Alamieyeseigha: Death Nigerians find difficult to believe

THE GUARDIAN Newspaper- Abiodun Fanoro and Seye Olumide

THREE days after the death of former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, most Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the news of his death as many keep asking ‘is it true’? In a show of utter disbelief.

To many, this disbelief stems from the character he assumed during his escape drama from the United Kingdom 10 years ago, more so that the death curiously came at a time the same British Government announced its intention to request for the extradition of the former governor to London to continue with his trial abandoned a decade ago.

To many others, the news of his death is a rude shock, because it came at time when the man who for a while was out of public glare, progressively began to return to lime light.

The death of the man popularly referred to as ‘governor-general’ of the Ijaw nation appears to be the climax of the series of travails he again ran into after the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan had tried to give him a new lease of life when he was given a state pardon by Jonathan, his former deputy governor who later became president.

Alamieyeseigha certainly did not die a happy man. He suffered multiple tragedies in his last days on earth and, on Saturday, went to his grave abruptly, apparently with a broken heart.

In October 2014, the former governor flew to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to retrieve the corpse of Oyamieyifa, one of his sons who died under controversial circumstances. No father wants to bury his child, and not even under such a cloud.

Tonbra, his other son, broke up with his wife of seven months, Chikodi Stella Ononiwu, early 2015 in controversial circumstances after a dream wedding, which was the talk of the town. That might have been of little worry to Alamieyeseigha, who had to also watch his wife, Margret, suffer so much pain as a result of bad health. There are also reports that she is currently undergoing treatment for a life-threatening ailment.

And in a most dramatic twist of fate, the British government recently requested his extradition to face trial for alleged money laundering.

In September 2005, the UK’s Metropolitan police had detained him after finding about £1 million cash on him, and another £1.8 million in cash and accounts. He was subsequently charged with money laundering but he jumped bail after allegedly disguising as a woman, an allegation he denied.

A family source said he was very sad when he received the news of the plans to extradite him to the UK. “He was devastated over the plans to take him back to UK for trials. He told family members that he has suffered enough of the judicial processes and humiliation.” the source said. A few days later, he fell into a coma. He never recovered as he died on Saturday from cardiac arrest at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital.

One spectacular history about Alamieyeseigha which generations yet unborn would continue to cherish and commend to others to emulate, is his relationship with former President Jonathan, a cultic one like that of the Biblical David and Jonathan.

Loyalty is rare to find in the Nigerian political terrain but DSP, as his supporters called him, got that even from Goodluck Jonathan, his two-time deputy who later become vice-president and president of Nigeria.

Unlike the average politician who would capitalise on the misfortune of his superior to launch himself into power, Jonathan stood by Alamieyeseigha until he was impeached on December 9, 2005.

In a chat with journalists shortly after he took over the reins of government in Bayelsa, Jonathan said: “You all know how I have been loyal to him from the beginning until this sad event made me succeed him.”

In his last known interview before he died, Alamieyeseigha commented on what made him choose Jonathan as a partner. “I wanted a deputy governor who had high level of intelligence and stable character like Jonathan.

“I also needed an establishment person and somebody who was not too ambitious that if I was out, he could stand in for me and could run the state. I needed somebody, who would not attempt to cause trouble if I travelled out of the state so that I could sleep well.” And that was exactly what Jonathan did.

Military background
Alamieyeseigha was born in 16 November 1952 in Amassoma, Ogboin North Local Government Area, Bayelsa State. He attended the Bishop Dimeari Grammar School, Yenagoa and joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, as a Cadet Officer in 1974 after which he later enrolled in the Nigerian Air Force, where he served in the department of Logistics and Supply.

He held various Air Force positions in Enugu, Markurdi, Kaduna and Ikeja abd finally retired in 1992 as a Squadron Leader.

After leaving the Air Force he became the Sole Administrator of Pabod Supplies Port Harcourt. Later he became Head of Budget, Planning, Research and Development of the National Fertiliser Company (NAFCON).

In 1999, Alamieyeseigha was elected as governor under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and later re-elected in 2003.
On 12 March 2013, Alamieyeseigha was pardoned by President Goodluck Jonathan, but his pardoning was criticised by many.


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