– PROFILE OF HIS EXCELLENCY HONOURABLE HENRY SERIAKE DICKSON –
All indices appeared to have prepared the Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson for a remarkable life of selfless public service. He exemplifies uncommon courage, takes on challenges by the scruff of the neck and leads the people towards attaining target goals.
With rich royal blood flowing in his veins, he was however imbued with the common touch following a modest background marked by fear of God, good upbringing and hard work.
Born on the 28th day of January 1966 in Toru- Orua Town of Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Nanaye Dickson of Orua, he is a descendant of the King Kpadia Royal House of Tarakiri Kingdom. He is also a descendant of the renowned Obu warrior family of Orua, celebrated for their valour, bravery and sense of honour. The Obu family traces it’s ancestry to the Oba Fidipote ruling House in Ijebuland, Ogun State, Nigeria. Governor Dickson is thus a descendant of the Oba Fidipote ruling house and a Prince of Ijebuland.
Dickson attended Kolobiriowei Primary School, Toru-Orua from 1972 to 1978 where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate and proceeded to Government Secondary School, Toru-Ebeni in 1978 to 1983 where he got his West African School Certificate (WASC/GCE). He was House Prefect and Deputy Senior Prefect (Boys) of his school.
A life time commitment to matters of law and order began when he joined The Nigeria Police Force in 1986. In 1988, he gained admission into Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt to study Law from where he graduated with LL.B (HONS.) in 1992.
He then proceeded in 1993, to earn his Bachelors in Law (B.L.HONS) from the Nigeria Law School, Lagos whereupon he was called to the Nigeria Bar the same year.
Upon his graduation from the law school in 1993, he was appointed a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1994 whereupon he proceeded to Nigeria Police Academy, Kano for Officer Training. It was in the course of his training that he voluntarily withdrew his service after close to a decade of policing, to practice Law.
As a lawyer, he worked with SERENA DAVID DOKUBO & CO as an Associate Solicitor from 1994 to 1995 and moved to ALUKO & OYEBODE, a prominent Law firm in Lagos, also as an Associate Solicitor between 1995 and 1996. He founded SERIAKE DICKSON & CO in Port Harcourt and later Yenagoa and became its Managing Solicitor from 1996 to 2006.
He was elected pioneer Publicity Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Yenagoa from 1996 to 1998. He was elected the State Chairman, Alliance for Democracy (AD) 1998 to 2000 where he led the party to victory, producing the Senator representing Bayelsa West, a Member of the House of Representatives representing Sagbama- Ekeremor Federal Constituency and three Members of the State House of Assembly from Brass Local Government. These victories stand out because they were the most outstanding accomplishments recorded by the AD outside the South West at the time.
In recognition of the achievements, he was elected National Legal Adviser of the Alliance for Democracy and served in that position between 2000 and 2002. He was equally elected National Legal Adviser of the foremost Pan-Ijaw Socio-Cultural and Political group, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and served between 2001 and 2003. He became a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC), Nigeria Bar Association between 2004 and 2006.
He was also the founding Secretary of the Great Committee of Friends (The Green Movement) in 2005. The Green Movement was and remains a notable political tendency of patriotic and committed Bayelsans, desirous of development.
In January 2006, Dickson was appointed the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Bayelsa State (2006 to 2007) by the then Governor, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR, who was to become President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
As Attorney General, he was a member of the Body of Benchers, member, Council of Legal Education and Vice Chairman of the State Advisory Judicial Service Commission, amongst others.
Consistent with his attitude of impacting positively, he initiated a lot of lasting reforms in such areas as the welfare of judicial personnel, employment of law graduates as state counsels, and creation of departments and agencies to streamline the work of the ministry. Two reforms he initiated and outstanding till date were the first and only publication of the laws of Bayelsa State and the appointment of state counsels to undertake prosecution of criminal cases in Magistrate Courts across the state thereby freeing the police from that task for which the state and national bar associations wrote letters of appreciation and commendation. These accomplishments are cited in legal circles till today. It is to Governor Dickson’s credit that holding charges have been expunged from the administrative and justice system of Bayelsa State.
As a result of the positive impact he made on the people and based on his long years of committed service to the state and the Ijaw nation at large, Dickson was elected in 2007 as member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency of Bayelsa State in the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Abuja.
In the House, it soon became obvious that you can not hide a lamp under a bushel as he was appointed Chairman, House Committee on Justice and member of several committees including Defence, National Security, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs etc.
He effectively represented his people, kept the executive on its toes through oversight functions, moved critical motions on the floor and brought serious national issues to the front burner of the Green Chamber. As the Chairman, House Committee on Justice, he had responsibility of leading oversight on the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, the Nigerian Law school, Legal Aid Council and also the Law Reform Commission and treaty obligations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as human rights issues. In all of these, he carried out his responsibilities with dedication and patriotism.
Back home in his constituency, the people were full of admiration for his work and returned him to the House of Representatives in April 2011 where he now chaired the House Committee on Special Duties.
At the National Assembly, he sponsored/co- sponsored several bills, which include:
- >> The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2009.
- >> The Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (Establishment) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2009.
- >> The Political Parties(Internal Democracy)Bill, 2008.
- >> The Constitution Alteration Bill, 2010.
- >> The Legislative Houses, Powers and Privileges Act (Amendment) Bill, 2009.
- >> The Evidence Bill, 2009.
- >> The Kidnapping and Hostage Taking (Prohibition) Bill, 2009.
- >> He also played a prominent role in the enactment of the following bills:
- >> The Freedom of Information Bill, 2007.
- >> The Court Ordered Elections (Streamlining of Tenure of Office) Bill, 2008.
- >> The Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2009.
- >> Transmission of power by a President or Governor amendment Bill (section 145), 2010
One of Honourable H.S Dickson’s most important efforts at the National Assembly was the amendment of the Evidence Act, 2009, the first ever of such amendment since 1954.
Many of the bills he spearheaded or made critical inputs into provided the framework for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution and Electoral Act.
The Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson is a member of the Governing Board of Visitors to the Lincoln University, United States of America, member of the Westminster Africa Business Group, UK, House of Parliament.
He is a member of the International Bar Association, member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom) Nigerian Chapter, member of the Nigeria Bar Association and member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.
On February 11 2012, the Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson answered the clarion call of Bayelsans, ran for election and was overwhelmingly elected governor and sworn in on February 14 2012 as the fourth Governor of Bayelsa State. He then unveiled the Restoration Agenda, whose thrust is the rapid development of Bayelsa State and the Ijaw nation.
Widely acknowledged for his dogged commitment to the cause of peace, progress and development which galvanized the fulfillment of his campaign promises, the Honourable Dickson was on January 11, 2016, re-elected Governor after a fiercely contested election.
His pace in office has been breath-taking, his reach, all-encompassing. This is undoubtedly the outcome of being well-prepared for the office. He has changed the governance culture of Bayelsa, emphasizing that to aspire for office is to have a commitment to a life of selfless service and sacrifice.
He has sent over 50 bills to the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, BSHA, including the State Transparency Law, Thanksgiving Law and the Judicial Autonomy Law for which he has received commendations from the Attorney General of the Federation.
For the first time, he made education free and compulsory in Bayelsa State for students in primary and secondary schools.
Introduction of compulsory boarding schools in the 13 newly built model boarding schools, including the flagship Ijaw National Academy which has over 1,000 students on full scholarship, over 100 beneficiaries are drawn from Ijaw communities in five states of Rivers, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Ondo and Delta.
Similarly, the boarding school system also covers the over 25 constituency secondary schools built by the Dickson administration.
As a strong believer in human capital development, the administration has awarded scholarships to 400 Masters and 250 doctoral degree students in top class universities in the world, including the Lincoln University which produced Victor Perewari Pere, a student of Mathematics and Computer Science as the overall best graduating student and valedictorian of the school in the 2016/2017 session.
The Governor’s massive investment in education has paid off as the state which was once at the bottom in the ranking of secondary education in Nigeria has leaped frogged to be among the top five leading states in the country.
The Dickson led Restoration government also established the prestigious University of Africa, Toru-Orua to take care of the teeming population of students in need of world class tertiary education. The institution is affiliated to several world class universities.
To sustain the robust education policy of government, Governor Dickson has by law established the Bayelsa Education Development Trust Fund.
Governor Dickson’s passion for education has made Bayelsa the educational hub and epicenter of human capital development in Nigeria especially with the establishment of several institutions of learning. In all, over N70 billion has so far been spent on education!
Under Governor Dickson, Bayelsa assumed the status as the safest state in the Niger Delta and one of the safest states in Nigeria. He was able to achieve this remarkable feat just by deliberate and determined deployment of combination of legislation, policy, decisive and clear-headed leadership.
In the health sector, Governor Dickson introduced the health insurance scheme for all citizens of the state. In order to meet the medical needs of the citizen, the governor established a world class Diagnostic Centre, a state-of-the art Specialist hospital and a referral hospital in each of the eight local government areas of the State as well as a Drug Distribution Centre to phase out fake and adulterated drugs from circulation.
Governor Dickson’s investment in critical infrastructure has greatly transformed the entire landscape of the State. The ambitious infrastructural projects undertaken by his government, not just in the state capital but across the entire length and breath of the state, has seen most communities now connected by road and bridges. These were communities that were hitherto inaccessible to motorists.
Governor Dickson’s unprecedented investment in infrastructure is not only to modernize the capital city but mainly to open up the state to investors and to attract businesses. Hence, the construction of the Bayelsa International Airport, which when completed will rank as one of the biggest in the country and with the capacity to accommodate some of the world’s biggest cargo and passenger planes – The Boeing 747-8 with an almost 900, 000 pound maximum take off weight.
Governor Dickson has undertaken the courageous step of reforming the Bayelsa State Civil Service resulting in a reduction in the wage bill from over N6b when he assumed office to about N3.9b today. His unrelenting advocacy campaign for an egalitarian Nigeria practicing true federalism has earned him the sobriquet of “Champion of Restructuring”
He holds the traditional titles of OLOKODAU of Orua, OGBOGBO OLOTU of Oguan, Adaka the 1st of Kolokoma/Opokuma, Edi 1 of Ogbia, Twon-Ibe Toloumobo of Brass, Rock of Ijaw Nation, Ekwueme 1 of Ndi-Igbo (Bayelsa) amongst others.
He is also a member of notable cultural organisations like the Sekiapu Club of Opume, Nembe, Brass, Kalabari and is aptly, popularly called OfrumaPepe (The Great White Shark which braves the ocean when the tempest is highest).
In recognition of his selfless public service and administrative acumen, he was conferred with an honourary doctorate degree in Public Administration by Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti in 2016. In recognition of his advocacy for the protection and preservation of the environment , he was awarded an honourary doctorate of Environmental Management by the Cross Rivers State University of Technology, Calabar. He was also awarded a honourary doctorate degree in International Relations by the Maryam Abacha American University, Maradi in Niger Republic.
The Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson is an honorary citizen of the States of Georgia and South Carolina in the United States of America. He was presented a key to the city of Stonecrest, Georgia, as well as a humanitarian award by Trinity International University of Ambassadors, USA in 2017 .
In recognition of his purposeful leadership and selfless service to Bayelsa State, the Ijaw Nation and Nigeria in general, several media organisations have voted him the Governor of the year, 2017 in different categories. They include AIT, Silverbird TV, Leadership Newspaper, Vanguard Newspaper , The Nation Newspapers and still counting!
Governor Dickson has carved a niche for himself as a man of peace and conciliator. Little wonder that five National Chairmen of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP including the incumbent Chairman, have consecutively appointed him the Chairman of the party’s Reconciliation Committee.
In that capacity, he has deployed his contacts, networks, sagacity and persuasive skills to effectively manage the PDP crisis and reconcile feuding forces!
The Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson who is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International is happily married with children.
His hobbies include Swimming, Reading, Jogging, Wrestling, Boxing, Squash and Badminton.