Sunday Magazine

Diri’s one year of slow, steady development

Gradually he has spent one year in office as the Governor of Bayelsa State. Governor Douye Diri miraculously took over the mantle of leadership from his predecessor Henry Seriake Dickson in a manner Bayelsans and the world least expected.


Considering the way and manner he came into office, it could be said to be actually God at work, as he has really demonstrated and proved that power belongs to God and He choses to give it whoever He wants.


Although he took over reins of power on February 14, 2020, the year a mysterious pandemic called coronavirus stole in o man kind, almost shutting down the whole world for more than 10 months.


One thing Governor Douye Diri did was to ensure that the salaries of civil servants and gratuities of pensioners were paid as at when due. Of course other states were on a total lockdown, but the governor used wisdom to handle his state and made sure that people didn’t die of hunger before the coronavirus could kill them.


Unlike his predecessor, who had a lesser challenge to contend with during the economic melt down in 2016, thereby paying half salary for a while, Diri, did not. This made him to win the hearts of Bayelsans. He could not stand the thought of adding to the stress of the people with what happened in the world last year.


Even in the face of over 31 litigations, he soldiered on. This only slowed down the pace of development in the state because within the nine months that the court cases lingered, there was no visible development neither did he embark on any new project. He continued with the Tombia Etegwe Round About started by the previous administration.


The year 2020, was not the year one would like to remember, as it came with a lot of challenges, but as Diri marks one year in office, there are lots of projects being undertaken now. One of the state’s major challenges is road network. During his time as the governor of the state,


Timipre Sylva opened up many street roads but as years went by, almost all the roads became unmotorable. Now the administration tagged ‘Government of Prosoeritry’ knows that good road networks is the priority of the people has gone ahead to rehabilitate some of the roads.


For instance Okaka Road, INEC Road, Samphino Road, Saptex Road among others are now wearing a new look. Of course he had restated his administration’s commitment to the construction of road projects in three senatorial districts of the state.


Speaking at Aguobiri during an assessment of the Yenagoa-Oporoma Road project in Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Governor Diri had noted that his government’s target was to ensure that the road was tarred to Aguobiri and the bridge across the river completed this year 2021.


In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, the governor assured that once the bridge crosses the Aguobiri River, government would ensure that it gets to Angiama and Oporoma, headquarters of Southern Ijaw Council. Diri assured that the impacts of his administration would be felt in accordance with his election campaign promises to the Bayelsa people. He charged the company handling the project, Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC), to keep their side of the bargain, stressing that the state was in a hurry to develop.


He said: “I am not a man of too many words and promises, but we promised during the campaigns to ensure that the senatorial roads continue from where the former administration stopped. “We have seen the level of work already done. So, our target is to tar the road to Aguobiri and I intend to flag-off construction of the bridge by February.”


Also, he has given a pledge that his administration would complete the road project from Sagbama to Ekeremor in the Bayelsa West Senatorial District. Inspecting the 90 kilometer Isampou Bridge Road project which he said had been neglected for close to 40 years by successive federal administrations, including interventionist agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC),


he promised to complete the road project. In his bid to make sure that Yenagoa metropolis has a face lift and looks like other cities in the country, the governor once said: “Even in the face of COVID-19, we have decided to do some preparatory things. We are not just pulling down illegal structures but also sanitising our city.


“The market at Swali, which is the largest in Yenagoa, we intend to build a car park and fence it off to ensure a healthy environment.” Governor Diri also made effort in rehabilitating the government owned media outfits by building a media village at the Radio Bayelsa compound.


Of course work was on going as at the time of filling in this report. Of course he has tried to reconcile aggrieved people. He went as far as trying to restore peace at Nembe and other communities in the state. In fact, there has been absolute peace even though there are some pockets of insecurity but most Bayelsans now sleep with their two eyes closed. It has not been so palatable for the ‘Miracle Governor’ since he mounted the saddle of leadership but Bayelsans will also beat their chest and say thank you to the Prosperity Governor for the much he has been able to achieve in his one year in office.


Dr Michael Amaegberi the executive secretary of Bayelsa Higher Education Students Loan Board said: “The governor has done very well in my own assessment. “Despite all the daunting challenges. We had COVID – 19 and then the governor had over 30 litigations in court even though that seems like plenty of distraction. He was not really deterred.


He was doing quite a lot in the background trying to push forward his prosperity agenda and we can see from what is going on at the moment, a lot of construction is going on in the State. “The governor is not a wasteful governor, so he has decided to continue with the projects that the previous administration started and he is determined to complete them and rehabilitate dilapidated roads. The started by the last administration will become functional very soon.


Similarly, agricultural projects are going on. A lot is also being done in education. He has continued the programme of free feeding of school children in our model schools. In terms of giving loans to students, the governor has done very well by ensuring that funds are released on time to the Bayelsa State Higher Education Students Loans Board to disburse to students as they apply.


Although some Bayelsans have some reservations about his achievements. An All Progressives Congress (APC) Chieftain Ofoni Williams said: “As a matter of fact, the government is yet to find its feet. It is still battling with identity and acceptance problem. There is nothing on ground to attest to the fact that there is a government in the past 12 months.

“The excuses that have been advanced are not tenable. That the government has been distracted due to legal issues is not tenable because the man came through a legal process. So why will people be excusing the man for litigations that are ongoing. “That aside.


The allocation due the state has not been hampered as the court case is going on and persons that are doing this court cases with him, are they dipping their hands into the government coffers. Is he prosecuting the cases with government resources? If that is the case, it goes to show that the government itself is not transparent enough and the ‘Prosperity Government’ is towing the negative path of the Restoration Government.”


Also weighing in a public Affairs Analyst, Dr. Konrad Ekiyor Welson, said: “The man is yet to start any meaningful thing. One full year of budget and one full year of federal allocation, one full year of IGR. The only thing that some of us can talk about is that as soon as he became governor, he borrowed money to buy cars for himself. He didn’t borrow money to fix any road.

He didn’t borrow money to redesign Yenagoa. He didn’t borrow money to fix primary schools or secondary schools. That is not the kind of governor that is serious.


“That is not the kind of governor that has the right competence to administer a state. “His performance in this one year is like 10 over 100 because after collecting allocation for 12 months, there is nothing to show that there is even a government in place. Eighty percent of internal roads in Yenagoa are in a deplorable state.


There is no activity today concerning agriculture in Bayelsa State. Douye has not attracted one single investment into the State. Douye has not added anything to where his godfather stopped. In this 12 months he has exhibited sheer lack of ideas and capacity to be the governor of a state.


“They will use COVID, the flood, the court cases as excuse but the question is there was lockdown last year because of COVID-19. Did you save the allocation that came? You supposed to tell us that this period, you were able to save N60 billion and you want to use the money to do this and that.


“It is difficult to assess him without sounding like an enemy of the state but we cannot avoid saying the truth. So in one year, the man has no even a direction of where he is going. He has not shown capacity. “He is paying salaries. So to that extent, I will score him 10 percent. Let him get competent people to work with. Then he needs to go and study what it means to be a governor.”


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