It was a rough and embarrassing moment on Tuesday for Seriake Dickson as some former aides to the Bayelsa governor violently prevented him from leaving the Government House, Yenagoa.
The former aides are accusing Mr Dickson of refusing to pay their salaries and allowances.
The governor’s tenure ends in two days. He will be succeeded by David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress who won the November 2019 election.
A video posted on Twitter by one Theresa Tekenah (@TheresaTekenah) around 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday captured the confrontation at the Government House gate.
“Pay us our money,” a man is heard shouting in the video as an angry crowd used pipe, sticks, and stones to barricade the entrance to the Government House.
In a few seconds of skirmish, an unidentified man from Governor Dickson’s side is seen in the video pushing down one of the protesters, while some police officers were busy lifting away the rods, stones, and other obstructions from the road for the governor’s convoy to drive through.
As the convoy drove slowly through the angry crowd, the voice in the video kept shouting, “Pay us our money! Wicked governor! You don come kill our party, party wey we dey manage for how many years! Wicked man, you go die with EFCC!”
An aide to Mr Dickson, who did not want his name mentioned in this story told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday afternoon that most of the protesters were people “hurriedly hired by the governor around October for the governorship election which his party lost”.
It is commonplace in Nigerian politics for state governors to hire new political appointees when elections draw near just to shore up their political strength.
“The last time he paid political appointees salary was in November,” the aide said.
“Because he lost the election, he didn’t bother with them again, he was not even interested in paying them a dime. When they tried to meet with him (over the unpaid allowance), he dismissed them and said they were hoodlums. He has been avoiding holding a meeting with them.”
The aide said the Tuesday protest forced Mr Dickson to stay inside the Government House for hours and that when the governor eventually drove out, he went to his community and did not return to the Government House throughout that day.
The commissioners, the aide said, are threatening to boycott Thursday’s valedictory service in Yenagoa because of dispute over unpaid entitlements.
Another of Mr Dickson’s aide, who spoke in favour of the governor, had this to say about the Tuesday protest when PREMIUM TIMES contacted him Wednesday afternoon.
“Some people from the rural development area were dropped. If a tenure is coming to an end, do you retain all your appointees forever?
“The man (Dickson) retained those that are rendering essential services and said the government is in transition now, the bulk of the appointees should go. They are the ones coming to say ‘pay us our salary’.”
He said the state government paid the former aides their salary up to November before they were dropped in December. “They are saying pay us salary for December and January and the government is going by February. Where will the government get money to pay appointees and (then) pay civil servants?”
The aide said, “The governor is moving freely all over Yenagoa, there is no molestation, nobody is attacking him.
“There are people who are angry and envious that the man has effectively completed eight years, for the first time in the history of the creation of this state. And the man has also completed many projects, we just finished the commissioning of the dualised Azikoro Road, the first phase of the road, judges quarters. We are now going to another project site.”