For Henry Seriake Dickson @ 52

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Those born with the zodiac sign of Aquarius are often described by astrologists as people filled with “adventure, thrills and creativity in their lives”, which ultimately give them a deep sense of fulfillment. They are also described as “strong-willed” and always  determined “to go the extra mile to make it big, be it their career or their personal lives”, very realistic about what they can achieve in life instead of sitting down day-dreaming”, and “always striving for perfection”.

Those words best describe Henry Seriake Dickson, the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State who turned 52 on 28 January 2018. From his days in the creeks of Toru-Orua, his place of birth up to his public life, his life has been driven by adventure and determination to achieve great things, especially humanity. Armed with the spirit of adventure, determination and strong will, his life was transformed from a mere village boy from the day he travelled to Benin in search of higher school education into a commitment to services to his community, his State and the entire Nigeria.

Sense of determination 

After his secondary school, Henry Seriake Dickson had wanted to join the Nigerian navy, and when that didn’t work out, joined the Nigeria Police Force as a constable.  Imbued with a sense of determination to make it big in life, he decided early enough that he wanted to be a lawyer. He rejected an earlier admission to read Political Science, preferring instead to wait until he had the opportunity of reading law at the Rivers State University of Technology. His determination to read law was influenced by his desire to become a law teacher or a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He combined strenuous police duties with his studies and successfully completed his degree in Law, as well as the Nigerian Law School, Lagos where he effortlessly grabbed the Barrister at Law.

With a degree in Law, Henry Seriake Dickson’s days in the Nigeria Police were numbered. Indeed, not even last-minute efforts to recognize his hard work and determination of his superiors who sent him to the Police Academy in Wudil, Kano could stop his departure. Armed with strong wills and the determination to go the extra mile in attaining his goals, he stepped out of the police force to practice law. In less than two years after leaving the police force, he opened his Chambers in Port Harcourt, having served as a Solicitor in two law firms to gain experience and confidence.

He threw himself into the Ijo struggle, serving as national legal adviser to Ijo National Congress and using his Chambers to handle many cases, some on pro bono basis, on behalf the Congress. In league with other Ijo compatriots, he pushed the Ijo struggle for resource control to the front burner of national discourse. Indeed, he was known as one of the most organized mobilizers.  While his fellow compatriots massed into the Peoples Democratic Party in 1998 when the political landscape was opened for contest, his adventurous spirit led him into the Alliance for Democracy, AD. He took a realistic look at the manifestoes of all the five registered political parties, he felt that only the AD had the potentials of giving Bayelsans the chance of making it big in their careers or their personal lives. His focus in that regard was the raging debate over resource control; he could easily align with the thoughts and actions of some leaders of the AD who had over the years stood on the side of the common man, especially when his rights were being violated.

It is instructive that it was in the same spirit that he pulled out of the AD; he couldn’t explain the actions of a chieftain of the AD, Chief Bola Ige who, as Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, dragged the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory to the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of Section 162(c) of the 1999 Constitution in order to establish how to calculate the amount accruable to the Federal government from the Federation Account. The case was a source of anger, especially in the Niger Delta, where Henry Seriake Dickson and his colleagues in the AD had raised people’s hopes of their collaboration with the party in the struggle for resource control. At the end of the national elections in 1999, the hitherto less-known AD picked vital electoral seats in Bayelsa State. The AD won the Bayelsa West Senatorial seat and one seat in the State House of Assembly. In the Presidential election in which an alliance of the Ad and the All Peoples Party, APP, presented Chief Samuel Oluyemi Falae as Presidential candidate, H.S. Dickson and his comrades attracted 152, 220 or 24.4 percent of the 610, 032 votes cast in Bayelsa State.

Historic election

He later joined the Peoples Democratic Party and won elections to the House of Representatives before his historic election as Governor of Bayelsa State in 2012.  Since then, he has changed the physical appearance of the State with so many projects in various fields including education medicine, tourism, law, aviation, sports and administration. As the Governor celebrates his 52nd birthday, he must reflect on what Catherine Pulsifer once said: “A birthday is a time to reflect on the year gone by, but also set your goals for the upcoming year”. Having invested so much in the development of Bayelsa State since 2012, and in his personal relationship with people from diverse backgrounds, the only prayer for this Aquarius star is that he should have more dreams than memories, more opportunities than chances and more friends than mere acquaintances. Happy birthday, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson.

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