Senior Special Assistant to Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State on Media and Public Affairs, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, speaks on some of the controversial issues in the state. Segun James presents the excerpts
What prompted Bayelsa State to create its own flag, anthem and coat of arm?
If you listen to Governor Henry Dickson’s remark during the inauguration, he said that government took the action to create and legalise our own symbols and songs and it was not something that was done on the spur of the moment. What we have done as a government was simply to give identity to Ijaw people, wherever they are. As you well know, Ijaws are the fourth largest ethnic group in this country and our people are scattered all over. So, we deemed it imperative to have a symbol that will give our people a brand identity for which they will be proud to showcase wherever they find themselves. What we have done is no different from what other states have done, states like Osun, Lagos, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, Rivers, Cross River, Kano, Sokoto etc.
Why is the state talking about reviving the Isaac Boro ideals at this time and age?
What better time than now? Isaac Adaka Boro was a true legend and one of our most celebrated heroes in Ijaw land. Part of our drive to etch a unique brand identity for our people is to celebrate our heroes, whether they alive or dead. This government will stop at nothing to celebrate our heroes. And we have so many of them, we have literary icons like Gabriel Okara who turned 91 just two months ago and our government was actively involved in programmes put together to celebrate his birthday.
We have Prof. Emeritus Ebeiegbri Joe Alagoa, a foremost historian, one of the very best this nation has produced. Just the other day, a Library was built in his honour, for which the state government played a very active role. I can go on and on, but the fact remains that this government will do all that is necessary to celebrate our people wherever they are, especially if they are engaged in worthy causes that promote Ijaw ideals and legacies in line with the vision of our founding fathers.
Did you receive the approval of President Goodluck Jonathan before the law was promulgated?
That is precisely the point. People who criticise our actions as government do so simply because they think it is a directive from Mr. President. Fortunately, we have a President who does not in any way interfere with the business of governance in the state. Unknown to most people, we have a governor who is very dynamic and he is very clear minded about his mission in government. Every of his action in government since assuming the mantle of leadership have been well thought out and it is clear from all the feedbacks that he is one governor every Bayelsan is proud of, including Mr. President.
It is suspected that the move is seccessionist. Isn’t it true?
It is wrong for anyone to equate the actions of MOSOP, MASSOB and Bakassi with what we have done in Bayelsa. I think it is plain mischief for anyone to take such a position. Our action to have state symbols and songs does not in any way amount to secession. We are a federating unit in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, created and recognized in the constitution with rights, powers and obligations.
Our decision to have state symbols and songs are as result of our belief in true federalism as a cardinal cornerstone of Nigerian nationhood and we are simply exercising our inalienable rights under the constitution as a federating unit.
Your critics say it is a strategy to compel the political class to give Jonathan a second term, come 2015. Does it not sound plausible?
Unfortunately, our critics got it all wrong. As usual, everything is all about politics in this country and it is all tied to 2015. It is funny how people ascribe every single move to 2015. Governance is serious business. We have to be very careful with our words and actions. We cannot afford to play politics with every single thing. We all must come together and resolve to work for the good of this nation. This is not the time to play politics. We must not play politics with our development as a nation.
What’s your assurance to Nigerians that the governor is not involved in a secret move to fragment the country?
I think the point must be made very clear and permit me to re-echo a very popular saying of my governor “I am not a politician of convenience. Rather, I am a politician of convictions”.
Our government is a government of convictions and we are committed to our mandate. We are committed to use our common wealth to fund the construction of good roads, education, promote tourism, generate wealth and develop agriculture in our state. We are also committed to a united, egalitarian and democratic Nigeria where peace and prosperity reigns supreme.