By Samuel Oyadongha & Emem Idio
Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha represented a dispensation in the political history of Bayelsa State. His death, penultimate Saturday, at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, therefore, marks the end of an era.
ALAMCO, as he was fondly called, a name gotten from his governorship campaign outfit, “Alamieyeseigha Campaign Organisation”, will be remembered as the doyen of modern Ijaw struggle after Harold Dappa Priye, Major Isaac Jasper Boro, and Chief Melford Obiene Okilo.
Alamieyeseigha’s emergence as the first democratically elected governor of Bayelsa, the only homogeneous Ijaw state in 1999, three years after its creation, meant that his place has already been secured in the annals of history of Bayelsa and Ijaw nation.
It was Alamieyeseigha that laid the foundation of the new Bayelsa State with Yenagoa as the capital almost from the scratch as Yenagoa was only a glorified local government headquarters with non infrastructure befitting for a state capital.
It was with such burden and high expectation that Alamieyeseigha assumed office as governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Alamieyeseigha, as a man of the people, knew where the shoe was pinching. He treated the development of the young state as an emergency. Before he was caught up in the web of high level political intrigues, which eventually led to his ouster from office in 2005, he had laid a solid foundation for the young state.
He constructed an ultra modern secretariat complex, established the state owned Niger Delta University, NDU, linked the riverside Amassoma community, which hosts the NDU with a road, expanded the narrow Mbiama-Yenagoa Road, which bifurcates Yenagoa, to a dual carriage road, started the 500-bed hospital project, which is yet to be completed, sent many young Bayelsans on scholarship abroad to meet the manpower needs of the young state, among others.
Also to solve housing challenges, he reclaimed a vast swathe of marshy land at the Opolo suburb to build a befitting estate for Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries. And for the other cadre of the civil service, he built the Azikoro Housing Estate to cater for many of them shuttling between Yenagoa and Port Harcourt due to accommodation problem in the young state.
Perhaps, it won’t be wrong to say that no other Ijaw politician commands the kind of wide acceptance and popularity across the Ijaw nation like Alamieyeseigha.
The former governor was a charismatic leader; he commanded great followership. He was loved and admired by his people. As Bayelsa chief helmsman, Alamieyeseigha was humane and ran a welfarist government with particular emphasis on poverty alleviation and empowerment. Ironically, his welfare policies and generosity were misconstrued for profligacy.
His personality exudes confidence of a great leader. Even in his trying times, Alamieyeseigha was always cheerful and beaming with smiles.
His humility and undying love for his people was exhibited on several occasions when he ventured, at the risk to his life, to secure the release of foreign oil workers taken hostage on high seas by aggrieved Ijaw youths. After his incarceration, he forgave those who were used to fight against him and became a unifying force among Ijaw political elites.
As a loyal party man, despite the travails that befell him, he continued to mobilize support for the PDP till death.
Sadness, tears in Alamieyeseigha’s home town
Things have not been the same at Amassoma, the home town of the former governor, and the entire Ijaw nation since Alamieyeseigha passed on.
Sunday Vanguard visit to Amassoma showed a mourning community. The town was a shadow of itself.
The expansive compound of the deceased was quiet, devoid of activities except for family members seen coming in and going out.
At the time of this report, the wife of the deceased, Mrs. Margaret Alamieyeseigha, and children, were still residing at their home in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The security guard at the country home said nobody was around and that all the family members of his boss were in Port Harcourt. “You cannot go in because there is nobody in the compound. Madam and others are in Port Harcourt. Oga died there”, the guard stated.
At the home of Alamieyeseigha’s step mother, children were seen playing while the step-mother and other elderly women sighted declined to speak.
‘Alamieyeseigha was like a god’
Indigenes of the community were shocked by the news of the death of the man whom they see as a god due to his immense contribution to its development. The paramount ruler of the community, Chief Sharp Sogo, said, “When the sad news filtered into this community, everybody was not happy. Boys, girls, men and women cried. He was one of the best leaders we had in this community. He was like a father and grandfather to everybody.”
He said Alamieyeseigha had his last outing in the community when he came home with his political associates to strategise for the December 5 governorship election.
According to him, the former governor was a rallying point and a voice for the PDP which relied on him to win the election. “We can’t count the values he added to this community. They are too numerous to mention. Without him, there couldn’t have been Amassoma. He brought the university and constructed all the roads. Everybody took him like a god.”
The paramount ruler said Alamieyeseigha died without fulfilling some of the promises he made to the community, “It was obvious he was not through with the community yet. He promised that a shore protection project would be completed and many other things would be done to further develop Amassoma. We will greatly miss him,” he said.
“For many of us in Amassoma, he was like a God. We will indeed miss him. We pray that God Almighty will give his soul eternal peace.”
The monarch said Alamieyeseigha was hale and hearty a couple of weeks ago when he came to the community with his political associates with regard to the upcoming governorship election. He said they did not have any inkling that the man they saw bubbling with life could die just like that.
Sogo added, “He affected many lives in the community positively that the gap created by his exit will be difficult to fill. Without him, Amassoma would have been desolate. To everybody in the community, Alamieyeseigha’s death has dealt a devastating blow to them. He had promised when he came last time that he and his political friends were coming this week. We have been waiting for them anxiously, now we have received the saddest news of all time. We are in real pain and anguish.”
I am devastated—Alamieyeseigha’s nephew
Chief Yeritimi Femo, a nephew of the deceased, obviously still in shock, said,”I was devastated when I got the information that my uncle was dead. I was more devastated because I did not hear he was sick before getting the information that he died. He was everything to us. Up till now, I have yet to come to terms that he has died.”
Another nephew, Mike Femo, said the Alamieyeseighas had lost a good father, brother, husband and grandfather.
Friends and associates of the deceased have also continued to express shock over his death.
It is a big blow to Ijaw People—Bayelsa Elders Council
Lamenting the sad development, the Bayelsa Elders Council, BEC, through its Publicity Secretary, Chief Thompson Okorotie, said, “We are deeply pained at this irreparable loss of a patriot, defender of the oppressed, the champion of resource control, crusader of the deprivation principle, the pioneer democratically elected governor of Bayelsa state.
“While we are still stunned by this devastating development, we remember this great Ijaw son who in his tenure as the governor of Bayelsa did so much in the education sector. He established the state owned Niger Delta University, granted massive scholarship to Bayelsans amongst other achievements.”
Alamieyeseigha, the Bayelsa Elders Council said, laid a solid foundation for the political and socio-economic development of Bayelsa, which succeeding governors have built upon.
Meanwhile, Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson has announced the setting up of a committee to plan for the burial of Alamieyeseigha.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said Dickson constituted the committee at an enlarged emergency State Executive Council meeting in Government House, Yenagoa.
The governor promised that Alamieyeseigha will be given state burial.
The committee has the state deputy governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, (retd), as the Chairman.
Other members include the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kombowei Benson (Vice Chairman), and Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Edmund Alison-Oguru (Secretary).