Cooler Hart (Rivers), Pere Tuodolo (Delta) Andabofa Namah (Delta) Godswill Jaja (Rivers), Iyenemi Abbey (Rivers) Frank Akita (Delta) Tare Akpoigbe (Delta), Ereboh Ransome (Delta), Oweila Ekirika (Delta), Ebis Moni (Delta), Miyenbai Legbe (Ondo) Harry Isoboye (Rivers), Awipi Lawson (Delta) Jackson Agbor (Delta), Mangala Franklin (Delta), Pullah Tam, (Delta), Agbeneke John (Delta), Jeremiah Ebiowei, (Delta), Kennedy Tonjo West (Rivers) Cecilia Onana ( Ondo), Robinson Uroupa ( Edo), HRJ Godspower Oporomor, (Delta), Hendricks Opukeme (Delta), Godday Smith (Delta), Francis Muturu (Delta), Erasmus Patrick (Rivers).
It is on record that the privilege of appointing non Bayelsans into the government was extended to Ijaw people outside Bayelsa for the first time under this leader whose quest for intervention and provision for the welfare of the people was not limited by the geographical boundaries defined by Brass River, the River Nun and the Forcados.
As a Governor with massive responsibilities, Gov Dickson made history as the first Governor of Bayelsa State to visit Arogbo, the headquarters of the Ijaw community in Ondo State. He took the deliberate step to visit other Ijaw communities which are deprived of the respected presence of a Governor especially during annual community events. He visited Buguma and was honored by the historical kingdom. He was specially appreciated by the Patani Kingdom as the Rock of the Ijaw nation.
In 2015, when the Ijaw nation was faced with its greatest political challenge to push for the re-election of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Dickson left nobody in doubt about his commitment to the Ijaw cause. He was the only Governor that rejected the offer of N750 million for the Jonathan’s re-election project on the ground that it was a Bayelsa project.
Again, those who played a frontline role in the historical doctrine of necessity that heralded the Jonathan Presidency will readily agree that Gov Dickson has a special place of mention when we write the history of our people.
As I wrote in my earlier piece, the pages of history would be fair to this great son of the Ijaw nation whose love for his people knows no limitations