The Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson says even before the birth of the APC and its change mantra, his restoration administration had started the process of changing Bayelsa for good since its inception in 2012.
The Countryman Governor said the massive infrastructural development of the state and attitudinal re-orientation of Bayelsans institutionalized so far, in government are manifest testimonies of the change he and his team had brought to the governance culture in Bayelsa State.
Unlike before, the governor averred that public funds are now being prudently utilized for the people, adding ‘‘that is why in the last three years, we have been able to turn Bayelsa to a construction site and restored citizen confidence in government.”
Bayelsa, which the governor said, was turned to a killing field by his predecessor is now one of the safest in the country.
Aside security, the governor said he inherited a comatose educational sector which he boasted had been turned around, the glory of which has ranked Bayelsa as amongst the first 10 states in Nigeria.
The governor who was speaking on Thursday in Yenagoa at the 11th edition of the All Nigerian Editors Conference, said the theme of the conference: “The Change We Need: the role of the editor” and the choice of Bayelsa as host were no happenstance.
He said the NGE’s decision may have been prompted by its knowledge of him (Governor) as a change agent as well as the prevailing peace and security in the state under his watch.
Governor Dickson stressed that he agreed to host the conference, not just because he is media-friendly, but also because of the capacity of media leaders to tell the Bayelsa story in line with his philosophy of ‘‘taking Bayelsa to the world and bringing the world to Bayelsa’’ and promised to host the subsequent editions.
The governor, who declared the conference open, said Nigeria is at war but regretted that the APC politicized national security and the economy in the days of President Goodluck Jonathan and warned that Nigeria cannot be safe, unless all Nigerians, particularly the elites, irrespective of their political affiliations give maximum cooperation to the Federal Government.
Dickson said, “For me as a PDP governor, my position is that, after election, all men and women of our country must unite to move our nation forward… and bring about the needed change because the important issues like security and economy that we are elected to deliver on, are not partisan. Hunger has no partisan boundary or colour, terrorism knows no partisan colour…we need to give support to the Federal Government led by President Muhamed Buhari.’’
While urging the editors to set agenda on the diversification of the Nigerian economy without oil, Governor Dickson lamented the sad story of the dry oil well in Oloibri, where oil was first discovered and struck in commercial quantity.
Dickson said it is in recognition of the fact that oil well is not sustainable that on assumption of office, his government started diversification, by venturing into commercial agriculture and tourism as the future mainstay of the Bayelsa economy.
The governor added that journalists are special in nation building because they are the only professionals empowered by the 1999 Nigeria Constitution to hold government accountable to the people.
He however observed that the media too need reforms and stressed that for journalists to effectively function and earn credibility, the mass media practitioners must embark on self-examination and purge themselves of bad eggs.
Earlier, representative of the Vice President and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, urged editors to be fair, balanced and objective in their reportage.
The chairman of the occasion and Chairman of Channels TV, Mr. John Momoh enjoined media organisations to do things in a different way in order to bring about the desired change in the country because according to him the mass media are reflections of the country they operate in.
Acting President of the NGE, Garba Deen Muhammed, thanked the governor for hosting them and pledged the readiness of editors to be agents of change.