The Governor of Bayelsa State, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, has emerged winner of the 2018 Transparency Award being organized by the management of the Africa Independent Television Group.
A top management team of the pioneer private television company in Africa led by the Chairman of the Award Committee, Mr John Iwarue, handed over the award letter to the Governor in Abuja on Monday.
Iwarue said that the management of the media house decided to give the transparency category of the awards to Governor Dickson after a rigorous process as a result of his demonstrated commitment to accountability and transparency in the governance of Bayelsa State.
Iwarue said that the award committee was touched by the decision of the governor to come up with a law compelling him to brief the state on its monthly income and expenditure since he took over governance in 2012.
He said that it was worthy of recognition that the Governor added a clause to the Bayelsa State Transparency and Accountability Law which made it an impeachable offense for the governor in case he fails to brief the state on its income and expenditure for three months.
He said that Bayelsa was the only state in the country with such a law that was designed to encourage accountability and transparency in governance.
He said, “Bayelsa remains the only state in the country that has a law on transparency that is imposing strict regulation on itself to the extent that if you don’t do the briefing after three months, the governor becomes liable to impeachment.
“We believe that it is the little things of life that makes great people. Although, you have embarked on infrastructural development, we find the law on transparency very encouraging. We believe that we should encourage you to do more. We believe that those deserving of honour should be honored while they are still around. We are here to celebrate you.
“We found the aspect of accountability very encouraging; , we want to do the award in March 8, 2018. Deliberately, we did not contact anybody for the award, we did our background checks to arrive at our decision.”
In his remarks, Honourable Dickson said that while it was against his policy to go for awards, he decided to accept the Transparency Award because it was designed to encourage his administration’s policy on transparency and to also encourage others to do same.
Dickson said that it was the position of his administration that Transparency was the cornerstone of democratic governance.
He explained that the government decided to enact a law on transparency which was the second law under his administration because of the conviction that the people should have the right to know how much resources was received and spent on their behalf in the state in accordance with democratic norms.
Dickson stated further that he had ensured strict adherence to the observance of the law on transparency since he took over power in 2012 to date.
He said, “I want to on behalf of the people of Bayelsa appreciate AIT team for nominating me for this award. What you are doing is actually unique, My life style and values don’t allow me to solicit or pay for awards, I am one of those who normally don’t go for awards.
“I don’t take awards but when the news was broken to me, and they explained and I saw the way it was carried out, (this is the first day I am seeing you people,)I can see that you are doing this in good faith, to encourage me and my team to do better in the path that we have chosen and we are also encouraging others to try their best in this direction.
“We feel in Bayelsa that accountability is the cornerstone of any democracy.
When we came on board, we felt we should have a system that should be accountable. We needed to have a paradigm shift, we came in with a lot of changes, what some people refer to as a silent revolution and this is just one of them.
“And this (transparency Act) is just one of them, and we thought that the people of the state have a right to know what they are getting; to be informed about the resources they are getting, that is the state and how we their servants are managing it on their behalf. I think that is important. That is my own little way of also contributing to the democratic empowerment of our people.
“This is one of the first bills. The very first bill was the one establishing the thanksgiving day; we usually have our thanksgiving every 2nd of November.
The second bill has to do with the issue of transparency, I thought that that it is the cornerstone of accountable governance. I wanted the people to buy in, to own the vision I had come with.”
Dickson explained that he had included the penalty clause in the law against the governor to ensure effective compliance in spite of opposition to the move by members of his team and even the House òf Assembly.