Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, has identified political patronage of criminals to perpetrate electoral malpractices as one of the greatest security challenges in Nigeria.

Diri stated this during the presentation of a report by the Policy Advocacy Committee of Niger Delta Dialogue led by a former Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Tonye Isenah, in Government House, Yenagoa.

A press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as calling on the political class to desist from arming other people’s children with hard drugs and ammunition for the purpose of achieving their political ambitions.

His words: “As a government, we abhor political patronage of criminals. I advise politicians to stop using other people’s children by equipping them with AK-47 rifles and introducing them to hard drugs to actualise their political interests rather than providing them with sound education.”

He advocated a legislation to curb the trend, which he noted was traceable to most criminal activities in the state.

Commending members of the committee for keying into the state government’s policy of zero tolerance to crime, he recommended that the jail term for kidnappers in the state be amended by the legislature and prescribed a minimum of 10 years.

“We need to tinker with that piece of legislation bordering on kidnapping in the state and amend it. The jail term should be a minimum of 10 years to serve as a deterrent to others.”

The governor expressed his administration’s commitment to partner with the committee in ensuring that cultism, kidnapping and sea piracy were reduced to the barest minimum.

Diri noted that security in the state had improved significantly and attributed it to the proactive strategies put in place by government coupled with the collaborative efforts of the security agencies in the state.

In his speech, chairman of the Policy Advocacy Committee of Niger Delta Dialogue, Hon. Tonye Isenah, said the body in conjunction with the European Union was carrying out a study on security issues across the states of the Niger Delta region with a view to proffering solutions.

Isenah explained that the committee would work closely with other relevant stakeholders such as traditional rulers, security agencies and leaders in the three senatorial districts of the state.

In another development, Governor Diri charged the leadership of the Ijaw Youth Council IYC (IYC) Worldwide to imbibe the principles of truth, passion and service to the Ijaw nation.

He urged them to uphold the core values that gave birth to the parent body, Ijaw National Congress (INC), which, according to him, is not just an association but instead the spirit of the Ijaw people.

The governor spoke when the IYC President, Comrade Peter-Timothy Igbifa, led members of his executive on a courtesy visit to Government House, Yenagoa.

Diri challenged the new IYC leadership to brace up to the onerous task of uniting the youths at a time of division and when the environment had been devastated by the activities of multinational oil companies.

He advised them to see their emergence as an opportunity to change the narrative of the average Ijaw youth and positively harness their energy toward lofty ideals and not for self-aggrandisement.

His words: “The dream of our founding fathers is not an Ijaw of disunity, acrimony and hatred. It is an Ijaw of unity, love, development and for Ijaw land to be a tourist attraction. That is the divine mission you and I have today.

“Some people see INC, IYC as associations. They are not. Rather these bodies are the spirit of the Ijaws. Some see it as an avenue for money making. But no, this is service to Ijaw land.

“The IYC President was not chosen because of his height, oratory or academic qualifications. But God has seen your heart. He looks into the heart of men before you were chosen.

“You also said that we allowed a level playing field during the election. I don’t sit here and say let only PDP or APC constitute the IYC leadership. Before PDP and APC, we were Ijaw people and we will remain as Ijaw people. Our ecosystem is threatened. Our environment destroyed and this is the only way that we can recover our environment or ecosystem and ensure that we develop with other ethnic nationalities in the country.”