Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has expressed concern over the arming of civilians by politicians during elections in the country, with the intention of manipulating the electoral process.

Senator Diri stated this yesterday during a special retirement thanksgiving service in honour of Air Vice Marshal Nelson Calmday at the Living Faith Church of God in Akenfa-Epie, Yenagoa.

Senator Diri, who said the development portends grave danger to the country’s electoral system, noted that as a result of the trend, there was a general notion that the game of politics was synonymous with violence, corruption and dishonesty.

The governor said most decent people dread politics because of such notion.

He, however, dismissed the perception, and rather encouraged such people, particularly Christians, to get actively involved in politics towards sanitising the electoral system.

Diri stressed the need for all stakeholders to join hands to work together to change the narrative for the sake of posterity.

He said: “Politics actually should be played by decent and honest people, who are ready to serve and protect the interest of the people.

“How long will Africans continue to play politics of violence, brigandage and impunity, as if we are in the stone age? We should learn to rise above such antics  in our electoral system.

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“In sane climes, elections take place peacefully without violence. Should we hand over this state to a group of gangsters; people who think the state belongs to them?”

Senator Diri, who also attended a thanksgiving service/children dedication of the member representing Yenagoa/Kolokuma Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Oforji Oboku, at the Church of God Mission, Yenizuegene, equally condemned the incidence of vote-buying during elections.

The governor said: “There is what we call poverty of the mind, apart from poverty of the pocket. There is also integrity in poverty. When your mind is intact, nobody will influence you with little money.

“You have tested our government, which says we will not use any organ to kill anybody. We want our state to be peaceful; we want our state to develop. You are seeing it, but on the day of election, you collect money to vote for those who do not mean well for the state. Those you do not see until election season, and afterwards, they disappear.”

In his remarks, Hon. Oboku revealed that he has a cordial relationship with the governor and has supported him from when he contested election into the House of Representatives, Senate and the governorship.

He appreciated Governor Diri for reciprocating the goodwill he gets from supporters.

Speaking during the unveiling of his hospitality facility, AVM Calmday thanked the governor for the relative peace in the state, saying that Bayelsa was one of the safest states to invest in the country.  The retired Air officer attributed his successful completion of 38 years of service and the facility to God, who he said saw him through several difficult moments.