How many times do miracles happen in a man’s life? Perhaps as many times as possible, especially if you a politician called Douye Diri, writes CLEM ONYEMAECHI from Yenagoa
Since Tuesday’s Supreme Court judgment, which struck out the case instituted by the former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), Chief Ndutimi Alaibe challenging the emergence of Governor Douye Diri as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after September 2019 Governorship primaries, there has been ecstasy and celebration in Bayelsa.
For those in the camp of the incumbent Governor in the PDP, the decision of the apex court is another miracle, coming not quite long after the ‘miracle’ of February 13, 2020 which brought Senator Diri and the PDP from nowhere to power.
February 13, 2020 was the eve of the much expected swearing-in of the Governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress, (APC), in the November 16, 2019 Governorship election in the state, Chief David Lyon, but the inconsistency in the documents submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), by his running mate, Senator Degi Barakumo Eremienyo was found to be too weighty to be ignored by the Supreme Court. Hence the apex court nullified the victory of APC and ordered INEC to swear in the candidate of the party that had the second highest number of votes after APC as governor.
That was how Senator Douye Diri and his running mate, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor both of whom had returned to the Senate where they had earlier won election became governor and deputy governor respectively.
The meteoric turn of events that brought the duo into power when the APC flags had been hoisted everywhere in the state awaiting the ceremonial swearing and handover was christened a miracle by PDP followers and some analysts, while Douye Diri was baptized a ‘Miracle Governor’.
But in the midst of the euphoria that attended the ascension to power by the governor and his deputy was lurking the case instituted by Chief Timi Alaibe where he was urging the court to declare him winner of the PDP Governorship primary and by extension the Governor.
The case went through the High court to Appeal where Alaibe’s petition was struck out in both courts. Finally on July 14, 2020, the Supreme Court put a nail on Alaibe’s quest to unseat Diri who incidentally used to be Alaibe’s Major Domo years back.
Before Alaibe instituted his petition, Douye Diri, his predecessor, Hon Seriake Dickson and other notable Nigerians had reportedly made overtures to Alaibe not to pursue the matter beyond what happened at the primaries. But the former NDDC MD was quoted as saying that he would pursue the matter to a logical end “at least to prove a point”.
As the matter was progressing at the courts, there was palpable trepidation in the camp of Governor Diri over the uncertainty in the direction of pendulum of justice, more so as most vocal analysts were predicting that Alaibe would floor the Governor at the Supreme Court.
So when the apex court gave its verdict, followers of Diri who were apparently having their hearts in their mouths drew a deep breath for another hurdle crossed and a second time ‘miracle’ of the most High God.
Pronto, they hurried to the Government House King of Glory Chapel where they worshipped God on bended knees for yet another miracle.
Governor Douye Diri represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo led members of the three arms of government in the state to dedicate the victory to God.
He described the victory as God’s divine intervention in the affairs of the Prosperity Government and called on all Bayelsans including the opposition to join hands with him in building the state.
He said as a state that is in a hurry to develop, Bayelsa people cannot afford divisive tendencies capable of jeopardizing the efforts of the present administration to move the state forward.
Senator Diri also expressed gratitude to the Supreme Court for its “uprightness and incorruptibility” in the dispensation of justice, noting that the judgment has further rekindled the people’s confidence in the Judiciary.
His words: “We want to give God all the glory, adoration thanks and praises to God for what He has done for us again. This victory again shows that power comes from God alone. We also want to thank God for giving us, mortal and sinful people, the opportunity to serve this state.
“As you are aware, there has been a lot of hype about this case. But we thank God, He has proved His supremacy over the affairs of men. You can see that even the elements are celebrating today. The showers of blessings are raining in Bayelsa.
“Let me on behalf of the Miracle Governor, Senator Douye Diri, appreciate the uprightness of the Supreme Court and the determination and incorruptibility of the Judiciary. This is because right from the Federal High Court, Owerri, it has been the same song that he has no case. The same song was repeated at the Appeal Court and now the final court in the land has also said, he has no case.
“While we are basking in the euphoria of this victory, we want to use this opportunity to again call on all Bayelsans of all shade, colours, heights and dialects to join the Prosperity Administration to build our state. Because together we can make progress than this division we are creating for ourselves.”
But in the midst of all the exultations, there is yet another case pending in the court over the eligibility of Gov Diri’s deputy, Senator Ewhrudjakpor bordering on alleged discrepancies in his NYSC Discharge certificate.
Nonetheless, Diri’s followers say they are not losing sleep on that, insisting that the Goliath standing before them like the Sword of Damocles had already been killed in Alaibe’s case. Their confidence may be anchored on the recent admission by the NYSC that the authority was aware of the discrepancy and had reissued a fresh certificate to the deputy governor.
Now for Douye Diri who is also riding on a prosperity mantra as his slogan is ‘Consolidation for Prosperity,’ what do these ‘miracles’ entail for him and Bayelsans?
A popular aphorism says, “To whom much is given, much is expected”. Bayelsans have endured the past five months the governor has been on the saddle without much to show from the governor.
Even the popular first 100 days in office which is celebrated across the length and breadth of the country by political and non political office holders was not remembered in Bayelsa, let alone having even a minuscule of project to either flag off or commission to show that a government has been in place for more than three months.
There has been no semblance of governance in the state as virtually everything was being done on ad-hoc basis. A budget was presented, but the head or tail of the budget nobody knows as yet, even as the State Executive Council has yet to be constituted.
About five months allocations running into tens of billions have been received, but no visible projects being executed except payment of salaries. The news in some quarters in Bayelsa is that the allocations were sunk into the prosecution of the cases pending in the court of which the most outstanding one had just been dealt with.
So the expectation in Bayelsa is quite high. Douye Diri who could be said to be now synonymous with miracles is expected to transpose the chequered history of the state with wondrous deeds that could qualify even as miraculous exploits.
He must put machinery in motion to free Bayelsans from the crushing poverty that has been their lot, and he can only achieve this by forming a superstructure on which the state economy will stand.
A situation whereby everything in the state will appear as collapsing if federal allocation is delayed a little from the center is an anathema. The government must look inwards to exploit to the full the areas it has a comparative advantage, particularly in agriculture and aquaculture to boost its internally generated revenue.
Diri must therefore break away from the morbid norm of folding hands and waiting for the monthly windfall from Abuja before anything could be done. The potentials are already there; all he needs is the will to make the difference.
The immediate past administration of Henry Seriake Dickson made a singsong of transforming Bayelsa to a world exporter of fish and starch, taking advantage of the natural endowments in the state, but the proposal only ended up in his stomach, it was never birthed.
Why would the state Aquaculture farm at Yenegwe in Yenagoa Local Government of the state where millions of naira, nay dollars had been invested be abandoned to reptiles and rodents? With 500 earthen ponds and other facilities in place, the government was aiming at engaging hundreds of youths of the state in fishing, an occupation that is second nature to all riverine people who needed no further expertise to excel in the trade.
Diri must also be ready for the miscreants in the state who terrorize the streets even in broad day light. He must be clear with a youth program to re-orientate the youths and save their lives from illicit drugs. There is no gainsaying the fact that many youths of Bayelsa are patently lazy and fixated with entitlement mentality. In summary, he must wage a frontal war against crime and nip cultism in the bud. With headline news from Bayelsa always talking about kidnappings, killings, and other sundry crimes, investors can hardly have interest to stake their money in such a volatile environment.
Governor Diri must look above his shoulders to see the strides other states created the same time with Bayelsa are making. The lie or claim that Bayelsa is below sea level and making development difficult should be discarded. There is no reason for the current status of Yenagoa, the state capital after more than 20 years of the state creation. Compared to Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital created the same day with Bayelsa, Yenagoa is a slum! But Bayelsa has received far more allocation than Ebonyi that anyone can imagine.
Governor Diri therefore has his job cut out for him. So beyond the euphoria of Supreme Court victory, he should sit down, take a cup of cold water and then go to work. He must be ready to prove critics wrong because many people do not believe that he would make much impact even before the election. Haa Izon!