I have always believed in the philosophy of “a sound mind in a healthy body” and that education is the bedrock of all development. In the year 2012, when I was first elected and assumed Office as the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Nigeria, I promised to enthrone a “Government of Restoration” with a vision of a paradigm shift in governance to address the critical problem of dearth of infrastructure and human capital development in the education and health sectors of the State. I pledged to allocate substantial sums of money annually through the State budgeting process to fund unparalleled development in these two sectors.
As a result, in the last six years in the education sector, the Bayelsa State Government under my leadership have renovated all the dilapidated primary and secondary schools and went further to build at least one model secondary school in every Local Government headquarters in the State with the Ijaw National Academy, Kaiama as its masterpiece. Consequently, Bayelsa State now has some of the best secondary schools in Nigeria.
In the tertiary education sub-sector of Bayelsa State, I ensured that the College of Health Technology, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education and Niger Delta University were provided with high quality academic infrastructure, equipment and manpower that had enabled them to secure accreditation for all their academic programmes by their respective national regulatory bodies.
Furthermore, under my governance leadership, I have ensured the establishment of Bayelsa State Polytechnic, Aleibiri for the production of middle level technical and vocational manpower in the State and the University of Africa, Toru-Orua, an institution of international standard.
In the health sector, I have addressed some of the seemingly insurmountable challenges with the establishment of a referral hospital in each of the eight (8) Local Government headquarters in Bayelsa State, the Bayelsa Diagnostic Centre provided with diagnostic equipment of international standard, a well-equipped Specialist Hospital in Yenagoa, a modern drug mart called Bayelsa Drug Distribution Centre and a robust Bayelsa State Health Insurance Scheme (BHIS) for all residents of the State.
In the 2018 Bayelsa State Appropriation Bill which I tagged “Finishing Strong on Development, Stability and Prosperity”,I allocated Twenty-two billion naira (₦22 billion) and Eight billion naira (₦8 billion) to Education and Health respectively to further address more of the identified challenges in both sectors. Consequently, a primary health care facility has been built in each of the 105 political wards to reduce infant and maternal mortality in the State with the accompanying “Safe Motherhood Initiative” where every pregnant woman living in Bayelsa State is required to register and receive ante-natal care at the medical facility closest to them and to also receive a maintenance allowance of ₦3,000 per month until time of delivery.
Furthermore, in June 2018, I forwarded a Bill to the Bayelsa State House of Assembly for the establishment of a specializedmedical university in Yenagoa the State capital and in August 2018 the Bill establishing Bayelsa Medical University (BMU) was passed into Law and later assented to by me. The BMU was established to serve two critical purposes:
The Restoration Government of Bayelsa State, under my leadership decided to locate the Bayelsa Medical University within the premises of Bayelsa State owned 500-bed hospital situated along Imgbi Road, Yenagoa. The hospital project was started by the previous administration of Governor Diepriye Alamieyeseigha in 2002 and remodeled and equipped with modern health care facilities of international standard by Governor Timipre Sylva but was not put into use. I have renovated the 50-bed hospital to serve as the teaching hospital of the Bayelsa Medical University.
In line with the internationalization and transnational agenda of universities worldwide, I have directed the Management of BMU to immediately commence the recruitment of both local and foreign academics with expertise in the diverse field of medical science in order to confer an international image on this university and give the students worthwhile learning experiences that will enable work in the health sector in any part of the world on graduation.
In November 2018, the Restoration Government of Bayelsa State under my leadership and my vision to encompass transnational education into the education sector, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Louisville, Kentucky, USA to train critical academic and non-teaching manpower for BMU, to engage in academic exchange programme with BMU and to mentor and guide the immediate take-off of the new institution. We are also in the process of facilitating discussion between BMU and the renowned Apollo Hospital in India for inter-institutional co-operation.
The vision of the Restoration Government of Bayelsa State is to ensure the State becomes the epicenter of educational excellence and the headquarters of human capital development in the field of medical science in Nigeria.
On 31st January 2019, BMU was formally recognized by the National Universities Commission, the agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria that is mandated to regulate university education in the country.
It is with a cheerful heart that I welcome Nigerian and International students to Bayelsa Medical University, Yenagoa, a potentially great citadel of learning that the Restoration Government in Bayelsa State has established to enable you pursue your dream career in the field of medical science. I believe in the Latin dictum: “Ad servitium Dei et hominum”which means “Service to humanity is service to God”.
I wish you all a successful journey in fulfilling my vision for Bayelsa State Education and Health sectors for all Bayelsans and beyond.
You are welcome.
Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson
Former Executive Governor of Bayelsa State
Visitor, Bayelsa Medical University