Erstwhile Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori has joined Nigerians, particularly the Ijaw nation in mourning the demise of Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, whose remains were buried on Friday, describing the former governor of Bayelsa State as a “Martyr of the cause of the Niger Delta” who will be greatly missed.
Ibori, in a farewell tribute he wrote from London where he is serving jail term for money laundering, disclosed that his former counterpart was a victim of an orchestrated political witch-hunt due to the crucial role he played in championing the cause of his people.
Going down memory lane, he recalled how the late Alamieyeseigha transformed backward Bayelsa through massive social, infrastructural and human capital development, especially by sponsoring indigenes abroad on educational scholarships, while also addressing unemployment, poverty, neglect and degradation of the region’s ecosystem through oil pollution.
Ibori, who saluted Alamieyeseigha for his astute and visionary leadership, sacrifice and commitment to the growth and welfare of the Niger Delta region and its people, called to mind the role played by the late Ijaw leader in fostering peace and unity among the disparate ethnic groups in the region, especially between the Ijaw and Itsekiri in Delta.
He noted that Alamieyeseigha’s unwavering love and the charismatic leadership he gave Niger Delta endeared him to the people, who demonstrated their loyalty and solidarity to stand by him during his alleged persecution and trial on corruption charges.
The former Delta helmsman alleged that the man fondly called “Governor General was persecuted and ‘murdered’ due to his stout and principled opposition and challenge of a burgeoning dictatorship, single tenure agenda, imposition of emergency rule in Plateau State and Federal Government’s political manipulation and interference in the troubled Niger Delta.
He regretted, however, that the former governor, with whom, he suffered similar ordeal, experienced double jeopardy and loss by submitting to blackmail to plead guilty that led to his being jailed and also dying from the ignominy of not being able to prove his innocence.
“Even as I mourn, I find comfort in the love, admiration, reverence and even veneration that have gushed out for you from all parts of Bayelsa, the entire Ijaw nation, and beyond, despite the political persecution and orchestrated disinformation that culminated in the public hysteria against you,” Ibori wrote.
The tribute continued: “You rose like a phoenix from the ashes of political discontent and discord to bestride Bayelsa’s politics like a colossus. Your people’s love for you was displayed on your return from London in November 2005. The entire state was agog with joy, not because every Bayelsan agreed with your politics, but because most Bayelsans believed your travails were triggered by your commitment to their cause.
“Naturally, you had your ardent supporters as well as adversaries; yet, you rode into Yenegoa triumphantly like the biblical Jesus entering Jerusalem. That was a memorable day in Bayelsa’s history. Your enraged traducers sent a heavy deployment of troops to Government House, Yenegoa on a “kidnap or kill mission”. The rest is now history. How can we ever forget that part of our national history?… DSP, the Ijaws and Niger Deltans salute you. We will honour you forever because we affirm you as our true leader who became a victim of political ‘witch-hunt.’