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Incitement: Dickson Replies Sylva, Senator Degi Over Accusation

The Senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly, Chief Henry Seriake Dickson, has read with shock a statement credited to Senator Eremienyon Degi, his counterpart from Bayelsa East, where he wrongfully accused him of inciting violence in the Niger Delta over the 3 percent allocation to the producing communities in the PIB.

For the records, Senator Dickson spoke on pressing national issues including the Bill to amend the Electoral Act and the PIB when he addressed the National Assembly Press Corp on Thursday. The Senator who recalled that the former President Umaru Yar’Adua under whose administration the PIB was initiated, recommended 10 percent for the communities added that even President Mohammadu Buhari initially recommended 5 percent to them.

Senator Dickson used the opportunity of his interaction with the media to explain what senators from the region did in terms of interacting with their colleagues from other parts of the country. He narrated how the Southern Nigeria Senators Forum and the South- South Senators Forum led by Senator Bamidele Opeyemi and George Sekibo respectively made efforts to get the buy-in of their colleagues for 5 percent which was how the executive proposal for 2.5 percent was upgrade to 5 percent in the joint committees’ report. These efforts were ably coordinated by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Omo Agege and supported by all Senator from the region. Senator Dickson thanks all the Senators who supported these efforts and those who voted five percent at the conference committee session of the National Assembly.

In his characteristic manner of honour and truthfulness, he relayed how most senators even from the North, pledged to support the minimum of 5 percent as a result of these interactions.

He explained further that on the morning of the vote, the Senate leadership permitted the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the GMD of the NNPC to highlight the technical aspects of the bill, which in retrospect proved inimical to South South’s quest for 5 percent as the presentation by the ministerial team clearly and strongly stated that anything other than 2.5 percent was going to drive away investors from oil industry.

Senator Dickson narrated this sequence of events for the public to know that the southern Nigeria and the South-South senator’s had done a lot of work and were confident of the support of their colleagues, who had pledged support for the minimum of 5 percent. This was the point Senator Dickson stressed.

Senator Dickson further stated that the other senators they discussed with were willing to consider 5 percent which was why Senator Sabo Nakudu, lead chairman of the committee supported by his co-chairman Senator Albert Bassey agreed and presented a report recommending 5 percent an effort we all appreciate.

The Senator clarified further that the dramatic change of opinion came after the categorical briefing and statements made by the ministerial team. There were intense period of disagreement and consultations on the floor during which majority of Senators who had pledged 5 percent agreed to support 3 percent higher that the 2.5 percent proposed by the executive and defended by the ministerial team led by Chief Timipre Sylva.

When asked by a reporter why Sylva, a former Bayelsa Governor from the South South led the team to propose 2.5 percent against his own region and people, Senator Dickson declined comment and directed the reporter to redirect the question to Chief Sylva.

Senator Dickson’s statement was not a personal attack on the minister or anybody but a statement of fact unknown to the public which was relayed for better information and appreciation of the efforts made by the South South senators to get at least 5 percent for the communities.

Senator Dickson narrated this sequence of events for the public to know that the southern Nigeria and the South-South senator’s had done a lot of work and were confident of the support of their colleagues, who had pledged support for the minimum of 5 percent. This was the point Senator Dickson stressed.

Senator Dickson further stated that the other senators they discussed with were willing to consider 5 percent which was why Senator Sabo Nakudu, lead chairman of the committee supported by his co-chairman Senator Albert Bassey agreed and presented a report recommending 5 percent an effort we all appreciate.

The Senator clarified further that the dramatic change of opinion came after the categorical briefing and statements made by the ministerial team. There were intense period of disagreement and consultations on the floor during which majority of Senators who had pledged 5 percent agreed to support 3 percent higher that the 2.5 percent proposed by the executive and defended by the ministerial team led by Chief Timipre Sylva.

When asked by a reporter why Sylva, a former Bayelsa Governor from the South South led the team to propose 2.5 percent against his own region and people, Senator Dickson declined comment and directed the reporter to redirect the question to Chief Sylva.

Senator Dickson’s statement was not a personal attack on the minister or anybody but a statement of fact unknown to the public which was relayed for better information and appreciation of the efforts made by the South South senators to get at least 5 percent for the communities.

It is therefore difficult to understand the basis upon which Senator Degi would come up with such a curious publication accusing Senator Dickson of inciting violence

Aware of the the recent political developments in Bayelsa, we urge Degi to live above his personal pains. He should refrain from spreading hatred, propaganda and falsehood. He should concentrate on making productive contributions to the development of his communities, state and indeed the Niger Delta.

If there are people who should know that Senator Dickson cannot be intimidated by mischief, propaganda and falsehood at the federal level, Degi and Sylva should know more than most. For his information, Dickson does not play petty politics by bringing local issues to blackmail people at the federal level. This is why in spite of the attacks on him, Senator Dickson has lived above them to try to show solidarity with all Bayelsans across party lines in the interest of our people.

It is also important to state that in Senator Dickson’s characteristic manner, when Chief Timipre Sylva was nominated minister, he congratulated the minister, thanked the president for the appointment, and as governor, directed Senator Degi’s former colleagues in the Senate who now are Governor and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, to assist with his clearance, an act that the Senate President, HE, Senator Ahmed Lawan publicly commended. Senator Degi knows what Senator Dickson stands for and the impact he made in Bayelsa if he chooses to be honest.

Degi, Sylva and their cohorts should note that the truth has to be told, that actions and inactions have consequences and he can not put them away by propaganda and scapegoating. History will record who did what at what particular time. The judgement belongs to history.

It is common knowledge that the oil producing communities, the entire Niger Delta and all well meaning Nigerians are outraged by the reduction of the host community funds and other sections in the PIB now passed and Degi and Sylva should make bold to address this. The challenges of managing communities with the way the PIB has been mismanaged are obvious for all to see and have nothing to do with Dickson’s frank, honest, advice, views and proposals which are available as he continues to work with other Nigerians in the pursuit of the National good as a patriot. Senator Dickson’s view which many see as rational is that the two percent difference is not what the tension challenges and uncertainties. That the increased security expenses, the anger, the restiveness, hostilities would be more than the two percent reduction. A sustainable future for investors and the communities lies in first getting the good will and support of the host communities.
The PIB is the first law that is giving oil producing communities direct funding. It is a historic development which we must get right and It would be better to start with the full cooperation and support of the communities.

It is indeed a shame that Degi and his cohorts can condescend so low.

All Nigerians are hereby advised to disregard the latest propaganda of Senator Degi’s as it is a typical case of taking the local Bayelsa politics to the National level.

Finally, Degi should explain why and in what way and for what reason and purpose Senator Dickson would be envious of Sylva.

Fidelis Soriwei
Head of Media

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