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Spin doctors and Governor Diri

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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 a 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.

On June 27, 2022, a ruling party Senator from Osun State, Dr. Ajibola Basiru, tweeted a 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 an 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’s 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.

Read also: Management of Federal Polytechnic, Ekowe accused of plans to sack workers

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 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 on 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 regard to his predecessor 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.

On 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 they 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

OPINIONS/OTHER NEWS ARTICLES

Nigerian Navy accuses NNPC of deceiving Nigerians about figures of oil theft

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Abuja—The Nigerian Navy has stated that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited’s (NNPC) claimed figures of crude oil theft in the country are bogus and not substantive.

According to SaharaReporters, the Navy accused NNPC of reeling out exaggerated figures to save its face, noting that they are hiding the truth from the public.

This was made known by the Navy Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Solomon Agada, while speaking to the Senate Committee on Economic and Financial Crimes during an interactive briefing of the relevant agencies implementing the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022 at the National Assembly, as observed and reported by Sunday PUNCH.

Agada revealed that at several interactions with the NNPC, the Navy had explained the causes of fuel scarcity to the company and that there was no way anyone would steal 100,000 barrels of oil in a day, but the NNPC had deliberately continued to mislead Nigerians.

When Agada was asked why the Navy had not been able to stop oil theft, while claiming that the waterways were secure, he said, “The challenge is that because of the criminal activity inshore by the illegal refiners in tapping into the export lines, those export lines have not been in operation since early this year.

“The major terminals have not been able to process fuel for export since around February/March and instead of the NNPC telling the Federal Government that this product is not brought out to be able to process as export, they say the oil was stolen.”

He explained that the Navy had argued that the NNPC should tell people the difference between the oil that they have shut in and not brought out, and what is being stolen.

“The stolen produce that we have been dealing with among illegal refineries is nothing compared to what the NNPC is declaring as being stolen.

“If you’re talking about stealing 100,000 barrels a day, you need about five-tonne batches 20 times a day from the creek to the high sea, which is very unrealistic.

“I told them at the NNPC that if that were to be the case, even a blind man would observe that something was happening in Nigeria’s waters and we are there on patrol and not seeing this.

“The only reasonable explanation why the fuels are not coming out is because the Shell platform on Bonny Island is not exporting and the Chevron terminal in Escravos is also not exporting. All these things are very clear, but because it is easier to say these things are stolen, then they just come up with that.

“Let’s get someone who can do a proper analysis of these figures and we’ll find out that these claims are just bogus; there is nothing substantive about them.

“We have communicated appropriately with the NNPC; even at our last interface with them, they agreed with us; but when they come to the public, they say oil theft, hiding the fact from the public.”

Agada also responded to the alleged tapping of pressure pipe under the sea, from where crude oil was said to be transferred into vessels.

He said; “On the tapping of the vessel, I also visited that location with the Chief of Defence Staff and there is a directive by the President from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to set up a committee on that particular incident.

“We are not indicting the NNPCL; we are just saying that let matters be presented correctly so that people can make informed decisions. The Navy has no hand in any stealing of oil in this country. I have no ship or vessel, nor do I know anyone who has; you can investigate me.”

The Navy boss further explained that the increase in diesel price was because of an ongoing operation to stop illegal bunkering on the waters.

“People who have been doing this illegal business will confirm to you that since we started this special task force operation in April, their business has gone sour.

“This is also responsible for the increase in diesel price in the country. Since we stopped the illegal diesel from coming to the market, the price has gone up, because once there is high demand and the supply is low, the price will go up.

“People who ought to import will cut corners and buy the illegal products, but now that they can’t import and the illegal ones are not coming, this has reduced the quantity in the country. But somehow, nobody is coming to share this information with the people.”

He added that the Nigerian Government had invested in infrastructure through the Maritime Domain Awareness Infrastructure, which had assisted the Navy in detecting and arresting illegal refiners and vessels that were usually handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for prosecution.

Agada stated, “And right from Abuja here, we have the capacity to see the entire Nigeria Exclusive Economic Zone. We have 24 hours watch on the exclusive economic zone. Any vessel that enters Nigerian waters that is not permitted to be is immediately arrested because we see their movement.

“Any vessel in the international waters is expected to have their automatic identification system on and that shows that you’re transparently operating; so, any vessel that switches off its identification system automatically becomes a vessel for the Nigeria Navy and we will immediately arrest them and thereafter investigate.

“So, as of today, there is no tanker that can enter Nigerian waters to carry anything without being noticed. All these things that happened now have sent a very strong signal to the international communities that Nigeria is now a place where illegal activities can’t take place anymore.”

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Oil can no longer feed Nigeria’s growing population—Obasanjo

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Abeokuta—Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said the oil and gas sector can no longer feed the growing population of Nigerians, according to Daily Trust.

Obasanjo spoke at the weekend when the leadership of the apex socio-cultural group in Tiv land of Benue State, Mzough U Tiv (MUT) paid him appreciation and friendship visit at his Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) Penthouse residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.

He said only farming and agribusiness could tackle the nation’s growing population.

He called on people to focus on farming and agribusiness as an alternative to Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy.

“If Nigeria is ready to get it right, the 2023 election should be a turning point. We should not go for emotion that will destroy us,” Obasanjo, who was conferred with the title of a “Great Warrior” of Tiv land by the socio-political group, said.

Earlier, the President-General of the Tiv body, Chief Iorbee Ihagh demanded the former president’s intervention on the need for the establishment of a fruit juice industry in Benue State, agitation for inclusive national politics, herder’s attack on Tiv land and the power sharing formula.

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Your failure responsible for nationwide hardship, Govs hit back at FG

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Abuja—The thirty-six state governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), have lampooned the Federal Government for blaming the high level of poverty in the country on state governors, according to the Punch.

Governors were accused of paying more attention to flyovers and airports rather than improving the living standard of the people.

NGF noted that FG should stop shifting blames to others over rising poverty in the country.

The Governors took a swipe at the Federal Government, saying that its dereliction of duty was responsible for the rising poverty in the country and the reason people have been unable to engage in regular agrarian activities in commerce.

According to the governors, the accusation by the Federal Government came as a surprise to them, saying it got it wrong.

They added that the assertion was not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth.

The Federal Government through the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba had on Wednesday blamed the high level of poverty in the country on state governors who it said pay more attention to flyovers and airports rather than improvement of life in the rural areas.

The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba gave the admonition while fielding question from State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

But reacting to the allegation, the Governors said that the tirade early this week by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning Clement Agba, on the 36 Governors, where he blamed them for the rising poverty index in the country comes to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum as a surprise.

In a statement by the Director, Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo on Friday, the Governors noted that the attacks were not only unnecessary, but represent what they described as a brazen descent into selective amnesia.

It is also diversionary as far as the Governors were concerned, he stated.

The Statement reads, “The tirade early this week by the Minister of state for Budget and National Planning Mr. Clement Agba, on the 36 Governors, where he blamed them for the rising poverty index in the country comes to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum as a surprise. The Minister got his message totally wrong.

“His attacks are not only unnecessary, but they represent a brazen descent into selective amnesia. It is also diversionary as far as the Governors are concerned.

“The Minister who should be responding to a question demanding to know what he and his colleague, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, were doing to ameliorate the hardship Nigerians are facing attempted to defray the notion that rising levels of hunger and lack were peculiar to Nigeria.

“True as that may be Mr. Agba went further to explain that their government, through many of its social security programs, has been dedicating resources to alleviating hardship, and then goes further to accuse state governors of misdirecting resources to projects that have no impact on the people.

“While rightly pointing out that that 72% of the poverty in Nigeria is found in the rural areas, the Minister said that the rural populace had been abandoned by governors.

“This assertion is not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth. It is Mr. Clement Agba’s veiled and deliberate effort, as a minister, to protect his paymasters and politicize very critical issues of national importance. Instead of answering the question thrown at him by journalists, Mr. Agba veered his attention to soft targets that happen to be 36 Governors.

“It is the opinion of the Governors that the dereliction that the Minister is talking about lies, strictly speaking, at the doorstep of the Federal Government which he represents, in this scenario.

“First and foremost, the primary duty of any government is to ensure the security of lives and property, without which no sensible human activity takes place.

“But the Federal Government which is responsible for the security of lives and property has been unable to fulfil this covenant with the people thus allowing bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers to turn the country into a killing field, maiming and abducting people, in schools market squares and even on their farmlands.”

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