Tag Archives: Bayelsa State

Drama as Dickson confronts Dahiru over comment on Bayelsa’s population

Senator Seriake Dickson

…Mubi’s population much higher than Bayelsa’s 8 LGAs Senator Dahiru

…Who conducted the census, how justifiable is Mubi’s population? Senator Dickson fires back

By Henry Umoru

THERE was drama in the Senate yesterday, following altercation between Senators Aishatu Dahiru, APC, Adamawa Central and Seriake Dickson, PDP, Bayelsa West, over comments on Bayelsa’s small population.

Trouble started during plenary when Senator Dahiru took a swipe at Bayelsa State, saying Mubi North’s population of 2,089,540 was much higher than the entire population of Bayelsa State which is currently 1,704,515.

Dahiru attacked the South South state when she led a debate on the general principles of the Bill for an Act to provide the legal framework to establish the Federal Medical Centre, Mubi, Adamawa State, and for related matters, 2021( SB.668), sponsored by her.

Presenting the bill, the Adamawa senator immediately veered off her presentation, alleging that the population in need of the facility in Mubi was more than that of some states like Bayelsa.

According to her, the town, Mubi, with a total land mass of 506.4km2 and a population of 759,045, is bound by neighbouring nine local government areas. “This together with the population of Mubi North makes it 2,089,540 people (very much higher than Bayelsa State’s eight local government areas, with a population of 1,704,515). “Nonetheless, this historic town has suffered from government neglect in terms of federal presence, especially in the area of tertiary healthcare delivery. “

Senator Dahiru’s argument did not go down well with Seriake Dickson, the immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, who was infuriated. Angered by the submissions, Senator Dickson quickly raised up his hand which the President of the Senate mistook for an intention to contribute to the debate and obliged him. Dickson, who lampooned the Adamawa senator, faulted her claim on Bayelsa population.

He declared that figures presented by Senator Dahiru were not verifiable, arguing in an angry tone that the size of Bayelsa, the physical land mass and the water bodies were thrice bigger than some states in the country. He said: “In my senatorial district, it will take me four days to go round. In my local government, Sagbama, it will take me three days to go round.

“I just felt I should rise to enlighten the sponsor of this bill and by so doing, the rest of the country.

“When people talk about population, they should be careful because if you go deep and ask who conducted the census, who verified what and what are counted, who are the residents and how justifiable?

Noting the dangerous trend the argument was taking, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, interjected and cautioned Dickson against imputing improper motives to the debate.

He said: “Apparently, I have to guide this contribution because you have made your point and, giving our standing orders, we shouldn’t impute improper motives to the submission by our colleagues.

“The discussion is not on the population of Bayelsa or population censors conducted before now. We should rather concentrate on the main focus, which is on the establishment of federal medical centre. “I agree that there are many questions people will like to raise, but I think the essence of this debate is to focus on the general principles and merits of the bill.”

Dickson, however, continued his presentation: “Debates and submissions in this hallowed chamber must be based on justifiable fact.

“I was only rising to enlighten, without prejudice to the merits or demerits of the bill, that the premise that she has put forward as a reason or one of the reasons this bill should be considered is faulty. That should be expunged, it should not form part of it. That is not factual, it is incorrect.’’

Again, Lawan cautioned Dickson against reducing the debate to reaction to comments, saying “I’m sure that is the way you rounded off and let me also say that when you have an opportunity like this, what you do is, if you feel and are convinced that there is an erroneous presentation, you simply bring out the fact, that this is wrong and this is correct.

“We don’t have to come down and reduce the debate to reaction. You were in the House of Representatives before you became a governor, I’m very sure you are very conversant with our process here. We don’t imput improper motives to debates or contributions or interventions by our colleagues.”

The bill was, however, passed for second reading after the rancorous debate.

INTERVIEW: A lot of things were done to unseat Governor Douye Diri- Daniel Alabrah

Daniel Alabrah, a seasoned journalist, is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri. Between June 2017 and February 13, 2020, he was Special Adviser on Public Affairs to the immediate past governor of the state, Seriake Dickson, now Senator representing Bayelsa West in the Senate.

Alabrah was a Deputy Editor at The Sun newspapers when he was appointed to head the Media and Communication Unit at the Presidential Amnesty Office in Abuja in June 2012, a position he held till September 8, 2015 when he resigned.

In this interview with MICHAEL JEGEDE, the former professional footballer and current chairman of the Bayelsa State Scrabble Association, speaks extensively on the various efforts and exploits of Governor Diri as he marks one year in office on February 14, 2021 (today).

Excerpts:

As spokesman of Governor Douye Diri, how would you describe the journey so far for the man now widely known as the ‘Miracle Governor’ due to the way he miraculously emerged?

Quite frankly, it has been a challenging experience. It has not been a very easy ride. And there are reasons I say so, some of which are obvious. For instance, Senator Douye Diri came at a time the whole world was gripped by a pandemic that actually distorted plans of national and sub-national governments. COVID-19 was not expected and it spread in such a way that virtually no one was spared its anger and fury.

So, for a man that just came into office on February 14, 2020 at a time this pandemic was sweeping across the world, there was bound to be some challenges to contend with. With the coming of COVID-19, the world got used to a new normal, which we all had to adjust to. The new words became lockdown, palliatives, COVID-19 protocols. States and countries were locked down and Nigeria was not spared. The new government had to start thinking and planning how it was going to survive the effects of the pandemic. That was a challenge. Be that as it may, as a man with good knowledge of what governance is all about, he was able to manage the situation very well that till date Bayelsa is one of the states with the least number of cases because of the measures that were put in place.

In Bayelsa, unlike in some other states, Governor Diri did not direct a lockdown of the state in a manner that it amounted to punishment on the people. He ensured that most of the decisions at that time had a human face. For him, people would have to learn and understand the effects of COVID-19 by persuasion and not by force. He understood that this was unexpected and that nobody prepared for it. The pain of COVID-19 is such that you do not make the people suffer double jeopardy. So, largely the situation was well managed and we saw that at the end of the first wave of the pandemic, the situation wasn’t too bad in the state. However, with it came a lot of things that the government had to do. It had to distribute palliatives to the people across the state, ensuring that persons whose means of livelihood had been affected needed to be given some support to be able to survive.

The government had to embark on the distribution of foodstuff and other palliatives four times between April and July of last year. It also had to establish a research and diagnostic centre with a standard molecular laboratory for testing infectious diseases just as it embarked on extensive sensitisation campaigns across the state. Now, we are in the second wave, which means the government still has to keep an eye on how to protect the people from the effects of the pandemic.

Knowing that the entire world economy was badly affected by the pandemic, resulting to sharp decrease in the revenue of most countries, Nigeria inclusive, how was Diri able to raise funds to cater for the welfare of the people of Bayelsa in the last one year?

The economic situation too did not help matters. COVID-19 ensured there was a downturn in the Nigerian economy, which greatly affected our revenue and monthly allocation from FAAC as an oil producing state. You know there was a drop in the price of oil. So, national revenue was affected. And that by extension meant that the revenue accruing to states, particularly the oil producing states, was affected and Bayelsa was badly hit. But the governor had to prioritise. One of the things he prioritised was the welfare of civil servants, retirees and pensioners.

Bayelsa largely is a civil service state. So, when revenue dwindled it affected the projections, particularly with the infrastructure and other areas the government needed to tackle headlong. With the lockdown, not much could be done at that time. But Governor Diri decided that regardless of the drop in monthly allocation, our people should not suffer so much. He ensured that salaries of civil servants be paid as and when due. In fact, he directed that by 27th or 28th of every month, civil servants get their salaries.

Are civil servants still getting their salary promptly?

Bayelsa has not owed any civil servant salary from January of 2020 till now. In fact, since 2019, no civil servant in the state has been owed despite our tight financial situation. But let’s look at it from when the Miracle Governor assumed office in February 2020. Since then, the first priority monthly is civil servants and pensioners’ salary, no matter how poor the allocation was.

Are you saying the pay of Bayelsa civil servants was never slashed unlike in some other states?

Salary of civil servants or political appointees was never reduced due to COVID-19. There was no pay cut or slashed allowances. The governor ensured that everybody got paid accordingly. He was able to manage that very well. He also courageously handled the situation with the retired civil servants by way of paying their pension regularly and their gratuity. For instance, between N100 million and N200 million is set aside every month since February 2020 for clearing the backlog of gratuities, which date back to 2008. But in January this year, N650 million was released for gratuities. So, in the last one year, over N2 billion has been disbursed as gratuities of retirees in the state. However, what suffered initially was infrastructure development.

Within this period not much could be done until towards the end of last year when the government decided that in spite of COVID-19, we needed to touch the lives of the people better than we were already doing. So, at the moment, Bayelsa is gradually turning into a massive construction site with the number of projects and contracts that have been awarded, particularly for road infrastructure projects. They include the urban renewal project of expanding the Etegwe/Edepie roundabout, which is being done through direct labour by the state Ministry of Works and Infrastructure. This project is almost completed as it was the first to start. Other projects include the Yenagoa-Oporoma road with a bridge across the river at Aguobiri and another major bridge at Angiama. This very important road started by the immediate past administration of Senator Seriake Dickson and being constructed by the Chinese construction giants, CCECC, leads to headquarters of the Southern Ijaw local government area that can only be accessed by river just like the headquarters of the Brass council in Twon-Brass.

The outer ring road project is also ongoing as well as the Igbedi road project in Kolokuma/Opokuma local government area. Construction giants, Julius Berger, has equally been mobilised to return to site for the final phase of the Isaac Boro expressway project as well as contractors returning to the equally important Glory Drive bypass road and the almost 90km Sagbama-Ekeremor road. There is also the bridge projects at Elebele and Imiringi in Ogbia local government area as well as internal road projects in the state capital, Yenagoa, just to mention some of the projects that are either ongoing, nearing completion or about to commence. So, figuratively, we have been able to look at the ghost of COVID-19 and said we are not going to be held back by it as we must move on with our lives.

Although our revenue has not significantly improved, we have been able to prudently deploy funds, particularly the N27.5billion that the state received as refund for executing federal government projects. That money has been deployed largely into infrastructure. The road projects are such that in the next one year or so, people would see a massive transformation in the road network and physical infrastructure outlook of the state.

Were the several court cases (both pre and post-election cases) instituted against Governor Diri not a distraction to him?

Indeed, that was another challenge that Governor Diri had to contend with – the plethora of court cases. It is on record that no governor has faced the kind of legal tussle, legal challenges that this governor has contended with. The pre-election and post-election cases altogether were about 32 and five of them got to the Supreme Court. Instructively, the governor won all of them. Without a scintilla of doubt, these court cases were a distraction. The purpose was for him to lose focus but he kept his calm. He was focused.

Often he had to travel out of the state as those cases required that he kept a close eye on them. The plan of those behind these litigations was to unsettle him. But for a man who miraculously came into office, we were not surprised that the same God that made it possible also ensured that he remained on that seat.

A lot of things were done to unseat him. Some of them we cannot even imagine the length that some persons went just because they wanted to unseat the governor. But as he always say, it is God that gives power. He is the One who is the originator of power and He is the One who ensures that you remain on any seat of power. So, that God has always been present to decide those cases in his favour.

Can it be said that the people of Bayelsa are faring better under the leadership of Governor Diri?

If you know me well, I talk straight. I like to say things the way I see them. I am not one who hypocritically praise-sing anybody. I say the reality the way it is. But, honestly, it might be out of tune for me to begin to score the administration. You can find out yourself what the governor has been able to do, particularly as we shook off the distraction from COVID-19 and the court cases. He has a good knowledge of what it takes to govern this state and to ensure that the people get the full benefits of the government that is in place. I am not saying everybody would be satisfied with the government, but I can confidently tell you that the majority of Bayelsans believe in the government of Senator Douye Diri at the moment based on what they have seen him do.

How has he been able to entrench peace and unity among the people of Bayelsa?

This is a man who is committed and believes strongly in the unity of the state. He believes in the unity of the Ijaw nation. He believes that Bayelsa as the only homogenous Ijaw state, as the home of all Ijaw people, is a place that we should allow peace to reign. It is a place that we must protect our people with everything we have. So, he has ensured that areas where there was hitherto no peace, where there were conflicts and open disagreements, he intervened in such a way that the people believe that there could be reconciliation. I give you an example.

On November 13, three days before the November 16 governorship election in 2019, supporters of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and people who had gone to Nembe to campaign with and for Senator Diri and his then running mate, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, were attacked. Persons were reportedly killed and several persons were injured in that attack. But beyond the attack on these persons that visited Nembe three days before the election to campaign, there was already an existing disagreement within the same Nembe-Basambiri and Ogbolomabiri-Nembe community. They were divided politically and supporters of the PDP became targets of attack.

Some chieftains of the party had to flee from Basambiri and became IDPs in their own state. But, as we speak, that situation has been resolved. The governor has been able to ensure that peace returned. Not peace of the graveyard but real peace has returned to Nembe. The IDPs have now returned to their ancestral home. Brothers that were previously at daggers drawn have reconciled. There is a unity bridge linking the two parts of Nembe. Today, the contract for that bridge that was destroyed has been awarded for it to be fixed. This is because the governor is somebody who loves peace, unity and togetherness. His positive disposition resonates well round the whole state that anywhere there is conflict, the government steps in and they are reconciled. So, the governor has been able to reduce tension and friction in the state to a large extent. Now people in hitherto crisis-ridden communities are beginning to enjoy the benefit of peace.

Education is said to be the bedrock of development. In the last one year, what giant strides has the government made in the education sector?

Without trying to make any excuse, you will agree with me that generally a lot of things didn’t take off immediately because of COVID-19. But I want to say that there are challenges we have identified in the education sector that we really have to correct. There has also been some form of infrastructure decay in the sector over the period and this is being addressed. Contracts for the renovation of schools, particularly primary and secondary schools, have been awarded. Physical infrastructure is important in the education sector. But, generally as a state, Bayelsa is one that has done very well in terms of its performance in national examinations. And the previous government of Senator Dickson did very well in changing the educational narrative of the state.

When he (Dickson) took over in 2012, Bayelsa’s position in national examinations was not good. At that time, we were around 29th or 30th position among the 36 states. But by the time he left office in 2020 that had significantly changed. Today, Bayelsa is among the first seven states when you talk about performance in national examinations. This current administration is committed to sustaining that record and even bettering it.

How was that feat achieved?

I want to say that this change in the educational performance of Bayelsa was not a happenstance. It was not by mistake. It was because of deliberate and conscious policies put in place to ensure that the state does well or for Bayelsans to do well in these national examinations. Let me also recall that in terms of infrastructure, the previous government built model schools across the eight local government areas. These model schools are a delight to see. For instance, the Ijaw National Academy in Kaiama is a school that was consciously built and developed in such a way that you cannot but admire what is in place. The Dickson administration did very well in conceptualising and developing the model schools system, which are all boarding schools and tuition-free. There is however need to replicate that across the state. For a state that is young and developing, some of these things cannot be automatic. It will take some time before we would get every school to be on that level.

Even in older states, you still have schools with dilapidated infrastructure. It is not peculiar to Bayelsa, but we believe that it can still be better. We also need teachers because we are lacking in teaching personnel in primary and secondary schools.

What is the government doing to get enough teachers?

We are carrying out a personnel audit in the civil service so that those with education-related qualifications can be deployed to the classrooms. That is a quicker way for us to be able to get ready personnel instead of trying to recruit new teachers. We started this process from the last administration. So, now we are trying to ensure that we get on top of that situation by getting those trained as teachers either in the colleges of education or in the universities.

What is the administration doing to develop the agric sector?

From the outset, the Governor Diri administration prioritised agriculture. That sector has had the second largest share or allocation in the budget of the last two years. It means we want to be able to feed our people and be able to derive the economic benefit from agriculture. So far, the government has been able to support farmers in the state by guaranteeing the CBN facilities for famers. In addition to that, the government has also taken a N10 billion CBN facility, which is a credit window the federal government opened for states in Nigeria to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. That facility would be disbursed and supervised by the CBN. That money is not coming directly to the government’s coffers. It is not a loan from any commercial bank. Rather it is a CBN facility at a very low interest rate that is going into agriculture development in the state.

What is the relationship between the executive headed by the governor and the two other arms of government?

I can tell you without fear of contradiction that the relationship between the executive and the other arms of government is very robust and collaborative. Frankly, for instance, the legislature has been very supportive of the policies and bills from the executive. The legislators have ensured speedy passage of bills so that the work of the executive is not hampered in any way. A few days ago, while declaring open a special retreat of the State House of Assembly in Asaba, Delta State, the governor said since he came into office, he has enjoyed a very cordial and collaborative relationship with the legislature. He gave an analogy of the arms of government as being like parts of a machine. That if one part of that machine is defective, it would affect every other part. So, there is the need for the three arms of government to work hand in glove, as the governor always say; to work together symbiotically in such a way that the interest of the state is paramount at all times. That is what has underlined the relationship between the executive, legislature and the judiciary in Bayelsa. The relationship has been cordial and robust. This is not political talk. It is just the situation the way it is on ground.

Is the House of Assembly not a rubber stamp in the hands of the governor as it is in some other states in the country?

The legislature in Bayelsa is independent and does its oversight functions as well as its checks and balances without let. There is no need for the governor to pocket the state legislature. To what end?

Independent

Budget Transparency: Bayelsa did not benefit in N123.34 bn 2020 grant to states – Commissioner

The Bayelsa government on Friday said that the current administration did not participate in the 2020 budget transparency assessment by the federal government, and therefore dismissed reports that the state failed to meet set criteria.

Mr Ayiba Duba, Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy in Bayelsa said in Yenagoa that the current administration in the State only came into office on Feb. 14, 2020.

He explained that the state was in transition mode as at January 2020 when the assessment was conducted and could not have participated when its 2020 budget was passed in March 2020,after the assessment had been concluded.

Recall that Gov. Douye Diri was sworn in on Feb. 14, a day after the Supreme Court sacked the erstwhile governor-elect of Bayelsa , David Lyon, and his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo.

Lyon’s election was nullified because his deputy submitted forged certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commision.

Duba, who described media reports that Bayelsa did not meet the eligibility criteria for the funds as erroneous, noted that Bayelsa government gives priority to transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.

“The report that Bayelsa State did not benefit from the N123.34 billion recently disbursed to thirty-two states under the Federal Governments States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Result because the state did not meet the eligibility criteria is inaccurate and misleading.

“The claim could not have been the truth because Bayelsa did not participate in the selection process.

“It is an open secret that Bayelsa was in transition for the larger part of 2019.

“The administration assumed office in February, 2020 and the budget was not passed until March long after the SFTAS condition for benefiting in the funds had expired.

“It is therefore impossible to have published the budget online in January.

“However, the 2021 budget was passed in compliance with the SFTAS.

“The citizenry is assured that the prosperity administration of Sen. Douye Diri is committed to fiscal transparency and accountability,” Duba said.

On the outstanding pension liability, Duba said the Diri who has been offsetting the pension areas since he came on board, has released an additional sum of N500 million in addition to the N150 million for pensions in January.

“Bayelsa State Government is deeply committed to the welfare and wellbeing of its citizenry particularly those who have invested their productive years in the service of our state and will continue to do things that will ameliorate their condition.

“The people of Bayelsa are encouraged to continue to support the prosperity administration of Gov. Douye Diri as the movement on the path of development has commenced,” Duba said.

Govt tasks dredging firm on Yenagoa communities’ erosion crises

Bayelsa State Government has urged the leadership of Nigerian Westminster Dredging and Marine Company Limited to study the erosion situation in Obogoro and Fangbe communities in the state and suggest lasting solutions to the government.

Commissioner for Environment, Mr lselema Gbaranbiri, made the appeal on Friday while playing host to the company in his office in the state Secretariat Complex in Yenagoa, the state capital.

According to the commissioner, the yearly flooding in the state is a natural disaster that has become a major threat to human lives and as a government, it is poised to salvage the area and assist the people to overcome the problem.

The commissioner stated that the Douye Diri administration was passionate about healthy living of Bayelsa people, noting that good health could only be achieved in a serene and sanitised environment.He said the ministry was ready to partner relevant organisations and companies alike to achieve set goals.

To that end, Gbaranbiri directed the company to study and summit a proposal to the ministry on things that needed to be done in Obogoro and Fangbe communities within two weeks.

Mr. Okwara Udensi, who led company’s representatives to the meeting, appreciated the commissioner and the management staff of the ministry for the audience.

Udensi lauded the commissioner for willing to work with the company in the spirit of salvaging the state from the natural challenges.

Udensi, while giving the company’s profile, promised to support and work with the government to bring about lasting solutions to the perenial flooding and erosion as presented by the commissioner for the environment.

The meeting had in attendance, its Permanent Secretary, Mr. Waripamo Martin-Amaitari, Director, Flood and Erosion Control, Mr.Tenemeni Daniel, Director of Forestry, Mr. Festus Egba among others.

Illegal refinery: Gas explosion claims three lives in Bayelsa

Three teenagers have reportedly died at an illegal refinery camp located between Ibelebiri and Otuegue 2 communities in Ogia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, following a gas explosion.

Several others were said to have suffered varying degrees of injury during the incident. The deceased were identified as Victory Friday, Endurance Glazio and James Abaye.

The incident, Vanguard learned occurred on Thursday at about 11 pm at the illegal refinery camp popularly known as Kpo-fire camp tucked away in the thickset of deep swamp.

The lads were said to be working at the usually risky venture when one of their colleagues providing security at the camp attempted to lit a cigarette which caused the explosion.

Saturday Vanguard recalled that no fewer than 50 persons were burnt to death in similar circumstances sometime last year at an illegal refining camp within the Ogbia axis of the state.

Incidentally, the area is host to one of the oil and gas logistics base owned by one of the oil majors with heavy military presence.

A community source who spoke anonymously said “the camp has been existing for about six years now. And it would surprise you to know that the camp is just by the Igbogene-Otuasega axis.

“There is a security post manned by police and after the camp, you have the Kolo Creek flow station which is also manned by soldiers yet these boys still operate freely.

“In fact, a day after the fire incident, the ones that escaped the fire went back to camp to continue cooking crude again when youths from Oruma community where one of the deceased comes from went there and stopped them.

“You know that in the process of refining, they only refine petroleum motor spirit, diesel and kerosene.

“Because their method of refining is crude, they leave a lot of gas in the air. So one of their colleagues providing security around the camp struck a match stick trying to lit a cigarette and the next thing was an explosion.”

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Asinim Butswat, simply said there was “no report of such incident.”

Also attempts to reach the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC), Solomon Ogbere for comments proved abortive as his mobile line was not going through.

Bayelsa By-Election: Court Dismiss Case Seeking Dickson’s Disqualification

The Federal High Court Seating un Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital has dismissed a case seeking the disqualification of the former Bayelsa state governor, Seriake Dickson from contesting in the upcoming by-election.

The lawsuit was filed by one Eneoriekumoh Owoupele against Dickson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seeking to bar him from contesting in the Bayelsa West Senatorial by-election.

Owoupele had alleged in the suit No. FHC/YNG/CS/72/2020 that the Independent National Electoral Commission Form EC9, which the PDP candidate submitted to the commission, contained false information.

But the presiding judge, Justice Jane Inyang, in her judgment on Wednesday, struck out the case “for lack of jurisdiction.”

She also ruled that the plaintiff, through his lawyers, A.O Aniso and E. A Aluzu, brought the matter before the court after the stipulated time.

Owoupele was seeking to disqualify Dickson from participating in the bye-election for allegedly supplying false information to the INEC.

Bayelsa Gov Diri commissions Bovie Commodity Market, calls for more investments from private sector

The Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri has called for more private investments in a bid to boost the economic development of the State.

He made the call on Monday during the Commissioning of the Bovie Commodity Market, Kpansia 2, Yenagoa.

Governor Diri noted that the Bovie Commodity Market which focuses on food distribution across the State and nation would greatly increase the revenue of the State.

The Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, Hon. Stanley Braboke expressed delight that the market is indigenously owned with a concentrated effort on employing over 250 persons in the State.

He further called upon other industrious individuals in the State to Invest in Bayelsa, adding that it was an error to invest in other States without first investing in Bayelsa, and pledged the Government’s support to all investors saying Bayelsa is a safe haven for investors.

The Governor also commended the Chief Executive Officer of Bovie Farms Nigeria Limited, Mr. Diekivie Bovie Ikiogha on his initiative, describing him as a visionary who is committed to the economic development of the State and should be emulated.

On his part, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. David Alagoa said that the project was geared towards the world’s current focus of creating an agriculture value chain, adding that the market would foster the sales of food grown in the State.

He further acknowledged difficulty to own farm lands and perennial flooding as some of the challenges of farming in Bayelsa, and urged community leaders to make land cheap and available to members of their communities for the purpose of farming.

The Commissioner for Education, Hon. Gentle Emelah in his remarks, commended Mr. Diekivie on his inspiring initiative, stating that a similar vision was being birthed in him.

Speaking earlier, the C.E.O Bovie Farms, Mr. Diekivie said the unequal prices of agricultural produce across the nation birthed the initiative to regularize prices of goods through a cooperative which funds its members trading at the Bovie Commodity Market.

He further noted that the establishment of his cooperative and commodity markets in Benue, Ogun, Bayelsa, and Enugu States would ensure direct buying of agricultural products from farmers and fishermen, and in turn take the products to the Bovie Commodity Market for sale to traders at a subsidized rate.

The commissioning of the market was followed by a tour of the facility comprising food shops, fruit shops, a restaurant, a salon, and a pharmacy.

High-point of the event was the presentation of gift items which included Bayelsa grown and processed food products such as plantain and cassava flour among-st others to the Governor.

Also present at the event was the Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Hon. Ayibaina Duba.

Bayelsa declares today work-free day for annual thanksgiving

The Bayelsa State Government has declared today, Monday November 2, 2020 as WORK – FREE DAY in the State, in commemoration of the 9th State Annual Thanksgiving.

According to a statement signed by Hon. Ayiba Duba State Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, this is to enable public sector workers and other relevant stakeholders in the State participate in the Thanksgiving Service billed to hold at the State Ecumenical Centre, Igbogene Epie at 9.00 o’clock in the morning.

“All workers in the public sector and relevant stakeholders are urged to attend the Thanksgiving Service to appreciate the goodness of God upon our dear State”, it said.

I’ve instructed My Lawyers To Appeal Tribunal Ruling – Gov. Diri

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has said he will appeal Monday’s ruling of the state election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja and has consequently instructed his lawyers to file the necessary papers.

Governor Diri, who spoke shortly after the tribunal ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wrongly excluded the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) governorship candidate from the November 16, 2019 election, said he has implicit confidence in the judiciary that he would triumph in the end.

He spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah.

His words: “We trust in the judiciary and we are appealing the judgement. With God on our side, we will get justice.

“This is a court of first instance and I have instructed our lawyers to file an appeal. We have a right of appeal even up to the Supreme Court.”

The governor urged members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his supporters not to panic and to continue to remain calm and law-abiding.

Bayelsa Gov says oil firms knowingly destroy Niger Delta, as stakeholders declare state most polluted

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has lamented what he described as the deliberate despoliation of the Niger Delta environment by oil companies operating in the region.

Governor Diri, who expressed displeasure over the decade-long environmental injustice in the region, said the situation was worsened by the unfair derivation sharing formula of the federal government to the oil producing states, which he said does not reflect the sufferings of the people and the damage to the region’s environment.

The governor stated this on Friday during an online global conference on “The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the Flora and Fauna of the Niger Delta” to mark this year’s World Environment Day

The conference hosted by the Bayelsa State Ministry of the Environment had discussants simultaneously in Yenagoa, Benin and Abuja.

His Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor, who was represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, as saying that for a region that had continued to be degraded from activities of multinational oil companies, the Niger Delta people have been shortchanged from the proceeds of its rich and vast resources not only by the federal government but also the oil firms.

His words: “When other countries were recording reduction in oil activities, green house emission, pollution and gas flaring, the reverse was the case in Bayelsa State as it recorded the death of lots of fishes during this coronavirus period in Akassa, Koluama, Agge and other states in the region.”

While calling for joint action from governors of the Niger Delta states in the struggle for a cleaner environment, Senator Diri pledged his administration’s resolve to take the issues of the environment as key in the state.

He advocated the planting of trees by all Bayelsans, which, according to him, would allow the flow of oxygen across the streets and towns of the state.

He also called on the people not to contribute to the environmental genocide in their localities but to shun illegal refining of crude products and embrace intellectual approach in the agitation for the clean-up of the region.

Speaking earlier, chairman of the occasion, the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, King Bubaraye Dakolo, Agada IV, said according to research, 100 million barrels of crude oil and about 20 trillion standard cubic feet of gas were being released into the aquatic environment of the Niger Delta.

King Dakolo called on governments across board to do more than engage in rhetoric on matters of the environment and frontally drive all genuine efforts for the restoration and restitution of the region’s flora and fauna.

In his lecture, Dr Pereowei Subai, a senior lecturer with the state-owned Niger Delta University, highlighted the implications of the theme on the environment, and noted that the wealth of the region should not be confined to oil alone but that there should also be investment in agriculture and aquaculture.

Dr. Subai proffered short and long term solutions to the environmental challenges of the region, which include increased public awareness and the setting up of environmental litigation at the state level as well as strict liability for pollution damages.

The Chief of Staff, Government House, Yenagoa, Chief Benson Agadaga, in his remarks, suggested that the report and recommendations of the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu-led Bayelsa Oil and Environmental Degradation Commission on the effects of oil pollution in the Niger Delta be looked into and implemented.

Vice-Chancellor of the Bayelsa Medical University, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, who was a panelist, advocated that urgent action be taken by the state Ministry of Environment and other relevant agencies to replenish the ongoing deforestation in the Niger Delta as well as establish natural parks as part of efforts toward sustaining the biodiversity.

Contributing, renowned environmental activists, Rev. Nnimmo Bassey and Comrade Morris Alagoa, posited that the Niger Delta people, whose lifespan have been reduced to 41 years, were made susceptible to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panelists said Bayelsa was the most polluted state in the Niger Delta arising from daily spillage of crude oil and decades of gas flaring, and called for a full-scale environmental remediation.

Other panelists, Dr. Tubodenyefa Zibima and Princess Elizabeth Egbe, noted that governors of the region should collaborate and come up with a post- COVID-19 strategy to address issues of the environment.

They also sought for the quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), replication of the Solid Mineral Law in the PIB and licencing of artisanal refineries for easy regulation.

VANGUARD