Diri’s Tortuous Journey to Creek Haven

Senator Douye Diri

By Emmanuel Addeh

‘Hope is being able to see that there’s light despite all of the darkness’ (Desmond Tutu).

Earlier on Thursday, the supreme court sacked the All Progressives Congress’ David Lyon as Governor-Elect of Bayelsa State in a judgement that has sent shock waves across the state.

But the decision of the apex court has also brought back the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Douye Diri, who scored the second highest number of votes in last year’s governorship election and his party from the brink of political extinction..

Since Lyon was declared winner of the election last year, the only thing that was probably left for Diri and his godfather, the outgoing governor of Bayelsa, Seriake Dickson, was hope – hope against all odds.

The mockery even from within the PDP was without measure. But all that has suddenly turned into a hearty laughter for Diri and Dickson who were the butt of jokes from all quarters, including even their closest allies.

Diri’s ‘loss’ in the governorship polls that took place on November 16 to Lyon changed the balance of power in Bayelsa, albeit temporarily. It was a short-lived victory for the disgruntled elite which felt disrespected by Dickson who they accused of cornering the state to himself.

Though Diri won his case at the High Court in Bayelsa,
against the APC candidate, whose running mate he alleged presented fake academic certificates to INEC, a few days to the November 16 governorship election, the Appeal Court upturned the lower court judgement.

He had alleged that Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo presented false information to INEC in aid of his qualification and therefore his candidacy was invalid. A few days to the election, the court disqualified Degi-Eremienyo following discrepancies in his name.

But the APC immediately obtained a stay of execution of the judgment to be able to participate in the November 16 election and immediately filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal.

At the Appeal Court, a three-man panel chaired by Justice Stephen Adah held that the High Court erred in law and in breach of the appellant’s right to a fair hearing.

The court agreed with the appellant that the owner of the school leaving certificate and the GCE certificate were one and the same and therefore set aside the judgment of the lower court.

Diri’s hope that the courts will eventually give him succour seemed to have dimmed as the inauguration day inches closer. But all that changed just 24 hours to the inauguration of Lyon with the Supreme Court’s nullification of the candidacy and election of Lyon and directive to INEC to give certificate of return to Diri who scored the second highest number of votes.

With the judgment of the apex court, Diri will now be inaugurated as governor of Bayelsa State Friday February 14, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Diri’s case at the governorship tribunal seeking to upturn Lyon’s victory may have also become an academic exercise, following Thursday’s ruling since the APC candidates were not qualified ab initio.
For Diri, it is a tortuous journey to Creek House. Still lurking in the dark however is Timi Alaibe, another PDP gubernatorial primary contender, who is challenging the validity of Diri’s election in the primaries.