By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
The serene riverside settlement of Kaiama, the cradle of Ijaw struggle for equity and justice within the Nigerian federation and hometown of the late Major Isaac Adaka Boro, came alive penultimate Saturday as Bayelsans from all walks of life converged on the sleepy town in solidarity with the people of Kolokuma-Opokuma clan who rolled out the drums and red carpet to honour one of their own, the former Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Timi Alaibe.
Though it is a widely held belief that the Ijaw do not know how to honour their own who have done well, the people of Kolokuma-Opokuma clan in the Bayelsa central senatorial district, who are predominantly into farming and fishing activities, abandoned their trade to show appreciation to a man they felt had done well not only to their clan but also the Niger Delta.
Explaining the rationale for the celebration, a member of the reception committee, Chief Isaac Kumokou, said it was the clan’s way of saying thank-you to a “worthy ambassador who exhibited an unparallel passion to improving the lot of his people.”
Alaibe, in concert with Godwin Omene and Onyeama Ugochukwu, kick started the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and made a difference in the Niger Delta while the Amnesty Programme also came alive under him as Special Adviser to the President Niger Delta and chairman/ CEO, Presidential Amnesty Implementation Committee, PAIC.
Kumokou said Alaibe raised the stake and shifted the paradigm by initiating and implementing projects that impacted positively on the people of the state and the Niger Delta.
Although indigenes of the area had in the past held national positions, it was Alaibe who ensured that this ancient settlement hometown of the late Ijaw freedom fighter, Boro, was connected to the national grid after nearly three decades of agitation as the Managing Director of the NDDC.
He also initiated the implementation of the Kaiama shore protection and erosion control project when the community was almost being washed away by River Nun as well as several other projects in different parts of the state and the region.
Aside contributing to the human capacity development in the state and the Niger Delta, Alaibe is believed to have sacrificed his political ambition and work in the collective interest of the state.
In his speech, Governor Seriake Dickson, who led other government functionaries to the occasion, said most people know him for what he symbolizes in the politics of Bayelsa, adding that the former NDDC boss the erstwhile presidential adviser had a passion for the welfare of his people.
Dickson enjoined other local governments in the state to emulate the idea of Kolokuma-Opokuma local government by honoring their distinguished sons and daughters for hard work and goodness.
According to him, the time for unnecessary divisions and bickering was over, as government was ready to develop the state in a peaceful atmosphere.
He promised that the state government would give a facelift to the Kaiama Grammar School building, where Alaibe and other notable Ijaws had their secondary education and also build a General Hospital in the town.
Perhaps, Dickson was using the opportunity to send a clear message to nay sayers who have engaged in propaganda about the need to look at Alaibe’s past. The panel set up to look into the activities of the NDDC submitted its report and Alaibe’s tenure as NDDC boss was unblemished. Also, it is on record that Alaibe’s good nature and selfless devotion to the emancipation and development of Bayelsa State is acknowledged by leaders in the state.
An overwhelmed Alaibe, while reacting to the encomium poured on him, extolled the virtues of ex- President Olusegun Obasanjo for setting up the NDDC to alleviate the plight of the people of the Niger Delta and for giving him the opportunity to serve the region. He added that he and his subordinates worked as a team in the commission as he drew his philosophy and inspiration from Boro.
The former presidential adviser also lauded the late President Umaru Yar’Adua for initiating the amnesty programme for ex-militants in the Niger Delta and President Goodluck Jonathan for sustaining the programme.
On the state of affairs in Bayelsa, he said, “Our vision is clear on the development of the state. We are noticing a clear paradigm shift. Dickson’s administration is changing the rot inherited from the previous administration in the state.”
He expressed appreciation to his people for the honour done him and called on the state government to pursue vigorously its restoration agenda in developing the state.
Highlight of the occasion was the representation of souvenir of tiger, eagle and staff to Alaibe by his kinsmen in recognition of his service to the clan, Bayelsa and the Niger Delta.
The occasion was attended by an array of dignitaries across the state, among whom were the chairman of the NDDC Board, Dr. Tarilah Tebepah; chairman of the state Peoples Democratic Party, Col Sam Inokoba; Prof Mercy Alagoa; the monarch of Kolokuma Kingdom, King Onya Mozi-Agara; Hon Warman Ogoriba representing Yenagoa-Kolokuma-Opokuma federal constituency in the National Assembly; former Bayelsa representative on the Board of NDDC, Dr. (Mrs) Georgina Ngeweri; Chief Amalate Tebepah; captains of industry and former commissioners in the state.