ON February 14, 2022, universally celebrated as St. Valentine Day, Bayelsa State was agog when the Ijaw traditional sound bites rend the air to celebrate the two years administration of Governor Douye Diri.
The occasion was auspicious as it provided yet another opportunity of bringing Bayelsans together for stock-taking on the journey so far, which a vast majority of the people in their verdict described as eventful, life-touching and shining testimony of an impactful leadership.
It provided an opportunity for the people to recall the joy which heralded the inauguration of the Diri administration on February 14, 2020, based on the celestial manner it came on board to the consternation of all across the country. Those who were familiar with Governor Diri’s profile of service to the Ijaw nation, Bayelsa State and the nation in general, believe that Bayelsa would not remain the same when he leaves office.
Senator Diri who had served as Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Director General Centre for Youths and Sports Development, Director-General, Centre for Youth Development and an active founding member of Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, had long proved his mettle in public service and would not do anything less than success.
With little over two years in office, even ardent cynics of the government are overwhelmed by the positive impacts of transformational leadership in the state. He had already earned a place in the sands of time in the execution of people-oriented infrastructure, being widely applauded as a good student of policy continuity by embarking on and completing projects he inherited form his predecessors.
This is borne out of the conviction that abandoning projects inherited from past governments would amount to disservice to the state, waste of scarce resources and marginalisation of communities where such projects are sited, believing in the time-tested philosophy that government is a continuum. This is the new spirit of development the governor has brought to bear in steering the ship of the state.
In earnest, he has mobilised contractors to site for the completion of the New Gloryland Drive which runs from the gateway at Igbogene through Onopa to Government House. The project was initiated by former governor Timipre Sylva.
The project which is critical to opening up that axis of the Yenagoa metropolis will avert the one trunk road syndrome in the state capital. Another key project which was inherited from Dickson is the ring-road connecting Opolo-Elebele to the Igbogene gateway. Work is already in progress which will go a long way to reduce traffic problems and enhance the socio-economic lives of Bayelsans.
Besides completing the age-long bridge linking the ancient towns of Bassambiri-Nembe and Ogbolomabiri-Nembe, popularly called “Unity Bridge” which construction stopped years ago, he has also completed the construction of the Elebele bridge which collapsed over two years ago. The bridge serves as a major link connecting several communities in the Ogbia area and indeed the entire Bayelsa East Senatorial district.
In addition to that, government has contracted Setraco Nigeria Limited, a construction giant to commence the construction of the all important Nembe-Brass road. At the Southern Ijaw area, there is smile on the faces of people. The Yenagoa-Oporoma road which had been in the drawing board has reached advance stage in construction.
The Dickson administration started work on it after it was abandoned for years. When eventually completed, these roads will enhance the socio-economic status of the riverine area in a state which is 75 per cent marine, as several communities will be linked to the state capital by road, rather than by river craft and boats,while the problems of sea piracy and rural-urban drift will be curtailed.
Another heartwarming news is the completion and take off of the Bayelsa International Cargo Airport which was initiated by the Senator Seriake Dickson administration. The airport commissioned by Governor Diri is fully operational with daily flight schedules.
Besides the economic benefits which comes with it, the airport has positively placed Bayelsa in the world map of flight operations. Governor Diri aptly said: “This airport will take Bayelsa to the world and the world to Bayelsa”. This is in addition to the construction of major highway from the airport to Igbedi Community which until now was accessible only by river.
Moreover, the state executive council early this year approved the award of contract to construct 20 more internal roads in the state capital, Yenagoa. It also approved the canalisation of the Ogbogoro river to save the community from the devastating erosion affecting the community.
Work on the completion of Aguobiri bridge in Sagbama LGA is also going on, which will link up many riverine communities like Angiama by road. The government further took a bold step in rehabilitation of internal roads in the state capital in what is described as “Operation no Pothole”.
In most cases, Diri who believes in close supervision of projects, goes the whole hog to personally inspect on-going projects to see things for himself without waiting on the fairy tales of second hand reports. There is no doubt the new spirit of development has become visible as a new Bayelsa is emerging under the direct supervision of Senator Diri. Little wonder, the government enjoys the appellation: “Government of prosperity”. In the area of education, the Diri administration has endeared itself to the people of the state by its huge investment in the sector.
Apart from the massive rehabilitation, construction of new schools across the state; the huge investment in the infrastructure concerns of higher institutions have yielded positive result with the accreditation of 71 courses at a stretch, at the premier state owned Niger Delta University, while the state-owned College of Education, School of Nursing and Midwifery are not left out in this regard.
The Massive investment in education is borne out of the premium government places on human capital development by using educational advancement as a veritable tool. In addition to that, Diri’s prosperity government, which believes in training and retaining of teachers for the first time in the history of Bayelsa, engaged the service of Microsoft in training 12,000 teachers to update and equip them fully with contemporary skills in the emerging world of information technology, ICT.
Besides the introduction of the teaching of indigenous Ijaw language to promote the Ijaw identity and cultural heritage as the fourth largest ethnic group in the multilingual Nigerian configuration, government also built technical colleges, one in each of the eight local government areas that make up the state.
This is essentially to place emphasis on practical acquisition of skills, to promote self-reliance and entrepreneurial-driven economy as well as a tool to combat the problem of unemployment among youths through creating the necessary enabling environment for practical acquisition of skills by youths for self-reliance.
Besides that, there is a paradigm shift in the entire gamut, driven by a new spirit of redefining development in practical terms for the sustainable development of the state. While one should advise the governor not to let up the fine spirit he has cultivated in the development process of Bayelsa, he should not be distracted by praise-singers and armchair critics.
Rather, he should rather remain focused in driving the ship of state to a safe anchor. There is no doubt he has etched is name in the anals of the history of Bayelsa State by changing the development narratives of the state.
History will certainly reward the prosperity governor in a kind manner beyond any human imagination.