The Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson has warned that the country was sitting on a keg of gunpowder, saying Nigeria was more divided at 58.
Dickson said it was unfortunate that at 58 Nigeria was still talking about elemental issues such as unity, federal character, fairness and justice.
Speaking in a live radio broadcast in Government House, Yenagoa, the governor blamed the country’s predicaments on leaders, who squandered opportunities to re position the country.
Dickson said simple issues like appointments, respect for geopolitical zones, and decision-making had deeply divided the country.
He said leadership is demonstrated by taking concrete steps and actions to engender equality, justice and creation of a sense of unity and not political slogans for selfish interest.
He said: “At the national level, Nigeria could have done better too. Nigeria at 58, we are still talking about elementary issues like 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 levels who ought to take concrete steps are doing little or nothing about uniting the people. Unity should be shown by 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, which all leaders should apply themselves.”
On progress made by the state at 22, Dickson declared he was fulfilled by the achievements of his administration in virtually all sectors of the state’s economy, particularly in critical infrastructures, education, health, security and tourism.
For instance, the referred to the Bayelsa International Airport built by his administration as one of the best in the country explaining that the state government was putting finishing touches to the project and awaiting regulatory approvals for formal commissioning.
Dickson also said arrangements were ongoing 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 flood which had displaced thousands of people across the state.
On the question of epileptic 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 are placed in the exclusive list.
He said: “The lopsided Federation we have is the cause of the current poor power supply situation in the state. We don’t 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.”
The governor listed other achievements of his administration to include the reforms in the public sector and governance culture which have brought about peace, political stability and a new dawn in Bayelsa.
He said: “Nigeria could have done better. At 58, we are still talking about elemental issues like the unity of our country. Those who ought to take concrete steps are not doing so. We are more divided than ever before especially now. We are sitting in a keg of gunpowder”.
Dickson said his administration had created enough political tolerance to allow opponents to operate without harassment.
He said: “We have deployed political power positively, showing tolerance and accommodation and managing political processes. People will talk about or even rant of some of these things. We have not hounded anybody holding contrary views.
“Leaders have a way of heating up the polity. There was a time in this state that if you disagreed you won’t come to the state again. So, we don’t victimize people. We show deliberate tolerance and capacity to accommodate to create a new Bayelsa”.