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Governor Douye Diri

Spin Doctors And Governor Diri

By Samuel Ebiowei

In the last two weeks, mischief makers appear to have gone into overdrive. They have apparently fallen over themselves to outdo each other in churning out fake news about the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on the social media space. The Miracle Governor’s rising political profile was bound to cause migraine and not mere headache for some.

For those watching the times in our clime, it is however a confirmation we are in the political season again. A period all manner of fiery darts are fired at real or perceived political opponents, often deploying dangerous spins and subterfuge.

When some of the false reports first appeared online, one thought that they would soon be blown away by the wind. Well, given the frequency it assumed, it was obvious that those who chose the ridiculous pastime of spreading falsehood against Governor Diri and his administration are unyielding. In a gullible society like ours, lies and falsehood are often dressed in the garbs of truth. And not a few believe them.

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On June 27, 2022, a ruling party Senator from Osun State, Dr. Ajibola Basiru, tweeted falsehood, which he attributed to former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, that Governor Diri was owing workers in Bayelsa five months salary. Such a ridiculous tweet was supposed to be a response to the appointment of the Bayelsa governor as chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council for the July 16 governorship election in Osun.

Several replies on Senator Basiru’s Twitter thread put a lie to the claim, including that of Fayose through his spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, who described it as Fake News. Sadly, the Senate spokesman is yet to take down the tweet or tender apology to a former Red Chamber colleague for spreading falsehood.

In truth, the captain of the Prosperity Administration’s ship in Bayelsa has rightly earned the tag of Worker-friendly Governor for prioritising the welfare of civil servants, pensioners and retirees in the state. Since assuming office in February 2020, no civil servant or pensioner has been owed one month salary in Bayelsa despite the dwindling monthly allocations.

On the heels of this was another fake news attributed to the governor while attending the just concluded convention of the Ijaw Diaspora Convention in New Jersey, United States of America. He was misquoted as saying at the event that the insecurity in Nigeria was being exaggerated contrary to his remarks.

What takes the cake in this voyage of deliberate, annoying spins was an article written by one Christopher Amadi and being circulated online in the last one week. The specious writer named some prominent individuals purportedly betrayed by the governor as well as alleging that he made attempt at becoming the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s running mate. At best, these claims are not only libellous and wicked but they are also polemical and tendentious!

One of those the writer claimed Governor Diri purportedly betrayed was his Rivers State counterpart, Chief Nyesom Wike. While this remains a figment of the writer’s imagination, checks at the Rivers Government House revealed that Governor Wike has been unhappy with some of his colleagues since he lost the PDP presidential ticket to Atiku. But no one is sure if he has spoken about his Bayelsa counterpart. As someone that does not mince words, the onus is on Wike to speak specifically and not for anybody to speculate on what he did not say. A rift between two brother governors at a time tempers are still flaring is not what the PDP wants at this moment.

To be sure, Diri was Deputy Chairman of the National Convention/Presidential Primary Planning Committee and was not a a delegate. By virtue of his position, it was expected that the Bayelsa helmsman would be an unbiased umpire at the primaries.

So, anyone looking for scapegoats in the South South to fit into the betrayal narrative had better look elsewhere. Governor Diri is well-known as a man of few words, who is focused in his politics and developmental agenda for his state just as he is not given to prevarications.

The writer equally failed in his attempt to tar the governor and put a wedge between him and former President Goodluck Jonathan, who everyone in the state knows he holds in high esteem and has accorded him undiluted respect at all times.

Reports also indicate that Governor Diri also accords high regards to his predecesssor in office, Senator Seriake Dickson just as his relationship with his friend and brother, Chief Timi Alaibe or the former PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus has been rosy.

In the author’s flight of fancy, he stated that the Diri administration “papers over projects of the previous administration” and that it engages in huge media propaganda. To the contrary, the Diri administration has received plaudits for its prudence and for reducing wastage through its policy of project continuity. Its disposition to continue projects inherited from previous administrations has helped the state save billions of Naira that would have gone to waste if ithey were abandoned to start new ones.

Regardless, the administration has embarked on its own projects such as the multi-billion Naira Nembe-Brass road, the Glory Drive road, the Igbedi-Amassoma road (completed), the Bayelsa State Health Insurance complex (completed), the Ernest Ikoli Media Complex (completed), the Elebele bridge (completed) as well as several school projects just to mention a few.

Yet, it did not abandon the Sagbama-Ekeremor road, the Yenagoa-Oporoma road, the Elebele-Igbogene ring road nor the Okarki-Igbogene road (which it completed), the Isaac Boro Expressway (third phase) and the multi-purpose transport terminal. All the ongoing projects are being executed by reputable construction companies that are known for quality jobs.

Clearly, the piece was a hatchet job to damage the unblemished image and reputation of the governor and his administration. It gave the writer and his paymasters away as being threatened by the political ascendancy of Governor Diri and his obviously glittering profile.

However, no amount of dirt thrown at Diri can obliterate his achievements in only just two years and a few months in office. Neither can it also emasculate the genuine love of the Bayelsa people for their Miracle Governor.

Ebiowei, a public affairs analyst, lives in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State