Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State says that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder, as the country has become more divided due to leadership failure that has polarised the citizens along ethnic, religious and political lines.
Dickson made the assertion while speaking on the 58th independence of Nigeria and the 22nd anniversary of the creation of the state in a media chat at the Government House in Yenagoa on Monday evening.
The governor, who described the current state of affairs in the country as unfortunate, expressed regret that Nigeria was still contending with basic issues of unity, justice and leadership after 58 years of independence.
Dickson said that leadership was demonstrated by taking concrete steps and actions to engender equality, justice and creation of a sense of unity and not political sloganeering for selfish interest.
Dickson said that those at the position of leadership who should have taken deliberate steps to unite the country did not take the requisite steps to do so.
The governor said, “At the national level, Nigeria could have done better too. Nigeria at 58, we are still talking about elementary issues like the unity of our country, and the more people talk about unity, the more disunited we portray ourselves to be. These are some of the things we grapple with which are actually elementary issues.
“Unfortunately those at leadership level who ought to take concrete the steps are doing little or nothing about uniting the people. Unity should be shown by the steps or actions a leader takes and not platitudes and political slogans people pronounce when it is convenient.
“Leadership is measured by the decisions you take, appointments made by taking deliberate steps to treat everybody equally to create a sense of unity, equality and justice.
“Once you do those things, you will build bridges of unity and solidarity. That is one area our country clearly seems to be sitting on a keg of gunpowder. The country is more divided than ever before. However, our country has also made some progress at 58.
“Our democracy is taking roots because nation-building is not to be accomplished in four or eight years, or even in one’s lifetime but from one generation to another. We have a lot of national challenges, to which all leaders should apply themselves.”
On the progress made by the state at 22, Dickson said he was fulfilled by the achievements of his administration in virtually all sectors of the state’s economy, particularly in critical infrastructure development, education, health, security and tourism.
The governor, who also spoke on the multibillion- naira Bayelsa International Airport, explained that the state government was putting finishing touches to the project and was awaiting regulatory approvals for formal inauguration.
Dickson also said arrangements were on to ensure that the airport operates local and international flights, adding that every facility, including the navigational facilities and the 3.5-kilometre runway, had been put in place.
The governor urged the people to use the period of the independence anniversary for sober reflection, given the magnitude of devastation caused by the rising floods which, he noted, had displaced thousands of people across the state.
On the question of the erratic power supply, Dickson blamed the situation on what he described as lopsided nature of the Nigerian federation where most critical issues promoting the development of the people were placed in the exclusive list.
The governor said that his administration had achieved much in its reforms of the public service, appreciating especially the Blessing Ikuru-led Bayelsa State Post-Primary Schools Board for saving millions of naira for the government through the verification of teachers’ and pensioners.
The governor added, “The lopsided federation we have is the cause of the current poor power supply situation in the state. We don’t have the freedom to do what we want to do because a lot of things are placed in the exclusive list. It is mainly a Federal Government failure and that is why we are fighting for restructuring and constitutional reforms in this country.”
Dickson listed other achievements of his administration to include the reforms in the public sector and governance culture, which had brought about peace, political stability and a new dawn in Bayelsa.