By the demands of his office, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State is supposed to be resident in the state capital of Yenogoa in order to take full charge of state affairs.
However, a growing number of critics, including lawmakers and civic activists, are accusing Mr. Dickson of overstaying in Abuja and making sporadic visits to Yenagoa.“Governor Dickson seems to find Abuja more accommodating these days,” said a state legislator. “He comes here (to Yenogoa) only sparingly, when it pleases him.” Governor Dickson, who was handpicked by President Goodluck Jonathan to run for Bayelsa governorship, was accused of hovering around the president and First Lady in Abuja while state governance suffers.
A bureaucrat in the state told SaharaReporters that Mr. Dickson’s frequent trips outside the state were seriously hampering government business. He remarked that heaps of files often pile up awaiting the governor’s attention, adding that many ongoing projects were stalled as the governor “holds the keys to the treasury and no funds are released to fund government activities when he is not around.”
An opposition politician in the state disclosed that some key government functionaries cash in on the governor’s laissez faire attitude to work. “Some commissioners and permanent secretaries abandon their duty posts only to show up when they hear that the governor has come to town,” he said.
An associate of the absentee governor said Mr. Dickson had decided to be around President Jonathan in order to avoid falling victim to the kind of political undercurrents that swept away his immediate predecessor, Timipre Sylva.
“Governor Dickson is only playing smart knowing full well that the biggest opposition he has is within the PDP in the state. He knows that should he allow any little space between him and President Jonathan, the political forces in the state would overtake him,” the administration insider said.
A source within the Presidency revealed that Mr. Dickson stays around the president a lot and spends some time stoking the fire of a simmering political battle between Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and Mr. Jonathan.
Governor Dickson has also made himself as a major foot soldier for Mr. Jonathan’s 2015 re-election bid. A correspondent of SaharaReporters talked to numerous residents of Bayelsa State. Most of few complained about Mr. Dickson’s absenteeism and his style of administration.
One respondent, a civil servant, accused the governor of running a “one man show.” He stressed that the state appears to be under lock-and-key whenever the governor was out of the state.
A former police officer, Mr. Dickson is accused by human rights activists in the state of running Bayelsa with crude force. In a recent move, he clamped down on free speech by sending a bill to the state assembly to criminalize “rumor mongering.” The secretary of the state’s public information management committee, Idumange John could not be reached for comments when contacted on the ‘hotlines’ provided by the committee.