February 17, 2023

THREE YEARS AFTER: How Diri is changing the narrative in Bayelsa — Kemenanabo

Bayelsa Anti-Grazing Law


….Why East-West road failed

Mr. Olice Kemenanabo, Managing Director of Bayelsa Electricity Company Nigeria Limited, immediate past chairman of PHEDC, and a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, hails from Kolokuma in Bayels State. In this interview, he spoke among others on the performance of Governor Douye Diri, who has been in the saddle for three years. 

His take Senator 

Douye Diri’s performance and how the governor has ensured peace in Bayelsa 

From the very first day he was sworn in on February 14, 2020, his disposition has been that of a united and rancor-free state. This was obvious in his inaugural speech in which he said “If they preach hate exude love” so he is truly working that speech. 

Going by the circumstances of his emergence after that Supreme Court landmark judgment and the reactions thereafter, the anticipation was that peace and security would elude the state for a long time but he quickly rallied round to douse the tension and took firm control of the security architecture of the state. He later went on to enact the Community Safety Corps Law and appointed General Eric Angaye as the coordinator who didn’t leave anybody in doubt that he is here to make the state peaceful and enabled for social and economic activities to thrive. The General therefore wasted no time in putting together a robust arrangement that has since brought out the best of the state internal security outfit “Operation Door Akpo” He has transformed the men and officers to be highly disciplined, responsive and on high alert at every time. Response to distress calls are not only prompt but monitored from the command and control centre of the Gen Andrew Owoye Azazi Security Centre situated in the heart of the Government House. 

Indeed, he has gone beyond tackling crimes and criminalities by ensuring that reckless driving against traffic is curtailed. I am a victim of his intolerance to this recklessness so I am speaking from experience. 

 Critics of Governor Diri say he has this snail speed approach towards project execution in a state that is largely judged to be lagging behind others created the same day in 1996. What’s your take on that?

Firstly, comparisons should be made based on critical evaluation of various factors. That is why they say that you compare oranges with oranges and not oranges with apples. The states you have mentioned don’t share the same geographical, ecological and environmental parameters with Bayelsa State so comparing them with her is like comparing apples and oranges. For instance, road construction in Bayelsa State requires excavation of top soil, sand filling and stabilization before asphalting, while in Nasarawa State, grading and rolling will enable stabilization and finishing. 

Driving through the Sagbama -Ekeremor Road, the spur from Ofoni to Ekeremor has six bridges with some places filled up to 10 meters high with sand to avoid flooding and early failure of the road. After that you compact water to enable proper settlement, then mix with cement to create the proper cohesion before thinking of finishing. All of these stages you need a mandatory cure period before proceeding to the next stage. Otherwise, the road will fail or buckle.  This is what happened to the Okogbe to Ahoada sections of the East/West Road which has now become a sand dump for the villagers around the place. In fact, block moulders have relocated to that portion with their moulding machines scooping the sand that washed off underneath the asphalt during the last flood. 

As far as I am concerned that road ab initio was a total engineering evaluation failure on the part of the company that handled it. You wouldn’t want the same to happen to our roads. Do you?

Notwithstanding the above constraints, we are not where we ought to be but certainly a lot of progress has been made under the current administration. I wish I could take a guided tour with you to Ekeremor and Angiama. The spur two of the Glory Drive which I refer to as the sweetest road to drive on is a project I admire and was done in record time.  From Yenagoa to Angiama which used to be about two hours by river now takes less than 20 minutes. Even the opposition parties can attest to that because only two days ago they took their campaign to Oporoma the headquarters of Southern Ijaw through that road. I mean these roads traverse through the most offensive terrains of the Niger Delta but Senator Douye Diri dared, challenged and conquered it and therefore deserves kudos. All of these were achieved within two years because the first year of this administration was challenging due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

What are Diri’s life transforming projects?

I have just enumerated a few but let me just lay emphasis on some impactful projects embarked on by the prosperity administration.

Tombia Roundabout, which hitherto was a den of criminals is now gorgeous to behold. That was where ladies’ bags and phones were snatched, drug dealers and petty thieves’ abode is now turned to a serene and lovely environment. Night life has become safe as the Bayelsa volunteers’ operatives and the internal security personnel curiously watch out for criminals and criminal activities on a 24/7 basis. The completion of the second bridge and the lighting system at night has further enhanced aesthetics of the place. The level of completion of the West and Central Senatorial Districts roads are extraordinary.  How about the ultra-modern bus terminal at Igbogene?