One year since assuming office, Allison Abanum pays tribute to Governor Diri Douye of Bayelsa State, for Class Leadership in such a short time
The incipient stages of any vision are often laced with all sorts of challenges. But the initial disposition and approach to executing the projects tend to give confidence to the eventual beneficiaries and much-needed encouragement to the protagonists of such vision.
Time goes by so swiftly; indeed, our activities are only variables acting in time and space. Hence, the impact we make with our time turns out to be its real value. Success is viewed parallel to this impact and such can be said for all spheres of life, including leadership.
The earth has completed one full revolution around the sun since the inauguration of a new government in Bayelsa State. As the case has been for leaders around the globe, the challenges of leading in these times of crisis are quite peculiar, yet, like one of my mentors rightly says, “If it’s too easy, it doesn’t create much value.”
The Douye Diri-led Government in Bayelsa State knew first-hand the enormousness of the task it had undertaken, when it set out gallantly to steer the good people of Bayelsa on a voyage of abundance, peace and happiness.
A blueprint for pastures green and inclusive prosperity for the good people of the State was clear in the Governor’s heart and he often alludes to this in speeches. He has been unequivocal that he needs to set up a system that would stand the test of time – a government structured to bring about prosperity and sustainable growth.
This vision clearly gave Bayelsans hope of light in a seemingly abyss of darkness.
“Where there is darkness, let us bring light.” This is the last phrase of a famous prayer by St. Francis of Assisi, offered by Governor Diri during his inaugural speech – one he declared as, “our creed.”
The government through well-calculated actions and policies has so far shown a rich intent to carry out the mandate it has accepted. These actions include changes in modus operandi and enacting polices that are welfare-centric and growth stimulating.
A cut in cost of governance; with calculations indicating almost a 50% reduction in the cost of running the state, immediately freed up much-needed funds useful elsewhere.
A restructuring and re-energising of the State Civil Service immediately ensued. The steady and prompt payment of civil servants, with the 28th of every month set as benchmark. There is also assurance of promotion for deserving individuals as and when due and immediate enjoyment of the entitlements that come with the new position.
Prompt payment of pensions and gratuities to pensioners was sweet music to the ears of people. These policies have proven to have a direct positive impact in the lives of individuals to a large extent.
It became speedily clear that the welfare and job creation were strong cogs in Senator Diri’s vision intended to propel the locomotive of success hence the creation of job opportunities for over 3000 graduates in various capacities in the state.
As if the dire challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic weren’t enough, this administration has had to deal with so much court case distraction from people seeking to undermine its progress. It was almost like it’s taking a new degree in law, due to how often Governor Diri had to frequent the Judiciary to clear every single doubt as regards his grace to office.
Upon careful analysis, it was established that the Governor had the unpleasant experience of dealing with 31 court cases filed against his election as Governor with a breakdown showing a total of three pre-election cases, five cases of review at the Supreme Court, ten at the Election Petition Tribunal, seven cases at the Court of Appeal and six at the Supreme Court.
Despite the unwanted court distractions from aggrieved parties, this Administration refused to be derailed in trying to carry out its given mandate and came through on the promises made during its campaign.
Upon inauguration, it was expedient to disperse the cloud of confusion and negativity the State was plunging into. One of the first tasks the acclaimed “Miracle Administration” set out to accomplish is to ensure an atmosphere of peace and security.
Senator Diri clearly recognised the importance of a strife-free environment and trod wisely setting the tone with a powerful inaugural speech of uncompromising reconciliation.
Leadership is not a position but an action therefore when a leader that is divinely enthroned pilots the affairs, a clear reversal of the negative norms is expected.
Uncertainty and insecurity are major trends bullish in the societal, economical and political structures that were in place in Bayelsa State prior to Governor Diri’s miraculous victory. Critical analysis of the situation presently shows a sharp improvement.
Within this time, the Administration has managed to return an atmosphere of stability to the State, fouling the negative predictions of deterrents. This is credited to his “no enemy” mentality in leadership and the penchant to carry everyone along. There is evident improvement in the socio-economic status of the State owing to a greatly reduced crime rate, which is slowly but surely attracting investment of all sorts.
The Diri-led Administration has always reiterated its commitment to setting up a system of continuous productivity. This vision has been driving the Governor since he first trod the hallowed balcony of leadership.
The automatic employment policy proposed by Senator Diri for excellent sport persons in his capacity as a principal figure in the sports sector in the past, is still resonating well through the sector as most of the people drafted into gainful employment have gone ahead to continue to empower the youth starting from the grassroots to higher levels.
It doesn’t take rocket science to draw a parallel on how engaged youths affect the downward drive of crime rate or occurrence. Indeed such strategy has proven to be a masterstroke, one worthy of pages in the journals of governance.
Within this period under review, this Administration has made practical its strong belief in peaceful coexistence as a vital tool for growth and development.
It has managed to reconcile clans and communities at loggerheads over various issues with the peace brokerage between Agudama-Epie and Akenfa communities as a stand out example of numerous other disputes that have been settled.
Financial and logistical equipment of various security outfits has been given prominence atop the scale of preference, because Peace and stability are sugar crumbs laid out to attract the ants of investments and development.
“We will create a vibrant economy that would propel wealth creation, economic boom and industrial revolution that would make our people work for themselves instead of waiting for monthly allocations from Abuja, which is not helping our people and state for now.”
Thus far, I’d like to believe that they weren’t just mere words said at the time to stir up favourable emotions or to sway the bias of the people. The Governor made these declarations on firm trust on the plans and visions he has for the State. The task of the leader is to get the people from where they are to where they have not been. Infrastructural development is a must to achieve this task.
Clearly, it can be seen that this Administration has gone ahead to try and surmount the obstacles of the present times and initiated various infrastructural projects.
These include work on the Yenagoa ring-road project connecting Igbogene to Onopa with a proposal of the Tombia-Etegwe Flyover on the cards if traffic congestion persists in such areas.
Some of the other roads under construction include the failed portion of Opokuma Road, the Yenegua-Okubie Road (Bayelsa Central Senatorial Road), Igbogene-AIT road, Gloryland Drive and 50 internal roads in the state capital, Yenagoa.
Effective efforts to light up the streets of Yenagoa were scheduled and carried out to give more buoyancy to night life and the associated economical and social benefits, curtailing drastically derailing factors with crime and public harassment being chief targets to dispel.
The diligence and commitment with which the global pandemic has been handled in Bayelsa State thus far is outstanding. The Covid-19 situation is being managed with transparency and humanity in the fore.
Effective regulations and policies as regards public health safety, sanitation and price of goods have greatly helped to soften the blows the pandemic has dealt the nation as a whole.
The degree of victory currently seen in the State in the war against the coronavirus is also not by chance. It is a product of prioritising the effectiveness of the health sector in the State.
The government was quick to respond to both infrastructural and personnel equipment, continuous training of health workers to measure up to best practices and standards and provision of welfare arrangements to ensure adequate service delivery in the health sector.
Business activities form the basics of human existence. The need to improve and multiply possession is an alpha drive. One will agree that it is anchored upon a vibrant small and medium business quadrant. Empowering this level automatically empowers others atop the business chain. This administration has shown great support for SMEs through its welfare packages and policies directly affecting the people of Bayelsa State. This is all in a move to bring to reality its prosperity agenda for the state and its people.
The seemingly ever increasing pool of negative disposition of the masses towards governance in this part of the world is probably well deserved, but when you somehow have in place an administration that despite inheriting a dysfunctional system, strives to set up and implement one of sustainable growth and development and having not only the present in mind but the future as well.
Slowly but surely the air of negative feeling initially adopted by the people begins to disappear, as is the case of the good people of Bayelsa State.
As the Administration marks a relatively successful one year in office, so far Bayelsans can rest assured that a constructive review of this period will continue to propel this government to engage in carefully thought out plan and strategy to better the livelihoods of Bayelsans both now and for the future.
The hope of better things to come is most times hinged upon the glaring prepositions of the present, going by the positive antecedent of Governor Diri’s journey in public service thus far, it sure looks like this administration is on course to dazzle the good people of Bayelsa with seemingly miraculous feats from the waving wands of its principal.
The price for greatness is responsibility and the Diri-led Administration, one would agree, doesn’t seem to be shying away from the responsibility of an impactful leadership.
––Abanum is Senior Special Assistance on Strategic Communication and Documentation to the Bayelsa State Governor.