I’m passionate about impoverished, underprivileged kids — Patience Diri

Patience Ama Zuofa Douye Diri is Bayelsa State Governor’s wife. She is a lawyer and an advocate of good parenting, who has distinguished herself as a mentor to many underprivileged children. In this interview with ENO BASSEY, she spoke about her passion, vision and husband.

Who is Mrs. Ama Douye Diri?
I grew up in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. I attended Springfield Nursery School, Borokiri. I later went to U.P Model Primary School Borokiri. I proceeded to Governments Girls’ Secondary School, and later to Rivers State School of Basic Studies. I got admission into the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, now Rivers State University, to study Law. I attended Nigerian Law School, Kano and here I am, doing an LLM review. I served in Kogi State during my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

What is your daily routine like?
I wake up at 5.00 a.m. daily. I say my prayer, though I am not very religious. I have my ways of speaking to God and committing my day into His hands. I do basic cleaning and jog round the block, at least, for an hour.

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I am a Christian. I went through Christian trainings. We attended Sunday School and Children’s Department at the church, as we grew up. We later joined the adult church.

Aren’t some people intimidated by you; being a lawyer and governor’s wife?
I don’t think so. I have a broad mind. When I wake up every day, I ask God for guidance. I don’t see the other person as a competitor. I see everybody complementing me and I complement them too. I don’t believe I am powerful. I see myself performing my God given assignments.

What motivates your compassion for less privileged children?
I grew up seeing my parents taking care of children who were not biologically related to us. They nursed and provided for them. They would always say: “You are your child’s mirror.” I grew up also exhibiting such tendencies. My greatest passion is to raise the downtrodden. I’ve done that at every opportunity I find myself. I have adopted children that are not from my community and are not related to me. I take them in, some from their homes and some, from the street.

I have trained up one and he now owns a tailoring shop. I have another from southern Ijaw. I have also put another through school. He is at the Niger Delta University (NDU). I have another third year-student at NDU, and yet another in a private school, as well as others, who live with me. There are those on monthly allowances. I support and train them to become better persons in the society.

What is your vision for Bayelsans?
I was brought up by enlightened and educated parents. When I decided to come to Bayelsa, many thought something was wrong with me. I remember asking a few of them: “if we don’t come to build our state, who will?

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I come from one of the founding families of Bayelsa State. My paternal family is the Zuofas. They contributed to making Bayelsa what it is today. If I have the opportunity to build my state, why shouldn’t I do that? When people say Bayelsa is not developed, why don’t you stay in Port Harcourt, how will you survive? I have always said I am not a politician, even when I grew up in an environment of politics. I criticise objectively, when I see things that are not right. I got married to a politician.

My dream is to see Bayelsa develop like other international cities. I’m not talking about competing with Abuja or Lagos. I’ve travelled beyond Nigeria. I want to see what I see outside Nigeria in Bayelsa. I want to see our youths compete favourably with youths in other climes. When we measure progress, we shouldn’t use our immediate environment as a yardstick. We should be thinking beyond that. I want to see the Bayelsa that our founding fathers fought for. I want to see jobs for youths, good roads, constant power supply and potable water in all communities, and not just in Yenagoa. I want to see well-equipped schools and well-trained teachers, who can impact the youths positively. And, I am working towards achieving all.

How do you intend funding your passion?
My mother was a businesswoman. She taught us the rudiments in business, and I explored that while growing up. I was involved in buying and selling to make extra money. I have always done that as a passion. I am an event planner, an interior decorator and a caterer. I bake and I cook, not just for my family, but also for people’s events. I always have support. As a civil servant, we used to contribute monthly. Most importantly, my husband has been my greatest supporter. Whenever the need arises, and I go to him, he has never turned me down.

Do you encourage your children to acquire these skills?
I can’t force them. I can only encourage them. But growing up, our parents forced us. When your mother was cooking, you must be in the kitchen. Surprisingly, when I am cooking or baking, my children are always with me, trying to learn, including those that are not my biological children, even the boys. They all cook and bake. I learnt from my mother, I did not attend any catering school. I learnt everything from my mother and I teach my children.

Can we get a glimpse of who your husband, Senator Douye Diri is?
Senator Douye Diri wakes up every morning singing Christian songs and worshipping God. He loves his family and his people. That, I know. Many people don’t understand him. He is a man of few words. He talks less and acts more. Diri is a man, who seeks God’s heart first, in all he does, which explains why he is the ‘miracle governor.’

How do you react to negative stories about your husband?
I try as much as possible to correct wrong impression people have about my husband, through fact presentation, using proxies most times. I also write.

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How are you supporting your husband as a governor?
I work from the background. I don’t think I must be seen to create impact. There is always a right time to speak. In his quiet moments, I could say a word or two. I always pray for him to succeed. That is the most important. I try to be a good wife. We are all human. I have my shortcomings.

What do you hope to achieve after your husband’s tenure?
I am not the governor. I should be telling myself what I hope to see my husband do for Bayelsa indigenes. I want to see a better Bayelsa State. I want to see good governance and I want the truth be told. I am aware that the impression of our state outside Bayelsa is not too good, and I want that to change.

People talk about us more, when it has to do with militancy, I want a positive story. People should see us and say, “Yes, Bayelsa State has a lot of factories and better facilities, and not about violence and militancy. And I can assure you that my husband will change the narrative soon, because he is very much concerned.

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