Bayelsa Plans World Cup Viewing Centres For World Cup

Organisers of the Governor Seriake Dickson Unity Cup say they are considering creating viewing centres in communities for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

They said the move was in conjunction with the Bayelsa State Ministry of Information and Orientation, explaining  that it was part of  the  plan by the state government to enable youths in communities to have a sense of belonging and to comfortably enjoy the greatest soccer fiesta.

According to them, the viewing centres will serve as a point where love is fostered, peace , unity and cohesion among youths is embraced and allow for a meeting of minds between them for the overall good of the state.

They added that  the viewing centres would also be used to propagate messages of the government against social vices and re-direct their minds away from criminality.

Meanwhile, 16 communities in Bayelsa have commenced a fresh battle in the second phase of the Governor Dickson Unity Cup tagged The Ogbia Challenge.

The communities, according to the organisers,  qualified for the phase two of the tournament which kicked off last week Monday.

The qualifiers in Zone A, Otuabagi Centre, are Idema, Akipelai, Otuogidi and Oloibiri while those who qualified from Zone B, Kolo Centre,  are Ogbia town, Ewoi, Onuebum and Kolo 2.

The others from Zone C, Otuoke Centre, are Otuoke, Otuaba, Okiki and Okodi and those in Zone D, Imiringi Centre, are Otuabula, Obeduma, Ayakoro and Abobiri.

Jonathan Hosts Obasanjo To Private Dinner

Immediate former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, are hosting former president Olusegun Obasanjo to a private dinner in their home in Bayelsa State.

It would be recalled that Obasanjo fell out and publicly rebuffed Goodluck Jonathan whilst the latter sought re-election in 2015. Obasanjo’s opposition to Jonathan is considered by political pundits as a contribution to Jonathan’s failure to win the hotly contested elections that ushered in the current President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Upon arrival to the state, Obasanjo, who was received by the state governor, Seriake Dickson, in company with some top government officials in the state, inaugurated a government specialist hospital in the state and unveiled the Bayelsa Heliport which was renamed after the first military administrator of the defunct Rivers State, Alfred Diete-Spiff.

Obasanja said “20 years ago when I came to Bayelsa for campaign, there was no space to gather people, but today, there is great difference.

“Yes, for full development to take place in Bayelsa, there must be accessibility in terms of transportation, communication and health care delivery.

“I must tell you, for six hours I am here, I have seen something to convince me that Bayelsa is already in transformation stage.

“The health facility here is second to none…

“The foundation of any human mind is education. A leader who does not give his people quality education, will perish with his people.

“The root cause of militancy is lack of education, if you don’t build schools, that means you have to prepare for unstable society.

“The only investment that lasts and that does not need repair is education”.

Bayelsa Gov, Dickson Vows Not To Lay-Off Teachers

Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has said that his government will not sack any teacher in the state as from January 2018.

The Governor said that the government would rather train and retrain the teachers in the state’s primary and secondary schools as well as others for greater productivity.

A statement by the Special Adviser on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, on Thursday, said that the governor gave the assurance during the inauguration of the governing councils of Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education, Sagbama, and the Bayelsa State College of Health Technology, Otuogidi.

He, however, said that only teachers with fake certificates or those who refused to be at their duty-posts to work should have reasons to be afraid of being sacked.

He urged the chairmen and members of the new governing boards to ensure that only people who should be in the institutions were engaged.

Dickson stressed that the previous practice in the state where unborn children, octogenarians and retirees were dubiously included in the payroll should not be tolerated.

He said the government would provide grants to all state-owned tertiary institutions with effect from January 2018 as well as beef up their infrastructure and enhance their revenue generating capacity.

Seriake Dickson: Blessed Are The Peacemakers

By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, when I woke up yesterday morning in Lagos, little did I envisage I was going to bump into the ebullient Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Seriake Dickson. I was heading to breakfast when I ran into the brand new National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, on the ground floor of my hotel and I congratulated him on his recent appointment. Thereafter, he informed me of the presence of the Governor and said he was sure Governor Dickson would be delighted to meet with me. I replied that I was fine with that especially as I have close friends who have spoken with great enthusiasm not only about the stellar work that the Governor is doing in Bayelsa State on infrastructure and education but also about his wonderful personality and humility. I went on to have my breakfast. As if well timed and choreographed, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Francis Agbo, walked in and I stood up to exchange pleasantries. He told me his boss would like to meet with me asap. So I followed him to the big man’s suite. Those who know him very well profess that he is not just a giant in physique but also in intellect, hard work, executive management and political engineering.

I met the Governor and some PDP Chieftains having breakfast. The Governor looked very relaxed. We hugged, like old buddies, and he made me feel very much at home. He said he follows my articles with keen interest. I thanked him for the compliment. After he was done with breakfast, he invited me into his bedroom for a one-on-one chat. He was very frank and candid. He said he was in Lagos to reach out to aggrieved members of his Party, PDP, particularly those from the South West who were miffed about not getting the Chairmanship position, as they lost to Mr Uche Secondus from Rivers State. I recalled that he had been similarly assigned the role of brokering peace and facilitating a settlement during the imbroglio for leadership of the Party, that saw former Governors, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sherriff, pitted against one another, in an epic battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court, before Makarfi emerged victorious. I am assured that Governor Dickson is not only a peacemaker but a kingmaker.

I fired the first shot. “Do you think PDP can bounce back in 2019 now that it seems your convention has produced more bitterness than joy?” He responded that he and his reconciliation team would do everything possible to achieve unity in the Party. He admitted that no serious Party can treat the South West like outcasts without getting punished resoundingly at the polls. I was stunned by his revelation. The South West has some of the most enlightened voters in the country. “We need every vote we can get and South West is definitely included…”

I told him that the battle ahead is going to be tough, especially the Presidential election. He agreed with me that PDP would have to field a very strong and formidable candidate against a man like Buhari. He agreed that putting a weak candidate forward would hand over the presidency on a platter of gold to

Buhari. I’m glad that he knows it is not going to be a walkover. We dovetailed into who and who can match Buhari in PDP. He picked them one by one while I gave my analysis and impression of them. “What do you think of Atiku?” he asked. I told him minus the age factor, Atiku is certainly one of the most prepared candidates in the country. Also, he would need to work hard at cleansing the corruption charges levelled against him. And that is not always an easy task. He agreed that Atiku is very experienced and has the wherewithal to run a great campaign.

“What of Rabiu Kwankwaso?” He asked. I was surprised and taken aback by his question which suggested that Kwankwanso who is a well known APC stalwart might be on the verge of crossing over to PDP like Atiku. The rumour mill has been agog with news of such an impending monumental defection and this to me was the first that it might be true after all.  However, I did not bat an eyelid. I merely candidly replied that “I like Kwankwaso for one main reason, his performance as Governor of Kano. I’ve just received a publication detailing his incredible strides in Kano. I’ve never seen a Nigerian leader with such eye for meticulous planning and execution.” The book is titled THERE WAS A GOVERNOR: A COMPEDIUM OF SEN. (DR.) RABIU KWANKWASO’S ACHIEVEMRNTS (2011-2015). According to the book, over 6000 projects were executed. If it is true, then Kwankwaso would be a good material for the transformation of Nigeria from a third world country to a first world nation. I told the Governor such a feat should be replicated nationally and I look forward to meeting Alhaji Kwankwaso very soon to find out about his presidential ambition.

It was obvious that Governor Dickson was picking my brains and I gladly obliged him. “ What do you think of Sule Lamido…” he asked, calmly. I told him Lamido is very experienced but I’m not sure of his national appeal. He has also been weakened by the incessant and endless harassment of his family by EFCC. The next question was unexpected. It turned out that instead of me interviewing him, he was now the journalist, probing adroitly like the skilled advocate that I am assured he is. He asked about my preferred candidates and I mentioned Donald Duke, Nasir El Rufai, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Wasiru Aminu Tambuwal, Oby Ezewesili, Peter Obi, Babatunde Fashola, Charles Soludo, and others. I made him realise in effect that my leaders of today criss-crossed Party lines. For me, these are leaders who know their onions and have proven their mettle, but require proper executive powers to be very effective in steering the affairs of State.

The Governor told me that his dream is to have leaders who would see themselves first as Nigerians and in so doing believe in and commit to the need to develop a country blessed with so much potential without reference to religious or ethnic sentiments. He said he was fortunate to have a dual Nigerian background, as he hails from both Bayelsa and Ogun State. This makes him to feel comfortable wherever he finds himself. He strongly feels that every Nigerian should similarly be comfortable whether or not they have the kind of background that he has.  This can only be accomplished when the entire country is industrialised to such an extent that infrastructural facilities abound everywhere to generate, employment, income and growth.

He is very excited about his government’s policy on education. As far as he is concerned, no stone should be left unturned to educate the people, because it is only from sound minds that the kind of vision and dedication necessary to take Nigeria to the level that it should be, can come. This is why he and his government have invested greatly in the youths through education and one of his proud achievements is the link with Lincoln University in America where the State has more than 20 students studying various disciplines.  Indeed history was made earlier this year when a Bayelsan, Perewari Victor Pere distinguished himself as the best graduating student of that University and was honoured with the status of Valedictorian and delivered the valedictory at the University’s commencement.  The Governor stated that he felt proud to be a Nigerian on this accord and considered this a vindication of his education policies. He believes that investment in education will pay off eventually.

In concluding our chat, he told me that no matter what happens, PDP will get its groove back. For him, it was necessary to ensure not only the stability of the polity but also to institutionalise our democratic mores and structures. Whilst, I have no evidence that this will happen soon, I agree that Nigeria does not need a one-party State. As to the PDP bouncing back soon, I can only say that in Nigeria, nothing is impossible.

TEN YEARS OF OVATION CAROL

How time flies indeed. Ten years ago, we decided to start a project that would promote our young and talented artists. It was anchored on the spirit of Christmas as we felt that it was our opportunity to create a platform where we would not only give something financially  to worthy causes but we would also transform the lives of artistes in music, fashion, comedy and the performing arts generally. We decided to call the event Ovation Red Carol and one of the first decisions was that it would be a fun event and free to all.  It all started like a joke but today it has really caught fire. The event is now not only watched live in Nigeria, it is televised and streamed all over the globe.  It is based on our belief that in all things, technology must take the forefront and we must show that Nigerians and Nigeria are advanced despite out other shortcomings.

Apart from being a launch pad for various young talented artistes, and showcasing some mega international and domestic performers over the years, the event has become an annual entertainment jamboree which people look forward to, even before the current one ends.

It is gratifying to note with all sense of humility and modesty that people have congratulated us at Ovation for pioneering this kind of event on the grand scale that we have, as this is now being replicated in many parts of Nigeria.

We have been fortunate to have very good partners in this venture who have supported us with their time and resources.  They transcend every area of our national endeavour and we consider ourselves and the nation truly blessed. All those that have shared the adventure with us are important and dear to us but we cannot but mention the spectacular efforts of our first sponsors, versatile international bankers, UBA, and lately, international telecommunications giant, Glo. This year we also have had the honour and pleasure of including the Esther Ajayi Foundation in the list of those we are working with in order to continue engendering a special Christmas occasion for our teeming supporters and the generality of the Nigerian populace.

We are grateful to everyone for their support and participation in this grand project and pray for God to bless us all in this Christmas season. Thank you very much.

Bayelsa Govt Establishes Special Court To Check Payroll Fraud

The Bayelsa Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa has authorized the creation of a special court to fast-track the prosecution of those indicted in the payroll fraud in the state civil service.

Recall that Governor Dickson had set up a prosecution team following staff verification exercise that uncovered 5, 000 ghost workers in Bayelsa public service.

The governor spoke on Thursday in Yenagoa, when he addressed members of the Committee on Public Service Reforms.
He said that government had alerted the Commissioner of Police and had constituted a committee to prosecute those inflicted in the fraud.

The nine-man judicial commission is headed by Justice Doris Adokeme.

“We have contacted the Commissioner of Police on the need for prosecution. I can assure you that no innocent person would be affected.

“That is why the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is there. Anybody who has a case, anybody who feels he is not fairly treated has the chance to go there.

“The prosecution team is waiting and the courts are waiting to commence action soon,” Dickson said.

The governor reiterated his resolve to do everything necessary to stop the bleeding of the state finances by some greedy unscrupulous elements.

However, recall that a staff audit constituted in May 2016 to probe the payroll fraud in the local government system discovered 3,243 unauthorised employees in the Rural Development Authorities, and 3,037 in the eight constitutionally recognised local government areas.

Dickson lamented that the probe into the entire public service had uncovered widespread corruption costing the state about N1 billion every month.

Dickson ordered the compilation of the names of the alleged salary fraudsters, during one of the meetings with the committee chaired by the Deputy Governor, retired Rear Adm. Gboribiogha John Jonah.

According to Dickson, the first practical step towards implementing the painstaking reforms is that those discovered to be drawing salaries from multiple agencies of the state would stop receiving their pay with effect from October.

Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, told investigators in a telephone interview that full action on the committee’s report would commence soon.

“We are talking about fraud perpetrated over the years that has made the state to lose billions of naira.

“So if the governor, who demonstrated the courage to take on this evil, is making moves to prosecute them, then it should not be a surprise,’’ Iworiso-Markson said.