THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND IJAW NATIONAL AFFAIRS
To do nothing now about the corrupt, decadent and self-serving status quo, poses a clear and present danger to the very existence of our state, and it will be the greatest disservice to our aspirations as Ijaw people. A Quote culled from the Inaugural Speech of Our Country Man Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson, If Bayelsa fails, then it will be Right to say that the Ijaw nation also has failed, as this will pose a Great Threat to the Development of the Niger Delta with grave consequences for national stability. I will not play politics with the protection of the Ijaw National interest within the context of a united, democratic and peaceful Nigeria. "History serves as a guide not just in the present but most importantly as a compass to the great unknown future. The history of this state, the history of our government, our activities, our potentials, aspirations as well as our foibles imperfections, is to be properly recorded and put down in a Proper perspective for posterity". Stressing the importance of history in human society, Our Country Man Governor Hon. Seriake Dickson, posited that unless a people have a clear sense of history their identity will be incomplete. Below are some of the Excerpts of the Restoration Agenda of Governor Seriake Dickson as it Concerns the Ministry of Culture and Ijaw Matters of Bayelsa State
1.- As part of efforts to foster cultural renaissance in the state, Friday of Every week was declared as Ijaw Cultural Day as efforts at making the study of vernacular in all primary and secondary schools in the state have reached an advanced stage.
2.- The teaching of Izon language in primary and secondary schools in Bayelsa State was also Included into the On-going Reforms and will commence by September this year as the Commissioner for Culture and Ijaw National Affairs, Dr. Felix Tuodolo was said to have disclosed this when members of the Bayelsa Independent Publishers Association (BIPA) paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Yenagoa.
3.- Dr. Tuodolo said in pursuant to Governor Seriake Dickson’s commitment to the promotion of the Ijaw language and culture, his ministry has lined up programmes that will propagate the rich cultural heritage of the Ijaws. According to the Commissioner, the ministry plans to expose and promote Ijaw musicians, as well as encourage film producers to key into the Production of Ijaw Films. He further disclosed that a cultural carnival similar to the Abuja and Calabar Carnivals will be organized to unite the Ijaws both at home and in the diaspora.
4.- Dr. Tuodolo laid emphasis on Governor Dicksons passion on the need to recognize Our Ijaw leaders, as the contributions of heroes like the late Dappa Biriye and Ernest Ikoli, to the Growth of the Ijaw Nation can never be Over Emphasized. He also Stated that the immortalization of the late freedom fighter, Sir Isaac Adaka Boro was one Long Overdue. He said the late Boro was a visionary, selfless and committed patriot, pointing out that if Ijaws elect to be selfless and committed to the service of their people, the Ijaw Nation will be the Envy of all. Governor Dickson, who noted that Boro executed his struggle through the use of arms, said there was a need to change strategy and make the struggle an intellectual one. Noting that Boro equipped himself educationally to be able to carry out his 12 day revolution, the Ijaws must consciously build their capacities to be equipped to fight the new intellectual struggle.
5.- The ministry was created to propagate the Ijaw language and culture, as partnership with the Bayelsa Independent Publishers Association and the entire press for effective service delivery will also be Initiated.
6.- In a marked departure from the usual jamboree that have always characterized previous Isaac Boro Day celebrations, the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson announced the acquisition of the Boro family house to be developed into an historical monument, as the family house of the late Boro is to be preserved as it is, and to be put to use as an object of tourism.
7.- The Governor said in addition to preserving the Boro family house as an historical monument, government would undertake the construction of the Adaka Boro Resource Centre in Kaiama. In addition, the monthly stipend that was being enjoyed by the family members of the late Isaac Boro and the surviving veterans of the 12 day revolutionary, would be implemented with Immediate Effect.
8.-The Governor further said that henceforth, the Boro Day will no longer be celebrated in the United Kingdom and United States of America, pointing that it will be better to plough the huge resources being spent taking the programme abroad to assisting members of the family as well as developing the Ijaw language and culture. The Governor added that the event should rather attract people to the ancient town of Kaiama, to the tomb where the remains of the great hero was laid to Rest.
All through history, there was no recorded case where power was freely given, as the Ijaws have been charged to frontally confront the system and demand for the things that are rightly theirs. One of our Respected Ijaw Leader Chief Horsefall, who was Chairman of the defunct Oil and Mineral Producing Areas development commission (OMPADEC), also called for unity among the Ijaws to be united, pointing out that this is the time for the Ijaws to engage in serious dialogue and political action in order to actualize the dream of a vibrant, prosperous and modern Niger Delta region. In Solidarity with the Strengthening of the Ijaws as a Nation, a State Owned Flag, Coat of Arms and Anthem Law was Initiated by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon Seriake Dickson, In line with the vision of the founding fathers of our dearly beloved state and given this administration’s stand on Ijaw mobilization, Ijaw integration and the need to promote Ijaw fundamental interest, which clearly is not subordinate to any other interests, the government of Bayelsa State also gave its approval to have a state-owned emblem to mark and strengthen our sense of identity as a state.
This decision also underscores government’s belief that this state, like any other state, is where the Ijaws, the fourth largest ethnic nationality, has as its home. It will Interest those not in the Know that, Bayelsa is home to all Ijaws both at home and abroad, as the emblem will help serve as a unifying force and rallying point for all our people. It says a lot about the preservation of our culture, our essential values as a people and as a race. These and many more qualities have distinguished us as a Special People, from a Special Area. As proud and great people of the Ijaw Nation, irrepressible in spirit, dogged and a people of Great Potential, our culture and uniqueness as a people therefore need to be preserved as part of our heritage.
Hence, once the law is accented to, the emblems will be officially unveiled to the public. The point must however be made clear that the step taken by our government to announce the proposed launch of a state owned flag, anthem and coat of arm is not in any way different from what other states in the federation have done. It is common knowledge that virtually all the states in the southwestern region such as Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ogun and Ekiti State - have since launched theirs. The most recent was the North Central state of Kwara.
In the South-South, Cross River and Rivers State are the only two states in the region that has embraced this noble concept. In the case of Rivers, it was done since the 1970s. We believe that Bayelsa State, being the only state that can be considered as the home state of the Ijaw race, deserves even much more to blaze this trail than any other state in the federation, given its uniqueness. This much is true because of the emphasis we place on the propagation of the Ijaw ideals and what we stand for as a people, the Ijaw ideology.
Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson signed the bill on Bayelsa State Symbols and Songs Law 2012 which was passed by the State House of Assembly. The bill which was signed, among 7 others, provides a unique opportunity for government to make a clear pronouncement on the real intendment of the law as follows:
1. That Bayelsa State is a federating unit in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, created and recognized in the constitution with rights, powers and obligations.
2. That all structures, organs and officials of the state operate under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
3. That our decision to have state symbols and songs, are as a result of our belief in true federalism as a cardinal cornerstone of Nigerian nationhood and it is in exercise of our inalienable rights as a federating unit. This is a right, which we cannot be denied of since several other states with the same rights have equally exercised.
4. That the decision taken by our government in this regard is also as a result of our commitment to the propagation of ijaw culture, language, history and ideals.
5. That this decision also creates a platform for us as a government to rally our people for positive development within the context of a united, egalitarian and democratic Nigeria.
Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, in his Effort to chart a new Path for the National Integration and Development of the Ijaw Nation. He met with leaders and elders of Ijaw land in Order to discuss critical issues, considered crucial to the development of the Ijaw nation within the context of the Nigerian state.
Each of the leaders after the Meeting with the Governor, took turns to speak on the outcome of the meeting. First to speak was Chief A.K. Horsfall, in Quote “We discussed Security, Political issues, Peace and Progress of this country, but particularly, how this affects the Ijaw people who are scattered in various states throughout the country”. Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha also gave some insight on the meeting saying “one major responsibility of a leader is to make sure that those taking over from you are credible people and have the capacity to continue with your programmes. There was a dislocation, but I am glad to say that with the coming into office by Governor Dickson, I am pleased with the Turn of Event as it Concerns the Ijaw nation and the Progress made so far by our focused leader in the Person of Governor Dickson is a Welcome Development. Alabo Graham Douglas, also gave a highlight on the meeting, he said “For a long time, the Ijaws have desired such a forum to propel the people to the next level. The Crux of the message is that, we have a rallying point for the Ijaw nation now, which we did not have for quite some time as this will now create an Enabling Environment, to support the President more than ever before. We also thank God that we have a Governor who is able to look at the oil and gas as well as the maritime resources of the Ijaw nation which is spread 800 miles of the coast line towards ensuring that we benefit from these resources