Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has said he only disagreed politically with a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, but that they remain brothers.
Senator Diri also said efforts were ongoing to reconcile all aspirants in the September 4 primary election of the party and that the PDP was formidable enough to win the November 16 governorship election in the state.
The federal lawmaker, who defeated 20 others, including Alaibe, to emerge the PDP flag bearer, spoke during an interactive session with senior journalists and bureau chiefs of media organisations in Abuja.
His words: “For clarity, a lot of people saw me as a staff of NDDC but I wasn’t. I was a political ally and a close person to Chief Timi Alaibe, believing that we were going to enthrone a government in Bayelsa that would be more responsive to the people.
“I was with Chief Alaibe for about 10 years. One thing or the other happened in each election we attempted. Then he would return to NDDC. A few of us didn’t feel very comfortable with that.
“Just to let you know, we hail from the same local government area. So he is my brother. I see him as a brother and I believe that he too sees me as one.”
He however noted that they parted ways when he (Diri) accepted to join Governor Seriake Dickson’s campaign before the 2012 election in the state.
“Being a former colleague, he (Dickson) invited me to be a part of the campaigns. In fact, when I accepted the offer and informed Chief Alaibe, my political ally at that time, he didn’t take it kindly. That was how we parted ways. So, I joined Governor Dickson, we campaigned, went into the election and he won in 2012.”
The former teacher, Ijaw activist and sports commissioner further stated that his emergence as the party’s standard bearer was divine as well as the result of broad consultation with key stakeholders, including former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He narrated how as a Reps member he prevented an attempt by some of his colleagues to humiliate the former president.
“The former president was my governor. I worked under him as commissioner and that tells you the relationship that I had with him. Before then, even while I was Executive Secretary of the Bayelsa Youth Development Centre, he was deputy governor under Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha. So we had known ourselves for a long while before he became president.
“While I was in the House of Representatives, there was a probe panel to investigate the former president. It was myself and Boma Goodhead from Rivers State that kicked against a decision by the committee to invite the former president to appear before the panel and not even the floor of the house. I found that very ridiculous and that brought about a serious disagreement between myself and a colleague from Kwara State, who was chairman of the committee. I saw in the national dailies the next day that I almost beat up the chairman. There was nothing like that. But I was visibly angry with what they were doing because I believe that no other former president had been so humiliated the way they wanted to humiliate him.
“So, I have a very cordial relationship with the former president and he was one of the key persons I consulted. I went to his house. He received me, and, in fact, took me to his wife. The wife was like our mother at that time he was governor. So, he gave me his blessings. I consulted very many other leaders before I finally went into the race.”
Diri described himself as a principled person and that he is neither a stooge nor an underdog in the governorship race. He said he would shock those who underestimate him.
“From my short profile I spoke about, it will be very clear to anyone in doubt about who I am, what I stand for and why I even accepted to work with the current governor. I told you that Sylva was in power for five years and I didn’t get into Bayelsa State. That tells you I am a man of principles. I choose my friends and those I want to work with. And I chose to work with Governor Dickson and I am very satisfied working with him.”
He urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be an unbiased umpire and that the security agencies should be professional during the election.
“We have a fight ahead of us but I don’t see our opponents as being so strong on ground to defeat the PDP. If we have a free, fair and transparent election, the APC cannot win even a councillorship election in Bayelsa State. It is all the hype about federal might by using security apparatus to intimidate or using INEC to write results.
“Our appeal is that the security agencies must be professional. INEC must remain an unbiased umpire. If there is that fair playing field, the opponents are neither here nor there to contest in this election. ”
He said Governor Dickson is an exceptional leader who had performed very well in office and that some of his laudable policies would be sustained if he is elected.
Diri promised to involve more Bayelsans in the economic activities of the state and that he would pay greater attention to the issue of security.
“When we took over in 2012, the policy thrust on education came about because there was a lacuna in our educational sector. So the governor declared a state of emergency in that sector.
“I believe to a large extent, he has ameliorated most of the gaps that we discovered when we came into power. For instance, Bayelsa State was about thirty something (position) in all national examinations. But today, Bayelsa is among the first ten. That has been achieved to a level. I will continue with it and ensure that we go higher.
“Next will be the economy. Our local economy is neither here nor there. The sitting governor has tried to bring in solutions in agriculture, trying to look at our comparative advantage and I intend to build on that. I want us to have a local economy where our people will be directly involved.
“Today, the number of Bayelsans involved in economic activities is low. That will be one of our policy thrusts while not forgetting the issue of security. No government can thrive and do well without security. We are seeing bits of it at the federal level where the level of insecurity in the country is so high.
“Those are the things I will build on. But that is not to say we will neglect other sectors.”