Sen. Diri: His Life And Public Service - Lessons On Destiny And Patriotism
One trait that attracts goodwill and reward to a person is charisma backed with unrelenting willingness to serve any where and whenever given opportunity to do so. This aptly captures the personality and public service narrative of Senator Douye Diri. His story is indeed that of destiny and reward for patriotic service, having become governor after hopes had even gone dim.
He has so far committed 34 years of his productive life to serving institutions and humanity, at various levels, from 1985 to date and still counting ahead. This rare record puts him in the class of few Bayelsans with longest periods of service to society, through public offices.
Indeed, the name Douye Diri resonates with articulacy, dynamism, dedication, pragmatism, patriotism, and above all, his resolve never to amass wealth at the expense of the public.
These qualities earned him rewards, including nomination as the PDP’s candidate for the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State, besides other public positions in the past, on which he performed well.
Accordingly, many Bayelans who were sincerely keen about good governance rated him high as a person who is fit to be governor, and could render the needed services instead of pursuance of self-aggrandizement.
Senator Diri’s humble family background and Christian upbringing which began at Sampou in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of present Bayelsa State since his birth in 1959 are the secretes behind his qualities.
And of course, the influences of good education at Okoro Primary School, Sampou, later Reverend Proctor Memorial (primary) School, Kaiama, where he finished primary six in 1977; Government Secondary School, Odi, where he obtained WASC in 1981, all laid foundation for his rise to stardom.
More than that, his leadership career has been boosted by social science and administrative studies at the then Rivers State College of Education, Port-Harcourt, where he obtained the National Certificate of Education in Government and Economics in 1985, and later Bachelor of Education in Political Science from University of Port-Harcourt in 1990.
Senator Diri taught economics and government in secondary schools in the rural communities of the old Rivers State, most of which are now parts of Bayelsa State. As a young brilliant graduate burning with the political consciousness imparted in him by the likes of Prof. Kimse Okoko and late Prof. Claude Ake of the University of Port-Harcourt, he imparted same in his students.
Diri could not resist the zeal to use that consciousness for the benefit of the marginalized oil rich Niger Delta and Izon Nation. Thus, he joined the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and became the pioneer organizing secretary, under the founding president, Chief Joshua Fumudoh. The organization championed agitations for resource control and creation of states, notably, Bayelsa State created in 1996, a movement which Diri was passionately involved.
Perhaps as a reward for his participation in the struggles, late Governor D. S. P. Alamieyeseigha appointed him as executive secretary of youth development centre, where he served from 2000 to 2002 and made valuable inputs to youth empowerment policies and programmes.
Other positions he was rewarded with within and outside the state, include youth and sports commissionership from 2005 to 2006, when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was the governor; chairman of PDP’s disciplinary council in 2012 and member of University of Maidugiri Governing Council, 2008 to 2012. Again, he performed excellently in all these positions.
In recent times, Senator Douye Diri played pivotal roles in the governance of Bayelsa State, under the Restoration Government led by the indefatigable and pragmatic Governor Henry Seriake Dickson. He was deputy chief of staff to the governor in 2012, and later principal executive secretary to the governor from 2012 to 2014. These positions also groomed him to ably step into the mighty shoes of his predecessor, Henry Seriake Dickson.
One place where the patriot proved his mettle was the House of Representatives, in which he represented Yenagoa-Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency from 2015 to June 2019. At the Reps, he made impact in different sectors, yet did not engage in publicity hype.
At the Green Chambers, he presented about twenty-four motions singularly and co-sponsored a few, to the delight of parliamentary spectators and Bayelsans.
Seven of his motions that touched Bayelsa state directly were those on the completion of Bayelsa Axis of the East-West Road dualization project; oceanification threats to some communities in Bayelsa State; investigation of oil pipeline surveillance contracts; call for solutions to perennial flooding; intervention in Monkey Pox epidemic, and stoppage of extra-judicial killings by security operatives in the state.
Others are motions on oil spills from Agip pipelines at Kalaba/Ayamabele in Okordia, Yenagoa Local Government Area; thunder storm that occurred at Biseni in same area and landmines at Okoloba in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area, all in the constituency he represented in the Reps.
Three of his motions for the Niger Delta, concerned stopping of security agents from polluting the environment by the burning of so-called illegally refined petroleum products; stoppage of pollution arising from crude oil and gas exploration by oil companies as well as motion on resource control, which he defied intimidation by his colleagues from other regions.
Far more than these, the Diri had to his credit, 14 motions on national issues, most of which were sponsored by him alone and a few co-sponsored. They include need for development of marine transport; inquiry into controversial sale of 2.6 GHz Spectrum by the National Communications Communication; stoppage of CBN’s policy of monthly Hundred Naira charge on ATM users; probing of conflict between Ministry of Finance and the Securities and Exchange Commission; investigation into crisis in National Health Insurance Scheme, National Intelligence Agency’s slouched Forty-Four Million Dollars as well as the alleged missing funds in the International Amateur Sporting Federation.
His other motions on national matters include probing of alleged lack of due process in the termination of Intel’s contract with Nigerian Ports Authority; alleged lack of transparency in the award of contract for modification of EGP 3B oil production platform by the Nigerian National petroleum Corporation/Cheveron Joint Venture; alleged non-transparent issuance of oil licenses in the marginal field category; alleged sleaze in procurement of health facilities; stoppage of the use of ethnic language in the Nigerian Army as was allegedly mooted, as well as auditing of police personnel and need to deploy new recruits to combat insecurity.
In terms of bills, Senator Diri sponsored four, while in the Reps. One of them was on establishment of a federal college of education in Bayelsa, an issue later taken up by Senator Foster Ogola, who then represented Bayelsa West Senatorial District in the Eight Assembly.
Other bills by Diri concerned creation of sports anti-doping agency; day for national fitness exercise and installation of CCTVs in public places to curb insecurity.
He also facilitated about seven petitions as follows: exclusion of Bayelsa in career Ambassadors nomination; negative impact of fishing trawlers on local fishing in Bayelsa water ways; alleged destruction of Shine-Shine, alias Sand-Sand community in Nembe by a federal security team; arbitrary detention of Mr. Collins Opume and family; Miss Ese Oruru’s saga; complaints against appointment of vice chancellor in Federal University, Otueke, as well as alleged impurities in a certain brand of soft drink.
Also while in the Reps, Diri influenced execution of solar street lightings; water; science laboratory equipment for schools and information communication technologies projects in more than eleven communities in Yenagoa-Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency.
Similarly, he implemented more than six empowerment schemes which also involved entrepreneurship trainings jointly done with the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDA), Abuja, and donated motor bikes, sewing machines as well as generating sets to the trainees from various wards.
In education, the dynamic legislator, now governor of Bayelsa State, paid school-fee bursaries to more than one hundred undergraduates in the Niger Delta University (NDU) and postgraduate students, during his tenure in the Reps.
Also while in the House of Representatives, Diri, assisted about 39 Bayelsans, mostly from his constituency, to get employed in federal ministries, agencies and the armed forces.
Early 2019, his record of stewardship earned him ticket of the PDP, to the Senate. And of course, the electorate in Bayelsa Central Senatorial District equally reciprocated by voting him to the Senate to do more for the people.
As fate would have it, he again hearkened to a call for higher service, barely four months after inauguration of the Ninth Senate. The unrelenting servant of the people, contested the PDP’s primary election, and was declared winner.
Bayelsans on their part, scrutinized his credentials, and many stood by him in hid governorship project, despite being despised by some persons.
Many Bayelsans were also in sync with the nomination of a pragmatist and jolly good fellow, Senator Lawrence Ewrudjakpo as his running mate, and readily to supported election of the duo in November 16, 2019, but were initially flawed by David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC), amidst protests and litigations by the PDP.
In response, Senator Douye Diri had assured that all hopes were not lost, as far as the judiciary was in existence for redress. Many people may have doubted him, but justice actually came his way in February 13, when the Supreme Court in Abuja, a day to swearing in, nullified election of Chief David Lyon and Senator Degi Biobarakumo of APC over the latter's supply of false information on his qualification for the election. Diri and Lawrence were consequently declared winners by the INEC February 14, 2020, and sworn in as governor and deputy governor. This is indeed a stroke of destiny and political shocker that affirms the complexity in the game of politics.
Senator Diri promised all-rounded and evenly spread physical, industrial and human development in the state, through consolidation of existing projects and implementation of new ones.
With his agenda aptly anchored on the slogan, “Prosperity 2020”, Senator Diri, also assured that Bayelsa will surely get the best from his government, adding he will never let the state down.
As Bayelsans eagetly await the outcomes of the new governor's agenda, it is now left for every person and groups to forego sectional feelings and support the dynamic and patriotic Governor Douye Diri and his hardworking deputy, Senator Lawrence to move the state forward.
Doing so will enable the people to be firmly involved in the affairs of the state, to benefit more, now that the plot by external national elements to interfere and manipulate the state through their allies, has been botched by the Supreme Court.