Bayelsa State governor Douye Diri has appealed to the international community to observe the November 11, 2023 governorship election in the state to protect the integrity of the process.
Diri who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) made the call yesterday in a welcome address at the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation Democracy Dialogue Series: “Breaking New Grounds in the Democracy Development Nexus in Africa,” at the Local Content Tower Conference Hall in Yenagoa, the state capital.
The governor said the decision to re-elect him or choose a governor for the state should be the people’s prerogative but expressed concern that some of his opponents were resorting to violence, intimidation and brigandage to subvert the will of the people.
His words: “On November 11 this year, Bayelsans will be going to the polls to elect a governor. I hope I have done enough to merit their endorsement for a second term. The decision should be theirs to make.
“Sadly, some of my opponents do not think the people of Bayelsa are entitled to that choice and are resorting to violence, intimidation and brigandage to subvert the will of the people. I am inviting you all back here to be observers of the process.”
Diri stressed that the introduction of armed non-state actors in political contests poses a greater threat to democracy than the military, noting that unless the people insist on building strong institutions capable of resisting the antics of strong men, more countries would be affected.
“The introduction of armed non-state actors in political contests poses a greater threat to our democracy than the military. And unless we insist on building strong institutions capable of resisting the antics of strong men, more and more countries will be infected.
“The antidote is the rise of accountable leaders, vibrant civil societies, and engaged citizenry who shape their own destinies and demand transparency, justice, and equal opportunities,” he said.
The governor said the timing of the conference could not have come at a better time in view of what he described as “recent epidemic of military takeovers in the sub-region, which have woken us rudely from our sweet dreams that Africa has come a long way from an era marked by oppressive regimes and limited civic participation.”
According to Diri, “The re-emergence of this malady should be a source of concern for all of us. We as politicians and the chief drivers of the democratic culture cannot completely absolve ourselves in this matter. Because we inadvertently create the environment for such behaviour.”
In his remarks, the Olu of Warri, His Majesty Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, OgiameAtuwatse III, noted that the interest of the people should be paramount in whatever system of government that is adopted, whether traditional or democracy.