Why We Can’t Conduct LG Election Now – Gov. Dickson

Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson has said that his administration could not conduct local government election due to dare financial challenges facing the state.

This was expressed through a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Markson-Iworiso, in Yenagoa on Tuesday.

He said that the delay was not deliberate, but due to economic downturn in the country.

He blamed financial constraints for the delay in conducting the elections, but said plans are on to ensure that the election is conducted.

“The local council elections have not been conducted as the current economic situation has made it practically impossible to do so.

“The situation is not peculiar to Bayelsa, but to many states that are also finding it difficult to muster the courage to hold elections at that level of government.

“Conducting local council elections is very expensive as it cost billions of naira, but I am assuring that if the revenue of the state improves, the polls will be held before the end of 2018,” he said.

The governor, however, appealed to the people of the state to shun propaganda and divisive tendencies.

Dickson said that‎ the era of wastages in government was gone for good as public funds were being used judiciously for the benefit of the people.

On the issue of power, the governor said the ongoing ‘Operation Light Up Bayelsa’ would‎ continue until the state sufficiently achieved improved electricity supply.

He said that the project would stimulate small and medium enterprises that would in turn grow the local economy.

N’Delta Varsity Gets Multi-million Medical Lab

Students of The Niger Delta University(NDU) have been in high spirits after their labs got a boost from a consortium of oil multinationals under the Agbami Co-venturers when the leadership of the institution was presented with a multi-million naira diagnostics laboratory.

The Agbami Co-Venturers comprises Star Deepwater Petroleum Limited, owned by Chevron; Famfa Oil Limited, sponsored by Mrs. Modupe Alakija; Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Statoil Nigeria Limited and Petrobras Nigeria Limited.

The Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson, expressed delight at the gesture. He, however, challenged the sponsors to build on having a better relationship0 with the communities.

Speaking during the event which took place at the School of Health Sciences, NDU, the   General Manager of Star Deepwater Petroleum, Lanre Kalejaiye, said since the offshore Agbami Field was inaugurated, the oil companies had donated 33 science laboratories and 25 chest clinics to different states of the federation.

He added that the presentation of the diagnostics centre was part of the series of projects in the state in the area of education and health, stressing that in Bayelsa alone, a hybrid library, a science laboratory complex and leprosy and tuberculosis centre had been built.

However, while conducting the official opening of the lab,  Dickson who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Serena Dokubo-Spiff,  appreciated the establishment of the medical facility but called for more commitment from the oil concerns.

Dickson Denies Asking Opposition Party Chairman to Step Down

The governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, has denied asking the factional national chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to step down.

The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, had on Sunday published an interview in which Mr. Dickson was quoted as calling on Mr. Makarfi to step down to allow room for genuine reconciliation in the party.

Mr. Dickson heads the reconciliation committee of the PDP.

A NAN reporter and other selected reporters had an interview with the governor during which he reportedly made the call.

The report elicited response from the Makarfi group through its spokesperson, Dayo Adeyeye, who said the statement credited to the Bayelsa governor was “shocking and embarrassing”.

Mr. Dickson’s spokesperson, Francis Agbo, said in a statement on Tuesday that the governor “never asked Makarfi to step down”.

The statement said, Mr. Dickson, as a peacemaker stated his committee’s role in the reconciliation process and argued that for PDP to bounce back, leaders must make sacrifices.

“He consequently appealed to PDP leaders including Sheriff and Makarfi to make sacrifices for the revival of the party, stressing that the PDP is more than Sheriff and Makarfi and indeed any individual.

“This was what a NAN reporter who was at the interaction misconstrued as stepping aside for which we have written to NAN management to complain,” the statement said.

Mr. Agbo said the report was aimed at blackmailing the Bayelsa governor.

“In spite of the blackmail and propaganda scripted to distract Governor Dickson, the Governor and his Committee remain committed to reconciling all interests through dialogue for only a political solution woven around dialogue and sacrifices can engender true reconciliation,” the statement said.

The statement also added that the efforts of the committee was beginning to yield results as the national chairman of the PDP, Ali Sheriff, had publicly written, on the request of the Reconciliation Committee, to undertake that he would not contest election at the forthcoming unity convention of the party.

Mr. Sheriff had also reportedly given a commitment that he would not interfere in the selection of committee membership of the convention and that he had already written organs of the party for nominations into the convention committees.

The statement said Mr. Sheriff had also agreed that all party officials elected before the first botched Port Harcourt Convention in 2016 remain valid and that all members of the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, whose tenures are still running have agreed to resign to pave the way for a unity convention.

Supreme Court Upholds Election Of Governor Dickson

The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed Seriake Dickson as governor of Bayelsa State.

The seven-member panel of judges threw out an appeal by Timipre Sylva, candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, challenging the election of Dickson.

The election tribunal and the Court of Appeal had earlier upheld Dickson’s election.

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had accused some bigwigs of the All Progressives Congress, APC, of pressurizing Justices of the Supreme Court in a bid to favour the party in the Bayelsa State Governorship election matter.

However, in a unanimous decision, a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court led by Justice Mohammed Tanko, dismissed the appeal by the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its governorship candidate in the state, Timipre Sylva.

Justice Tanko who read the lead verdict held that the petition lacked merit.

“This appeal lacks merit and it should be dismissed. I hereby dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgment of the court below. I shall give my reasons on Friday, November 18. Parties are to bear their cost”, Justice Tanko held.

Nevertheless, the court, in two other judgments by Justices Kudirat Ekekere-Ekun and Olukayode Ariwola, dismissed cross-appeal filed by Dickson and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, against Sylva and the APC, though they also reserved their reasons till Friday.

Dickson Blames Predecessors For Non-Payment Of Pensioners

The Governor of Bayelsa state, Mr. Seriake Dickson, Tuesday, blamed the inability of his government to pay pensioners their monthly entitlements on his predecessors.

The governor in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, spoke in Yenagoa when he constituted the state and local government pension boards.

Pensioners are owed about nine months of unpaid arrears in the state.

Dickson said: “The government inherited a liability of about N6billion; we then worked out a mechanism where we set aside N500million for monthly payment until the last 8 months that the state allocation from the federation account started dropping.

“For about eight months the pensioners have not been paid and that is very touching because for four years, we did not fail to pay pensioners until the last eight months.

“Now for this old men and women are on account of the failure of the leadership of the past, we are now unable to meet our obligations to them.

“We want to use this opportunity to ask for understanding, for people who gave their all for years in the service of the state. We appreciate their service to the state and we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that they begin to get their pension every month.”

But Dickson charged the new boards to make concerted efforts at ensuring the physical verification of all pensioners.

He gave them an assurance that payment of those identified will commence with immediate effect and lamented the untold hardship of pensioners in the last eight months.

The state pensions’ board is to be headed by Mrs. Jane Alek, while Sir Frazer Okuoru, is to chair the LG pensions’ board.

While Owie Biate Igoni will serve as Secretary of the State Pensions Board; Nathan Ayibakeme, Mr. Leader Tamatimigha, Dr. Martha Akpana and HRH Darius Job are to serve as directors, with 1: ex-officio members.

The local LG pensions’ board has Mr. Mathias Otuogha as Secretary and six other members.

The governor said he was determined Dickson to completely eradicate payroll fraud in the state and charged both boards to swing into action immediately.

He advised members of the boards to collaborate with the various ministries, departments, agencies and parastatals to ensure that the names of dead pensioners and persons who above 70 years and above are detected and expunged from the payrolls of the government.

He said: “This board has a number of experienced people, who can give advice and guidance, and I call for collaboration among those on the board and the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to identify all those who are dead and are still on the payroll of the government, and those over 70-80 years still collecting salaries.

“I charge you all to ensure that all those who are going to be paid are verified. You have to verify each and every one of them, interact with them, go to them if they are too weak to come, take their photographs, very their age and particulars.”

The Nation

Bayelsa Varsity Shut Over Unpaid Salaries

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the Bayelsa State-owned Niger Delta University (NDU) has commenced a sit-at-home protest following the inability of the Governor Seriake Dickson-led administration to pay lecturers of the university five-month salary arrears.

Investigations revealed that ASUU at the weekend directed its members to vacate the campus and to suspend all academic activities till further notice.

The ASUU Chairman in NDU, Stanley Ogoun, confirmed the development and said lecturers could no longer be discharging their duties without money to run their daily expenses.

He said: “We have started the sit-at-home action and this means suspension of all academic activities relating to teaching and examination of students”.

But the Bayelsa State Government appealed to ASUU and other workers in the state not to despair over the economic crisis facing the state insisting that clearing their backlog of salaries remained the first-line charge of Dickson.

The government in a statement co-signed by the two political advisers to the governor, Mr. Fyneman Wilson and Mr. Steven Diver, said the governor and his team were going through sleepless nights to pay the workers.

The statement said the governor had already set up a Financial Management Committee chaired by the deputy Governor, Mr. John Jonah, to review monthly financial obligations and satisfy the basic ones.

“To this effect, paying workers’ salaries always come first before other financial obligations. Steps are already being taken to ensure the payment of salaries within the shortest possible time.

“We are appealing to workers to exercise some patience because they will soon receive their pay. We also appreciate Bayelsans for displaying sense of maturity and understanding despite the difficult time they are going through,” the statement said.

The statement also highlighted the economic difficulties faced by the state adding that it was painful for a state which used to collect an average of N16bn monthly to settle for N2.9bn in January and N1.6bn in March.

According to the statement allocations of three months were not enough to pay over N4bn monthly salaries of the workers.

It said the verification committee set up by the government to clean the payrolls of public servants would ensure that genuine, honest and hard-working workers received their entitlements.

The statement said: “The Dickson’s administration is the one that values all workers in the state and committed to improving the welfare of workers including paying gratuities and pensions of retired workers.

“The governor has also taken steps to strengthen the Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR). He should be commended for looking inwards”.

It also clarified that the government received N1.285bn bailout fund for the eight local government areas instead of N12.85bn wrongly reported in the media.

“The Dickson-led administration in Bayelsa is focused. When this economic crisis started in the country, Bayelsa managed to stay afloat because of the governor’s prudence in the management of scarce resources.

“Following the submission of verification reports from the local government areas, the government will soon direct the various councils to start paying salaries of their workers,” the statement said.

Government-Labour Showdown Continues In Bayelsa As Workers Reject One Month Salary

Employees of Bayelsa State local government areas have turned down a proposal by governor Seriake Dickson to pay them one-month salary out of the over 10-month salary arrears owed by the councils.

They also threatened to shut down the eight LGAs in the state if legitimate workers, particularly those who were employed before the first tenure of Governor Dickson, were sacked.

The council workers under the auspices of the Joint State Administrative Council of Medical Health Workers Union of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees in a statement issued after a meeting in Yenagoa on Thursday, described Dickson’s proposal as an insult on them.

The communiqué was signed by the state Chairman, NULGE, Akpos Ekiegha; Secretary, NULGE, Tonye Jaja; state Chairman, MHWUN, James Adama; and the Secretary, MHWUN, Arafat Nwibani.

They said, “It has become very worrisome following impeccable rumours making the rounds that only one month salary will be paid to workers in spite of over 10 months salary arrears owed by the councils.

“Joint State Administrative Council-in-session states in clear terms that this is totally unacceptable as any contemplation to pay one month salary in the face of the present hardship will be resisted, knowing full well that workers are heavily indebted to banks and schools, among others.”

They demanded the immediate release of three months LGA allocations from the Federation Account and the Federal Government bailout funds to the state government “totalling about N2.5bn for the commencement of payment of the about N5bn salary arrears as at March 2016.”

Dickson Planning To Join APC – Timiprye Sylva’s Faction

The crisis in the Bayelsa state chapter of the All Progressives Congress APC took another twist Sunday as a faction of the state executive committee of the party announced that the state governor, Seriake Dickson, is scheming to join the party.

Hence, to pave way for his easy acceptance and to become the leader of the party in the state, the governor has resorted to fighting his predecessor, Timipre Sylva who is considered as the current leader of the party in Bayelsa, the faction alleged.

He alleged that Gov. Dickson is scheming to join the APC and as such sees Sylva as a rival that must be pushed aside.

Meanwhile, the faction has also dissociated itself from the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of APC Comrade Timi Frank.

State Organising Secretary of the party, Tonye Okio whose faction is apparently loyal to the former state governor and APC governorship candidate in the last election, Timipre Silva, said the crisis in the state chapter of the party is being sponsored by elements of the Peoples Democratic Party with the aim of destroying the party in the state.

He said Mr Frank has never participated in the politics of the state and as such cannot claim to be one of its leaders.

Okio said: “Timi Frank is from Bayelsa state by birth. But politically, Timi Frank is not from Bayelsa because the position he is occupying was not zoned to our state.

“I was at the national convention and the position zoned to Bayelsa was ex-officio. The position of Deputy National Publicity Secretary was zoned to Sokoto. It was the former governor that prevailed on the candidate from Sokoto to step down and give the position to him for peace to reign.

“He has never participated in the politics of the state and I am not sure he even knows where the state secretariat of the party is located”.

The factional state Chairman of the party, Joseph Fafi, and Organising Secretary, Tonye Okio, in a statement issued at the weekend on the outcome of a meeting with the national leadership of the party, said that the suspended chairman was not fighting for the interest of the APC in Bayelsa state, adding that “he has been fighting to be the Executive Director, Finance of NDDC, he wants to be the Chairman of local content board and wanted to be Deputy Governor”.

He said further that leadership of the party in Bayelsa state has already submitted a petition to the national leadership of the party who has promised to look into their allegations.

Fafi said: “We came here to see the national leadership and brief them on the happenings in Bayelsa state APC.

“What is happening is unfortunate. We have suspended the state Chairman and we are here to explain to them the procedures we took.

“The state chairman stands suspended pending the rectification by the national leadership. For the suspended deputy Chairman and state secretary, they also stand suspended and we have the power to do that and the national secretariat is pleased with our explanation.

“There are unseen hands waiting to crush the APC in Bagelsa state. Infact, Governor Seriake Dickson is the one using the suspended chairman to destabilize the party in the state. We have evidence that he has been collecting money from Dickson.

“Their aim is to first destroy the party and its leader in the state, Timipre Silva before coming in so that he will take over the party structures. We are going to resist this,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Bayelsa state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on its governorship candidate and the former governor of the state, Chiwf Timipre Sylva, to close ranks with the state executive by giving them deserving respect and also ensuring he works with them.

In a statement signed on Sunday in Abuja by the APC state chairman and the Secretary, Chief Timipa Tiwei Orunimighe and Comrade Daniel Marlin respectively said bringing the name of governor Dickson into the lingering crisis in the state “is a way to blackmail the state executive in the eyes of the national leaders of the party and also deflect people’s attention from the real issues.

The party also debunked reports that they were working for the Gov. Dickson, as part of his plan to decamp to the APC, saying they never believed in the ideals of the governor.

“Sylva should respect and work with the state executives, carry them along and work with other stake holders. We reckon that is not too much to ask for. It has nothing to do with Dickson.

“Rather than do the right thing he is wasting resources on cheap blackmail and outright-lies about the true situation of things in the state. A simple intra-party affair that can be resolved by getting all parties on a round table has been difficult for Sylva to do.”

The statement accused the former governor of “being the one who has notoriously kept fraternizing with leaders of the opposition parties. His federal appointment nominee lists reflects this fact as most of the names were, until recently, staunch members of the PDP and habitual critics of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. It is clear to the general public that Chief Sylva’s desperation is getting the better of him.

“He has resorted to deception, warping of facts, spinning of half-truths and wild lies. We have known him right from the period he was made co-chairman of the Presidential inauguration committee when he allegedly sold the invitation cards to some members of the unsuspecting public. Since then he has maintained a streak of ghoulish political deals that has constantly rocked the integral base of our party.

“We admonish him to refrain from his current campaign of calumny and advise both the general public and party faithful to be in their most guarded state when dealing with him. We also affirm that he remains suspended till the report of an ongoing investigation.”

Alamieyeseigha Finally Laid To Rest

Tears flowed freely, yesterday, as the first civilian governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was laid to rest at his Amassoma country home in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan led prominent Nigerians, including his wife, Patience; Acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Alli Modu Sheriff; Acting BoT Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Jibril Aminu; Senator Godswill Akpabio; Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State; a former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido; and a former governor of Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame, to the ceremony.

Others include former Senate President Adolphus Wabara, Senator James Manager, Senator Emmanuel Paulker, Professor Kimse Koko,Prof Lawrence Ekpebu, Senator Ibrahim Mantu,

Chief Uche Secondus, deputy governor of Delta State Amos Utuaro and his Nassarawa State counterpart.

A major highlight of the funeral was the reading of the emotion-laden latter of a former Delta State governor, James Ibori, to the Alamieyeseighas.

Jonathan, in his remarks, described death as a necessary end that will come, adding that the circumstances surrounding Alamieyeseigha’s death left a bitter taste in the months of Ijaw people.

#FreeEseOruru Rally Suspended In Bayelsa

A rally organised on Monday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, to protest the plight of the kidnapped Ese Oruru has been put on hold.

It was gathered that the intervention of the Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, compelled the campaigners to suspend the rally.

Ese, was kidnapped by one Yinusa, alias Yellow, about six months ago, taken to Kano, converted to Islam and forcefully given out in marriage without her parents’ consent.

A civil society group, Kindling Hope Across Nations Initiative (KHANI), which organised the protest shelved it after Dickson reportedly expressed concerns that the rally could snowball into a tribal clash between Bayelsans and the Hausa community in the state.

The Executive Director, KHAN, Mr. Kizito Andah, said Dickson presented his concerns when he held a meeting with officials of the NGO on Sunday.

He said the governor requested he should be allowed to intervene on the matter.

He said Dickson in their presence called the Governor of Kano State, Mr. Abdullahi Ganduje, on telephone over the issue.

He said Dickson reported that he had a fruitful discussion with Ganduje and assured them that with collaborative efforts between the two state governments, Ese would be released “very soon”.

Andah said the governor expressed shock at the way and manner the minor was taken away from the state.

Andah said: “In view of the personal interest demonstrated by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, we have decided to suspend the rally to give both state governments time to urgently bring Ese back.

“We will however continue the fight to return Ese back to her parents and seek justice for her.”

When contacted, Dickson’s Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, confirmed that the governments of Bayelsa and Kano were discussing to ensure quick resolution of the matter.

He said Dickson received full assurances of Kano governor that the issue would be resolved in no distant time and that the girl would return.

Iworiso-Markson said: “There is government to government relationship over the matter. The two governments are talking to see to the quick resolution of the matter.

“There is no need to panic. We are on top of the matter. We are talking with the parents of the girl, the security and the relevant stakeholders. Soon, the media will be given report on the final resolution of the matter.”

Also, the Urhobo Monitoring and Development Group (UMDG) condemned Ese’s abduction and the manner the teenager was forcefully converted into Islam, renamed Aisha and betrothed to Yinusa as her husband.

The group in a statement on Monday by its President, Mr. Kingsley Oberuruaria, said the abduction and subsequent marrying of the teenager to the suspect was criminal and barbaric and must be condemned in its entirety.

He said: “The victim was 13 when she was abducted last year.  Only recently, a group of Fulani herdsmen kidnapped and killed the traditional ruler of Ubulu-Uku in Delta State and the trend suggests that the Nigerian state is gradually returning to the medieval era and it must not be allowed to continue.

“We are also not aware of the allegations that Yinusa kinsmen including the respected Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, are complicit in the abduction and forceful conversion of our daughter to Islam as the parents alleged that their daughter is within the Emir’s palace.

“The Kano Command of the Nigeria Police is also conniving with the culprits to detain the girl against her basic fundamental human rights as contained in the Nigerian constitution.

“We are giving the Kano State government, the Emir of Kano and the Federal Government a two-week ultimatum to produce Ese Oruru and set her free unconditionally or we will evict their people (northerners) from our land (Niger Delta).

“At the expiration of this ultimatum if our demand is not meant, we will have no option than to forcefully evict all northerners in our domain.”

The Nation

Dickson Stops Borrowing To Pay Salaries, Tells Bayelsans To Prepare For Tough Times

The Bayelsa State Government has asked its workforce to brace up for tough times as the practice of augmenting monthly salary with bank loans is not sustainable.

With a monthly wage bill of N4 billion for workers coupled with the shortfall in the monthly allocation from the Federation Account of between N3 to N4 billion, the State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, said it would be difficult for government to meet its financial obligation.

Speaking with journalists on Thursday in Yenagoa, Dickson said his administration would meet with stakeholders towards devising a policy aimed at solving the problem of salary payment in the state.

According to him, steps are already being taken to sanitise the civil service with the aim of blocking wastages and loopholes to ensure greater productivity and effective service delivery.

Dickson said, “There have to be some discussions with workers and stakeholders. We cannot be borrowing to pay salaries as we have been doing. Our workforce minus political appointees, we need about N4 billion to pay salaries; the situation is not sustainable and realistic because of our development agenda.

While allaying fears of workers, the Governor assured that rather than embark on retrenchment of the workforce and the minimum wage, greater emphasis will be placed on professionalism in the civil service in his second term.

He said: “A lot of states are going to have crisis this year, even the federation itself will face crisis and it’s not peculiar to Bayelsa state. It is important that the workforce in Bayelsa State should learn to appreciate these things before they jump here and there instigated by failed politicians who couldn’t win election but know how to sponsor demonstrations of old pensioners that they couldn’t pay when they were in office.”

While admonishing civil servants in the state against unwholesome practices such as involvement in partisan politics, payroll fraud and multiple employments, the Governor called on workers to be dedicated to their duties and loyal to the government of the day.

“There are a lot of things going on; people have their names in several vouchers, earning salaries above their grade level and all of those things are going to be corrected. I don’t also believe that we should reduce the minimum wage but if our government is getting N3 or N4 billion and our wage bill is N4 billion, then there should be a discussion. I don’t believe that we need to retrench workers because of the economic downturn.”

The governor added that any civil servant found culpable of contravening the civil service rules would be made to face disciplinary measures.

Dickson expressed his administration’s intention to bequeath a depoliticised civil service.

News Express