… Dares Buhari on new open grazing routes
Julius Osahon, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, yesterday posited that Nigeria had come a long way with 22 years of uninterrupted civilian rule, which he observed had not been smooth but worth celebrating.
The Governor who spoke on Saturday in Government House, Yenagoa, during his maiden media chat that was broadcast live on all Yenagoa-based radio stations, however dare President Buhari on the new open grazing routes proposal.
While responding to a question on the President’s recent directives to revive cattle grazing routes across the country, Diri said there were no such routes in the state.
He explained that although he was not countering the federal government’s decision to resuscitate grazing routes, his administration had put in place a legal framework to ban open grazing and movement of cattle on foot.
The Bayelsa governor also emphasised that the southern governors had adopted the same position on the issue as part of measures to check farmers/herders clashes across the country.
Diri maintained that his government could not afford to expose its citizenry to the looming danger.
His words: “For us, there are no cattle grazing routes in Bayelsa State. Our people are traditionally and occupationally fishermen. The idea of cattle grazing routes in Bayelsa is very strange to us in this part of the country.”
Senator Diri, who pointed out that in a federal system of government, states have rights to enact laws to regulate the activities of its people, stressed that the prohibition on open grazing of cattle would be fully implemented in the state.
“There may be cattle grazing routes in the north but what is applicable in the north may not be applicable to us in the south. I don’t want to believe we are running a unitary system of government.”
The media interaction was part of activities to commemorate this year’s Democracy Day celebration.
The governor, in a press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, also expressed his administration’s determination to change the developmental narrative of the state.
He noted that the urban renewal programme among other projects and policies of his administration were part of the drive to give the state a new look and make it more attractive to investors.
Governor Diri said the state had a lot of tourism potential and that his government was open to discussion and ready to sign memorandum of understanding with partners to develop projects in the tourism sector.
He explained that the ongoing demolition of illegal structures in the state capital was in line with the administration’s urban renewal policy.
He expressed concern over the proliferation of shanties across the state capital coupled with the obstruction of traffic by traders along the major roads, which he said was unacceptable.
The governor noted that as a result of the demolition, sanity had been restored in most of its major markets in areas like Swali, Kpansia and Tombia-Etegwe, adding that some of such illegal structures serve as hide-outs for criminals.
On the issue of the federal government’s infrastructure development refund to the state, Senator Diri clarified that the actual amount it received was N27.5 billion and not N38.4 billion as being speculated.
He further explained that the total refund due the state was N38.4 billion but that according to the federal government, its release would not be possible in the next four years and offered the state a second option of a discounted amount of N27.5 billion through the Debt Management Office, which it got last December.
The governor also said the refund had been committed to constructing critical capital projects such as the Yenagoa- Oporoma road in the Bayelsa Central Senatorial District and the Sagbama-Ekeremor road in Bayelsa West as well as the Opolo/AIT-Igbogene ring road project, the dualised Glory Drive-Onopa road, the Nembe unity bridge and the installation of street lights in the state capital among others.
On the state-owned international airport, Senator Diri announced that commercial flights would commence next month as it was in partnership with United Nigeria Airline to operate daytime flights pending when the runway lights for night flights would be installed.
Meanwhile a University son and Vice Chancellor of the Bayelsa Medical University, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, has urged youths in the state to dedicate their minds to science and technology to contribute more to nation’s development.
Etebu gave the advice in Yenagoa on Saturday at a one-day programme on Democracy Day Celebration and Emerging Leaders Conference with the theme: “The Role of Science, Communication and Technology on Youth Development.”
He said, “Bayelsa youths should dedicate their minds to science and technology as the way forward that will enable them become useful to the society.
“I urge you people to work hard and not always wanting to take short cut which can never be better for the society at large,” he stated.
The vice chancellor said that no society could develop without the involvement of the youths.
He said that the Bayelsa government has established a medical University to train youths in the medical field.
“We are training Doctors, Nurses, Lab scientist, Dental technologist, physiotherapist and Community Health medicine,’’ he said.
In his lecture, Mr Elvis Donkemezuo, Chairman, Bayelsa Stae Business Council said that science, communication and technology have to do with innovation of the mind.
Donkemezuo said that science and technology was vital for any society to grow and one must apply science and technology development.
According to him, most of the world richest people started as youths and succeed through science and technology.
He urged the youths to seize the opportunity to be involved with science and technology ruling the world now.
He also advised the youths to go for ICT development training to acquire more knowledge for the future.
Also, Mr Atti Moses, Special Assistance on Student Affairs to Gov. Douye Diri, advised the youths to embrace Science and Technology as development innovation.
Moses said that Emerging Leaders Conference was an annual event targeted at building the intellectual capacity of students and youths.
He said that the maiden edition held in 2018, but was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We waited until 2021 when more preventive and control measures has being put in place by the Federal Ministry of Health and World Donors,” he said.