Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has said his administration has done creditably well one year after assuming office regardless of the numerous challenges it faced.
Senator Diri, who stated this last Wednesday evening during an interactive session with media practitioners in Yenagoa, recounted his stewardship in the period under review.
The governor enumerated a number of projects being executed by his administration and lauded the media for the objective reportage of his administration.
The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted him as having mobilised contractors to resume work on the West and Central senatorial districts roads.
He said contract for the federal Yenagoa-Oporoma road started by his predecessor was reviewed upwards to about N27 billion, including construction of a bridge to link the road to Oporoma in the central flank of the state.
According to Senator Diri, one billion was released for the ongoing rehabilitation of all the internal roads in the capital city as well as re-awarding of the contract for construction of Phase 2 of the Gloryland Drive road from the Ecumenical Centre in Igbogene to link the Amassoma road.
He also said work was ongoing on the Igbogene-Bayelsa Palm outer ring road as contract for the job had been re-awarded.
On the eastern flank, the governor hinted that his government had awarded the contract for re-construction of the collapsed Elebele bridge in addition to the Imiringi bridge, which is almost completed and slated for commissioning this weekend.
Responding to requests by chairman of the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), he directed the Works and Infrastructure Commissioner to inspect the Ernest Ikoli/NUJ Press Centre with a view to giving it a facelift.
While commending journalists in the state for their support to his administration, Governor Diri also directed that the DiriBoost scheme be extended to media personnel in the state.
He further stated that his government was developing a blueprint on agriculture and small and medium scale enterprises as part of efforts to empower Bayelsans to take charge of the local economy.
To this end, he disclosed that the state House of Assembly had given approval for the state government to secure two agricultural loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria with minimal interest rates to empower Bayelsa farmers.
According to him, government has already accessed N3 billion agricultural credit facility from the CBN while another N8 billion was being awaited.
He allayed the fears of Bayelsans while explaining that the essence of securing such loans was to empower Bayelsa farmers and not the state government, pointing out that other states were already benefitting from the CBN agricultural credit facilities.
“We decided to log into the CBN from where so many states have benefited in loans with single digit interest rates.
“We didn’t go for those loans for the state government but in the interest of our farmers so that our people will also be beneficiaries of these facilities that several other states had accessed far more than we have.”
On payment of weigh-in arrears for members of chapels not yet captured, Diri directed the Commissioner for Information to bring up the matter for his approval.
In his speech, chairman of the state council of the NUJ, Comrade Samuel Numunengi, sought the governor’s attention on welfare issues for journalists in the state.
While applauding him for appointing media practitioners into his cabinet, Comrade Numonengi stressed the need to support media workers for basic journalism training.
In their separate remarks, the General Manager, Peoples FM, Chief Lawson Hayford, representing Network of Heads of Broadcast Organisations (NEHBORS) and representative of the Federated and United Correspondents Chapels, Chris Eze, hailed the governor for his visionary leadership.
Mr Francis Dufugha representing Bayelsa Independent Publishers Association (BIPA) and Bayelsa Federated Newspaper Publishers Association (BAFENPA) urged the governor to revitalise the printing press and assist them with an operational vehicle.
The governor however did not accede to a request for monthly support allowance, saying it would prevent journalists from practising their profession without hindrance.
He said as a firm believer in a robust and free press, he would not do anything to stifle or censor the work of journalists in the state.