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Douye Diri: Tough assignment in ‘new Bayelsa’

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It’s no longer news how Senator Douye Diri emerged as governor of Bayelsa State; what counts is how he brings the disparate interests together, for the realisation of his vision and mission for the state.
 
On that score, he stressed the importance of a “New Bayelsa of our dream,” during his inauguration and swearing in. The governor said: “We bring the message of hope to Bayelsa State; we bring the message of prosperity to Bayelsa State.”
 
Now, one may ask: What is Diri’s version of the “Bayelsa dreams”? Some of it is captured in his campaign promises to the people of the state.
 
His major priority should be to make Bayelsa the pride of the Niger Delta, a top destination for private investment, a major tourist hub, and most importantly, a state where honest, hard-working men and women are able to find prosperity and good reward for their labour.
 


The governor has a blueprint for diversifying the economy away from oil, and fortifying and insulating the state from the vagaries of the oil market where vehicle manufacturers switch to models that run on electricity, industries seek alternative energy supplies and transport systems restructured to go on green energy. There was a similar blueprint in Delta, ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ and it was only on paper. Bayelsans are looking to see practicable blueprints.
 
What will happen to Bayelsa people in the next 30-40 years if the economy is not diversified?  Bayelsa should not be caught napping when the inevitable happens. Hence, Diri should seek smart ways of integrating agriculture, environmental protection and economic diversification.
 
To ensure that agriculture assumes its pride of place in the state’s economy, subsistence farming practices will give way to a genuine agribusiness able to absorb young, innovative graduates, to create wealth for themselves, and open sources of earning at the international food market.
 
Having deep knowledge and understanding of the problems posed by environmental pollution from the activities of oil companies, Governor Diri should work with experts and relevant authorities, to salvage and mitigate the volume of environmental damages, and protect the land for today and for future generations.
 
In making education an essential of his government, Diri, should erect new structures to complement existing ones, recruit teachers, in core subjects, for primary and post-primary schools.
 
They will be trained on modern teaching methodologies, and offered the right administrative supports needed to equip children with the skills relevant in the 21st Century work environment.
 
The governor wants the youths of Bayelsa at all levels, irrespective of the status of their parents, to have proper education, and the opportunity to be globally competitive.
 
In Diri’s new Bayelsa, payment of salaries should no longer be an achievement, but an obligation the state owes its workforce, which must be fastidiously met in the same way responsible heads of households provide for the upkeep of their families.
 
The governor should step up robust plans for the health system, housing and urban development and renewal, and other projects that would make the state a destination of choice for career-minded young men and women, and visitors and tourists.
 
Keeping the population healthy, and working with stakeholders in public and private sectors, to reduce some of the dominant health concerns in the state will be the ideal.
 
Collaborations with national and international players in the health sector will improve public health infrastructure, provide quality training for personnel, and drugs for health institutions in the rural and urban parts of the state.
 
For the average Bayelsans, there is so much in the bag from the Diri government. All he wants from the people is to remain peaceful and be optimistic about the direction of the state.
 
Fortunately, through his appointments, public utterances and disposition since assuming office in mid February, the governor has left no one in doubt about his singular motivation: To work for the good of the Bayelsa public.
 
He has remained close to his base, and never missed an opportunity to communicate, honestly, with the people, as evidenced in recent controversies over a loan request for the purchase of cars for key officials in the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government.
 
The people have a right to be told the truth, and engaged in honest conversation with their leaders. Accordingly, several channels of communication – social and conventional – are being availed the citizens to interact with members of the state executive council, including the governor.
 
As more appointments are made, the people will begin to appreciate the sort of quality leadership Diri brings to the state. As he has indicated to stakeholders lobbying for appointments, only the best would find space in his administration, even as he promised to accommodate every political interest in the state.
 
That said, Governor Diri’s grand vision and ideas can only be realised with mutual understanding amongst the political elite joining hands with him to work and build a better society.
 
This accounts for his peace overtures, and reconciliatory visits to leaders of major socio-political groups, to get their buy-in into his programmes because, no matter their leanings, they are all Bayelsans. As Diri would say, “Parties may differ but our common bond of unity should constantly remind us of our shared destiny.”
 
Specifically on the relationship between peace and victory at the polls, Senator Diri has visited aggrieved members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to engage them, to collectively explore ways of ensuring fairness and equity within the party.
 
He has also reached out to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 16, 2019 election, Chief David Lyon, and leading members of the opposition in the state.
 
As a consequence of his moves, Governor Diri was billed, at the weekend, to receive defectors from the APC in his Kolokuma-Opokuma local government council of the state.
 
The successful outcome of the last ward congresses, and the relative peace across the state indicate that Bayelsans appreciate the desire to create “a new state” built on peace, brotherhood and shared prosperity.
 
The bane of our political system is the absence of enlightened individuals, who are able to rise above the melee, to bring the aggrieved together, and remind them of the essence of party politics: leadership and public service.
 
•  Allison Abanum writes from Yenagoa.


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