From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Member representing Ekeremor Constituency 1 in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Tare Porri has declared that the speedy passage of the anti-grazing law in Bayelsa State has secured the lives and property of Bayelsans.
Porri who also doubles as the House Committee Chairman on Information, said Governor Douye Diri being a proactive governor initiated the law and Bayelsa was one of the first states to enact the law.
He commended Diri for his giant strides in the state noting that the legislative arm alive to its responsibilities of law-making and oversight functions is complementing the efforts of the executive arm to deliver the dividends of democracy to Bayelsans.
How is the 6th Bayelsa State House of Assembly faring?
I thank God for giving us a calm and unassuming Speaker of the House of 6th Bayelsa State House of Assembly in the person of Abraham Ngobere who has piloted the state of affairs without bias across party lines. He has led us thus far. I appreciate the cooperation of the entire members of the House, both APC and PDP. Of course the APC and PDP caucus works together for the common good and interest of Bayelsans. Yes, indeed we are representing a constituency but we cannot forget our primary responsibility which is law making. Laws that this 6th House of Assembly has passed has added so much value to the lives of Bayelsans. For me, this 6th Assembly has done well in several areas ranging from law making to our over sight functions. We have done excellently well. As a result of effective oversight functions, we are proud to tell the world that because of prudent management of funds and close monitoring by the House of Assembly, Bayelsa emerged third in the recent National Sports Festival. Also in the Aiteo Cup, the two teams from Bayelsa both male and Female took the cup. The House of Assembly is taking its oversight functions very seriously and by so doing putting Commissioners on their toes
We have passed lives transforming laws, laws that would no doubt improve the IGR. We don’t want a situation whereby it would be due to lack of adequate laws and policies that the Board of Internal Revenue would not work up to its expectation. The Assembly swung into action and made the necessary amendments and the governor, Senator Douye Diri assented to it and we are beginning to see great improvement in our IGR.
Not only that, in areas of infrastructure, the House Committee on Works carrying out its oversight functions has ensured that all ongoing projects are not abandoned. For us as lawmakers we are determined to partner with the other arms of government to ensure that we bring the dividends of democracy to our people and by so doing improve their lives.
Yes we are to partner with the Executive of government but we are not subservient to the Executive. For to deliver on your electioneering promises, you have to partner with the executive arm. We have cordial relationship with the other two arms of government. As you can, there is no feud between the legislative, executive and the judiciary arms of government. Bayelsa is stable and peaceful under the able leadership of Governor Douye Diri. We are enjoying an uncommon leadership style which over the years we have all prayed for. The governor being proactive is delivering on his campaign promises gradually without making noise. In the House of Assembly , we have dogged Honourable members, who are committed and dedicated to service delivery. As a House, we are committed to changing the fortunes of our people by coming up with laws that would transform the lives of Bayelsans.
As a lawmaker and member of the PDP, how would you assess Diri as governor and leader of the party in the state?
I am very proud to state here and now that as the lawmaker representing the governor maternally and also the official spokesman of the House, my personal opinion is that Governor Douye Diri has done well so far. Even though we are not running at the pace of people’s expectation, the governor is taking his time and delivering and transforming Bayelsa State to ordinarily where we should be. Take for instance when the governor came in, we had issues with the Airport, today the Airport is working. People can now fly in and out of Bayelsa. The Bayelsa West senatorial zone is ongoing. The governor has not abandoned projects started by previous administration knowing that government is a continuum. He came having drawn up his programme. He decided to complete ongoing projects side by side with new ones.
Again in Bayelsa Central, the road leading to Oporoma has gone far. As the House Committee Chairman on Information, our primary concern is Bayelsa State media organizations and when the governor came after seeing the building owned by Bayelsa Broadcasting Corporation, he demolished it and a new one that would accommodate the three media organizations, Radio Bayelsa, Newspaper Corporation and the Niger Delta Television. The Elebele,/Opolo outer ring road is progressing. The Glory land drive road that leads to the Government House has gone so far. The governor is a silent achiever. He has brought relative peace, not minding politics. He preaches love. The governor’s disposition about governance is worthy of emulation. That is why we have all resolved to bring back our members that were aggrieved and joined the opposition for us to have a formidable house. Personally, I rate the governor very high in every ramifications. Some people may say it is almost two years, but we can all admit that the entire 2020 was lost to Covid-19; there was a global crisis wherein we were at some point struggling to pay salaries. For me governance under Governor Diri kick-started this year and see in eight months what he has achieved. We thank God for giving us this governor. My constituency is happy and that is why when I went to give my score card, the constituency passed a vote of confidence on the governor. He is not just concentrating on Yenagoa but the 24 constituencies are carried along. Lives transforming projects are ongoing at the various constituencies. A classic example is the Bridge in my constituency. In the areas of education, virtually all our tertiary institutions have their programmes accredited.
What was the motive behind the speedy passage of the anti-opening grazing law?
The Ijaw ethnic nationality is the fourth largest in this country and the Ijaw man has never been conquered. You are aware that our terrain is below sea level and we don’t have land. When people talk about anti-opening grazing law, you must realize that cattle rearing business is a private business; this is what some people don’t understand. It is not a business that should concern the Federal Government. It is the business of an individual and if such individual wants to do business, he or she must be ready to obey the laws put in place. You cannot just move your cows to my state and use it to disturb other residents of the state.
So, when the time came to look at a proper law to address the issue of cattle rearing and grazing matters, we were quick to look at it. Being a proactive House of Assembly, we were among the first to pass the ant-grazing law and it was assented to by the governor. Now residents of Yenagoa are enjoying the serene environment of the city. Before now even in the afternoon, you would see cows roaming around but now they are confined to a place. If you want to get a cow, you go there and get it.
The bill was an executive bill initiated by the governor and as a proactive House, we realize it would go a long way in helping our people. You are aware what is going on in the North between herders and farmers’ clashes.
To be fair to the governor, at some point, every day we hear reports from our people, how Fulani herdsmen have taken over their farms. Moreover, we don’t have lands and the few we have, some people want to forcefully evict us and take the lands. Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation is not a dumping ground. You can’t go to the North and say you want to do a business without obeying the laws. Cow dealers and rearers want to coerce us all to their whims and caprices, and we said no that things must be done decently. The law is working and Bayelsans are happier about it; these days, you don’t hear herders are taking over lands. If you violate the law, there is a penalty for it. People are now conscious.
The anti-kidnapping law appears not to be working as there are reports of pockets of kidnappings; what do you think is the problem?
There is no society that is completely safe. Leaders must have the political will to enforce laws that have been promulgated by the various Houses of Assembly. Bayelsa is not an exception. But despite the pockets of kidnapping, Bayelsa remains one of the safest in Nigeria. I am aware the governor is not resting on his oars. The government is taking frantic steps to address the issue of kidnapping once and for all. The law is there and the issue has never been the law. Once you are caught, it is life imprisonment. But it is not about the law. For instance if you kill, you would go in for it yet people still murder. It is all about orientation of our people. This issue of kidnapping goes beyond insecurity, so to speak. Economic challenges also contribute to this crime. The end result of kidnapping is about money.
However, let me state very clear that the House being a proactive House has passed a law that no doubt would address the issue of kidnapping. I called on security agencies especially the Police and its sister agencies to up their game. It is quite unfortunate that some of these things are happening in Yenagoa, the capital city. Nobody prays for things like this. I am sure the governor is working round the clock to stem the tide.
Being from Ekeremor, an oil producing local government area, what is your view on the PIA?
My position cannot be different from that of the Ijaw nation. When this whole issue started, I was chairman IYC Central zone and attended a meeting of Ijaw leaders. And the position of all Ijaws then when now Senator Henry Dickson was governor is clears; we kicked against it, we resolved that host communities should get 10 per cent and anything less, we were not ready. Even this other monies for frontier basin, we kicked against it.
There is a practice in the National Assembly where the minority would have their say but the majority would have their way. I think the walking out of lawmakers from Niger Delta has support from me. I support it because when you look at the setting of the national assembly, the majority would have their way. But it is good not to be party to a process that would endanger one’s own people for life. It is gone down in the annals of history that when this decision was taken, Niger Delta representatives staged a walk-out. The facts are now before the people of Nigeria. I would not join others at casting aspersion on lawmakers from the Niger Delta and by extension the South- South geo-political region for that walk-out. If you look at it, we had earlier resolved we won’t take anything less than 10 percent and that still remains our position. Yes we are starting with three percent now, but the Federal Government and national assembly should make efforts to do the necessary amendments to ensure accommodation of the agitations of the Niger Delta people. We are not asking for too much but asking for 10 per cent which a former President agreed to. But now it is not increased, rather seven per cent is being cut off. Niger Delta leaders, Ijaw National Congress and Ijaw Youth Congress leaders should sustain the agitation for the national assembly to either repeal or amend it to accommodate the worries of our people.
Do you think Governor Douye Diri is ready to champion the cause of the Ijaw Nation in the midst of the politics of Nigeria?
Governor Douye Diri is already doing it. He is providing the needed leadership. He is the best thing that has happened to the Ijaw nation and by extension Bayelsa State. When he was organizing secretary of INC alongside one of the greatest leaders of my community, Chie Waritimi and then INC President, Chief Fumudoh, they agitated for three Ijaw states. One was given and the battle has not ended, the governor is at the fore front of agitating for two more states. This was why during the INC election, the governor decided not to support any candidate, he was neutral. His argument was that Ijaw people have several waters to cross and we must get the best person to do the job at this critical time of our lives. He allowed the process to be open and the best, Prof Benjamin Okaba emerged as President of INC. And to the glory of God, if you have seen his statements and publications, you would agree with me that the INC leadership is propagating the position of the Ijaw people. The governor is on the right course. He has more than enough experience and all it takes to lead Ijaw people to their destination. When Ijaw people were troubled in Edo State, he intervened, and that is leadership. Once you emerged as the governor of Bayelsa State, you become the governor-general of the Ijaw nation. And for a man who has been at that level of the organizing secretary of INC, he has requisite experience and competence to deliver for the Ijaw nation. Ijaw nation are behind all decisions he has taken in respective of this PIA.
As a lawyer, are you not worried about conflicting judgments regarding activities of political parties?
Any genuine fellow in the temple of justice would be worried. Any lawyer and legal practitioner would be worried. I must commend the CJN for clearly showing that timely intervention to look at the issues. This issue was indeed bringing ridicule to the legal profession and the judiciary. Generally, I am worried. Matters should be held on their merit and when conflicting judgments come in the manner it was coming, it gives cause for concern. The court no doubts remains the hope of the common people and if we cannot ascertain that, it therefore means that Nigeria is turning to something else. I know by the special grace of God we would not get to that point since the CJN has already taken steps. I believe some of those issues would be handled holistically. However, I call on politicians who always hide under the guise of the courts to obtain unwarranted ex-parte orders to look inwards and rather do things decently. Some of these internal things are issues we can resolve, but because of lack of internal democracy, sometimes this issue gets to the court. And the court is used as the shield to unleash terror on weak individuals in our society; it is unacceptable.