By Kola Oredipe
Born in the gentle, breezy and coastline community of Sampou in the present day Bayelsa State, the incumbent Governor of the State, Douye Diri, is a child of destiny, filled with great stories to share of his trajectory of life from the very beginning.
No doubt, he had high hopes growing up; dreams to be great and make his parents very proud. That today, he would be sitting at the helms of affairs as Governor of Bayelsa State, was not by accident but divine arrangement. He was named Douye in the Izon language, which means ‘desire’. From his growing age, he had been living that name because he never cease to remind people that he will surely fulfil all his heart desires. Yes, he is Governor today.
Never a smooth roads, bumps, betrayals and great sacrifices along the path, but the joy that came with this political upheaval that catapulted the name of Sampou to the globe, is a product of God’s desire for the people of Bayelsa State.
According to a famous anonymous quote, “Every great story has difficult beginnings but at the end of every challenge, with dedication and unflinching faith in God, the chosen always triumph.”
When INEC called the result of the November 16 Bayelsa State Governorship Election and a winner was declared, only a clairvoyant in the mode of the man who saw tomorrow, Michel de Nostredame (popularly known as Nostradamus) could have ever foreseen that there would be a twist in the climaxing story. However, against all odds, and at the eleventh hour, God manifested His fable fingers; Douye Diri was returned miraculously as the authentic governor-elect.
On February 14th 2020, Senator Douye Diri, a trained teacher, businessman, social crusader, pan- Ijaw activist, politician and parliamentarian of the highest class, took office as the fifth governor of the oil rich Nigerian Niger-Delta’s Bayelsa state.
Born June 4, 1959 into the family of A.J.M Diri of Kalama-Owinwari Compound of Sampou Town in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri began his early education at Okoro Primary School, Sampou and concluded it at Rev. Proctor Memorial Primary School, Kaiama in 1977 where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate.
He attended Government Secondary School, Odi. His journey to leadership commenced with his appointment as the Dining Hall Prefect. To have appointed him, the school authorities were the first to notice a latent leadership trait waiting for nurturing in little Douye. They were not wrong about their choice. Young as he was then, Douye understood the concept of servant leadership. He hardly ate his meal until his colleagues had taken their portion. He obtained the West African School Certificate from the school in 1981.
The young Douye thereafter proceeded to the College of Education, Port Harcourt, Rivers State where he bagged his National Certificate in Education (NCE) in 1985 The NCE failed to quench his thirst for the Golden Fleece. He therefore secured admission at the University of Port Harcourt and bagged the Bachelors of Education (B.Ed) Degree in Political Science in 1990.
His working career started with teaching. He taught in a number of secondary schools in the rural areas of old Rivers State, coming face to face with the suffering of the common people. Perhaps, from this encounter, a seed of burning desire to change the situation of his people was sown. Subsequently, he voluntarily resigned from the teaching service to try his hands in business before venturing into the murky waters of active politics. He had been involved in the struggle for emancipation of the Ijaws and Niger Delta and by providence, was actively involved in the youth wings of the movement for the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996. In 1998, he became one of the founding members of the People’s Democratic Party in Bayelsa State.
Douye, as he is fondly called, is not just mentally prepared for the new assignment as governor; he has the innate leadership traits which have been groomed over the years in the Ijaw perpetual struggle for survival in the Nigeria space, various political appointments and positions he has held over the last 30 years.
First, he served as the first National Organising Secretary of the foremost pan-Ijaw organisation, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) in 1992. At the return of democracy, he was appointed Executive Secretary of the Centre for Youth Development in Bayelsa State and served in that capacity between 2000 and 2002, during the tenure of Chief D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha of blessed memory. He also served as Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development during Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s administration as Governor between 2006 and 2007. It is on record that the achievements of his leadership in that ministry are yet to be surpassed.
He was appointed member of the Governing Council of the University of Maiduguri between 2008 and 2012. A loyal party man, who is always ready to support the authority to achieve peace and unity, Douye was appointed the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Disciplinary Council, Bayelsa State (2012). He later became Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, 2012 and subsequently Principal Executive Secretary to then Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Seriake Dickson (2013-2014). He held the position until his election into the Federal House of Representatives to represent Kolokuma Opokuma/Yenagoa Federal Constituency in 2015.
It is often said that the reward for a good work is more work. As a reward for his excellent performance in the House, he was elected into the Senate in 2019 to represent the Bayelsa Central Senatorial District. He therefore, brought onboard a wide range of experience in public administration and leadership having crisscrossed both the executive and the legislative arms. Senator Douye Diri is also bringing core critical leadership values of honesty, integrity, humility, courage and self-confidence to bare in governance. These are qualities Dwight Eisenhower, an American Ex-President, considered as essential for any great leader.
In addition to this, Senator Douye Diri also has another core attribute of a leader; kindness and compassion. The welfare of citizen is one priority he placed above every other consideration. Though, he was not close to the Late Melford Okilo, he has however internalized the late sage ideals of “build the man to build the city”. The blueprints of his campaign manifesto reinforced these facts with his “Consolidation for Prosperity Agenda”.
Douye is also a consummate team player and keen listener. He knows his onions but he is not opinionated. He will readily admit that he does not know it all and would take advice base on superior reasoning. The new governor of Bayelsa state would rather err on the side of caution than taken hasty decision. He is not a man given to playing to the gallery.
It is difficult for anyone to solve a problem without understanding the issues around it. Douye policy agenda, Consolidation for Prosperity, is a product of diligent studies and scientific understanding of many challenges that Bayelsa face as a state. He understands the pang of hunger and the language of want that the people speak. A dark horse, Douye Diri has made a success of anything he laid his hand on running from behind to always win the trophy of success. There is no doubt he will do the same with the office of the governor.
Many have been asking, what has been the secrets behind his strong built, physical strength, mental alertness and by God’s grace, sound health? A very simple and short response, Douye, is a sports man, who begins his day with a minimum of one-hour of jogging and physical exercise. No wonder he is looking fresher, younger, charming, handsome and with sound minds to take right decisions. Indeed, he is fit like a fiddle and mentally ready to run effective governance. Yes, it is an advantage for the 61 year old governor.
However, every citizen of the state must be conscious and appreciate the fact that Douye Diri makes no claim to waving a magic wand. He is not a miracle worker. He is only a product of Divine miracle. He is a man of honour who is bound by his oath of office which he took in the presence of God and the people. He will serve the best interest of the people without discrimination, favour or ill-feeling. He only offered to lead in the task of state building. There is no doubt about his capacity to deliver the dividend of democracy. However, his ability to deliver on record time will depend largely on the amount of cooperation, understanding and support he gets from the citizenry.
At every election season, all shades of human beings, seek office to become a leader. In a state like Bayelsa, which is still largely under developed in spite of the best efforts of the previous administrations, the search for who should govern the state could be likened to the proverbial search for a tiny, lone needle in stacks of hay. Everyone will agree that is almost an impossible enterprise.
However, this time around, with the election of this humane, honest, diligent, compassionate, committed, principled, visionary gentleman, Bayelsa, by divine miracle, has struck gold while searching for needle in the stacks of hay. The cap fits him now.
As he celebrates his 61st birthday today, the prayer is for God to continue to keep him in good health and sound wisdom with which to lead Bayelsa State at this time. Happy birthday His Excellency, Senator Douye Diri, Governor of Bayelsa State. Congratulations!
Oredipe, is the Director/Co-ordinator, Bayelsa New Media