By Henry Umahi
The emergence of Senator Douye Diri as Governor of Bayelsa State in 2020, had elements of a miracle. That miracle has been translated to wonders by what he has done in three years.
At the time he became governor, there was acrimony in the state. Therefore, one of his first tasks was to restore harmony. He did that by appealing to all aggrieved parties, irrespective of political persuasion, to sheath their swords, arguing that a society can only witness development when there is peace.
That move paved the way for development. For instance, the people of Igbedi community in Kolokuma-Opokuma Local Government Area of the state adulate the governor for delivering a visible dividend of democracy to them. For the first time in history, a tarred road was constructed in the riverside community. Prior to the administration of Governor Diri, the people travelled through the perilous creek to Sabageria or the dangerous bush path to Amassoma junction.
He reorganised the security architecture of the state by collapsing the two existing security outfits codenamed, Operation Doo-Akpo and the Bayelsa Volunteers into one operation; and empowered them with 50 top range operational vehicles, 40 motorbikes and various security gadgets.
Diri’s administration embarked on projects of all sizes across the eight local government areas of the state; and continued the projects initiated by past administrations. There is an urban renewal programme to give Yenagoa a facelift that befits a capital city and to tackle the increasing traffic challenges of a growing metropolis. The result is that the popular Edepie/Etegwe Roundabout now wears a new look with expansion and aesthetics.
Over 50 internal roads within the state capital have been rehabilitated, while 20 new ones have been constructed and rehabilitated across the three senatorial zones of the state. They include the Onopa Bridge leading to new Yenagoa; Igbogini–Okaiki Ring Road; Bayelsa Transport Company (BTC) terminal; Glory Drive Igbogene (access from Yenagoa to Rivers State section of the Igbogene-AIT Elebele outer ring road to Okarki end); and Nembe Unity Bridge that connects Nembe-Ogbolomabiri to Bassambiri; and the construction of Sagbama-Ekeremor; and Yenagoa-Oporoma road projects.
Other projects are Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme complex laboratories and lecture halls at the Bayelsa University of Medicine; Yenagoa–Oproma Road; Bayelsa Media Complex housing Niger Delta Television (NDTV), Radio Bayelsa and Bayelsa Newspaper Corporation.
The Diri administration is commissioning solar lights in parts of the state; building the new Commissioners’ Quarters; constructing industrial, skill and entrepreneurial training centre.
In the transport sector, going to Yenagoa is no longer a traveller’s nightmare. There are now direct flights from Lagos and Abuja to Bayelsa International Airport. Although the infrastructure was in existence before his emergence as governor, he ensured that the airport became operational.
In education, the Diri administration has left indelible footprints. The government caused a paradigm shift to science and technical education by establishing technical colleges in local government areas in order to impact skills on Bayelsan children. There is also a massive rehabilitation and construction of new schools, including higher institutions such as Niger Delta University and the State College of Education, School of Nursing and Midwifery. To make teacher better equipped to do their jobs, about 12,000 of thems have been trained in computer and Information Technology, among others.
The Diri administration has also done much in human capital development and capacity building, believing that a knowledgeable workforce will do better in socio-economic development. With a philosophy that a labourer has his reward, the government has made the payment of gratuity a cardinal principle. So far, more than N6 billion has been committed to this, as the state has listed with pension funds management companies.