Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, has called for greater collaboration between the Martin Luther King Foundation and his government in the area of leadership training and mentorship of Ijaw youths.
A Government House statement signed by the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Francis Ottah Agbo noted that, the Governor made the call during a meeting with Martin Luther King III, the only surviving son of the celebrated civil rights activist and icon, late Dr .Martin Luther King Jr, in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States of America.
Governor Dickson said, there was need to create a platform to preach nonviolence, peace and ethnic harmony, especially during challenging times like this, not only in the Niger Delta, but all over Nigeria.
“We need an international voice like yours known for peace building, inter-ethnic harmony and non-violence at this challenging time in our nation’s history,” he said.
While thanking Luther King III for his hospitality during a tour of the Martin Luther King Museum, he said: “This visit is quite auspicious at this critical time of the history of both countries. Every nation has her challenges. As Nigeria is grappling with issues of restructuring, America is presently faced with challenges of injustice against African-Americans.”
Dickson stated that, Nigerians have a right to discuss their common destiny, through a medium of non-violence, peace and harmony, as preached by the late Martin Luther King.
According to the countryman governor, “Nigeria has a very special role to play in terms of advancing the cause of Africa and the black race. Despite our challenges, with the support of organisations like yours we can get it right.
“My message is that, Africans should do more business with the United States and this should be championed by the African-American community in the US.”
He called for collaboration between the foundation and the Bayelsa State government in the area of leadership and non-violence training as well as mentorship of Bayelsa and Ijaw students from secondary school level at the Ijaw National Academy and other schools in the state.
He also invited Luther King III, who is an honorary citizen of Bayelsa, to visit the state again and share his ideals and vision of a society without violence with the youths.
The governor said, with the Ijaw National Academy and other 15 model boarding schools now on stream, there is need for students to be constructively engaged and mentored for the greater good of the society.
In his remarks, Dr. Luther King III expressed great delight in hosting the Bayelsa State governor in Atlanta.
He thanked the governor for the hospitality accorded him during his last visit to Yenagoa.
“The love and warmth extended to me on my last visit to Bayelsa State was refreshing.
“The Martin Luther King Foundation has a history of preaching peace and building a harmonious relationship between people. Like my father used to say, it is never too early to teach our children the principles of non-violence. Therefore, in whatever way I can be of assistance in preaching peace and bringing together peaceful coexistence between groups and ethnic nationalities, is always welcome in Bayelsa State and Nigeria as a whole,” he said.
He promised to support the state in any area of development, especially on healthcare and education.
Dr. King later took the governor and his delegation on a tour of the birthplace and residence of the late Martin Luther King as well as his tomb.