Immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday declared that but for the support he enjoyed from the late Ijaw leader and first civilian governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepriye Alamieyeseigha, he would not have emerged the nation’s president.
He made the declaration when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late politician at Opolo, in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital yesterday.
Assuring the Alamieyeseighas, especially the widow and children, of his continued support, Dr. Jonathan acknowledged that without the role the late Governor-General of the Ijaw nation played in his life, he would not have risen to become the President of Nigeria.
Jonathan said: “I knew Alamieyeseigha during the UNCP days, when we were working for him. I never knew I was going to be his deputy governor because that was not my interest then.
“From that time, the political evolution in the country and the state brought me to run with him
‘From 1999, we’ve been together. He always took me as his younger brother.
“Our relationship was not that of a governor and his deputy but that of an elder and a younger brother.
“Alamieyeseigha meant well for Bayelsans; stood very firmly for the Ijaw people and wanted to advance the South-South. He’s somebody we’ve collectively missed”.
The ex-president assured the Bayelsa State Government and members of the family of the late Alamieyeseigha of his commitment to the efforts geared towards giving the departed Ijaw leader a befitting state burial.
Jonathan, who is scheduled to travel to Tanzania where he is expected to spend about 12 days as leader of the Commonwealth 33-nation election observer mission in that country, promised to be fully involved in the burial arrangements, as soon as he returns to the country.
Accompanied by Governor Seriake Dickson, his deputy, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd) and other dignitaries, Jonathan said the news of Alamieyeseigha’s death came as a rude shock to him.
He maintained that the deceased leader stood firmly for Bayelsa, the Ijaw people and the South-South geo-political zone.
Highlights of the visit included the signing of the condolence register by the former president and consolatory prayers offered by the Bishop of the Royal House of Grace International Church, Bishop Peter Leghemo for the state, the Ijaw nation and the deceased’s immediate family.