Published On: Mon, Jun 12th, 2017

Remarks by His Excellency, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson On the Occasion of the Commemoration of the 2017 Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro Day in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Tuesday 16th May 2017.

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FOR THE RECORDS

 

His Excellency, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson

Protocols

Let me welcome you all once again to your State, your Jerusalem for our annual remembrance activity, remembering the sacrifices and contributions of our Hero who, though dead and gone, remains alive and ever present in our hearts and in our minds. I want to thank all of you for coming. I want to thank his family for all that they have gone through and for bearing the burden of the sacrifices he made for the Ijaw nation.

I want to thank the youths of the State and the Ijaw nation for keeping the Boro dream alive. I want to thank all of you for working with the government year after year, to honour and recognize Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro and by this, also recognizing the sacrifices and the contributions of all those who fought by his side. Today, we honour Boro as the symbol of our struggle, when the Ijaw people said “No” was the right answer at the time. In that struggle, Boro was not alone; a number of young men believed in him. They believed in the cause and answered the call of duty. We appreciate the efforts of Captain Samuel Owonaro who is still alive and represented here today by his son. We say thank you to him for being alive and represented today by his son. We say thank you to him for being a living symbol of our struggle.

We remember the contributions of Nottingham Dick, Captain Boardman Nyananyo, Captain George Amangala and many others who died in the struggle. For those of you, who have not taken time to read the history of our struggle, find time to read every material you can lay your hands on. Also find time to talk with those who were part of it, because only then you will understand the difficult situations these leaders endured as young men at the time, far younger than most of you in this Hall today. Those of us, who have researched understand the sacrifices they made in pursuit and aspirations.

These young men had a lot to live for. Some of them were undergraduates in an era when it was not an easy feat to be in the University. Isaac Boro himself was Chemistry major and the President of the Students Union at the University of Nsukka and Nyananyo had a Master’s degree in Mathematics. They abandoned the cosy comforts of the life they were entitled to, and if you must know, a number of them still lie in unmarked graves. In fact, it was only in May 2014, that our government brought back the remains of Isaac Boro from the Ikoyi Cemetery in Lagos for proper burial in the Ijaw Heroes Memorial Park, Yenagoa.

For those of you, who think that you have a Bayelsa that exists, only to fill your pockets, think again. For those of you, who think this State only exists to satisfy the greed and the avarice of the elitist few, think again. For those of you Civil Servants, who think that this State exists to fill your pockets without you doing your duty of going to work, where 43,000 to 45,000 people in a population of close to 3 million believe that everything we receive in this State should be channeled towards them, think again. For those of you, who connive and perpetrate fraud on our State at every level and at every turn, think again.

Isaac Boro, Nottingham Dick, Nyananyo, Amangala and Owonaro, all young men who believed in the well-being and welfare of our people, stood trial, were convicted, sentenced to death and later granted pardon. They eventually ended up fighting for our liberation to prevent internal colonialism and they died while doing so. Do not ask me how and who killed them. Read your history books. As for me and the team that I lead we have made it clear from day one that we are not in government for business as usual. For those who may still be in doubt five years down the line, we affirm that our mission to deliver our people from the oppression of poverty, insecurity, environmental degradation and underdevelopment still remains constant. We are still as determined as we were five years ago to fast-track our development and make this State a place of envy, a place that Boro and all the heroes gone will speak of with pride.

And so today, as we remember our heroes, I want to thank all of you particularly for all the kind words and encouragement and to say that as a people we need to have a clear sense of direction, a clear sense of strategy. If you do not know, know now that we are of a region of the most oppressed and deprived people on the face of the planet. That is why we are working hard to lay the foundation for a new Bayelsa, a new Ijaw nation. The battles of poverty, underdevelopment, political marginalization, environmental degradation, insecurity and oppression that Boro and his colleagues fought have not ended, but the strategies must change. The domain of the battles has not changed, but we must apply different techniques in engagement. That is why we are spending over N50b in building the schools that should have been built but were not built, building the roads and providing infrastructure that could have been provided, but were not provide. That is what Boro and his colleagues would have done if they were alive.

Young people of Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation, listen to me. We are raising a new generation of Boros, a new generation of leaders that will take up the struggle. Now, we have to focus on the intellectual dimension of the struggle by equipping our youths intellectually so that we would not be forgotten again. My people, Nigeria forgot about the Niger Delta. Nigeria forgot about Bayelsa and our people. Up till today, their only interest is in the constant flow of Oil and now Gas, nothing more.

As it was in Boro’s time, so it is still, a sad story of neglect. But we are working hard day and night to make a difference. The only way we can do that is by investing in young people so that we can raise a new team of leaders. And we are doing that in a revolutionary manner. That is what Boro would have been happy about. If he and his colleagues we alive today, he would have said “my governor and my son, you and your team are on track, ride on.” That is what he would have said. Right there in his hometown, Kaiama, the Ijaw National Academy, headed by a Cambridge trained Principal; Mr. Charles Johnson has been established. We considered a lot of factors before citing that prominent school in Kaiama because we wish to acknowledge the contributions of that area to the development of our nation.

As we speak, we have a thousand young Boros being incubated in that school alone. With the consent of their parents and guardians, they are being fed, clothed and accommodated in a world-class facility equipped with books, computers and laboratory equipment provided for free of charge by the State government. Just this week Sunday, another set of 4 boarding schools, each having a little more than 400 students commenced academic activity in earnest. Another 7 boarding schools will resume in September this year, bringing the total number of such top-notch schools in the State to 13. Additionally, 25 constituency boarding schools are in advance stages of construction, and will be ready for commencement of learning before the end of the year. That is the way to carry on the dream of Boro. Today, there are Boarding Schools, Skills Development Centres and Higher Educational Institutions everywhere in the State. The more the detractors complain because they do not understand the dream and value their own welfare and free money more, the more they complain, the more we are building more schools because we need more Boros in this State.

A short while ago, we were all told that our students that my government sent on a Restoration Scholarship to Lincoln University in the United States of America all came out with flying colours. Two of them graduated with First Class Honours, with one emerging as the best graduating student of the University at the valedictorian of the graduation ceremony organized by the University a few weeks ago. Already, some top American companies are asking to employ him and some of the others from our State because of their outstanding performances. That is the way to continue with the Isaac Boro dream.

My fellow Bayelsans, I have made a call and those who do not understand the dream are complaining. Every Bayelsan must contribute their own bit to the fulfillment of this dream by paying the Education Levy and when misguided people complain, point out the facts on ground to them. We cannot get to our destination unless we build a new set of leaders for tomorrow. The same old battle but the strategies and weapons must change. Though your enemies have not changed, the terrain of the battle has changed and the strategies too must necessary change.

Every government in this State has tried, but it beats my imagination why we did not have a single boarding school in this State before now. It also beats my imagination why most of our Local Government Areas did not have General Hospitals before now. So if anyone is ailing, they seek medical attention from neighboring States as if those Hospitals were not built by human beings. We have had leaders who are more interested in what they get, rather than the provisions they make for our people. That has to stop. Under this administration, we now have modern Hospitals coming up in every Local Government Area.

If you visit the newly commissioned multi-billion naira Diagnostic Centre in Yenagoa, built by this administration, which today stands as one of the best in this country, you will find people from far and near taking advantage of the facilities there. Later this year the International Airport will be opened and planes will start landing there, because we believe that the Ijaw nation must be open to the outside World.

The theme of my message has already been summarized by my King, HRM. King Mozi Agara, Kala-Okun II, Ibenanaowei of Kolokuma who conferred the title Adaka II on me, and I agree with him. While it is good that we gather for Boro every year, each one of us must ask what we are doing to advance the common good as Boro and his colleagues have played their part. Today, it is the turn of my team and I and we are doing our best, sometimes in very difficult circumstances. Each one of us must examine ourselves. There comes a time in the life of a people where they must do serious self-examination. We cannot blame God because He has been very merciful and kind to us with our resources. We ourselves must be committed to the Boro dream. We must be committed to the development of our own State and the Ijaw nation. We have a habit in this State, where Ministers and others in Abuja undermining, badmouthing and blackmailing with the intention of bringing down the government in their State, instead of adding value. That is the Bayelsa, the Ijaw way and till today it happens. It happened before and I weathered all of it. Instead of the people we supported working with us, to say ‘my governor come, what can we put down in our State?’ Every day you read and hear words like ‘we go remove am’, every day ‘we go comot am’, everyday ‘na this one go take over’, everyday ‘na that one go take over.’ We wasted six years in that cause.

Till date, we have Ministers there, we have people who say they have Federal government in their pocket, but have they brought anything to add to what we are doing here? Do you now see the Bayelsa disease I am talking about? You see the Ijaw man disease? Is that what Boro would have done?

If Boro and his people were in Abuja, would this State have remained the way that it is? So our people must change our attitude to our State and we ourselves must change. If you are a Minister, minister well. If you say you are a party leader and your party is in charge at Abuja, go and bring the goodies and join us, is that not what we want? This is the Bayelsa disease of underdevelopment affecting their minds. All they think about is how they can buy guns and support criminals in the State, how they equip cult leaders, how they talk to the Police not to arrest criminals, how they bring Soldiers to intimidate people. That is the devil in them at work. The devil has taken over their minds. So today, this year’s Boro day, is a call to people, a call to patriotism that we should support one another, encourage one another and do everything that you can in whatever little way to bring development and progress to Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation.

I thank the family, the Kaiama community and all Ijaw youths. Let me also use this opportunity to announce our displeasure at the divisions creeping into Ijaw land which is reflecting in all the organs. Today our people should be ashamed, not only that we did not take advantage of opportunities we have had, but we are allowing partisanship to divide even organs that we should hold sacred. INC is divided; even IYC is divided because of greed, selfishness and unnecessary politics.

Today, is it not a pity that we are doing Boro Day celebrations and the people who say they are big people in Abuja, are you seeing them here now? Is it not a shame? If Boro were from other ethnic groups, who know how to encourage, support and celebrate one another, everybody would have been here today. When people who are not up to Boro, are being celebrated in other places, our people show up, but they are not here today. We are celebrating Boro today and we do not see a Minister, no one. Ijaw people, are you listening? At this rate, if we do not change, we will become our own worst enemies. But there is no cause for alarm because we stand together, we stand together fighting a good fight to keep Bayelsa together for the Ijaw nation.

Can you imagine what would have happened if they had successfully humiliated us here in the last general elections? Boro and his comrades would have turned in their graves. But you stood fast and did the right thing. I will pray that this Glory of all Lands, this sacred soil that produced Boro and all others, this State will always produce leaders who will not sacrifice the Ijaw national interest for anything. Let me assure you that my team and I are doing our bit. Bayelsa is in safe hands. Thank you for all your support. I will continue to keep the flag flying till the very last day of my tenure as governor. When it gets close, at the right time, I will call the Ijaw nation to a prayer session, so that God will produce the next set of men and women who will take the baton of leadership higher in the name of Jesus.

Now, let me make a few quick announcements. First, I direct that every year on Boro day, the celebrations should take place in all our schools in the State. I want the young people to known that their greatest duty to our people is to stand up and say ‘No’ when ‘No’ is the right answer. I want them also to know about our people and what we are going through. So every year, the Boro Day celebrations will be celebrated in all our Schools. All Principals would organize lectures. I will also endeavour to get some elders to go to some selected schools to tell our young people to invest more in developing themselves and spend more time in understanding the priorities and needs of our people. Today, because of the rains and how late this programme has started, I will not be able to do that at the Ijaw National Academy but I will visit them and I enjoin you all to do so in all the Schools from time to time.

The second announcement is the immediate employment of all the Ijaw language teachers that have been trained by the Restoration Government of Bayelsa State. From September this year, Ijaw language and culture will be a compulsory subject in all our schools. Most of you do not even know the meaning of the symbols this government introduced. The flag that this government produced, the Coat of Arms that we fought and gave to our people are symbols of the fact that our people cannot be conquered. The meanings will be taught also in all our schools and in a short while from now, I will formally authorize the State anthem. Because our people most fully key into the cultural revolution of our State and our environment.

The third announcement is about the Boro family and the families of our compatriots. The allowances that I paid throughout almost the first term until the economy took a downturn are hereby restored. All the categories of allowances and a special allowance is approved for the widows, our mothers, the wives of Isaac Boro and his colleagues.

Lastly, beginning later this year, the government of Bayelsa State, as part of our policy of taking Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation to the rest of the world, will be sponsoring the first ever World Ijaw International Conference outside the shores of Nigeria to sensitize the World about the Ijaw condition.

I want to thank all of you for coming. Thank you for continuing to associate with this dream, particularly the young people. I call for unity in the IYC. I call for unity in the INC. As you all know, because I am a product of the Ijaw struggle, I made it clear that I was not going to support any faction. It will be wrong. If others in Abuja and other places want to politicize everything and want to politicize our organs, I as Governor of this State and as a product of the Ijaw struggle cannot join them to politicize and I told everybody that I was not going to take sides with any faction and I supported the Local Organising Committee that IYC leaders attending this function should come in their individual capacity, until the issues are sorted out. Except for the Central zone and other zonal leaders whose tenures are not part of the dispute.

I want to thank you all as I resume my seat and enjoin you all to accompany me to lay the ceremonial wreath. Thank you all and may God continue to bless Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation.

 

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