By Shedrack Frank
Governor Douye Diri, of Bayelsa, has responded to President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent directive to revive cattle grazing routes across the country.
Diri said there were no such routes in the state.
Diri stated this on Saturday in Government House, Yenagoa, during his maiden media chat to commemorate this year’s Democracy Day celebration.
He explained that although he was not countering Buhari’s decision to resuscitate grazing routes.
Diri said his administration had put in place a legal framework to ban open grazing and movement of cattle on foot.
The Bayelsa governor also emphasized that the southern governors had adopted the same position on the issue as part of measures to check farmers/herders’ clashes across the country.
Diri maintained that his government could not afford to expose its citizenry to the looming danger.
His words: “For us, there are no cattle grazing routes in Bayelsa State. Our people are traditionally and occupationally fishermen. The idea of cattle grazing routes in Bayelsa is very strange to us in this part of the country.
Diri, who pointed out that in a federal system of government, states have the rights to enact laws to regulate the activities of their people, stressed that the prohibition on open grazing of cattle would be fully implemented in the state.
“There may be cattle grazing routes in the north but what is applicable in the north may not be applicable to us in the south. I don’t want to believe we are running a unitary system of government.
Diri also expressed his administration’s determination to change the developmental narrative of the state.
The governor said democracy is about the people and that Nigeria has come a long way with 22 years of uninterrupted civilian rule, which he observed had not been smooth but worth celebrating.
He noted that the urban renewal program among other projects and policies of his administration are part of the drive to give the state a new look and make it more attractive to investors.
Diri said the state had a lot of tourism potentials and that his government is open to discussion and ready to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with partners to develop projects in the tourism sector.
He explained that the ongoing demolition of illegal structures in the state capital is in line with the administration’s urban renewal policy.
The Governor expressed concern over the proliferation of shanties across the state capital, coupled with the obstruction of traffic by traders along the major roads, which he said is unacceptable.
He noted that as a result of the demolition, sanity has been restored in most of its major markets in areas like Swali, Kpansia and Tombia-Etegwe, adding that some of the illegal structures serve as hide-outs for criminals.
On the issue of the federal government’s infrastructure development refund to the state, Diri clarified that the actual amount it received was N27.5 billion and not N38.4 billion as being speculated.
He said that the total refund due the state was N38.4 billion but the federal government explained that the release of all the figures would not be possible in the next four years and offered the state a second option of a discounted amount of N27.5 billion through the Debt Management Office, which it got last December.
The governor also said the refund had been committed to constructing critical capital projects such as the Yenagoa- Oporoma road in the Bayelsa Central Senatorial District.
He said the Sagbama-Ekeremor road in Bayelsa West as well as the Opolo/AIT-Igbogene ring road project, the dualized Glory Drive-Onopa road, the Nembe unity bridge and the installation of street lights in the state capital, among others, will e accommodated in the project.
On the state-owned international airport, Diri announced that commercial flights would commence next month as it is in partnership with United Nigeria Airline to operate daytime flights pending when the runway lights for night flights would be installed.