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Dame Diiarau (Didi) Esther Walson-Jack,Mni

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DIDIMrs. Diiarau Didi Esther Walson-Jack, is an Alumna of the prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State, Nigeria. She is the current National Assistant Secretary General of the Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI). Didi was until the 30th of December 2008 the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Justice and Solicitor-General of Bayelsa State.

Before her current appointment, she was the pioneer Deputy Chief of Staff to the Bayelsa State Governor Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson. Prior to that appointment, Mrs. Walson-Jack was a Deputy Director (Appointment, Promotion and Discipline) at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Abuja. She had earlier served as Deputy Director (Administration) and Co-ordinator of the Rivers State Office of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, having transferred her service to the Federal Civil Service in 2009.

Born on the 27th day of August, 1966, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to the current Traditional Ruler of Tombia-Ekpetiama, His Highness, Christian Okpofaa and Mrs. Timikoru Beauty Otobotekere of Bayelsa State, she had her primary education in Shell Primary School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, before proceeding to Federal Government Girls' College, Benin City, in present day Edo State. The quest for a higher school education took her to the Federal Government College, Ilorin, Kwara State, for her Advanced level. Mrs. Walson-Jack graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree (LL.B) degree from the University of Lagos in 1986. She attended the Nigerian Law School and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987, as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. She holds Certificates in Legislative Drafting from the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Lagos, and the California State Senate U.S.A.

Mrs. Didi Esther Walson-Jack did her national service at the Ministry of Justice, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, and later joined the Ministry of Justice, Rivers State, as a State Counsel; a job she combined with her other responsibility as a Special Assistant to the Wife of the Deputy Governor of Rivers State.

Consequent upon the creation of Bayelsa State out of the old Rivers State in 1996, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack transferred her service to the Ministry of Justice, Bayelsa State. In the course of her service, she was seconded to the State House of Assembly to establish and administer the Legal Department. Her specialist skills in Legislative Drafting and the insufficient human resources in the new Bayelsa State meant that the principles of separation of powers could hardly be obeyed, as Didi worked for both the Executive and Legislative arms of the government. In recognition of her hard work, she was subsequently appointed by the Governor Alamieyeseigha administration to the enviable dual position of Solicitor-General of Bayelsa State and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice in July 2002. She was the youngest person to be appointed to that position, which she held until 30th December 2008.

She served creditably as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor-General of Bayelsa State, and is credited with several policy directions and sound and invaluable institutional support for four successive Attorneys General and Commissioner of Justice who have held forte in the Ministry. She is remembered for the establishment and financial independence of the Directorate for Citizens' Rights; and the financial independence of the Administrator-General's Department; her penchant for training and retraining of staff and the pivotal role she played in the publication of the Laws of Bayelsa State, the Bayelsa State Law Reports as well as the Ministry's newsmagazine, "The Justice Gazette".

Didi's contributions to the public service especially in Bayelsa State have been recognized through several honours and Awards. The Nigerian Bar Association, Yenagoa Branch, honoured her with the Award for Commitment in 2006. In 2007, Rotary International, Yenagoa, presented her with its Professional Service Award, while in 2008 Nigerians voted her as the Pubic Administrator of the Year for Bayelsa State in a telephone poll conducted by the National Institute of Policy Studies and Political Activities, Lagos.

Didi Walson-Jack is a woman of principles. Her passion for Jesus Christ, peace and conflict resolution, and the welfare of women and children is enviable. She edited a Manual for Justice of the Peace, as part of her official duties in the Ministry of Justice. She has undergone several training on Conflict Management, Dispute Resolution and Peacekeeping. As Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), she was the Programme Director for a Regional Workshop on Conflict Mitigation funded by the Office of Transition Initiative (OTI)/USAID. At that workshop, the Regional Arm of the Conflict Resolution Stakeholders Network (CRESNET) was formed and an executive elected.

The saying that all politics is local was not lost on Didi as she used the opportunity of the presence of the international community to draw attention to the destruction of Odi, Bayelsa State, by the former democratic regime in response to a conflict situation. She organized a visit to the ravaged community and, like some groups, helped lift the veil of secrecy and misinformation that was then being bandied.

Didi, as Chairperson of FIDA, also led the Bayelsa delegation to a Conflict Resolution/Peace Building Training Programme in Oklahoma, United States of America in June 2002. The fruit of her training and work in conflict resolution and peace building is the initiation and establishment of the Directorate for Citizens' Rights in the Ministry of Justice, Bayelsa State. One of the popular units of the Directorate is the Citizens' Mediation Unit which mediates civil disputes.

In addition to working for the rights and welfare of children and women, Didi has taken on the challenge of mentoring young ladies. In 2004 she founded GIFTED WOMEN Mentoring Class. This programme has impacted the lives of many young ladies who participate in the presentations, talks and counseling. She has been able to establish a pool of mentors to mentor a good number of protégés within Bayelsa State, while assisting mentors establish similar mentoring classes in Warri and Lagos.

Didi Walson-Jack is Lay Reader and a Knight of the Anglican Communion. An ardent Christian, she is actively involved in her local church as well as several religious organizations aimed at propagating the gospel of Christ. Didi's hobbies include reading, public speaking and counseling. She is married to Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack, a lawyer and civic education proponent and they have two children, Sotonye and Nimi (Jnr.).

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