In this interview, former Commissioner for Information in Bayelsa State and Social Democratic Party House of Representatives Candidate in the 2023 general election, Hon. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, speaks on his return to the Peoples Democratic Party, his relationship with Governor Douye Diri, upcoming Bayelsa governorship election and why Diri should be reelected. Excepts:
You recently returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was received alongside your supporters by the Governor, Senator Douye Diri. What made you take that decision?
Yes, I am back to the PDP. It was an easy decision to make because I had the support and backing of my people to do so. You know before I left the party for the SDP, I consulted with my people who gave me the authority to do so. It was an important decision to make because like you also know the governorship election is fast approaching and I cannot afford to be either sitting on the fence or away from the mainstream of political activities.
A lot of people were surprised that the governor personally received you back to the PDP. Did that give you some sense of inclusion and acceptance?
Unknown to many people, my relationship with Governor Diri has remained cordial even while I was in the SDP. We met a number of times and what has always been paramount to him just like me is the development of Bayelsa State. What many people don’t even know is that beyond politics the Governor and I have a strong bond of friendship. And if you recall, we were integral members of the former administration of Senator Henry Seriake Dickson, who remains our boss and leader and to his credit, he was very instrumental to my return to the PDP. Yes, the Governor and I have been very close. But that aside, I was humbled that he recieved me personally, which I do not take for granted. And so to answer your question, yes I felt loved and a huge sense of inclusion.
What lessons would you say that your going to the SDP taught you?
First, I wanted to test my acceptance and popularity. I also wanted to prove a point because there were a lot of insinuations that I lacked grassroots support. It has been one of the smear campaigns against me by people who were scared of my rising profile, especially in Ogbia Local Government Area, where I am from. So, my participation in the last National Assembly election under the SDP proved them wrong and also put to rest that insinuation. They were surprised to see the massive show of support by people at all the communities that I went to campaign. Secondly, I now understand some of the challenges faced by our people in the rural areas. I knew before now the need for a proper developmental plan, which was why I contested the House of Representatives election, but I didn’t know that the situation faced by some of our people was that bad. Now, I know the level of suffering and the need to make haste to change their story. That’s why it is important that we get it right in our quest to re-elect the Governor for a second term so that through him and working with him, we can positively impact the lives of our people.
To help the Governor to secure a second term. As I told you earlier, I am not willing to sit on the fence or be quiet at a critical time like this. I am coming all out with my supporters; we are going to go from place to place, house to house, door to door, community to community to engage the people and make his re-election seamless. Between him and others, he stands tall and remains the best. I believe the Governor will do more in his second term, if he has the right people around him. Given what I know for a fact, the Governor wants to leave behind a worthy legacy
Generally, it was a learning curve for me. It opened my eyes to so many things and sincerely, I have no regret whatsoever.
You were emphatic during a recent interview that you are going to work with your supporters to ensure Governor Douye Diri is re-elected. Do you think he has done well to deserve a second term?
I have often said that governance is not a tea party. It is a tough job governing a state like Bayelsa with all its contradictions and challenges. Everyday, all I see on social media are all manner of criticisms and attacks on the Governor bordering on his performance. But for me, the fact that there is a great measure of peace and political stability in the state is enough to know that Governor Diri is doing well. He listens and he is also open to divergent views and opinions. He has a high level of tolerance for criticisms and members of the opposition knows this too. He is one man that knows that power is transient and so he is mindful of his actions. He extends invitation to members of the opposition to state functions and also find the time to attend events of members of the opposition, if and whenever he is invited. All of these he is doing in the interest of Bayelsa, especially in his quest to create an atmosphere of peace and inclusion. This reminds of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation definition of governance as “the provision of the political, social, economic and environmental goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from their state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens”. So, in the light of the governance framework which the Douye Diri-led Prosperity Government has been constructing, his overall governance score reflects the given definition, which include security and rule of law; participation, rights and inclusion; foundations for economic opportunity and human development. Let me say also that beyond that, Governor Diri may not have solved all the problems in the state and indeed, there is no government anywhere in the world that can solve all the problems. But clearly, what is not in doubt is the fact that the Governor has worked hard in the last three and half years to try to justify the mandate he currently enjoys. You may think he is slow, but the man is using his own governance style to achieve results. One thing that has become a consensus is that Governor Diri has made the mantra that Government is a continuum to be real. Since he took over, he has made it a priority to complete a number of projects by the Dickson-led Restoration administration while also initiating his own. I can go on and on. Much as I hate talking about regular payment of salaries, pensions and gratuity as achievements by any government but suffice to say that in today’s Nigeria where workers are owed salaries, gratuities and pensions, even resulting in countless deaths of these workers due to delayed payment, Governor Diri must be commended at least for prompt payment of salaries and emoluments to Bayelsa workers.
we must all rally round and support the Governor to be re-elected to continue his good work. We must continue to deepen the state’s developmental trajectory by ensuring that power transit seamlessly from one performing governor to the other as is the case with the Dickson-led Restoration government who we all know recorded outstanding success in almost all sectors. Now, we are also seeing the Diri-led Prosperity administration equally recording outstanding success in key sectors like road infrastructure, connecting all our communities by road. So one term is not good enough
What is next for you now that you have rejoined the PDP?
To help the Governor to secure a second term. As I told you earlier, I am not willing to sit on the fence or be quiet at a critical time like this. I am coming all out with my supporters; we are going to go from place to place, house to house, door to door, community to community to engage the people and make his re-election seamless. Between him and others, he stands tall and remains the best. I believe the Governor will do more in his second term, if he has the right people around him. Given what I know for a fact, the Governor wants to leave behind a worthy legacy. At the end of his eight years, he will be clocking 70 or thereabout. I believe at that age he would want to look back and be proud of what God has enabled him to achieve. At that time, he will be holding the record as one of the oldest persons who have governed the state for two consecutive terms. Of course, you know too well that my former boss, Senator Dickson is the only one for now currently holding the record in the state as the only two term governor and he was just 55 when he left office. The point I am making here is that the current Governor has a unique opportunity of writing his name in gold by making sure that upon his re-election for a second term, he should use it to radically transform the state and position it as a beacon of light to shine the pathway for future development where successive government can continue to build on. We must start now, effective immediately, to cultivate and groom leaders who can galvanize the people towards development. Enough is enough of producing or allowing people who know next to nothing about leadership to occupy positions of leadership in the state. We can no longer tolerate mediocrity in governance. Bayelsa has had enough of leaders who cannot energize her people and make them feel that they can develop themselves. We want leaders who will be creative enough to think out of the box. One that would spur development and propel her citizens out of want, squalor and poverty. Just look around you, the level of poverty is unprecedented, endemic. This is further worsened by the inevitable removal of subsidy. It is unbelievable that 27 years after its creation, Bayelsa is still at this level of development. That’s why we must all rally round and support the Governor to be re-elected to continue his good work. We must continue to deepen the state’s developmental trajectory by ensuring that power transit seamlessly from one performing governor to the other as is the case with the Dickson-led Restoration government who we all know recorded outstanding success in almost all sectors. Now, we are also seeing the Diri-led Prosperity administration equally recording outstanding success in key sectors like road infrastructure, connecting all our communities by road. So one term is not good enough.
Finally, are you willing to serve your state if called upon again?
Why not? It is my state; if I say no, it will be a disservice to my people. Besides, the state needs good, capable hands and that is why I am talking about grooming leaders. There are many like me who are desirous, passionate and committed to the development of our state and if the opportunity present itself, will not hesitate to serve as long as it does not conflict with their principles and is not against personal and political convictions.