Bayelsa: Douye Diri in the saddle 365 days on
The earth has completed one full revolution around the sun since a new government was inaugurated in Bayelsa State. As the case has been for leaders around the globe, the challenges of leading in this time of crises are quite peculiar, yet like the popular saying, “if it’s too easy it doesn’t create much value.”
The Douye Diri-led Government in Bayelsa State knew first-hand the enormity of the task it had undertaken when it set out gallantly to steer the good people of Bayelsa on a voyage of abundance, peace and happiness.
A blueprint for green pastures and inclusive prosperity for the good people of the state was clear in the governor’s heart and he often alludes to this in speeches. He has been unequivocal that he needs to set up a system that will stand the test of time, a government structured to bring about prosperity and sustainable growth. This vision clearly gave Bayelsans hope of light in a seeming abyss of darkness.
“Where there is darkness, let us bring light.” This is the last phrase of a famous prayer by St. Francis of Assisi, offered by Governor Diri during his inaugural speech, one which he declared as “our creed.” The government through well-calculated actions and policies has so far shown a rich intent to carry out the mandate it has accepted. These actions include changes in modus operandi and enacting policies that are welfare-centric and growth stimulating. A cut in the cost of governance; with calculations indicating almost a 50 per cent reduction in the cost of running the state, immediately freed up much-needed funds useful elsewhere.
A restructuring and re-energising of the State Civil Service immediately ensued. The steady and prompt payment of civil servants’ salaries, with the 28th of every month, set as a benchmark. There is also the assurance of promotion for deserving individuals as at when due and immediate enjoyment of the entitlements that come with the new position. Prompt payment of pensions and gratuities to pensioners was sweet music to the ears of people. These policies have proven to have a direct positive impact on the lives of individuals to a large extent.
It became clear that welfare and job creation were strong cogs in Senator Diri’s vision intended to propel the locomotive of success, hence, the creation of job opportunities for over 3000 graduates in the state. As if the dire challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic weren’t enough, this administration has had to deal with so much court case distraction from people that seek to undermine its progress. It was almost like it’s taking a new degree in law, due to how much Governor Diri had to frequent the Judiciary to clear every single doubt as regards his grace to office.
Upon careful analysis, it is established that the Governor had the unpleasant experience of dealing with 31 court cases filed against his election with a breakdown showing a total of three pre-election cases, five cases of review at the Supreme Court, ten at the Election Petition Tribunal, seven cases at the Court of Appeal and six at the Supreme Court. Despite unwanted court case distractions from aggrieved parties, the administration refused to be derailed in trying to carry out its given mandate and come through on the promises made during the campaign.
Upon inauguration, it was expedient to disperse the cloud of confusion and negativity the state was plunging into. One of the first tasks the acclaimed “Miracle Administration” set out to accomplish, was to ensure an atmosphere of peace and security.
Senator Diri clearly recognised the importance of a strife-free environment and trod wisely setting the tone with a powerful inaugural speech of uncompromising reconciliation. Leadership is not a position but an action therefore when a leader that is divinely enthroned pilots the affairs, a clear reversal of the negative norms is expected.
Uncertainty and insecurity are major trends bullish in the societal, economical and political structures that were in place in Bayelsa State prior to Governor Diri’s miraculous victory. Critical analysis of the situation presently shows a sharp improvement. Within this time, the administration has managed to return an atmosphere of stability to the state, fouling the negative predictions of deterrents. This is credited to his “no enemy” mentality in leadership and the penchant to carry everyone along. There is an evident improvement in the socio-economic status of the state owing to a greatly reduced crime rate, which is slowly but surely attracting investment of all sorts.
The Diri-led administration has always reiterated its commitment to set up a system of continuous productivity. This vision has been driving the governor since he first trod the hallowed balcony of leadership. The automatic employment policy proposed by Senator Diri for excellent sports persons in his capacity as a principal figure in the sports sector in the past is still resonating well through the sector as most of the people drafted into gainful employment have gone ahead to continue to empower the youth starting from the grassroots to higher levels.
It doesn’t take rocket science to draw a parallel on how engaged youths affect the downward drive of crime rate or occurrence. Indeed such strategy has proven to be a masterstroke, one worthy of pages in the journals of governance.
Within 365 days, the administration has made practical its strong belief in peaceful coexistence as a vital tool for growth and development. It has managed to reconcile clans and communities at loggerheads over various issues with the peace brokerage between Agudama-Epie and Akenfa communities as a stand out example of numerous other disputes that have been settled.
Financial and logistical equipment of various security outfits has been given prominence atop the scale of preference because peace and stability are sugar crumbs laid out to attract the ants of investments and development.
“We will create a vibrant economy that would propel wealth creation, economic boom and industrial revolution that would make our people work for themselves instead of waiting for monthly allocations from Abuja, which is not helping our people and state for now.” Thus far, it’s believed that there weren’t just mere words said at the time to stir up favourable emotions or to sway the bias of the people. The Governor made this declaration on firm trust in the plans and visions he has for the state.
The diligence and commitment with which the global pandemic has been handled in Bayelsa State thus far are outstanding. The COVID-19 situation is being managed with transparency and humanity. Effective regulations and policies as regards public health safety, sanitation and price of goods have greatly helped to soften the blows the pandemic has dealt the nation as a whole. The degree of victory currently seen in the state in the war against the coronavirus is also not by chance. It is a product of prioritising the effectiveness of the health sector in the state.
The seemingly ever-increasing pool of negative disposition of the masses towards governance in this part of the world is probably well deserved, but when you somehow have in place an administration that despite inheriting a dysfunctional system, strives to set up and implement one of sustainable growth and development and has not only the present in mind but the future as well. Slowly but surely the air of negative feeling initially adopted by the people begins to disappear, as is the case of the good people of Bayelsa State.
As the administration marks a relatively successful one year in office so far, Bayelsans can rest assured that a constructive review of this period will continue to propel this government to engage in carefully thought out plan and strategy to better the livelihoods of Bayelsans both now and for the future.
• Abanum is Senior Special Assistant on Strategic Communication and Documentation to the Governor of Bayelsa State
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