SWALI—In what seems to be a constructive civil disobedience, residents of Swali community in Atissa clan, Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, have put Governor Seriake Dickson, a lawyer, on notice, that they would not vote for him in the forthcoming governorship election if he failed to provide social amenities for them.

Gov.Seriake Dickson's photo

Governor Dickson is seeking re-election for a second term in February next year, but about five months to the expiration of his first tenure, people of Swali, a host community to the state government, are disenchanted that nothing was working in the town, as internal roads in the community were in ramshackle condition.

Chair, Community Development Committee, CDC, of the community, Mr. Thomas David and Secretary General, Sinikiem Ogari, who conveyed the stand of the villagers in a chat with Niger Delta Voice, said that the only condition for the people to have a rethink on the matter was if the governor spreads development to the area before the polls.Their words: “We call on the state government to redeem the pledge in no distant time. We are waiting for the governor of Bayelsa State for the renovation of our roads, else no bulk vote again.”

Dilapidated condition

Lamenting the troubles of the community, David said: “We have nine internal roads that are in dilapidated condition. If these roads were renovated, it would go a long way to ameliorate the sufferings of the indigenous people and residents in the area as they go about their normal businesses.“The Swali abattoir is also in a very bad state. The stench oozing out is affecting the health of the community dwellers. We also want to appeal to the state government to move in and give the abattoir a face-lift to avoid the outbreak of an epidemic.”

Non-payment of compensation

As one of the hosts of the capital city, the Swali leaders said the state government was yet to pay the community compensation for acquisition of 85 percent of its land that make up the Central Business District, CBD, saying government deprived the villagers their traditional occupation of farming without recompense.They said: “We are the geese that lay the golden eggs; the Swali community is crying aloud over the refusal of the state government to implement the release of 15 percent parcel of land promised her from the CDB land, before, during and after acquisition. “The community requires that in respect of the acquired CBD land, for which an inadequate compensation was made, an outstanding balance of N10 million be paid.”

Women paramount chief of the community, Chief Joyce Agada, described the condition of the people as pathetic, stressing that the community had nothing to show for its enormous contributions to the state government. Chief Agada said: “Just look at this place; no roads. When it rains, we find it difficult to move about. We have sacrificed so much to the state government; they have taken all our farmlands, which used to be our means of livelihood. “Our youths, men and women are now jobless. We do not have anybody in government. One day, we will go into the streets to protest this inhuman treatment.” A peasant, Madam Veronica Ogbara, said she had been forced to abandon her traditional farming occupation due lack of farmland. Speaking in pidgin English, she said: “I no go school, na farm we been dey manage before government collect all our lands. Now we no get where to farm, hunger wan kill us; we need help.”

Lawmaker pleads for support

Lawmaker representing the area in state House of Assembly, Hon. Markmanuel Parkinson, pleaded with the community to exercise patience and support for the re-election bid of the present administration in the state. He said he would prevail on the governor to visit the community, without much ado, to assess firsthand the plight of the people and hasten intervention.Reiterating that he would handle the issue of compensation raised by the people, he re-assured: “I will personally bring the governor to Swali town in respect of these roads and make sure the roads are constructed.”

Gov’s aide knocked for six

Reacting, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Mr. Alfred Egbegi, expressed surprise over the community claims, insisting that the Seriake Dickson-led administration had executed projects in every rural community in the state, much more a community in the heart of the state capital.He said: “The state government is reaching out to every community in the state and has executed projects in almost all the communities. “For a community that is located at the heart of the state capital, the state government has built a flyover to connect the town, in addition to construction of roads, schools, headmaster’s quarters and water projects.“So why are they saying that government has not done anything for them? The state government is also expanding the ox-bow lake resort centre located in Swali to make it more viable. Tell them to be patient and continue to support the governor to do more.”