APC, Dickson And Bayelsa’s N660b Revenue | Independent Newspapers Limited
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APC, Dickson And Bayelsa’s N660b Revenue

Posted: Sep 8, 2015 at 12:41 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Igoniko Oduma


What has become crystal clear ahead of the December 5, 2015 governorship election in Bayelsa State is that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the major opposition of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state in the poll.

It has also become amply evident that the APC is not pretending about its intention to take over Bayelsa in order to terminate PDP’s dominance of the state since 1999. The mass defections of  PDP bigwigs to the APC in the state since the 2015 general elections have continued to reinforce the belief in several quarters that the APC will give PDP a good fight at the election.

Seriake Dickson

Seriake Dickson

For second term-seeking incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson, the forthcoming governorship election will be the greatest political battle of his life. Those who share this school of thought believe that this is the first time Dickson will engage in real election. They argue that he won the governorship election for his first tenure as governor on a platter of gold in February 2012 after the National Working Committee of the PDP, working hand in gloves with former President Goodluck Jonathan, denied former Governor Timipre Sylva a second term ticket. Sylva has since become the leader of APC in the state.

Proponents of this school of thought  also posited that Dickson also  secured his two-time electoral victory to the House of Representatives on the platform of the PDP with ease as he  rode on the crest of his political benefactor, Jonathan, whom he served as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice as the then Governor of Bayelsa State, to defeat his opponents.

But since the build-up to the forthcoming governorship election gathered momentum, there had been a battle of wits between the APC and PDP and their stalwarts over Dickson’s performance in office. While the PDP and Dickson are insisting that he has performed very well  in his first tenure and deserves second tenure, the APC and its chieftains have accused him of gross under-performance and as such he should be voted out of office.

However, one of the issues  that the two parties have bickered over and for which the APC strongly believes Dickson should not be re-elected is the issue of his alleged mismanagement of the revenue that had accrued to the state from the Federal Account since he assumed office.

The National Chairman of APC, John Odigie-Oyegun, pointedly accused the Dickson administration of squandering the over N440 billion revenue it had received from the Federal Government without tangible physical development of Bayelsa under him.

He spoke at a special rally in Yenagoa where  Diekivie Ikiogha, a political associate  of Jonathan and Dickson’s former Chief of Staff, defected from the PDP to the APC with over 150 ex-councillors from 1999 to 2012.

Odigie-Oyegun, who was represented by the National Vice-Chairman, South-South, Hilliard Eta, handed a broom, which is the symbol of the APC, to Ikiogha at the event.

The APC boss  did not mince words at the defection event over what he termed Dickson’s profligacy. He said that despite receiving a colossal sum of N440 billion revenue from the Federation Account, Dickson has nothing on ground  to show for it.

“The Governor Seriake Dickson-led government of Bayelsa State has received over N440 billion  from the Federal Government with nothing to show for it”, he said while performing the reception of Ikiogha.

Odigie-Oyegun quickly  added that what was left for Bayelsans was “to retire Governor Seriake Dickson” with the governorship  election.

But the Dickson government did not waste time responding to Odigie-Oyegun’s claim, replying him and the APC with all the venom it could muster.

The government replied him through a statement titled , “APC’s attack on Governor Dickson condemnable, a figment of Odigie-Oyegun’s imagination”, signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Bayelsa State Governor, Daniel Iworiso-Markson.

The government stated that when Dickson assumed office on February 14,2012, he inherited a huge debt profile of N332 billion from the Sylva administration.

“Through prudent management and commitment to the ethos of good governance, that debt today stands at N90 billion.

“Out of the N440 billion that his (Dickson) government received as allocation from the Federation Account, about N242 billion was used to help pay down that debt even as it embarked on an unprecedented level of infrastructural development and socio-economic welfare schemes.

“This is why the Bayelsa state government considers as very uncharitable the statement attributed to APC Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, that the government has nothing to show for that allocation from the centre”, it said.

The statement advised Odigie-Oyegun to kindly leave the Dickson government out of APC’s growing confusion.  Dickson told the APC boss that his government is pre-occupied with changing the lives of Bayelsans for good as is already evident in its transparent administration, commitment to good governance, landmark infrastructural development, empowerment of the people, free compulsory qualitative education, social welfare payments to the elderly and unprecedented health infrastructure.

“If the APC is expecting the defectors it is now welcoming with open arms to win the governorship election in the state, they will have to wait till eternity. Bayelsans have no time for political miscreants”, it added.

But the APC chieftains would not give Dickson any breathing space. No sooner had  his government reacted to Odigie-Oyegun’s scathing remarks than a two-time House of Representatives member, Warman Ogoriba, a chieftain of the party, fired another salvo. He pilloried Dickson, challenging  him  to give account of the over N660 billion his government had received so far from the Federation Account.

Ogoriba had also defected from the PDP to the APC with  over 40 loyalists. He represented Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Feceral Constituency from 2007 to 2015.

He insisted in Yenagoa that the Dickson government had received whopping N660b revenue from the Federation Account in the last three and half years.

Ogoriba said the challenge became imperative because there was nothing on ground to show that the governor spent the money judiciously and for the development of the state.

“Governor Seriake Dickson does not have respect for his people. He is authoritarian. He feels he knows everything and does not want to listen to anyone.

“Since Dickson became governor, he has never inaugurated any tangible project. He is also disconnected from the people as he does not interact with his people to get quality information that will help his government.

“As at last month, July, Bayelsa has received N660bn from the Federal Government excluding the (internally generated) revenues got from the state. I have the proof and it can be verified. We demand Dickson to show the world what he has used the money for and what kind of development he has done.

“The governor has lost the people’s trust. Any government that has lost the trust of his people is a failed government”, he said.

Ogoriba expressed the hope that APC would form the next government in Bayelsa, adding that  the people yearned for change and wished to align with the party at the centre of government in the country.

But the Dickson administration, again,  quickly reacted with vehemence although it did not deny receiving N660b revenue from the Federal Government so far.

The government explained that it spent the N660b  on “payment of workers’ salaries”  and construction of “laudable and people-oriented projects” across the state. It also clarified that “the government has been consistent in servicing the debt burden of N332 billion it inherited from the Timipre Sylva administration, now reduced to N90 billion”.

“As at today, Bayelsa is one of the least-indebted states in Nigeria, which is a credit to Dickson’s ingenuity in sound financial management.

“This clearly contrasts sharply to Ogoriba’s crude remarks, struggling to distort a glaring reality”, it stated.

The government castigated him as being “blinded by political indulgence” to insinuate that the Dickson administration has nothing to show for the money it has received from the Federation Account. It  also berated the former legislator for his alleged inability to present a robust leadership while in the House of Representatives.

“From the utterances of Warman Ogoriba, it is clear why the good people of Kolokuma/Opokuma/Yenagoa Federal Constituency are bemoaning the eight wasted years of his representation”, it added.