Niger Delta Governors Shun Alamieyeiseigha’s Burial
The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, was among the Niger Delta governors who were absent at the funeral of the late former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Apart from Wike, the governors of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade; Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel; Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomole; Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko and Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, were absent.
The Governor of Delta State, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, sent a delegation led by his deputy, Kingsley Otaru, to represent him at the final journey of a man who was popularly called the ‘Governor-General of the Niger Delta’.
The Niger Delta governors, who failed to attend the event, did not also send their deputies.
But the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, stole the show with his surprised appearance at the funeral which was held at the late Alamieyeseigha’s community in Amassoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
The crowd at the Secondary School Amassoma where the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion conducted the commendation service in honour of the late Ijaw hero hailed Okorocha immediately they sighted him at the venue.
Okorocha who is the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum also drew a loud ovation from the crowd when he mounted the podium to state his reasons for attending the burial.
His explanations on the periods of time God would spend to judge different classes of people drew laughter and cheers from persons who came to mourn the late former governor at the solemn occasion.
“I am here to bury a friend. He was a good man and a believer of his people,” he said.
He added that the late Alamieyeseigha despite being one of the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) paid him a visit in Imo State at the heat of the crisis between his party and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said the late Ijaw hero showed by that gesture that he had a large heart.
The commendation service and the interment were graced by President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, many Ijaw leaders, former governors, federal and state lawmakers especially persons elected on the platform of the PDP and handful of APC leaders from the state.
The Acting Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, Haliru Mohammed, Senate Minority Leader, Chief Godswill Akpabio and many traditional rulers including the Bayelsa State Chairman of Traditional Ruling Council, King Diete Spiff, were in attendance.
Also the crowd was enthused when the tribute written perhaps in UK prisons by the convicted former Governor of Delta State, Chief Onanefe Ibori, was read.
Ibori in the tribute read by the Delta State Chief of Staff extolled the qualities of Alamieyeseigha and how he transformed a rural Bayelsa to a modern state.
He also recalled the travails of Alamieyeseigha saying his misfortune was triggered by his love and passion for the Ijaw cause.
Insisting that the former governor was killed, he said: “In the Nigerian witch-hunt at the turn of the millennium, a politician would be held in custody until a guilty plea is secured or he died in custody. DSP, you were a double victim; they forced you to plead guilty, yet, the medical complications arising from the years of physical, psychological and mental torture killed you.”
In his remarks, former President Goodluck Jonathan reiterated that Alamieyeseigha believed in the unity of his people.
He said though death was inevitable, the circumstances surrounding the death of Alamieyeseigha made his passage to great beyond very painful.
Jonathan who spoke shortly after the speech of the acting National Chairman of PDP and former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, recalled how he and Alamieyeseigha battled insecurity in Bayelsa.
Referring to Sherrif as his national chairman, the former president named the three things Alamieyeseigha gave Bayelsa as vision, social integration and unity as well as infrastructural development.
He said the vision was encapsulated in educational empowerment adding that Alamieyeseigha was determined to ensure that peace returned to the state.
He said: “I am here today because somebody I will continue to call my boss is on his last journey back home. Death is a necessary end that will come when it will come but the time and circumstances of any death sometimes could give a lasting memory to all of us especially bitter memory in some cases.
“Yes Alamieyeseigha is a mortal being and must die; Jonathan is as a mortal being must die but the circumstances of the death of my boss as mentioned by Chief Onanefe Ibori and mentioned by my national chairman leaves bitter taste, bitter memory in all of us.”
In his speech, Sheriff said the death of Alamieyeseigha, whom he described as one of the most detribalised Nigerian, was a shock to all his friends.
He said the late Ijaw hero believed in the cause and emancipation of his people noting that he laid the foundation for the development of Bayelsa.
He said when he came to Bayelsa for the first time through the invitation of the late former governor, he concluded that Nigeria was unfair to the state.
He said: “This man died for the cause of his people. Alamieyeseigha was persecuted because he believed in a cause. There are certain deaths that when it happens everybody will bear the pains. He was a pleasant fellow. He believed in the emancipation of Ijawland. I don’t think as a nation we should allow certain things to continue. Nigeria must live by the rule of law. Nigeria must allow people to speak.”
While Jonathan was speaking a heavy downpour which disrupted the programme that begun behind schedule started.
The rains pounded the canopies and intensified when the host Governor, Chief Seriake Dickson, mounted the podium to address the crowd.
The venue soon became marshy and flooded by the rain water and forced the governor to abridge his remarks.
Dickson said the late Alamieyeseigha built bridges of unity across the country adding that he believed in unity and equity.
He said Nigeria was more divided now than before and appeal to leaders to unite the country.
In his sermon, Bishop Emmanuel Oko-Jaja said the late Alamieyeseigha would remain a patriot and a centurion.
He asked leaders to embrace the fear of God and to leave lasting legacies that would make people to remember them.