Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Senator Douye Diri believes no other party is a threat to the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) which has done well under Governor Dickson and would do more under him as governor come February 14, 2020. In this interview, he speaks on various issues including his ambition to be the next governor of Bayelsa after Dickson.
Are you satisfied at the level of development for Bayelsa at 23 with PDP at the helm of affairs?
First, yes we are not satisfied at what has come into Bayelsa State and the level of development we have seen. If we are satisfied, then there would be no need for me to come out to contest this election. As a party even on self-evaluation, we know that within the 23 years, there were certain regimes that didn’t do well as a party. And so, that was the reason some persons even left government to go and join the opposition. And that was the reason when the government of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson came in, we called it a government of restoration. For you to restore, it means the locusts must have eaten those things which need restoration. That was why the restoration was coined. We are not very satisfied with the performance of our party for 23 years.
But again, let us look it from the other side. For those of you that know old Yenagoa Local Government Area, mark my words, I said not very satisfied. I qualified it. If you know the old Yenagoa Local Government Area of Kolokuma/Opokuma , Southern Ijaw and Yenagoa and particularly Yenagoa, my brother, I am also very satisfied to tell you that a whole lot of development has taken place in Yenagoa. Successive PDP governments have contributed so much to the development of Yenagoa as our state capital comparatively to know what you know as Yenagoa Local Government Area. This was a place where you have bushes bounding one community to the other; this was a place you had very few developments and the road was one tiny road. You remember at the creation of Bayelsa, people were abusing us of having just one road. But today, we don’t have just that Mbiama/ Yenagoa road; several other roads have been added even though we are not there yet, that is why I said not very satisfied. I am satisfied to an extent that those of us who are founding fathers that stood for the creation of Bayelsa State, we have nothing to regret about. We are still a developing state; Rome was not built in a day.
Do you think the allocation the state has received is commensurate with the level of development?
For me, I would disagree that the money coming into Bayelsa can be compared to the money taken away from Bayelsa, it is infinitesimal. If Bayelsa is giving so much to the federal system, why are we having only 13 per cent and we are crying over that which is nowhere near to the development of this state considering our terrain. If you feel the pain the way I feel it, we should be talking about controlling our resources. That is the practice worldwide. There is nowhere people go with plates at the end of every month to collect what is called federal allocation. That federal allocation is used to develop other parts of Nigeria and here we are struggling and abusing ourselves over a paltry 13 per cent. I want you to join me in the struggle for the abrogation of the Land Use Act. When that is done, then we can be asking ourselves how much do we have and how much has been put in the development of Bayelsa.
How are you working with other aspirants who failed in the primary election for you to emerge?
The governorship primary was open and transparently conducted. I commend members for the NWC for a level playing field. Some of those that contested with me are working with me. But for the few that are yet to come to the fray, I urge them to sheathe the sword and work for the victory of our party. Bayelsa State is a PDP state. From the beginning of our democracy till today, no other party has won the governorship seat of Bayelsa State and this one would not be an exception. But we must be united. I plead with all of them to join hands with the party; join hands with me to ensure come November 16, there would be victory for the PDP. That I emerged the candidate of the PDP does not mean I won other contestants. There was no victor, no vanquished.
Why did you part ways with Alamieyeseigha and Alaibe at a particular point in your political career?
My expectation of the government at that time was high and when it was not meeting it, I resigned and went into the opposition all in search for better life for our people; a better government that would be responsive to the plight of our people. And in the opposition, who was the leader? The leader as most of you know was Ndutimi Alaibe. Some of our people at that time when we went to market him were asking us yes, we know you Douye but this man (Alaibe) you are talking about, where is he, we don’t see him. We were in that sojourn for about 10 years trying to see how we can make Chief Ndutimi Alaibe governor. We are the people who even gave him that name Principal. But things did not work out and at a certain point in life, you have to take your destiny in your own hands. I decided once again to take my destiny in my hands and finally parted ways with the New Vision team. And again in search of development for the state, I joined hands with Governor Henry Seriake Dickson when he was an aspirant. I worked with Governor Dickson as aspirant and after winning the election in 2012, Governor Dickson invited me to join him as Deputy Chief of Staff. I did that for about a year before the Governor changed my designation to Principal Executive Secretary, Governor’s Office. I was there until 2014 when I was called upon to contest for the Senate. I picked the form and submitted the form and was ready to contest but the leadership advised I stepped down for Senator Emmanuel Paulker. I stepped down for him and was graciously given the opportunity to contest for the Green Chambers, the House of Representatives to represent the good people of Yenagoa/ Kolokuma/ Opokuma Federal Constituency. I was in the Green Chambers for four years and believed I have made an impact. At the end of the four years, I was again called for service, this time to go to the Senate. After winning the election and setting down, the governorship race opened and I was called again by stakeholders to contest for governor.Forward