Sunday 24th September, 2017
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My appointment by Gov Dickson as Chief Press Secretary has exposed me to greater understanding of the dynamics shaping the politics of Bayelsa - Iworiso-Markson

My appointment by Gov Dickson as Chief Press Secretary has exposed me to greater understanding of the dynamics shaping the politics of Bayelsa - Iworiso-Markson

Daniel Iworiso-Markson is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State. He has shown commitment and dedication to his duty. He told WILLIE ETIM, The Acting Editor South-South, that Bayelsa has the potential of being the most developed state in the country. He also gave an insight on his recently published book, “Bayelsa’s Land­mark Election: How Dickson Deployed People Power to Defeat Federal Might”

What is the philosophy be­hind your new book?

By February 14, which is less than six weeks away, the Restoration Government will be marking its one year in of­fice in the second term of Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson as gov­ernor of Bayelsa State.

Since he first contested and won the governorship election in 2012, I have been an active participant and close watcher of events, especially the politics of Bayelsa State.

My appointment by Gover­nor Dickson as his Chief Press Secretary only exposed me to greater understanding of the dynamics shaping the politics of the state, which regrettably were to underscore the com­plex web of intrigues which characterised his reelection in 2016.

As part of the activities lined up to commemorate the anni­versary celebration, I have en­deavoured to write this book to promote democracy in the country because as the reader would also discover, and cor­roborated by Governor Dick­son convincingly, what took place in Bayelsa was more than an election; it was war.

You will recall that the gov­ernor had said after his victory that ‘this election that brought me back for the second term was not just an election. It was more than an election and more like warfare. Getting through it was actually like surviving a war.

We were against a full dis­play of the totality of power at the centre, deployed to the fullest. All elements of national power were displayed to take over Bayelsa by force and my opponent’s campaign was ap­propriately nicknamed ‘Op­eration Takeover Bayelsa.’ He called it a ‘takeover mission,’ a tag that appeared innocent at first but in retrospect, we now understand what it meant from day one.

This book is a definitive ac­count of an election where the leadership in government at the centre and its candidate acted out a script that trans­formed a mere election into a warfare and perpetrated acts of violence against public moral­ity, violation of human rights, kidnapping, shooting, maim­ing and intimidation under the rubrics of elections.

The ‘Operation Take Over’ slogan of the Federal Govern­ment-backed candidate was put to real action but scuttled by the greater will of the peo­ple. Before the election, there were reports that the All Pro­gressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State was stockpiling weapons to perpetrate vio­lence during the election, but little was done to tackle this concern.

Thus the true account of what happened in the 2016 Bayelsa governorship election and the sordid interplay of some ‘dark forces’ which con­spired to make it so painful to us as Nigerians are what is pre­sented in the book for history and posterity.

How will the content of the book benefit the public

Basically, it is to show how the people could help them­selves to reject political impo­sition by being active in the defence of their votes as Bay­elsans did by even throwing their bare bodies to challenge armoured tanks on the day of election when it was clear that the army of occupation were desperate to rig the elec­tion. Let me state very clearly that democracy is very much on trial across board and it is our collective responsibility as active and patriotic citizens to save the situation because the development of the nation’s democracy has an important relationship with our eco­nomic development. Hence, democracy must be given a chance to survive and really flourish.

Likewise, the state must as a matter of fact survive without which there can be no democ­racy.

As we have seen in the Bay­elsa election and even most recently, the Rivers re-run national and state assembly elections, what is clear to the unbiased observer is that the conscious attempt to rig elec­tions caused such unscrupu­lous activities that resulted into the mayhem in the state. We were helplessly shocked to see such loss of lives and property. But this shouldn’t have been the case in a democracy.

It is an issue which hopeful­ly will continue to be reflected upon by all concerned because of its implication in the ad­vancement of our democracy and mutual co-existence as a people.

This is why we must never allow its recurrence in any part of the country. It is a challenge to our moral and spiritual be­ings that we as a people should not be involved in this kind of cruel action which was so de­humanizing and unjust against our fellow human beings all in the name of politics. But politics itself is an act meant to serve and not to kill and de­stroy.

Thus as a civilized act of en­gagement, it craves for superi­ority of argument in a peaceful atmosphere and driven by sane and honourable people who are fired into participation be­cause of the common good. This is the irony of our de­mocracy which is bastardised by the elite that only seeks to maintain the interest of the few in society.

How is the governor set­tling down to deal with the challenges of governance is an economy that is in recession

If I get you correctly, the thrust of your question is: Elec­tion has now been won and lost but what next? Interest­ingly, this point was captured in the book. But it is important that we properly situate the philosophical underpinning of the election that Dickson ran on a promise in 2012 but ran on concrete achievement in 2015. His signature projects are everywhere.

In fact, if he decided not to run again in the last election, he could actually say he had already put his footprint on the sands of time in Bayelsa State. Recession or no recession, Governor Dickson is intent on making a difference.

Indeed, he has made such a huge difference in the last four years and it was on the strength of his very impressive and remarkable performance in office in his first term that made Bayelsans to return him back to office for the second time.

You will recall that while presenting his case for re-elec­tion, the governor’s focus had been on the need for continu­ity of his vision for the state.

This takes the form of un­interrupted development in infrastructure, particularly opening up the state through connecting those inaccessible but important locations by roads and bridges.

Thus, he hoped to en­hance commerce and civilisa­tion, manpowerdevelopment through his free and compul­sory education, scholarships, health, job creation and the very broad plans for the diver­sification of the state’s econo­my.

His focal points were such ambitious projects like the Agge Deep Seaport, construct­ing a road to Brass, investment in power-generation and the eco-industrial park as well as the completion of the airport, among others. He is concerned about spreading prosperity as much as possible and within a short possible period of time.

To him, nothing was im­possible with the right vision, dedication and aspiration to make a difference in the lives of the people.

How is the governor plan­ning to mark the first anni­versary of his second term in office

The book is not even a ma­jor part of some of the pro­grammes lined up to com­memorate the anniversary celebration.

We simply want to take ad­vantage of the period to intro­duce the book since we cannot, as it were, gloss over the myri­ad of telling issues and abuses that characterised the election.

Something must be done by the collective of our people to say never again shall we see such electoral oddities in any part of the country.

History will not forgive us if we continue to sweep under the rug those salient issues of that election which obviously have consequence for our na­tional stability and develop­ment. However, to answer your question, some of the plans put in place to mark the anniver­sary is the commissioning of completed projects.

Among the completed proj­ects are the state archives, mu­seum, language centre, new secretariat annexes, the very magnificent new governor’s office complex, the very im­pressive Government House Hospital Complex.

And of course, the pharma­ceutical storage and distribu­tion centre as well as the world class Diagnostic and Forensic centre, which has since be­come functional, being the first of its kind in Africa.

Many won’t dispute the fact that in its first term, the Dickson-led Restoration Gov­ernment has displayed strong commitment and determina­tion to making a difference in the lives of the people by pro­viding such massive and strate­gic infrastructure throughout the state. Besides the construc­tion of roads, there are strate­gically-located bridges in the three senatorial districts.

Equally strategic is the con­struction of an airport and the emphasis on the Agge Deep Seaport.

In the estimation of Gov­ernor Dickson, the successful completion of these two proj­ects would speed up the quest for a diversified and vibrant economy, thereby making oil just one of the sources of in­come for the state. The airport and seaport would jumpstart the state economy so much in terms of massive job-creation, boom in trade, leading to a huge leap in income for the state and of course a new lease of life for the people.