The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Friday, presented the Certificate Of Return to winner of the November 11 off-cycle governorship election in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, and his running mate, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.
Governor Diri and his deputy, Ewhrudjakpo, were the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election that had 15 other contestants.
A statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the INEC National Commissioner for Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers states, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, presented the certificate to the duo at 11:11am at the state headquarters of the commission in Yenagoa.
Mrs. Agbamuche-Mbu said presenting the Certificate of Return by the commission was a statutory provision in fulfilment of section 72(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which also stated that the presentation must be done within 14 days following the declaration of a winner.
She thanked stakeholders for their commitment and contributions toward the peaceful conduct of the election and equally appreciated staff of the commission who displayed exceptional level of dedication to their job.
On behalf of INEC, she also congratulated the governor and his deputy over their victory at the poll and wished them a successful second tenure in office.
In his acceptance speech, Governor Diri said the event puts to rest the speculation that INEC would not present the certificate to him just as he commended the commission for its professionalism and impartiality during and after the election.
Diri said it was an historic moment for him, his deputy and Bayelsans, who he appreciated for standing behind him and his running mate, bearing in mind the antics of the opposition that brandished cooked results against their will.
The state’s helmsman said it was unfortunate hearing the opposition, particularly the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, alleging that INEC cancelled 85,000 of the party’s vote as well as manipulation by the commission.
He stressed that his party would wait for them at the tribunal.
Diri said: “Presenting the certificate of return was almost becoming another issue as some were brandishing results of 85,000 votes in their pockets and saying that the certificate would not be issued to those declared winners in Bayelsa State. So, this event has brought to rest all those speculations that have been all over the country.
“After thanking God for today’s event, I also thank the Independent National Electoral Commission, from the chairman to the supervising commissioner to the REC and the administrative secretary as well as all the staff.
“This is one historic moment for me, my deputy governor and the people of Bayelsa State. I lappreciate the electorate for standing behind what they believe was a government that has performed and must have another term.”
Responding to questions from journalists at the INEC premises, Diri assured that he will be a servant-leader to the people as well as his deputy and other members of his cabinet.
The governor asserted that if the election had gone the other way, it would have portended danger for the state, describing his victory as freedom for Bayelsa.
According to him, “Bayelsans know that we are a government of the people that wants all Bayelsans on board and also ensure transparency as much as possible, so that whatever we are spending, it is in the interest of Bayelsa State.“
Also present at the ceremony were the wife of the governor, Dr. Gloria Diri, wife of the deputy governor, Mrs. Beatrice Ewhrudjakpo, chairman of the state PDP, Mr. Solomon Agwana, members of the House of Assembly, the Secretary to the State Government, Alabo Gideon Ekeuwei and other top government functionaries.