With a few weeks left before the November 11 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State, the governor, Senator Douye Diri has charged the people to get ready to vote and defend the votes so that those he calls votes thieves will not be able to steal their mandate.
Diri said in a broadcast on Sunday to mark the 27th anniversary of the creation of the state as well as the 63rd independence of Nigeria, that he has served the state well and was sure that he would get their votes for a second term.
This came even as the Okpoma people of Brass Local Government have said they could not wait to drive on the on-going Nembe-Brass Road to their villages. They spoke when Diri visited their king as part of his re-election campaigns.
In addressing the people, the governor paid tribute to the founding fathers of the state for their role in birthing what is now the “homogenous Ijaw state of Bayelsa, which we are happy to describe as “The Glory of all Lands.”
“ In this my fourth year of delivering this address, we cannot overlook the immense progress we have made as a nation and as a state. Whereas, we cannot ignore the many challenges we still face, much has yet been achieved. The Lord has preserved us. For this and many of His benefits we are truly thankful.
“ In Bayelsa State, we have a unique story to tell. Our state, nestled in the Niger Delta region, is not only blessed with natural resources but also a resilient and enterprising people poised to show the world what it means to rise above adversity. Despite the challenges, we have remained united and focused on the task of building a better, prosperous future for our people.
“We have been over-dependent on oil and gas for revenue and they are running out. By the grace of God, we occupy a rich and diverse ecosystem of abundance and we must be more deliberate to exploit it responsibly. In this regard, we are aggressively pushing the construction of the three senatorial roads to Ukubie, Agge and Brass, simultaneously. Our riches remain in the ocean and these roads will take us there.
“This is not political. As a pioneer executive member of Ijaw National Congress, I know the poverty that prevails in our region and I coveted the opportunity to right the injury.
“We are ambitiously undertaking these humongous and capital-intensive projects without neglecting investments in other critical sectors, including human capital development.
“As your governor, I have been unwavering in my commitment to the development and progress of our beloved Bayelsa State. We have focused on key sectors such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and empowerment to uplift our people and continue to provide them with the opportunities they desire to make a dignified living. Our goal is to provide a conducive environment that attracts investments, creates jobs, and ultimately improves the standard of living for all Bayelsans, in keeping faith with our prosperity mantra.”
He said it was necessary for the people to come out to vote on election day and also be on the alert as there were people who were determined to steal their votes. He said “we must remain vigilant, and recall the parable from the gospel of Mathew – “While men slept… his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.” We must ensure that we vote, that our votes are counted and that our votes count.
“It is important to reiterate that until we institute a culture of respect for our democratic system of electing our leaders, to paraphrase the words of Emperor Haile Selassie I, “the desire for sustainable development and prosperity will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained”.
At Okpoma, Diri said the decision to embark on the Nembe-Brass road project, which is a federal road in the Bayelsa East Senatorial District, was borne out of his strong desire to create access to the Atlantic Ocean in order to harness its abundant natural resources.
He noted that from his days as pioneer National Organising Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), he had noticed the level of poverty and under-development in Ijawland and vowed to change the narrative if God gave him the opportunity to serve the people.
“When l became governor, l wrote to the federal government and the Nigeria Agip Oil Company on the need to collaborate with the state government to construct the three critical senatorial roads. These are not projects that only the Bayelsa government can handle because the cost runs into hundreds of billions of naira.
“But when l saw that nothing was coming forth, and knowing that my tenure was time-bound, l became very ambitious and had to take the bull by the horns to undertake these projects, which also include the Yenagoa-Oporoma-Ukubie and the Sagbama-Ekeremor-Agge roads.
“The Nembe-Brass road is not a political project. It is the major project l have brought to the people of Okpoama and the Bayelsa East Senatorial District.”
In his remarks, chairman of the Okpoama council of chiefs, Chief Paul Omubo Suobagha, who represented King Ebitimi Banigo, underscored the importance of the Nembe-Brass road, saying that they look forward to driving to their home town.
He appealed to the state government to dredge the Okpoama main creek, provide patrol vehicles for the police and implement the original plan of the Okpoama link road.