Diri Vs Lyon: Profiling the PDP, APC Gladiators

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SATURDAY POLITY

By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, one of the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) will win today’s election and will be sworn in on February 14, 2020.  The race to the election has not only been tortuous, but dramatic, with many twists and turns, some self-inflicted, others foisted, along the way.

The two leading candidates, Senator Douye Diri of the PDP and his opponent in the APC, David Lyon, will be going into the polls today, with their hearts literally in their mouths. As it is , nothing is guaranteed, as has been shown by the events of the last few days.

With each of the gladiators struggling to convince voters to trust them enough to vote for them, many people are anxious to know what the antecedents of the two party standard bearers are.

While Diri boasts that he has experiences spanning the private and public sector as well as executive and legislative acumen, having been a cabinet member in Bayelsa and a lawmaker at the federal level, Lyon says that he is bringing fresh air to governance.

Not much was known about the APC candidate in the public sphere until about the last day of the purchase and submission of nomination forms for the party primaries, when he was practically prevailed upon to run against the PDP man, by Chief Timipre Sylva, the party leader in Bayelsa and minister of petroleum.

His mien readily shows his reticence, laid back and shy nature, but Lyon also seems to have evolved in the last few weeks where he has had to face large crowds. Understandably, he has avoided direct interviews with the press, only in his nature, making a few remarks during open campaigns.

Diri, APC candidate, though not wholly extroverted like the typical politician, appears to have learnt a few lessons in his political career. But again, it has been argued that he is not the type that can typically mix with market women in Swali  or the kind that would usually eat the popular roasted plaintain( boli) and fish along the road with the artisan.

Douye Diri

Sixty-Year-old Diri’s profile shows that was born in June 1959  in Kalama-Owinari compound of Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria. 

A private businessman, politician and lawmaker currently representing Bayelsa Central at the senate, he was also at the federal House of Representatives  for Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Constituency.

He began his education at Okoro Primary School Sampou in Kolga, and moved on to State School Kaima (now Rev. Proctor Memorial Primary School Kaima) where he was said to have earned his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC) in 1977, then the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASCE) in 1981.

According to his handlers, he thereafter proceeded to the College of Education in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state where he obtained his Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) in 1985 and a Bachelors of Education degree in Political Science in 1990. 

Diri says he is proud being called a teacher, having begun his career in the teaching profession and taught in several Government Schools in the Rural Area in the Old Rivers State, before leaving the education sector for politics.

 The senator also boasts of a background in activism, having been appointed the First National Organising Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the foremost organisation of the Ijaw people.  He was also appointed Executive Secretary, Centre for Youth Development in Bayelsa State from 2000 to 2002 during the tenure of the late Governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. 

Diri was also appointed Commissioner for Youth and Sports between 2005 and 2006 during  Goodluck Jonathan’s administration as governor of Bayelsa State.

He was once governing Council Board member university of Maiduguri from 2008-2012. chairman of the PDP Disciplinary Council, Bayelsa State in 2012. 

He was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House by Dickson from August 2012 and a year later was appointed Principal Executive Secretary the current governor, a position he held until he resigned in 2014 to contest for the Federal House of Representatives to represent kolokuma, Opokuma, and Yenagoa Federal Constituency. He won the election in 2015. 

While endorsing him, Governor Seriake Dickson said he was looking out for someone who will fight the ‘Ijaw cause’ with vigour, stressing that when confronted burning Niger Delta question; he never shirked his responsibility.

He has moved against the Land Use Act in the constitution and demanded for equity and fairness in allocation of resources across the country.

On his achievements in the lower chamber earlier this year, he told THISDAY “The work of the legislator as you know is not like the work of the executive to bring in infrastructure, works, roads and all that. That’s not the work of a legislator.

“The work of a legislator is to be a voice of your people on the floor of the House. I told them I am going to be an effective representative of the constituency in the House. I have been able to achieve that.

“In the history of the representation of this constituency, nobody has moved even up to five motions. For those who stayed up to one term, even two terms. Within three years, I have to my credit, 19 motions and three bills. I think that’s the height of my achievement. Others are peripheral. 

“I represented Bayelsa State because every state has one member in the constitutional amendment committee and it was a joint committee of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It was my belief that the obnoxious Land Use Act which I felt was a short-changing of the people of Niger Delta, needed to be repealed” he said.

 “Land does not belong to the federal government and that the resources belong to communities, individuals, and at times clans and local governments and  the way we have been treated, even after me, people will come and continue to fight for justice” he added.

He added that he had a lot of constituency projects, solar light, solar water, in Azikoro and Tombia and assistance to students where they could not pay school fees especially in Niger Delta University “when they cry to us.” 

David Lyon (APC)

Mr David Lyon is expected to slug it out today with Senator Diri. Lyon is from Olugbobiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government area of the State. He is the owner of Darlon Securities and Guards Limited with interest in crude oil pipeline security and has employed several youths through his contract with a multinational oil firm , according to his profile.

Not much was known about his political career before the sudden burst into the public sphere less than two months ago. But recent information indicate that he has low-key been a member of the APC since 2014 and was a councillor before then and has supported the party financially for a while.

Fourty-nine-year-old Lyon was born in Olugbobiri Community in Olodiama clan  in December, 1970, while from 1978 , he was said to have attended Saint Gabriel’s State School Olugbobiri and community secondary school, Olugbobiri. before proceeding to Rivers State College of Education, where he obtained the National Certificate of Education (NCE).

Lyon is also into philanthropy, reportedly providing food for the indigent through his foundation and scholarship to many, assisting the elderly and the physically challenged. 

His handlers say he started his political sojourn in his community, Olugbobiri, where he emerged as the youth president. He was also appointed as the caretaker chairman of Apoi/Olodiama development centre, as well as a former Ward 4 chairman in Southern Ijaw, under the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC).

He says of himself: “Over the years, I have gained enormous political experience both at the community and partisan levels. My early political involvement was driven by the need to mount non-violent pressure on Multinational Companies, to live up to their social responsibilities and to protect the degrading Olugbobiri environment.

“ Owing to my dynamic, visionary and non-violent approach to resolving conflicts, as well as my unwavering dedication to community interest, I was elected as the youth President in 1996. 

“During my tenure as Olugbobiri Youth President, I galvanized the boundless energies of our youths towards productive activities, and synergized with stakeholders and corporate entities to radically improve the quality of life in the community. 

“Furthermore, I ventured into party politics in the Third Republic in order to find a bigger platform for social change and transformation. I joined the defunct National Republican Congress (NRC) and won the Councillorship election of Ward 4, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area (SILGA), but it was aborted by the then military government in 1997.

“Undeterred by the military incursion, I continued my political journey and became a founding member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in SILGA. My dexterity, astuteness and collaborative skills in politics paid off when I was appointed as the Care-taker Committee Chairman of Apoi Olodiama Local Government Development Center in year 2000. 

“My brief tenure as Caretaker Committee Chairman witnessed an unprecedented surge in development, peace and stability. I am a card carrying and financial member of the All Progressive Congress (APC) who is committed to the governance values and transformation programs of the party.

“In fact, my company, Darlong Security Company Nigeria Limited is the highest employer of labour in Bayelsa State, after the state government. It is also the single most contributor to the State’s Internally Generated Revenue by any indigenous firm in Bayelsa”