*Calls on state governments to work with traditional rulers to engender development
By BASHIR ADEFAKA
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, on Thursday september 21, 2023, paid an official visit to South South state of Bayelsa, during which he reiterated that the strength of Nigerian nation lies in “our diversity” and that diversity should be treated as such, as against being seen as source of conflict.
The Sultan, whose priority project is premised on peace, unity and development of Nigeria, image his remarks as he naugurated a road project at the instance of the state government. during the visit.
The DEFENDER reports that the last time the Sultan, a special guest of the state governor on Thursday, was in Bayelsa was in 2001 and as a military officer, making it remarkable being there again 22 years after and as Sultan of Sokoto.
While in the state, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar, as a special guest of honour at the inauguration ceremony, commissioned phase two of the newly-completed Glory Drive Dual Carriageway, a 10.2-kilometer road project constructed by the state government of Senator Douye Diri.
The road said to have long been conceptualised by former President Goodluck Jonathan as governor, stretches from Igbogene across several communities and terminates at the state capital city of Yenagoa.
The visibly elated Sultan said he was proud to be associated with Senator Diri’s success story in the development of Bayelsa State.
Stressing that the Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity, the visiting multifaceted leader noted it is important for leaders from far away to come and appreciate what the Diri administration is doing in terms of development of the state and work together to better the lot of the people.
Sultan Abubakar urged the governor and his team to continue to do more to impact meaningfully on the lives of the people.
“This is the second time that l’m visiting Bayelsa since 2001, that is 22 years ago, and I’m very impressed with the level of development that has taken place in the state.
“I am happy to be part of this history in the commissioning of this road project. God has put you in this position to serve the people. You are their servant.
“As leaders, we should continue to work together to better the lot of our people. It is important for leaders from far away to come and see what you are doing. Our strength is in our diversity.”
In his remarks, Governor Douye Diri vowed that his administration would never play politics with development of the state, noting that the Glory Drive road project was not only for supporters of PeoplesDemocraticParty (PDP) of which he is a member, All Progressives Congress (APC) or Labour Party (LP) but for the generality of the people.
According to him, the road was conceived during the Dr Goodluck Jonathan administration in the state under which he served as Commissioner.
Diri noted that upon assuming office in 2020, he decided to re-award the road contract to the Chinese construction giant, CCECC.
“We are bringing development to every area in Bayelsa State. Even development and shared prosperity are the defining characteristics of our government of prosperity.
“We know that in the absence of peace and harmony, sustainable prosperity cannot be guaranteed. We have endeavoured as a government to foster peace and reconciliation. I often said that those who will kill and maim in their desperate quest to gain political power cannot mean well for you.
“Development and peace are like Siamese twins. Development and peace are inseparable. Where there is no peace, there will be no development, and where there is no development there will be no peace.”
Also, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Moses Teibowei, stated that the project was constructed at the cost of N30 billion.
He stated that after it was conceptualized under the Jonathan administration and constructed from the East-West road to the Igbogene roundabout, the project was mismanaged under the Chief Timipre Sylva administration after awarding the contract to a construction firm.
The commissioner said Governor Diri has directed the commencement of the third phase of the road to Onopa.
“Phase two of the project, starting from igbogene roundabout to the airport road was started by Chief Timipre Sylva administration and awarded to Fak Engineering Limited with the sum of N9 billion paid. The contractor cleared the entire length of the project but sand filled and did stone-base of only 1.5 kilometers and abandoned it.
“When the prosperity government of Senator Diri came on board, it deemed it fit to continue construction because of its strategic location, importance and economic viability to Bayelsa .
“The road measures about 10.2 kilometers. It has dual carriageway of 7.3 metres width, with two-metre shoulder on each drive way.
“It also has four metres wide median, a walkway of 1.4 metres either sides, one major roundabout and 12 culverts.
“Governor Diri has also approved the commencement of the Glory Drive Phase 3, which stretches from the airport road to Onopa and the Government House.”
In a statement by Mr. Daniel Alabrah, Chief Press Secretary to the Bayelsa State Governor, dated Thursday September 21, 2023, it was stated that the Sultan, upon arrival in the state, had earlier visited the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council where he called on state governments to work closely with traditional rulers to engender development.