By Abdallah el-Kurebe, Editor
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State has condemned alleged campaign raised by the governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, against international oil companies (IOCs) operating in the state.
In a press briefing addressed Thursday in Yenagoa by the APC State Publicity Secretary, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, the party described the move by Dickson as a dishonest political campaign targeted on APC members, with the environment conditions in the area as only a peg.
“He has tried to dupe unsuspecting members of the public with a new dishonest campaign invented to conceal a clear political project,” the party stated.
The governor had lately launched a move against the IOCs, accusing them of causing environmental degradation and using their crude oil pipeline surveillance contracts to fund crisis in the state.
But APC dismissed the allegation as a move meant to pressure the oil companies into disengaging its members engaged as pipeline contractors. APC also accused the governor of trying to impoverish the people and destabilise the party.
APC warned the oil companies against descending into the political arena in the state by succumbing to the pressure from Dickson to sack the pipeline surveillance contractors.
The full statement:
GOVERNOR DICKSON’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST OIL COMPANIES IS A POLITICAL PROJECT Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, has been in the news lately. Not on account of any spectacular achievement in office, though.
He has been in the news supposedly as a friend of the earth, a man passionately concerned about the environmental degradation of Bayelsa State, in particular, and the Niger Delta, in general. It is no news that for over 60 years, international oil companies (IOCs) operating in our region have been polluting the environment, and compromising lives and livelihoods.
Patriotic Ijaw and Niger Delta men and women, both living and dead, have engaged in genuine campaigns, protests, and advocacy to end this sad reality. Their struggles have brought benefits to our land and people in our collective quest for development. Our people know the patriots, and the patriots know the people.
The people also know persons who have sought to make unfair profit from their sad condition, like Governor Dickson is trying to do of late. He has tried to dupe unsuspecting members of the public with a new dishonest campaign invented to conceal a clear political project.The high point of this political project was the inauguration in late March of what Dickson called “Rise for Bayelsa Campaign”.
At the launch of the new campaign, he struggled to make all the right noises in line with the historical demands of the peoples of the Niger Delta for environmental justice and human security. His gloves, however, fell off when he accused the IOCs of environmental terrorism.
According to Governor Dickson, the multinational oil corporations doing business in the state were funding “terrorism, criminality, and breakdown of law and order”. He added that the oil companies were not only polluting the environment, but were also taking “their terrorist and criminal activities to a frightening level”.
Governor Dickson claimed oil companies under the guise of crude oil pipeline surveillance contracts funded maiming, killings, and terror attacks on communities in Southern Ijaw and Nembe during the recent 2019 general elections. To his mind, the oil pipeline surveillance contracts awarded by the oil firms were key to the security threat in Bayelsa State.
He specifically accused two chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who are oil pipeline surveillance contractors, of security breaches in the state.We neither hold brief for the international oil corporations nor do we speak in the name of the surveillance contractors. As a party, we have a responsibility to protect our members from political persecution. In point of fact, APC members are not the only people working as oil pipelines surveillance contractors in the state.
Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are also doing the same job across the state. For example, Gabriel Jonah, younger brother to the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, has been an oil pipeline surveillance contractor for years. Yet, Dickson has made it his duty to focus only on APC members. He is using his offices to exert undue pressure on the oil companies to take the surveillance jobs away from our members.
Clearly, this is a political project, and it will not stand.We would like the world to know that Dickson is on a mission to impoverish the people of Bayelsa State. This is a political strategy to ensure that no one can challenge him politically. Crime in Bayelsa State has reached phenomenal heights. The hunger in the land is so bad now that people even steal pots of soup on fire! Governor Dickson is disturbed that a few Bayelsa people have risen above the pain and penury to thrive through the oil companies as contractors.
Hence his new “war” with the oil companies. Members of our party who are oil pipeline surveillance contractors passed through due process to secure the jobs. Just like their PDP counterparts.Therefore, Dickson’s call on the oil companies to revoke the jobs of APC members under the excuse that our members are breaching security is political, petty and improper. It constitutes an act of abuse of office.
As a political party, we are saying that any oil company that listens to Governor Dickson, and decides to revoke the jobs of any of our members not in breach their contractual obligation, has entered the political arena. We will also respond to that oil company politically. Bayelsa State belongs to us all. Dickson is not Bayelsa State. He has been governor since February 2012. After more than seven years in office, with poverty, violence, crime, and terror as his most evident legacies, he is now telling everyone that cares to listen that oil companies are sponsoring terrorism in the state.
The only explanation for this campaign is political anxiety. Clearly bereft of achievement after two terms of office, Dickson has clutched at the vicious campaign to create a diversion and try to give his unimaginative regime a soft-landing. As we approach the governorship elections scheduled for 2 November 2019, Dickson has become even more noisy and desperate. He is seriously disturbed by the performance of our party, the APC, in the last general elections.
Hence, he seeks to destabilise our party by targeting our key members working as oil pipeline surveillance contractors.We know it as a matter of fact that due to the good work of the oil pipelines surveillance contractors; oil theft, pipeline vandalism, and the operation of illegal refineries are at their lowest ebb. This has resulted in a sustained increase in crude oil production.
Consequently, the state’s revenue has risen sharply with more funds entering the state through the 13 per cent derivation. An estimated 10, 000 youths have also been employed through their engagement in the surveillance jobs across the state. Clearly, Dickson is not interested in youth empowerment. Nor is he committed to the welfare and security of our people. For him, everything is about power and control.
Of late, he has established one commission or the other for purely political reasons. We have seen a so-called Commission of Inquiry to probe the activities of surveillance contractors in Bayelsa State. We have heard about a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the violence that occurred during the general elections in the state. We have also learnt of the state Commission of Inquiry on Environmental Degradation.
Governor Dickson needs to know that democratic governance is not the product of any commission or panel. He needs to understand that the huge governance deficit in Bayelsa State cannot be resolved by legislation. The Dickson administration is irredeemably inept.
Thankfully, he has about nine months to go as governor. To stop him from determining his successor, and prevent the PDP from remaining in power in the state, is a task that must be done. The power is in our hands to vote out the PDP on 2 November 2019.
Together, working with our suffering people, we will defeat the PDP and reclaim Bayelsa State for the people.