The Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri, has advised traditional rulers in the state to shun partisan politics in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
Diri, who gave the advice during a meeting with the state’s Traditional Rulers Council at its secretariat in Yenagoa, on Thursday, urged the monarchs to provide a level playing field for all political parties.
He enjoined them to ensure that no political party hijacked the process to its advantage, warning that any traditional ruler who allowed his domain to be used for electoral malpractices would be de-recognised.
He, however, expressed the hope that introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System by the Independent National Electoral Commission would bring to an end electoral malpractices.
The governor said, “As custodians of our heritage and culture, it is incumbent on you to provide a level playing field for all political parties in the state to freely canvass for votes in a conducive and peaceful atmosphere.
“We all know that issues like elections fragment brothers, sisters and communities. So, as we approach the 2023 general election, I implore traditional rulers to remain apolitical.
“Don’t allow any political party hijack the process in your domains to perpetrate electoral fraud. If that happens, while the traditional ruler sits in the comfort of his home, his recognition will be withdrawn.
“You have been recognised in your various kingdoms as custodians of our heritage and culture. In Bayelsa State, you have been performing administrative duties, working closely with council chairmen.
“I had directed the local government chairmen to involve traditional rulers in their monthly security council meetings. Our security archetechture has been rejiged and for the past one month crime rate has reduced.”
Responding to issues raised by chairman of the Traditional Rulers Council, King Bubaraye Dakolo, who is the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, Diri said collaborative efforts between the state government and security agencies on improving security on land and waterways were yielding results, particularly in Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw local government areas.
On the dearth of teachers in schools in rural areas, he directed the Commissioner for Education, Gentle Emelah, to ascertain the number of teachers in urban schools and ensure a balance with their counterparts in the rural areas.
Diri, who also approved renovation of the traditional rulers secretariat through the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, assured that government would look into other issues of review of stipends, running cost and provision of utility vehicles.
Earlier in his remarks, King Bubaraye Dakolo applauded the developmental strides of Diri’s administration, particularly in the execution of people-oriented projects across the state.
Dakolo, who pledged the monarchs support to the administration, also highlighted a number of issues bordering on security, education and other concerns of the council.