Democracy all over the world revolves around the people; their welfare and development of society. The general well-being of the people is measured by the quality of leadership in place at the time. When one looks at the situations across the Nigerian state today, one will tend to agree with the popular quote of the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, when he said, “Looking at the faces of people, one gets the feeling there’s a lot to be done.”
This story is common with almost all the states in Nigeria.
This piece is about Governor Douye Diri’s decision to change the pace of development in Bayelsa State, especially with the appointments of notable Bayelsans into positions of responsibility. His actions, since he came on board, have clearly shown that he understands what the people are being confronted with, and he is taking bold steps to meet their aspirations.
However, in the assemblage of men and women who will work with him, Governor Diri, indeed took his time to make the selection. He did that with the earlier appointment of commissioners, where experience and professionalism were the yardsticks in appointment and assignment of portfolios.
Chief Patrick Erasmus and Mr. Kemebradikumo Warebi, were the last two commissioners to be inaugurated to make the list of a 26-cabinet member. It was a painstaking and commendable effort that has justified the six months wait for the inauguration of the cabinet.
The technical delay in the appointment is immaterial once the soothing end is justified like in this case as aptly put by Afghan journalist, researcher and author, M.F. Moonzajer, in his quote, “Don’t be disappointed; sometimes people need more time to make the right decision”.
Even the Holy Bible says, “There is appointed time for everything”. That was just the time barring any political consideration and the Covid-19 pandemic, which changed the phase of everything.
Again, Diri got it right with the recent appointments of advisers of different categories where six men of honour, values and integrity were appointed as Honorary Special Advisers. This story is about the sound judgment of the governor to reach out to these set of leaders and professionals to help and join hands in the development of their state.
But how did he convince them? It is clear they have seen a paradigm shift in leadership and are convinced about the vision of the ‘Miracle Governor’, who has been preaching peace, love, equity and unity for all to join hands with him to reposition the state on the track of progress and prosperity. In the latest appointments, Diri announced six Honorary Special Advisers, five Technical Advisers and 25 Special Advisers cutting across the eight local government areas to reflect balance and fairness.
That Governor Diri was able to convince renowned architect, Harcourt Adukeh, of the need to contribute to the development of Bayelsa State, is a real deal! A man known for quality and taste but modest in his professional accomplishments. From the old Rivers State, Adukeh has been a high flier, a name synonymous with touch of excellence and was fully involved in drafting the development blueprint for Bayelsa State upon creation in 1996. The document had well-laid out plans to build a modern and model Yenagoa city as the capital of the state.
Truly, a lot has happened in the last 24 years but Yenagoa city has fallen short of all development indices for a capital city despite efforts of previous governments. Who will help rescue the city? Construction and development had been lopsided due to non-adherence to the original development master plan and lack of development control.
This appointment is a boost to the urban renewal programme of the prosperity government. And that the man whose indigenous company only recently built the tallest building in the entire South South and South East in Yenagoa, is the chief advisor, is cheering enough.
Adukeh started and successfully delivered an architectural masterpiece and tastefully furnished 17- storey Content Tower of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board. This appointment and others showed clear direction and genuine commitment by a governor who means well for the development of his people.
The appointment of another great son of Bayelsa State, Mr. Mathew Seiyefa, as Honorary Adviser on Security, is a testament to the security agenda of the government. A thorough-bred and seasoned security giant rose to the pinnacle of his career as Acting Director-General, Department of State Services. A new security strategy to combat the issues is insight to ensure safety on the water ways, tackle sea piracy, kidnapping, illegal bunkering, armed robbery and recent upsurge in cultism. With retired Commissioner of Police, Mr. Akpoebi Agberebi and a retired State Director of DSS, Mr. Felix Awaoikiega, as Special Advisers 1 and 2 to the Governor, the state is in for a robust security action plan. Mr. Seiyefa, on the other hand, is very deep in intelligence and operations and so, the three top retired security chiefs remain valuable assets to the prosperity government. Yes, Diri got it right.
The governor has equally brought in a very vastly experienced and a technocrat in the oil and gas sector, Mr. Dora Owei, as Honorary Special Adviser on Oil and Gas. Owei is a seasoned administrator with deep knowledge about oil and gas operations and he is expected to add real values to the government in the management of all issues relating to the petroleum activities in the state.
Apostle David Zilly-Aggrey, General Overseer of the Royal House of Grace International and Archbishop Winning Willy Bunting, as Honorary Special Advisers 1 and 2 on Religion, are here to provide the spiritual guidance and direction to the administration, which is anchored on God. These are reputable and experienced men of God from the state who are deeply passionate about the development of Bayelsa State. Continuous prayers for the leadership to make good decisions are required to support the Miracle Governor and Diri himself appreciates the hand of God in his emergence.
Truly, Chief Joshua Fumudoh, the man famously addressed as Life President of Ijaw National Congress, appointed as Honorary Adviser on Izon National Affairs, is equally apt as he has over the years provided the strong leadership and voice for the Ijaw struggles and demand for equity and fairness in the Nigerian state.
Between the five Technical Advisers and 25 Special Advisers, they are men and women of substance and experience who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers or in previous positions they have served.
There is, however, never a perfect system anywhere but when a man demonstrates rare courage to insist on bringing quality on board, it portrays the man as one with clear vision to select good people who will help nurture and develop the action plan and programmes.
It is not by accident when management teacher, Peter F. Drucker, wrote a story about choosing rightly for a task. He said, “When putting a man in a division commander during World War II, George Marshall, the Army’s chief of staff, always looked first at the nature of the assignment for the next 18 months or two years.” It was generally agreed in concept that failure to think through any assignment was the number-one reason for staffing failures in organisations where managers fail to match strengths to opportunity.
Making decisions in life is never a simple task and the decision by Governor Diri to convince these “heavy men” of values with rich track records to commit themselves to building a great future for their state is heartwarming. The calibre of appointed Honorary Special Advisers are men who would refuse to be drawn into partisan politics or engage in any form of mediocrity, no matter the challenges confronting them in the course of their assignments. They are men who do not need political patronage to earn a living; their names evoke gold, values and integrity. Diri, indeed got it right.
There must be that urge for every human to experience the best, try to be the best and to always support the best because everyone always wants to be around the best. These men unarguably, are among the best in their chosen careers, expertise and experience. They have accepted to join hands with a man of vision, experienced administrator and public servant of note, Governor Douye Diri, in this journey of restoration of Bayelsa State for prosperity. And at this critical decision time, Diri, no doubt, got it right.
Oredipe is Director/Co-ordinator, New Media to the Bayelsa State Governor.