The forthcoming election for who represents the West Senatorial District of Bayelsa State brings back the tried and tested Henry Seriake Dickson to the prospect of the old and familiar: offering quality service to his people. This opportunity arose sequel to the election of Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo as Deputy Governor and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaring the Senate seat vacant. COVID-19 which had put a damper on political and social life has had to retreat in the Sagbama/Ekeremor axis, the arena for the election. Such is the buzz of excitement at the return of the old warrior to the political terrain once INEC finally announced October 31 as the date for the byelection.
Strategic stakeholders including the leaders and elders, youth organizations, women groups, traders and the various communities at the grassroots have been making their voices loud and clear in a near unanimous endorsement of the candidature of the immediate past Bayelsa Governor, Dickson, that you have to wonder how much appetite anyone could have to run against him. As the people crave for a bold and effective voice at the centre, Dickson’s credentials are overwhelming in this regard.
More than ever, the consciousness is dawning on us to see the representation at the federal legislature as important as having a good governor at the state capital since they are expected to work harmoniously to get the best dividends of democracy for the people.
Indeed the Senate seat is a very important position which should not be taken for granted because of that institution’s laws which effectively determine our place in the nation’s political economy. Therefore, we cannot but send our best hands to Abuja to represent us.
This is why the people of Sagbama and Ekeremor are speaking to this reality right now. In other words, the people are expressing their intent to elect a credible personality to represent them in the Senate to continue the un-finished term of the present deputy governor. In arriving at the consensus to pick the former governor, they have carefully done their background evaluation in relation to other contestants, who can best represent the central concerns of the people particularly the aggregation of their interests and relevance in the wider scheme of things in the state and nationally.
Dickson’s representation would transcend the official boundaries of Sagbama and Ekeremor, encompassing the entire Bayelsa and indeed the Ijaw nation as a whole. Having worked closely with him over time I can attest that he will make a huge difference in representation if elected (as it is likely) and I consequently lend my support to this enlightened decision by the people.
I wholeheartedly endorse his candidature for our collective good. This endorsement is consequent upon the former governor’s track record of service and integrity which is the basis at the root of his popularity and consequent massive endorsement.
He is a consummate leader of men, brilliant, visionary and pro-people, a record of stewardship dating back to his activist days in the Ijaw National Congress and culminating in his rise to becoming governor where his impact was unprecedented and far reaching. He understands the issues and causes of the Ijaw nation so well and indeed those of Bayelsa State with subsisting challenges of security, poverty, very low federal presence and empowerment and the life-threatening environmental degradation for which he instituted a body to study and tackle when he was governor.
In Dickson, Bayelsa, the Ijaw and Nigeria’s minorities at large will find a worthy champion at the centre. This is especially so at this time when the nation is in a state of flux in its long and continuing search for a viable political community. Issues of fiscal federalism and a political restructuring are simmering under the surface and could come to the boil at any moment.
In Dickson, the man and the moment have met. Check out his antecedents. He is a champion of the forgotten and marginalised dating back to his involvement in the Ijaw nation’s renaissance and renewal in particular under the auspices of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC). Against this background he is wellplaced to advance Ijaw national interests at the centre, a commitment which can only be aided by the bridges he has built to personalities and groups across the country following decades of political engagement.
Significantly, he won’t be a new comer in the National Assembly, having traversed the familiar environment for two terms as a member of the House of Representatives in the past. His second coming, this time to the upper chamber, with due legislative experience can only be a plus enhancing the Senate’s capacity to function optimally and to get things done.
I believe our common purpose and objective as a people can be better realized when we have such a very credible presence in the Senate. Clearly Dickson is the best man for the job. I also think the people should consider his election as a “Unity Project” which in effect should go beyond party lines, but helping to foster greater peace and unity in the Sagbama/Ekeremor political axis. Personally my endorsement here is a dispassionate one. It is premised on Dickson’s antecedents and record of performance in previous positions of leadership and trust. I have also seen him in close quarters as a remarkable thinker and prime mover of progressive ideas and solutions. We followed him from being a member of the House of Representatives to that of governor and we cannot but be fair that he was above board, making a marked difference in the lives of those he served. I recall that as a member representing the good people of Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, Dickson was a voice that was heard continually on matters affecting his people.
His deep legal and political knowledge was brought to bear and saw him influence major positive changes to his people and indeed the nation at large. His laudable imprint in the crafting and passage of the Freedom of Information Act is but one example of this engagement. Of course, we can never forget his work as governor of Bayelsa State where he left indelible marks especially in infrastructure, education, health, youth empowerment and opportunities given to the people to have a fair shot at life. He has always shown deep thoughts and ideas about our lopsided federation, offering suggestions on how we can better live together as a people. He is a rugged consensus builder, a critical advocate of true federalism and the devolution of power to the component units for more effective governance and, from his record in the House of Representatives, a believer in a bipartisan approach in the resolution of critical national issues. The election of Ofurumapepe, as he is fondly called, as a senator would beam a shining light upon the upper legislature, give Bayelsa as a whole an effective voice on the wider national platform and promote policies that will ensure a better life for all the people.
Iworiso-Markson, a former Commissioner of Information, writes from Lagos