Hensard University gets license from NUC to operate

Today, I was at the National Universities Commission where I joined 36 other Proprietors and promoters who were officially and formally presented with the certificate of registration of new private universities in Nigeria.
On behalf of the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation, promoters of the HENSARD University, I thank and appreciate Professor A.A Rasheed mni, and members of the NUC team for the meticulous job, and their dedication to the cause of promoting and deepening education in Nigeria.
The Hensard University, which is the first private University in Bayelsa State, will promote high academic, ethical and professional standards comparable to any university anywhere else. It will commence academic activities later this year and also run a robust pre-degree foundation school aimed at raising the standards of young people desirous of University education with links to several universities in Nigeria and abroad.
My lifelong commitment to supporting education and human capacity development is well known.
As governor, I built and established the University of Africa Toru- Oura, and the Bayelsa Medical University, Yenagoa (all buildings and facilities except the hospital building, which we renovated. I established the Bayelsa State Polytechnic, Aleibiri, for the development of technical skills, the Isaac Boro college of education Sagbama, the international institute of Tourism development, Yenagoa, the Driving institute, Yenagoa, School of Agriculture Ofoni, sports Academy, Asuama, I granted monthly subventions to even Federal institutions in Bayelsa:10 million naira to Federal University Otueke and 5 million naira to Federal Polytechnic Ekeowe. I also built and introduced Boarding secondary schools with the Ijaw National Academy as the flagship, with free boarding, uniforms, books etc for the first time, I built headmasters and teachers’ quarters and many primary schools in various communities across the state.
While doing the above, we embarked on reforms to sanitize existing tertiary institutions and our infrastructural interventions and investments in Niger Delta University have made it look like a serious university, same goes for the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Tombia and the College of Health Technology, Otuogidi.
I introduced novel policies and laws supporting these innovations in the educational sector. Some of these are:
1. Educational Development Trust Fund, (EDTF)
2. Bayelsa Higher Education Students Loan Board.
3. The Teachers training and certification Board.
4. Board for Science and technical education (to promote and formulate policies on science and technical education in the state).
5. Bayelsa State right to education law.
Even at a recession, I granted employment to all first-class graduates of Bayelsa state and Ijaw origin to encourage them to pursue their academic careers in our various tertiary institutions and in the public service. I held regular meetings and annual dinners to encourage teachers and increase their morale as the most important workforce in the state.
I also built and handed over boarding schools with improved facilities to all the armed forces and security agencies in Nigeria, which is why the Army command secondary school in Ebedebiri started, a product of that partnership with the military and security agencies. I hope all the security services are following up and living up to expectations.
In our hunger for empowerment and advancement of human capital, our government granted unprecedented scholarships to various Bayelsans who had admission in various disciplines within Nigeria and some of the best institutions around the world.
For these initiatives and the impact our government made on educational indices, my efforts and that of my team received commendations from the country’s highest policy organ, the National Council on Education severally and other regulatory bodies and institutions.
I dedicated a lot of time, effort and resources to the promotion and deepening of frontiers of education, and human capacity building as I fore said.
I did all of these in a period of unprecedented national recession.
I did it because as I always say, no investment makes meaning as investment in education. Every other investment deteriorates with time but investment in human capacity building brings on the contrary, multiplier intergenerational effects.
As a result of my commitment even after all of these, in my current position as Senator, I have always directed scarce resources towards supporting educational advancement by way of scholarships, grants and other forms of support to students and institutions, and more of that will be unveiled even this year moving forward as I promised.
HENSARD University will give me an opportunity to continue to support and promote, education and the development of skills.
The HENSARD University is going to be a combination of academic training and practical professional exposure and work closely with the corporate world to ensure that skills are developed and our graduates instead of seeking for jobs, will themselves be the employers of labour.
HENSARD University will pave the way even in that.
I congratulate all members of the HENSARD team, members of the board of trustees and members of the project implementation committee.
once again my appreciation goes to the Federal Government, the Ministry of Education and the NUC for granting this license.
Parents, guardians and prospective students should await operational statements that will be issued by the management of the university soonest.

Seriake Dickson Foundation (HSDF) gives out grants to six hundred undergraduates of Bayelsa West Senatorial District

Yesterday, the Education Support Programme of my foundation, the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation (HSDF) gave out grants to six hundred undergraduates of Bayelsa West Senatorial District made up of Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government Areas.
I thanked the organising committee led by Professor Barclays Ayakoromor and his dedicated team who went through over 2000 applications submitted online to carefully select the beneficiaries. However, as expected, not all applicants made it, therefore I call for understanding from students who applied and could not make it.
Meanwhile, I was encouraged by the huge show of interest and participation on the programme. My appreciation also goes out to the chairman of the occasion, High Chief Seiyefa Koroye, a retired university Don and his wife Dr. Mrs. Grace Koroye, a retired educationist also.
I thank the Regent of Tarakiri clan, High Chief Fidelis Agbeki and all the paramount rulers of communities in Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government Areas including political leaders and top government functionaries who joined me and my wife at the programme. I was impressed with the peptalk by Professor Christine Odi, Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics, Niger Delta University (NDU) and my cousin Mrs. Funkazi Koroye Crooks and the remarks by the chairman of the occasion as well as the royal father of the day, all of which is urged the beneficiaries to take their studies seriously.
I also emphasized my life long commitment to creating educational opportunities and I am glad to see the steady impact of the institutions created, policies initiated and implemented while I served as the Governor of Bayelsa State and the positive impact they are making.
Last year, the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation gave financial support to all Bayelsa students of the 2022/ 2023 session of the Nigeria Law school. Meanwhile, this support programme is targeted at undergraduates, a grant of ₦30,000 to 600 undergraduates which amounts to ₦18,000,000 will help them go back to school. It is not intended as a scholarship, rather the Foundation observed that the flood that ravaged the state last year destroyed the incomes and livelihood of many, thus, found the need to support the students to return to school as families try to get back on their feet.
I also announced that there will be a robust educational support programme part of which will be:
1. The Henry Seriake Dickson scholarship programme which covers the cost of tuition.
2. A merit based grant for students on First class standing.
3. An undergraduate educational grant such as this, lastly, a grant for postgraduate students will be unveiled later this year.
I urge all those who are interested to apply for the programme as we join hands to build a secure future.
I joined every other speaker to charge the beneficiaries to pay attention to their studies and develop well-rounded characters to justify the investment their parents, guardians and the foundation has made, admonishing them to abstain from drug abuse, cultism and other social vices that will destroy their lives.
Today, I marked the grand finale of the 2022 edition of the Pa Nanaye Dickson Wrestling tournament which the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation (HSDF) instituted in memory of my late father, Pa Nanaye Dickson.
The competition is essentially a grassroot and community based tournament aimed at discovering new talents. It begins at the community level where the champions assemble at the constituency headquarters to compete for the constituency championship, thereafter all the champions will assemble at the Local Government headquaters to compete for the Local Government championship.
Today was the meeting of all these champions to select and give prizes to the overall winner and the runners up. Meanwhile consolation prizes were also given to all the participants.
The first prize was #500,000, the second #300,000, the third prize ₦200,000 and seven consolation prizes of #100,000 each was given to all the other participants.
I thanked the paramount rulers especially that of Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government, the Regent of Tarakiri, the High chiefs and leaders who were present. I also appreciated the youths and women who turned out in their numbers to enjoy the event and the security for maintaining peace. I thanked the organising committee whose chairman was the Late Suoye Lokoja for their selflesness. I observed a minute silence in his honour and my foundation also presented a cash donation to his family.
The Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation needs the support and encouragement of all and is open to work with all to deepen the Ijaw traditional wrestling. I thanked everyone for being part of it, including the media for the real-time reportage.
While I congratulated all the winners, I look forward to hosting the 2023 edition of the competition by the grace of God.
Lastly I called on the youths of the Senatorial District, the state and Niger Delta to strive to be the best at their endeavours and abstain from cultism, drug abuse and other social vices that will ruin their lives.

Visit of Middle belt and Northerners at the Senatorial District

Today, I received Middle belt and Northern people staying in my Senatorial district.
A number of them stated that I opened up the state and my area for them to live peacefully.
They are doing their business and are happy to be in the state and my Senatorial district.
They are safe in this area and I told them that I have a lot of northern friends whose places I call home, a number of them have visited me in my community and have stayed with me in my house, so they too should feel safe as they go about their lives.
They came to spend Christmas with me and also brought a souvenir of my portrait in solidarity with me. I thanked them and urged them to continue to live peacefully and be free to carry out their businesses and practice their faith without any molestation.
I urged them to also respect the beliefs and traditions of their host communities and live peacefully. I told them that if there are any issues there are appropriate structures to channel their concerns to and I wish them the best.

Oil Companies and Environmental Rights

I call on oil companies to redouble their efforts by observing international best practices.
This is as result of the oil exploration activities and the activities of misguided young people involved in illegal bunkering have resulted in the depletion of the ecosystem of the Niger Delta.
I made this known to newsmen after swimming at the River Forcados in my country home Toru-Orua. I explained the significance of the River to the Ijaw Nation and the people of Toru-Orua community.
I am urging the oil companies to respect the environmental rights of the Ijaw people. The ethos of the Ijaw people revolves around the Rivers which is a source of livelihood for the people.
I call on those involved in the illegal refining of crude oil to desist from the act as it affects the ecology of the Niger Delta.

Transparency in Leadership Merit Award 2022

Over 90 Civil Society groups led by the Center for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, presented an award to me today at the National Assembly titled; Transparency in Leadership Merit Award 2022 on account of my initiatives to deepen transparency and openness in governance in Bayelsa state which I pioneered as well as guaranteeing Local Government Financial Autonomy.
This law was passed in 2012.
We faithfully implemented the Transparency Law and also started the Finance Committee which enabled top leadership of the state government to be on the same page in contributing and knowing about disbursements by the government and it served my government and the state very well.
As I said at the event, I dedicate the award to all the members of my team (both in the Executive and the Legislature) who were part of this and several other novel policies and projects aimed at deepening development in the state.
I believe the work they did under my leadership will continue to stand the test of time. I also believe that Local Councils in Bayelsa continue to enjoy unfettered financial autonomy even now.
I dedicate this award also to all the people of Bayelsa state who graciously gave me the mandate and supported me. I am happy particularly to note the continuity of these programmes; the Transparency Briefing and the financial autonomy of Councils.
Thank you all.

Visit to Bulou-Orua Community

Yesterday, I was at my community in Bulou-Orua to condole with the entire Onitsha family and the community and to pay my final respect to Late Isaac Onitsha.
He was an astute businessman in Yenagoa and the owner of Ebis Hotel, one of the very first hotels established upon the creation of Bayelsa State over two decades ago.
He was one businessman who never held any political office in the state. He was a good man, a great supporter of mine and everyone else and was one of those I counted on to stabilize our community.
I pray God to comfort and guide his wife, his children, the entire Onitsha family and the community.
I also made a stop at Amassoma community to condole with one of our elders in the state, Chief Douglas Naingba who lost his wife, Mrs Adibalakumo Douglas-Naingba.
He continues to be a dependable elder, a stalwart in Amassoma and an Ijaw activist I offered my condolences and thereafter returned to Abuja. I pray God to grant her soul eternal repose and also grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.

Nominees for the board and management of the NDDC.

Today, I joined other members of the joint committee of the National Assembly on Niger Delta to screen the President’s nominees for the board and management of the NDDC.
Though this is coming late, it is a good thing that the President finally sent in the list of nominees as required by the Act.
However, I pointed out repeatedly the need for the appointing authority and those nominating and backing the candidates for the various positions on the NDDC board to respect the mandatory provisions of the NDDC Act particularly section 1, subsection 2 and Section 12 which requires that the Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Directors and State representatives must be amongst other things, persons from an oil producing area.
This is to recognize the fact that historically, the reason for the creation of the NDDC and its provision made by the National Assembly was to address the agitations by oil-producing communities who complained of infrastructural deficit and exclusion.
So it is not enough for a nominee to be competent professionally or academically, this is one requirement. The second requirement is that the person must pass the test of indegeneship in the Act.
I observed with dismay that a lot of Mr. President’s nominees in this list did not pass the indegeneship test though professionally competent and of reputable backgrounds. I made this point not in opposition to any candidate in particular but to them all so we don’t have a culture of disobedience of the NDDC Act, gradually leading to a total abandonment of the indegeneship principle.
As it is, the NDDC Act is more adhered to in breach than in compliance.
All the same, I am in touch with the members of the committee and my position is that if we need to fast forward the screening and clearing of the nominees because the government is winding down, let it be on a condition and a resolution should be sent to the President who is the appointing authority and as a reference to future presidents underscoring the fact that they need to comply with the clear provisions of the Act with respect to indegeneship.
I congratulate all the nominees who eventually may be recommended by the committee.
In the case of Bayelsa, Mr. President has done well by nominating the MD designate Samuel Ogbuku from Bayelsa and the state representative Hon. Dimaro Denyabofa, who are both eminently qualified.
I congratulate them and indeed all the members of the National Assembly from Bayelsa state are united and in support of the nomination of the MD designate and the State representative.
We wish them the best of luck and I have advised that there should be broad consultation in determining the choice of projects and other policies. The Governors and all stakeholders should be consulted and the NDDC should focus on big ticket projects with the capacity to transform the Niger Delta and let go of petty projects. I also advised that the NDDC should cease to be a political cash cow for political leaders to control and feather their nests. Too much of this has happened already to the shame and disappointment of everyone in the Niger Delta and in the country.
I warned against friction between board and management which has impaired the normal working of previous boards and it is my hope that all political leaders who sponsored the nominees as well as those who appointed them, should give them room to consult stakeholders and identify priority projects that are beneficial to the various states and people in the Niger Delta working in tandem with the states, other agencies of the Federal Government and development partners to advance the course of development, peace and stability in the Niger Delta.
I wish them luck and an eventful term in office.

10th year anniversary lecture and foundation launch in memory of His Excellency, late Patrick Yakowa

Today I attended the 10th year anniversary lecture and foundation launch in memory of His Excellency, late Patrick Yakowa, former Governor of Kaduna State who died in a tragic crash in Bayelsa in 2012.
How time flies!
When I learnt of the event and received the invitation, I felt duty-bound to attend.
His Excellency, late Patrick Yakowa was an older colleague of mine and an elder brother who died while attending a burial ceremony in Bayelsa State. It was my responsibility as governor to manage all the events relating to the retrieval and conveyance of his remains to Kaduna state after which I led a state delegation on a condolence visit to his family, the Government and the people of Kaduna State.
He passed alongside General Owoye Azazi, the first 4-star general in Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation. That day remains very sad in the annals of Bayelsa, Kaduna states and across Nigeria.
I thanked his widow, Her Excellency, Mrs Amina Yakowa for her untiring efforts in keeping the family and the flag of his legacies flying.
I thanked the Chairman of the occasion His Excellency, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, former governor of Kaduna State, one of those who discovered, supported and gave the opportunity to His Excellency, late Patrick Yakowa to thrive in public service as he did.
I also thanked all the traditional rulers, Gen. Agwai, Ministers and other dignitaries for coming and prayed God Almighty to continue to stand by the Yakowa family.
I stated also that we in Bayelsa; the government, leadership and people will continue to support and pray for the Yakowa family.
I promised to personally convey this event to the government of Bayelsa State and expressed confidence that the government and people of Bayelsa will continue to show solidarity.
All Nigerians should draw appropriate lessons from the life of His Excellency, late Patrick Yakowa especially at these trying times where he taught inclusiveness, simplicity, humility, respect for people and consensus building. He was a unifier, not a divider and Kaduna State and Nigeria at large needs more Yakowas.
The Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation pledges to support the Patrick Yakowa Foundation with the sum of 3 million naira while the letter to the governor of Bayelsa state His Excellency Senator Douye Diri, who was not aware of the event but whose goodwill message is embedded in mine, shall be personally forwarded for appropriate attention.
The Yakowa family and the people of Kaduna State should know that we in Bayelsa appreciate their friendship which His Excellency, late Patrick Yakowa died servicing and together, we will continue to build bridges of understanding and unity in a fair and all-inclusive Nigeria.
May his gentle soul continue to rest in peace and may God continue to strengthen his wife, Her Excellency, Mrs Amina Yakowa and the entire family. HSD

Visit to Odi community

On Saturday I had the pleasure of visiting Odi community to commiserate with my former Personal Physician who is currently the Executive Secretary of Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme, Dr. Zuoboemi Agadah on the occasion of the burial of his late mother.
I commiserated with him, the family and the Odi community. Mama lived a good and fulfilled life and raised a son in the person of Dr. Agadah amongst several others.
Dr. Zuoboemi Agadah served me loyally and he continues to serve our state. Mama and Agadah’s father properly raised him. He is Dutiful, God-fearing, Quiet, supportive and dedicated to any assignment given to him.
I also saw his beautiful family, three sons who are medical students and only daughter currently studying law. I thanked his wife, Mrs Agadah and the children. I commiserated with them, the elders and others over the loss.
Thereafter, I proceeded to Nembe City where I joined the governor, top government functionaries to commiserate with Honorable (Dr.) Jonathan Obuebite, his wife, children and the entire Obuebite family and the entire Nembe community over the loss of his mother who was being interred and as I spoke at that event, I appreciated the Nembe community and the people for standing by him and joining together to bury as they always do. I reminded them that Nembe is a very historic and important community in Ijaw Land.
I was pleased to have witnessed the reconciliation and the statement of brotherly love by two notable grassroots leaders of the community and in the state, namely, Gabriel Jonah, the leader of Otita Political Force and Honorable Dr. Jonathan Obuebite, leader of the Wind Political Family, having presided over the state and knowing what happened especially toward the dying days of my government and the incidence in Nembe.
It was very refreshing seeing the maturity displayed by the younger brother of my deputy governor, Hon. Gabriel Jonah, the leader of Otita Political Force who with Hon. Jonathan Obuebite made heartfelt statements of reconciliation, peace and solidarity in Nembe community. I commend both of them and as I said in my remarks, I enjoined all the youths, the elders in Nembe community to continue on the path of solidarity, peace and consensus building and to support development within Nembe and the state. Having said that, I proceeded to the traditional burial ceremony in Nembe called Tiripaga which I know is the most important aspect of any burial ceremony in Nembe with all the chiefs, elders, men and women in attendance which I also frankly made it clear that contrary to the mischief makers and blackmailers, the people of Nembe should know that No one in Ijaw land is more Ijaw than the Nembe man and that the people, especially the youths should be informed and properly educated about their identity and that we are all Ijaws but of different clans with minor dialectical variations and I commended the chiefs and the elders for upholding the burial customs and traditions for our people and it was a pleasure to have been in Nembe again which is one ijaw city that honors and upholds rich tradition and culture of our people. I commiserated with the Chiefs and the Tiripaga and I made my contribution to the burial and the traditionalists and I proceeded back to Abuja.
We pray the good Lord comfort the families of the bereaved and grant the souls of the departed, eternal repose.

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