by Oke Epia
The above quote is excerpted from a statement by James Onanefe Ibori, the jailbird former governor of Delta state on the death of his chummy buddy and former colleague in office, Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha who died about a week ago. Many would be quick to dismiss Ibori’s summation as that of an aching mind mourning the fate of a comrade in crime. But that poignant sentence speaks to the conscience of Nigeria.
It pours salt on the open wound of our contorted national psyche. If we look beyond the messenger and behold the message then we may well retain the redeeming hope that Nigeria’s case is not a lost one. But to dismiss the message because the bearer is someone we love to hate is simply tantamount to living in continued self denial the consequence of which is an inevitable plunge down the precipice. This is an eternal lesson the passage of Alamieyeseigha offers the country. We can conveniently forget all the half-hearted tributes that have been poured on him but Nigeria’s woes will only worsen if we sidestep the ultimate opportunity of national moral reawakening his travails and eventual death presents.
This is because a nation without morals is one in the deep morass of directionlessness. And it is no surprise that Nigeria has wandered endlessly in the wilderness of denial, deceit and conceit contrived by a conscious-seared elite. And make no mistake about it, the story of DSP Alamieyeseigha is partly the story of elite conspiracy- a tale of dog eat dog in the brutal jungle of might is right. Not everyone will agree with my submission but only those, I repeat, only those who crafted, perpetuate and benefit from the faulty foundations of the country will disagree that Alamieyeseigha’s persecution packaged as prosecution is a function of the selective justice that is the bane of the country.
And this selective justice is oiled and sustained by regular doses of selective amnesia dished out by the media on the orchestration of course, of the superintendent wing of the elite class.
Alamieyeseigha was conquered and has finally submitted to eternal immortality but let no one glory in the story of his travails in public office. Because like we have seen again and again in this country, many of those who were once entrusted with public trust fell short of the moral compass. And this includes those who threw darts at him from the oozing cocoons of their corrupt edifice. But no matter how long it takes and no matter how far it strays, the chicken will always come home to roost.
It is a national shame however you look at it that it is a James Ibori that has from the confines of his UK prison walls gone beyond the sophistry of boring condolence statements to prick our national conscience with the sharp needle of Alamieyeseigha’s demise. Yes Ibori is serving prison term in London but there are many members of his class who are held hostage in taller prison walls built by their conscience. They are the ones who look in the mirror and deep down in their optical channels know that the image they see (and present to the gullible public) is not really theirs. They are the ones who entered public poor without a penny but exited richer than the mind can imagine.
They are those who go to court to secure perpetual injunctions against lawful inquisition into their ill-gotten wealth. They are those who hide under the cover of political persecution to ward off legal prosecution. They are the ones who bought their liberty with part of the loot they stashed while in service. They are the ones who challenge their opponents to go to court over fraud allegations on them but freely convict same individuals when the reverse is the case.
They are the ones who get rewarded with fresh political appointments for ‘working for the victory of the party’ notwithstanding legal investigations into their past stewardship. They are the ones who pontificate as nationalist patriots but balk at attempts to question their misdeeds in office. They parade the corridors of power and peddle authority and influence secured through false pretences. Alamieyeseigha may not be hero to many beyond his Ijaw nation but I argue vehemently that some of those who present themselves as heroes are actually the villains of Nigeria’s progress.
Alamieyeseigha was toppled from office as governor of Bayelsa State in very shameful circumstances. His fall from grace began in September 2005 with his arrest at Heathrow airport by the Metropolitan police on charges of money laundering. Events swirled swiftly thereafter to culminate in his removal from office following impeachment by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
He was subsequently arraigned in court for corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) where he pleaded guilty in a plea bargain deal which included return of some his loot traced to safe havens both at home and abroad. Alamieyeseigha’s trajectory was a celebrated story sensationalized by the media and lapped upon by an excited public hungry for retributive justice. Sadly however, the retributions sought by the public was no more than the fleeting orgasmic type which only relieves the momentary craving of the nympho but builds up momentum for the next laying.
That is why the nation never bothered to interrogate the narrative put out on the Alamieyeseigha saga by mainstream media and its sponsors. The sensationalism was such that any other narrative was considered haram and not worth contemplation or serious consideration even if for the sake of balance and fairness. Not even the side of the story told by Alamieyeseigha himself sold more than a few pennies. But whatever the prejudices and impressions embedded over the sorry episode, critical minds noted and indeed bookmarked the roles played by key characters as narrated by the lead character himself.
Going through the interview Alamieyeseigha granted Vanguard newspaper in its June 28, 2009 edition, the shameful ordeal of the former governor cannot be removed from the less than altruistic involvement of former president Olusegun Obasanjo and ex EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu. Both men represented and championed the cause of that section of the feuding elite which bayed for Alamieyeseigha’s blood.
Without meaning to force the counter narrative down your throat, it is hard to remove Alamieyeseigha’s travails from his political differences with Obasanjo at the time. According to the former governor, his sin was his support for then vice president Abubakar Atiku and for those who remember the life-and-death Obasanjo fought with his deputy at that time, such sin was very grievous indeed. He said in the interview that Obasanjo “had threatened me that he would demonstrate to me that he wasn’t only Mr. President but that he would show me that he was also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.”
It would be puerile to take the claims in the interview hook, line and sinker but it would be demonstration of ingrained prejudice to dismiss everything said. Importantly, it is instructive to note that neither Obasanjo nor Ribadu who were copiously mentioned in the said interview are on record to have convincingly countered Alamieyeseigha on those claims till his death.
May God continue to bless Obasanjo for his past efforts to keep Nigeria one. But may God also judge him for his roles in such elite squabbles as the one in which Alamieyeseigha got caught in. No man is without virtues but it is a vice in itself for a man to portray himself as without vice. Alamieyeseigha acknowledged his vice, suffered for it and tried to rise above it till he died. May his soul rest in peace.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.