Ijaw angry over Alamieyeseigha's death

2015-10-12
THE GUARDIAN Newspaper

AS Nigerians come to terms with his sudden death last Saturday, there seems no end yet, to the controversies surrounding the former Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

A man no stranger to controversies in his lifetime, his death has led to allegations and denials as what led to the sudden death of the man popularly referred to as ‘governor-general of the Ijaw nation’ with a socio-cultural organisation, Izon Brotherhood in the Diaspora accusing the All Progressives Congress (APC) of being responsible.

But in a swift reaction, the APC has stoutly denied any complicity.

Spokesman for the brotherhood, Pere Jones, in a statement from Germany berated the APC-led Federal Government for being behind the recent extradition notice that must have aggravated the health of the former Ijaw leader who reportedly died of heart attack.

Jones condemned the alleged role of the APC which reportedly influenced the inclusion of Alamieyesiegha’s name among those wanted by the United Kingdom government even after going through the whole legal hurdles of prosecution, conviction and later pardoned.

Jones was particularly critical of the role allegedly played by some Ijaw sons whom he accused of working hand-in-hand with the APC to undermine the Ijaw nation.

He said: “Clearly, it’s a shame to all our Ijaw brothers who are in league with the APC, witch hunting and working against their fellow Ijaw brothers and sisters, being singled out for alleged corruption charges. They should be ashamed of themselves. Frankly no Ijaw man worth his salt should have anything to do with APC. With what they have done to our dear leader, Alamieyesiegha, no right thinking son or daughter of Ijaw extraction should be seen associating with the APC.”

But describing the allegation as “spurious and cruel politics,” APC spokesperson, Mr. Fortune Ebie Panebi, told The Guardian that members of the party are grieved by the sudden death of Alamieyeseigha who was once the political leader of the state.

He said it was wrong for anyone to blame the Federal Government and the ruling APC for his death because there was no time the government had covertly or overtly witch hunted the former governor or anyone else in his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State.

“The APC has absolutely nothing to do with the death of Alamieyeseigha. APC has been running the affairs of this country smoothly since May 29th and has never witch-hunted Alamieyeseigha. Nobody in APC has anything whatsoever to do with the death the former governor.

‘‘As political party, we are also grieved by his death. We are not happy to lose a political leader like Alamieyeseigha,” he said, urging people to be mindful of their utterance and not mix death with politics.

In a related development, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) has described Alamieyeseigha’s death as a tragic loss to the Ijaw nation just as The Guardian investigation has revealed that accumulation of health, financial challenges and a possible extradition threat to the United Kingdom may have triggered Alamieyeseigha’s abrupt death on Saturday.

INC spokesperson, Victor Burubo, told The Guardian that the news of the former Bayelsa State governor was received with shock by the Ijaw nation, which had been plunged into the state of mourning.

“He was a man who served his people very well. He will be remembered for the legacy he left behind as the governor of Bayelsa and his contribution the Ijaw nation. He was an Ijaw patriot,” he said.

But a source close to the Alamieyeseigha family disclosed that he had been in dire financial straits in addition to other travails.

The source explained that Alamieyeseigha’s 2005 impeachment and his subsequent trial that accumulated in the confiscation of some of his assets had done deep psychological damage he never recovered from until his death on Saturday.

“Unknown to many, Alamieyeseigha had serious financial challenge and life became difficult and tough for him. I know that he had been diabetic and had high blood pressure. His removal from office and the loss of some of his assets had deep negative psychological impact on his life. Also remember amid all these difficulties, he lost his son recently in Dubai. When you add all these with the recent expression of interest by the British to have him extradited to London, the pressure became too much for him to bear,” she said.

The former INC president, Prof. Kimse Okoko, has described the death of Alamieyeseigha as sad.

“As a close friend, it is sad and touching. Certainly, Alamieyeseigha was one of the greatest Ijaw patriots I have ever met. I pray that his soul rest in perfect peace,” he said.

His party, PDP, said yesterday that it was still in shock over the former governor’s death. It, however, refused to get into the controversy over the cause of death.

Acting National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, in a brief reaction declared: “The National Executive Committee (NEC) and the PDP family nationwide mourn the death of former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha” while National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the party is still in shock over the news of the sudden death of the former governor, which he described as “deeply saddening.”

Meanwhile, former Governors James Onanefe Ibori and Timipre Sylva of Delta and Bayelsa states respectively have mourned their former colleague, who ran the Ijaw state.

Ibori, in a statement yesterday the news came to him with great shock, though the man had been battling with ailment.

He noted that the deceased had been hunted here and there by forces motivated by crass politics and personal vendetta, adding that the late politician had looked as if he would be able to rise above the persecution and allow peace to prevail in his life.

Unfortunately, said Ibori in a statement signed by his Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunor, “on Saturday 9th October 2015, Chief Alamieyesiegha went the way of all mortals.”

Alamieyesiegha was pardoned by former President Goodluck Jonathan following his conviction for graft.

“Alamieyesiegha was my friend, brother, and co-fighter on the Resource Control and fiscal federalism front. We were not just colleagues in the Governors Forum from 1999, in the man I found a boundless and dependable warrior in the battle for the cause of the Niger Delta. He was fearless, forthright, outspoken and dedicated his life to the causes he believed would benefit his people.

“In fact, he was consumed by the cause of the Ijaw people, the degradation of their environment and collective psyche. He was in a hurry to see that the injustice under which they laboured be redressed; and he was ready to bear any pain, pay any price, to see that their day of liberation arrived fast,” Ibori added.

To Sylva, Alamieyeseigha’s departure was a huge loss to the state and the country at a time his contributions to democracy were greatly needed.

Sylva said the departed was a mature and conscientious politician whose experience was critical in the efforts to nurture the democracy he had helped to build.

In a statement in Abuja, Sylva said: “The news of the death of Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was a very bad shock to me. I share the grief of his family and friends.

“Chief Alamieyeseigha was an illustrious member of the political class and a political father with whom I shared common interest in the development of Bayelsa State and the Ijaw nation.

“He was a mature politician, a lover of his people, and a reliable community leader who made sacrifices for the Ijaw nation, the Niger Delta, and Nigeria, generally.

“Alamieyeseigha was a pillar of democracy, and he set the tone for the Fourth Republic democracy in Bayelsa State. He has painfully died at a time when his hindsight and foresight were greatly needed in the march of progress in the politics of Bayelsa State and Nigeria,” Sylva said.

Also, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayo Fayose have commiserated with the Alamieyeseigha family, government and people of Bayelsa State as well as the Ijaw nation, at large, over the death of the former governor.

In a statement yesterday in Asaba by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, Okowa described Alamieyeseigha’s exit as shocking and painful.

“The late Alamieyeseigha was loved by the Ijaws who saw him as a rallying point for the reawakening of the spirit of togetherness irrespective of the spread of the Ijaws in all riverine areas of the country. No wonder they nicknamed him ‘ Governor General of the Ijaw nation.”

On his part, Fayose said: “It is painful that the APC-led Federal Government finally succeeded in hounding an Ijaw leader to death just because of his staunch stance on the upcoming Bayelsa State governorship election.”

 

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