By Allen Ibiba-Harry
SINCE he emerged as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, it has been a flurry of activities for Senator Douye Diri, criss-crossing the state to feel the pulse of the people, mending fences and urging a sense of renewal, preaching his gospel of prosperity and assuring the populace of a new dawn of purposeful leadership in the state.
From the momentous event at the Peace Park in Yenagoa, where a tumultuous crowd of party supporters and admirers welcomed him to the state, following issuance of his certificate of return in Abuja, which he also presented to the people at the occasion, to the myriad of subsequent outings of bonding with the people, Senator Diri has been upbeat about his fortune of being the rallying point in the PDP.
He is lucky to have such broad spectrum of adroit supporters whose loyalty transcends political affiliation to the PDP but also a keen sense of their conviction that the senator representing Bayelsa Central in the Senate is a candidate of choice for the greater interest of the state.
For this reason, the PDP candidate has been effusive in his praises of the people who, he repeatedly said, were the real winners of the September 3 primary election.
The crowd at the Peace Park reception which was witnessed by key leaders of the party, including the party chairman, Cleopas Moses , Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Tonye Isenah, PDP BoT member, Remi Kuku and some of the aspirants who lost to Diri at the primary unanimously endorsed Senator Diri.
We voted as one family – Okara
The Secretary to the State Government, Kemela Okara, a co-aspirant, said: “We all know as a party that we organized a very free, fair and credible primary election on September 3. As one family, we have voted and as one family, the man who is our choice is our brother standing right here, Senator Douye Diri. So many said it was not possible for our party to organize a primary with so many aspirants. They were speaking of all kinds of doom but throughout the process, when we picked up our nomination forms, there was no rancour, there was no division, there was no bad blood, everything we did was based on one objective: that the best among us should emerge.
“We knew we were going for a primary that had never happened before, we knew that as a state, we had never come to an end of a proper transition, we knew that like other states around us we had never done this before. But one thing was clear to all of us and that was that the unity of our party was sacrosanct and all the things we did was in the best interest of our brothers and sisters that make up not only Bayelsa State but the entire Ijaw speaking areas right from Ondo to Akwa Ibom State.
“We knew that this was a litmus test and that is why we are gathered here united solidly behind our brother. So we are solidly united, there are no division amongst us, we went to a keen contest and the best man has emerged. We are solidly behind him.”
Other aspirants at the event including Chief Benson Agadaga, Olivia Tari and David Alagoa also spoke in like manner. And some other aspirants who were unable to attend the reception had similarly called both Governor Seriake Dickson and the candidate to pledge their support.
Why I conceded to Diri – Okoko
One of such contestants is Keneibi Okoko, while congratulating Diri, said: “After due consultations with my team, I have formally visited the winner, Senator Douye Diri, to personally congratulate him on his victory. I have also been in touch with my brother, Chief Timi Alaibe, to support our great party to success”.
Okoko later clarified his position in an interview. “ Sometimes, if you don’t win and you have a way to help the party, do it so that whoever has won can learn from those things you suggested because no man is an island. That is why I was able to concede to Senator Douye Diri and congratulate him because in as much as I felt I should have won, he has emerged the winner. The best thing for me to do is to join hands with him and make him a better governor. Not to think of, oh I lost, I must fight him or move to another party. No.”
Diri woos others
The PDP candidate has subsequently taken the cause of reconciliation to other aspirants including Dr. Nimibofa Ayawei and Hon. Konbowei Benson who lost to him at the primaries. He personally visited them at their respective homes where he called for unity, and they pledged their total support to work together in the interest of the party.
Senator Diri has also visited his maternal home in Ayamasa in Ekeremor Local Government Area where he was received with fanfare by the family members and the entire community. In his address, the candidate enunciated his vision for a new and prosperous Bayelsa and the inherent possibilities which, he said, would facilitate development across board and provide answers to many of the teething socio-economic issues in the state.
And the people in unison assured Diri of their unflinching support, stating that being their son, they would vote massively for him at the election. The situation was not different when he visited his town, Sampou, where he got a rousing welcome and prayers by the elders of the community as they gave their blessings.
Such optimism was also the rendition of the people of Amassoma when Diri visited the ancestral home of the first civilian governor of the state, the late Chief DSP Alamieyesigha.
Similar interest also necessitated his meeting with past and serving councillors and many women groups which turned out to be a worthy engagement as all concerned both at Amassoma and the various political entities rose with one voice to endorse him.
Along the line, the candidate extended his visit to the family of a deceased PDP chieftain in Nembe, the late Lady Karina Inemo and attended the funeral service of the late Mrs Modupe Amaegberi, wife of the Executive Secretary of the Bayelsa State Students Loan Board.
Yet, the candidate has been forthcoming on issues of policies and development in the state. At an interactive session with journalists at the NUJ House in Yenagoa, the state capital, Senator Douye Diri spoke eloquently on expectations from the people like building on Governor Seriake Dickson’s efforts in educational development, infrastructure and his massive project of economic revival which, he said, would help to create many good jobs especially for the teeming youths in the state. He hinged his economic agenda on industrialization, diversification with agriculture and aquaculture as pillars, sports and tourism. This is the essence of what he calls “Prosperity for All”.
He also spoke on specific questions at the event where he addressed the relationship between the level of development in the state and revenue allocation, electricity generation and the blackout, civil service reform and the challenge of reviving sports in Bayelsa State as he promised to proffer solutions, if elected.
Senator Douye Diri, born on June 4, 1959, to the family of A.J.M Diri of Kalama-Owinari compound in Sampou community in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, is a man of history. A graduate of the University of Port Harcourt, Senator Diri was the founding National Organising Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), former Commissioner for Youths and Sports, former member of the House of Representatives and currently senator representing Bayelsa Central.
As he and the PDP continue state-wide campaign, their constant reminder would be the charge from the national leadership of the party to win the election and indeed their greater resolve to fix the socio-economic challenges facing the people in what Senator Diri has pledged to consign to the past by bringing prosperity to all Bayelsans and expectations are pretty high.
- Mr Allen Ibiba-Harry, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Yenagoa