Yenagoa, Bayelsa State: Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, extended an invitation to the international community to observe the upcoming governorship election scheduled for November 11th in the state. This call was made by the Governor during his welcome address at the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation Democracy Dialogue Series held at the Local Content Tower Conference Hall in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
While addressing the audience, Governor Diri emphasized that the decision to re-elect him or select a new governor should remain the prerogative of the people. However, he expressed deep concern regarding the use of violence, intimidation, and disorder by some of his opponents to undermine the will of the people.
In his own 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 bribery to subvert the will of the people. I am inviting you all back here to be observers of the process.”
Governor Diri emphasized that the introduction of armed non-state actors into political contests poses a more significant threat to democracy than military intervention. He pointed out the need for strong institutions capable of resisting the influence of powerful individuals.
He stated, “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 citizens who shape their own destinies and demand transparency, justice, and equal opportunities.”
Governor Diri highlighted the timeliness of the conference, given the recent surge in military takeovers across the sub-region. He acknowledged the shared responsibility among politicians for creating an environment conducive to such actions.
In reference to the conference’s theme, he recalled the 2015 presidential election, when President Goodluck Jonathan demonstrated exceptional conduct, leaving an indelible mark on Nigeria’s modern democracy.
He quoted President Jonathan’s famous words, “My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian,” and emphasized the importance of democracy as a platform for the peaceful exchange of ideas rather than violence.
The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF), chaired and founded by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, initiated the annual Democracy Dialogue as a platform for stakeholders across Africa to address democracy-related issues and propose solutions. Dr. Jonathan highlighted the crises that democracy on the continent has faced, including social tensions, coup d’états, insecurity, and mismanagement of electoral processes.
Prof. Patrick Lumumba, in his keynote address, encouraged Africans to seek internal solutions to their problems. He attributed frequent coups in Africa to leaders who refused to relinquish power.
Other dignitaries, including the Olu of Warri, His Majesty Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Touray, and Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, underscored the importance of strong institutions, inclusivity, and accountability in democracy.
The event was attended by notable figures, including Dame Patience Jonathan, Dr. Gloria Diri, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, and various traditional rulers, among others.