Text of an address by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State during the Isaac Adaka Boro Day celebration in Yenagoa.
I welcome you all once again to your state for our annual activities remembering the sacrifices and contributions of our hero who though physically dead and gone remains alive and ever present in our hearts and minds. I want to thank all of you for coming and especially his family for their fortitude in all that they have gone through and in bearing the banner of sacrifice for the collective good.I want to thank the youths of this state, youths of Ijaw Nation for keeping the Boro dream alive.
We thank all of you for working with the government year after year to honour and recognise Boro and the sacrifices and contributions of all those who fought by his side. We honour him as a symbol of our struggle, of the time when our oppressed peoples said no, because no was the right answer at the time. He was of course not alone. A number of young men believed in him, believed in our course and answered the call of duty. We remember Captain Owunaro who is still alive. His son is representing him here. We want to say thank you to him for being a living symbol of our struggles.
We remember the contributions of Nottingham Dick, we remember the contributions and sacrifices of young Captain Nyanayou. We remember all of those who fought and died. For those of you who have not taken time to study the history of our struggle, find time to read every material you can lay your hands on. Find time also to talk to those who were part of it. Then you will know the hard decisions that these leaders and heroes as young men at that time had to make. Take your minds back to the late 1950’s and early 60’s in Nigeria. All of them were university undergraduates and then graduates. One of them had a master’s degree in Chemistry at that time. They abandoned the cozy comfort they had earned.
If you want to know, a number of them still lie in unmarked graves. These were young men who taught us the meaning of sacrifice. So for those of you who think that you have a Bayelsa that exists only to feed your pocket think again. For those of you who think that this state only exists to satisfy the greed of the elites and a few privileged people think again. For those of you who are civil servants who think that this state exists to fill your pocket without you doing your duty and going to work; where 43,000-45,000 of you in this state with a population of close to 3 million think that everything received in this state should be channelled towards your comfort even for work you did not do, think again. For those of you who connive, and perpetrate fraud on our state at every level and at every turn please think again.
Isaac Boro, Nottingham Dick, Owonaro, Nyanayou all believed in and fought for the welfare and well being of their people not minding their own individual comfort. They stood trial, were convicted, sentenced to death, and later granted pardon. They fought for our liberation to prevent another colonialism and they died. Do not ask me how and who killed them, read your history books. For me and the team that I lead, I made it clear from day one that we were not in government for business as usual. For those of you who five years down the line are still in doubt, be very clear that our mission remains constant: to save our people from oppression, to fast track our development and make this place a place of distinction, a place that Boro and all our departed heroes will behold and say :”yes, we did our best, the generation that followed us understands and have done their duty.”
Today as we remember our heroes, I want to underline the fact that as a people we need to have a clear sense of direction, a clear sense of strategy. If you do not know, please know that you are a member of a community that is among the most oppressed and deprived people on the face of planet earth. That is why we are working hard to lay the foundations for a new Bayelsa and a new Ijaw Nation. The battles have not ended but the territory, the strategies must change, the terrain of the battle must change and that is why we are building schools and schools and schools, spending over N50b building the schools that should have been built but were not, building the roads and infrastructure that could have been done. That was what Boro wanted to see – rescuing our people from poverty, underdevelopment and a miserable existence That is the vision we are pursuing.
We are raising a new generation of Boros, a new generation of leaders that will take up the struggle and like I said, the terrain of the battle must change.
Now you have to focus on the intellectual side of the struggle and arm yourself intellectually with the right skills for tomorrow. Now because we did not invest in education, we did not invest in skills development, our country left us behind, Nigeria forgot about Niger Delta, forgot about Bayelsa and our people. Up till today their only interest is the flow of oil and now gas, nothing more. As it was in Boro’s time, so it has been till now. We are working hard day and night to make a change. The only way we can do that is by investing in the young people so that we can raise a new team of leaders and we are doing that in a revolutionary manner; that is what Boro would have been happy about. If he were alive today I bet he would have said:” my governor and my son, you and your team are on track.”
Right there in his home town, Kaiama, we have the Ijaw National Academy. I considered a lot of factors before I sited that school in Kaiama because we need to acknowledge the contributions that Kaiama and that area have also made to our nation. As we speak, we have a thousand young Boros being incubated. We took them from their families, from their parents. The only thing we want you to do is allow us to take your children, boys and girls to be fed by the state, clothed by the state, accommodated by the state, with books and computers provided by the state. By Friday this week, another set of five boarding schools will start up. That is the way to carry on the dream of Boro. Boarding schools,
education, skills development everywhere. The more detractors complain they distract us because they do not know the dreams we have. But the more they complain we will build more schools to raise more Boros for tomorrow. Fifteen boarding schools will take off between now and September. The Ijaw National Academy is like a University, go and look at it.
A short while ago, you were told that our students who were on the restoration government scholarship in the prestigious Lincoln University about 21 of them graduated with flying colours. One of them did not just graduate with first class, he was the best graduating student in the whole university. Top American companies are asking to employ our Bayelsans. And our scholarship student was selected to be the valedictorian. He spoke for the university this year just last weekend.
We must continue with the Boro dream. Every Bayelsan must contribute his own bit to the fulfillment of this dream by paying the education levy. We cannot get to our destination unless we raise leaders for the battles of tomorrow, the same old battles but the strategy and weapons have changed. Your enemies have not changed but the terrain of the battle has changed. I said in my Inaugural address that after my tenure, after I and my team are through with this state, Bayelsa State and the Ijaw nation will never be the same. We have had governments, every government has tried according to its own might but it beats my imagination why we did not have a single school in every major community in this state before now. It beats my imagination why Sagbama did not have a general Hospital before now, why Ekeremor never had a general hospital before now and why any one sick in Ekeremor had to go to a hospital in Delta State. And the people have had leaders who are more interested in what they get than in the provisions they get for their people. We have reversed that, we have hospitals coming up in every local government area. Now every day, you go to the diagnostics centre, one of the best medical facilities in this country, people come from Lagos and Abuja to do their check up. But they have not seen anything yet. Later this year, the international Airport will be open, planes will land there. Because we said Ijaw nation must be open to the world: that is the dream of Boro and his comrades.
The theme of my message has already been summarized, by my king who conferring on me the title, Adaka the 2nd said that it is good we are gathering for Boro every year, but each one of you should ask yourself: am I doing my bit? Boro came with his colleagues, they did their bit and they are gone. I and my team have come, we have taken up the battle from where it stopped and we are doing our duty, but each one of us must examine ourselves and to be frank we have not done very serious self examination in this state and in the Ijaw Nation. We cannot blame God because he has been very kind and merciful towards us especially of late. But we ourselves how committed to the Boro dream are we? Because people are not committed to the Boro dream, not committed to the development of their own state, we have a habit whereby when someone is a minister, all they think of in Abuja is how to undermine and blackmail and bad mouth and bring down their home government and their state. Our people must change.
This year’s Boro day is a call to duty, a call for patriotism that we should support and encourage one another and do anything you can, do your own little bit to bring development and progress to Bayelsa and the Ijaw Nation.
I want to conclude by thanking the Kaiama community and Ijaw youths, let me also use this opportunity to announce our displeasure at the divisions creeping into Ijaw land. Today our people should be ashamed not only that we did not take advantage of opportunities we had in the past but we are allowing partisanship to divide even organs that we should hold sacred. Our organisations including the INC are divided, even IYC is divided because of greed, selfishness and unnecessary politics. Today, is it not a pity that we are doing Boro celebrations and the people who say they are big people in Abuja are not here? Open your eyes, there are so many people who are worse enemy to our cause than outsiders. They are living a lie but by their fruits you shall know them.
We pray that this Glory of all lands, this sacred soil that produced Boro and all others will always produce leaders who will not sacrifice the Ijaw National interest for anything. I and my team are doing our bit and I thank you for your support. I have less than three years, I will continue to keep the flag flying till the very last day and when it gets close to that day I will call the Ijaw nation to prayers so that the next set of people who will come will be people raised by God, people that will fly the flag even higher. This land will not be conquered by anybody.
I have directed that every year, the celebrations should take place in all our schools. I want the young people to know they must always stand up to be counted in defence of their people and to say no when no is the right answer. I want them to know about our people and what we are going through. All principals will organize lectures, I will also endeavour to get some leaders to go with me to some select schools to inspire our young people to invest more in developing themselves and spend more time in understanding the priorities and needs of our people.
I hereby announce the immediate employment of all the Ijaw language teachers that have been trained by the government of Bayelsa state. The teaching of Ijaw language history and culture from September will be a compulsory subject in all our schools. Most of you do not even know the meaning of the symbols we have, the flag this government introduced, the coat of arms that we fought for and gave to our people, symbols of the fact that our people cannot be conquered. All this will also be taught in the schools. In a short while from now, I will formally inaugurate our state anthem.
The other announcement is about the Boro family, and the families of our compatriots. Their allowances that I paid almost throughout the first term until the economy took a down turn are hereby restored. All the categories of the allowances and a special allowance are approved for the widow of Boro.
The last announcement is that later this year, the government of Bayelsa state as part of our policy of taking Bayelsa and the Ijaw Nation to the world, will be sponsoring the first every Ijaw International Conference outside the shores of Nigeria to sensitize the world about the Ijaw condition.
I want to thank you all for coming, thank you all for continuing to associate with this dream, particularly the young people. I call for unity in the IYC, INC, as you all know because I am a product of the Ijaw struggle I made it clear that I wasn’t going to support any faction because it will be wrong.
Thank you and God bless.