The immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, inadvertently raised a question recently over former president Goodluck Jonathan’s contribution to the development of a coastal community in the state.
Mr Jonathan was Bayelsa governor in 2005 before he later became president in 2010.
Mr Dickson, in a heated telephone conversation with Furoebi Akene, his former commissioner for Lands and Survey, said he built a road in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area where Mr Akene hails from.
The former governor, while fending off Mr Akene’s remarks that Southern Ijaw has remained undeveloped and abandoned, asked the former commissioner why Mr Jonathan and other past governors did not find it necessary to construct the road.
“Why didn’t (Diepreye) Alamieyeseigha do that road? Why didn’t (Goodluck) Jonathan do that road? Why didn’t (Timipre) Sylva do that road?” Mr Dickson said in the conversation which was recorded and released to the public about a week ago by Mr Akene.
Mr Dickson, apparently, was saying he did more for Southern Ijaw, compared to other past governors of Bayelsa State.
Mr Dickson made the phone call to Mr Akene to complain about an article the latter wrote about Bayelsa’s “increasing” debt burden.
He said Mr Akene “indicted” him in the article.
Mr Akene, in the article, said successive administrations in Bayelsa, including that of Mr Dickson, have not done much to develop the oil-rich state, despite taking big loans.
“It is on record that the eight (8) years of Seriake Dickson-led administration received revenue worth over N1.7trn while the seven months old present administration has received over N140bn,” the former commissioner said in the article.
He said Yenagoa, the state capital, has remained as “a glorified village slum”.
“Na waoh!” Mr Dickson exclaimed when Mr Akene admitted he was the author of the article which was published in some newspapers.
“You would write that thing even after the last discussion you came here to have with me? You would write that thing, casting aspersion and indicting me?
“And you were part of the government? You mean to say you were not aware of the development we brought, even in the government you served?” Mr Dickson said.
Mr Akene defended the article as being ‘factual”. He said he got his data from Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO).
“When I served the government, I was sidelined till I left,” Mr Akene said to the former governor.
“It is our state. Some of us worked and we were pushed away, we are empty, whereas others carried everything.
“You think so?” Mr Dickson asked him.
“Not, I think so,” Mr Akene responded.
“I have told you that as a serving commissioner, I sold land to pay children’s school fees, whereas others are building mansions everywhere.
“I am just stating the fact. I don’t tell lies, if anybody is disputing it, let him go and dispute it with the DMO – I wrote it from the figures I got from the DMO.”
The argument between Mr Dickson and Mr Akene went on back and forth.
Mr Dickson said he never took any foreign loan during his tenure as governor and that Bayelsa was the “least indebted state in the entire South-South”. He said Mr Akene’s writing was influenced by bitterness.
“If it were possible-eh, I would have just made people like you a governor of that state one term and you would run away!
“I took you as my own person… You think that you are holier than thou. The problem is that you think you are the cleanest, you think that you are the most patriotic,” Mr Dickson said.
Mr Dickson told Mr Akene he was planning to facilitate a meeting between him and the current governor of the state, Douye Diri.
But the former commissioner, in the phone conversation, rebuffed his remarks, saying Mr Diri was his “close friend” who chose to keep “so much malaise and hatred against me”.
He said he was not interested in serving the Bayelsa State government.
The former commissioner has subsequently released two audio recordings where he explained why he made public his private phone conversation with Mr Dickson.
“Actually, that was something I deliberately sent out. He said he is going to tell his boys to search the ministry (which I was commissioner) and make their own write-ups against me,” he said in one of the audio clips.
Mr Akene told PREMIUM TIMES he released the audio clips so that when Mr Dickson’s “boys” would begin to do articles against him (Akene) people would understand why.
PREMIUM TIMES asked Mr Akene how he took Mr Dickson’s comment on the former president.
“I know that he was just trying to insult the man,” he said.
Mr Akene said Mr Jonathan’s tenure as governor was just about one year and that he built a bridge from Yenagoa to the “other side”.
“The total cost of that bridge, which is over one kilometre, is higher than the little Dickson did along the road that he is claiming he did the road,” he added.
Mr Dickson is not known to have a cordial relationship with the former president.
Mr Dickson is currently a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in a scheduled bye-election for a Senate seat in Bayelsa, while Mr Akene, who resigned as commissioner in 2015, is into private practice as a surveyor in Abuja.
Mr Akene left PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and supported the APC candidate, David Lyon, in the 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa.
Mr Lyon won the election but was eventually disqualified by the Supreme Court on the basis that his deputy governorship candidate used false academic credentials.