Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, has revealed why he had been able to fix the state in terms of infrastructural development, saying he came into office with a clear vision and fully prepared for the arduous task of governance.
Dickson disclosed this in Abuja when the management team of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group paid him a visit to officially inform him of his nomination as LEADERSHIP Governor of the year 2017.
The ‘Country Man Governor’, as he is fondly called by admirers, praised the management of LEADERSHIP for the diligent way it handled the nomination, saying as a matter of policy, the award will be the first newspaper award he will ever be receiving.
This, he said, is even so when it is considered that the award is coming from a media organisation he least expected would want to honour him with such award of excellence.
He said, I want to thank you for considering me fit and proper for the award. This is actually the first newspaper award I will be receiving because I have a policy of being quite far from things like this.
“I like the way you guys did it. There was no solicitation. Once I see that (solicitation) in any shape or form I don’t see it like an award anymore.
I like the way you went about this; it was not solicited and I am encouraged to think that you have empirical rational basis for considering me and my government fit for this award”.
On his qualification for the award, which the media outfit said is based on the governor’s developmental strides, especially, his free education policy that is currently being implemented in the state as well as infrastructure, Dickson explained that that these were made possible because he came into office with a clear vision and fully prepared for the task of governance.
The governor stated: “I said on the day of my inauguration I came prepared. My priority was very clear- education, education and more education. I followed it up with the declaration of emergency in education sector. We followed through, year after year, regardless of all circumstances. It was by reforms, legislation and leadership. As at the last count, we have spent over N70 billion on educational infrastructure alone. I am not talking about salaries of Teachers, Headmasters and Principal.
“We have built over 500 new Schools, with Teachers and Headmaster’s quarters for the first time. Teachers will find it comfortable when they posted to rural areas. All these effort is like a drop in the ocean because of the large communities we have to cover”.
On how he was able to fix the challenges facing primary education, Dickson said, “We did not ignore Secondary Education. Secondary School age is too critical to be toyed with. If you ignore these young ones at secondary school level, we have lost them forever. So, we introduced boarding system because the state had no boarding system before I came.
“We had to begin the construction of boarding schools. I personally supervised sites. As at the last count, the state now has 15 Model Secondary Schools with boarding facilities. Each of the schools has the capacity to accommodate 600 to 700 students.
“We also established the Top Secondary School, which we call the Ijaw National Academy. It is like a university. It has the carrying capacity of 1,300 students.”
On what the Bayelsa State government is doing to cushion the hardships faced by indigent students, the governor said, “We introduced scholarships for indigent students so that the children of the poor who are brilliant will not be left out because of their background. They are admitted yearly through competitive exams. They are fed thrice a day; the state government also takes care of their books. Today, we have about 5,000 of such students enjoying government scholarships.
“Our over all target is 10,000 students to 15,000 in these boarding schools. We are not stopping there; we are taking it to the constituency level. We have 25 boarding schools at constituency level. Four of them will be given to our security establishments, one each to the Nigerian Navy, Air Force and I proposed to give one to the Nigerian Police”.
The aim of this gesture toward security agencies, according to Governor Dickson, is to enable them invest and support education, even as he said it borders on a combination of academics and discipline.
“The Ijaw National Academy has students drawn from the six Niger Delta states where I jaws are living. Despite the recession, we have built International University from the scratch and students are starting their first year degree programme this year. The university is called the University of Africa”.
On why he is investing more on education, he said, “Every investment by government or individuals, be it road or public buildings, is an investment that will lose value with time and that will require repair. The only investment that has inbuilt capacity to multiply the positive gains is investment in education. If we fail to invest in education, we must be prepared to build more prisons and cemetery”.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of LEADERSHIP Newspapers, Mr Dele Fanimo, told the governor that the management of the media organisation had to go through painstaking deliberations and brainstorming to arrived at his choice as LEADERSHIP Governor of the year 2017.
Fanimo said, “It was not easy; we had to call our correspondent in Bayelsa to be sure that were are really correct in giving this award. The award will come up in March this year but we need to inform you formerly.
“We were thinking of coming to Bayelsa but fortunately the Mohammed decided to come to the mountain. We will still be coming to Bayelsa to do an extensive job on how you were able to achieve all these so that other governors will read and follow your footsteps”.
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