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*Okaba Hails Bayelsa Governor’s Non-interference In Election

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has charged the newly elected executive of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) to protect the interest of the Ijaw nation at all times in order to reposition it among ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.

Governor Diri gave the charge when the new executive visited him in Government House, Yenagoa, after the INC elective convention on Friday.

Professor of Sociology at the Federal University, Otuoke in Bayelsa State, Benjamin Ogele Okaba, who hails from Kpakiama in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State, emerged president of the ethnic group’s foremost socio-cultural organisation.

The governor in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, called on the leadership to set aside political interest and work towards repositioning the INC.

He expressed joy over the emergence of the INC leadership through a rancour-free and exemplary electronic voting process after years of the organisation being comatose.

He said: “I am indeed the happiest man that out of this electoral process, we have a brand new executive of the INC. There is a hand of God in your election. It was God’s own design using everyone of us to ensure the loud silence of the Ijaw nation would no longer be.

“On no account should you compromise the interest of the Ijaw people. I believe very strongly that the Ijaw nation is going to be heard.”

Have it at the back of your mind that your paramount interest should be that of the Ijaw ethnic nationality. You have chosen to lead the Ijaw people. You are the president of the Ijaw people and not the president of any political party.

“Let it be that under your tenure, the Ijaws make remarkable progress and have some degree of autonomy they have been looking forward to. Let it be that you wrote your name and that of other members in gold.”

While commending the electronic voting system adopted in the electoral process, Diri noted that the Ijaws have shown that they are pacesetters and that hitch-free election was possible in Nigeria.

He also assured the new leadership that as the only homogeneous Ijaw state, Bayelsa would work with the INC to ensure that the ethnic group is protected.

The governor also appreciated the Emeritus Professor Dagogo Fubara-led electoral committee for conducting the election in a transparent manner, adding that if the process was faulty, there would have been protests from contestants who lost.

He added that he kept to his word that the state government would not interfere with the process.

“As you all know, I kept to my words that the government of Bayelsa State would not interfere with the electoral process. I never invited any member or chairman of the electoral committee to any meeting. Even the contestants that are close to me, I never had contact with them. Indeed, this is the best election,” he said.

Earlier, the new INC president, Prof. Okaba, appreciated the governor for his role in ensuring a hitch-free electoral process and for his decision not to interfere.

Okaba assured the governor that the leadership would work hard to move the Ijaw nation forward and that they would be an asset to the governor, constructively engaging him whenever the need arose.

He stated that with electronic voting, the Ijaws have proved that what was thought impossible elsewhere was possible with them.

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