Alamieyeseigha, Asari-Dokubo and the Ijaw Narrative

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

The planned or ongoing showdown against the federal government within the Niger Delta is totally uncalled for. It is true that we the Ijaws have legitimate grievances against government and against the oil companies. We suffer unspeakable environmental degradation, which affects our health and our ability to make a decent living from our lands and waterways. Modern infrastructures and political goods and services are negligible — in spite of what the Ijaws give to the Nigerian State.

Politically, the vast majorities of the Ijaws feel that they were forced into the Nigerian nation-state by the colonial authority; and also that the Nigerian government did not keep to the promises she made to our post-independence leaders to look after the interest of the Ijaws. And so the Ijaws want to get out of this one-sided alliance. This is part of what gave rise to Isaac Boro and like-minded Nigerians of Ijaw extraction.

However, it is also true that the Ijaw elites have, in the last three decades or so, done more harm to the Ijaw cause than either the federal government or the oil companies. These leaders failed to properly articulate our grievances and dreams; they failed to properly give our collective aspirations the impetus it deserved and also failed to provide visionary leadership. Accountability and transparency is alien to most members of this group — a group Governor Alamieyeseigha has been a part of for ages!

Alamieyeseigha dug the hole he currently finds himself in. The perception, whether real or not, is that he misappropriated funds. That he abused his power. That he engaged in all manner of illegalities to the detriment of the well being of the Ijaw nation. The Diaspora Ijaws are even taken aback by his supposed excesses and gluttony. In a state where the vast majorities of the people live in abject poverty or in the margins, he is said to live ostentatiously in his palatial homes; he junkets the globe, sends his children to schools in the US and the UK. How could he afford all these with his official salary, they wonder?

Now, he has the chance to tell the truth: to tell the court — especially the British and the Nigerian court and the Ijaw public — how he, Alamieyeseigha came about his wealth and to declare that he is not a thief and a money launderer as is being alleged.

Although President Obasanjo has his failures and shortcomings, he did not encourage or force anyone to engage in shady financial deals. To say that Alamieyeseigha is in trouble because of the ongoing political fiasco between Obasanjo and Atiku or that his predicament is as a result of his stance vis-à-vis the resource control matter is also a figment of people’s imagination.

Whatever wrong Alamieyeseigha may have committed, he committed because of the manner of man he is. For the Ijaws to now blame the federal government for his alleged transgression is preposterous.

After six or so years in office, he has nothing to show for all the money that has been allocated to the state. Where are the roads and schools and hospitals and industries and things like that? Because of his failures and shortcomings, the vast majorities of our people are suffering and continue to suffer!

In the case of Alhaji Asari-Dokubo, the government adjudged some of his actions and utterances inimical to public safety and public health. If Asari-Dokubo thinks otherwise, well, the courts are there to listen to him. Or, are the Ijaw youth and their supporters saying Asari-Dokubo is above the law? It is the duty and responsibility of the federal government to see to it that law and order reign and rein supreme in the country. There can be no sacred cows. It is within the government’s right to invite citizens for interviews or interrogation (when there is reasonable suspicion of criminality).

Our contentious relationship with the government aside, this time around, we the Ijaws have no grounds for protesting the government’s actions. What we have are a group of boys and girls who are being manipulated by some sections of the elite. It is this same group of elites that encouraged the formation of gangs and cults; and also encourage the weak and the feeble to engage in criminal activities like gun running and other forms of smuggling.

If the federal government brings to bear her instrument of power, it is not the elites and their children who will suffer. It is the common man who will bear the brunt of the elite’s irresponsibility and criminal orchestrations. The children of the elites are safely ensconced in London, Paris, Berlin, Canberra, Ottawa and Washington DC and elsewhere.

The Ijaws as a group do not have a dog in this fight. Alamieyeseigha should bear his own cross. And the whole world is watching what will become of Asari-Dokubo. If his rights are abridged, then, that would be another matter and a matter for Ijaws to take up collectively.

The Ijaw youths who are threatening brimstone and fire must know that they will lose their rights and perhaps their lives if they confront the federal government or engage in illegalities. Other ethnic groups within the federation will not lose sleep over their death, and neither would the international community. This is the wrong war against the wrong opponents. The youths should be “fighting” the elite — demanding accountability and transparency instead of going to war against Obasanjo and the oil companies.

Whatever sympathy the Ijaws may be garnering due to the obvious neglect of our land will dissipate once we start burning oil installations; engage in extrajudicial killings and kidnappings. The Nigerian State and the international community will think of us as terrorists. Furthermore, the environment impact of setting oil wells on fire will be costly to all sides. It will not only affect the quality of the air we breathe, it will adversely affect our waterways and farmlands and our economy.

Ijaw youths should know that criminal conducts will incur government intervention. And rightly so! Curfew and emergency rule may be imposes; the “guilty and the innocents” may be arrested and tried; and some will be maimed or killed. One should only voluntarily give up his or her life for great and noble causes. Therefore, those who are covertly nudging our youths into hooliganism should rethink their strategy. Those who

are fanning ethnic politics should rethink their approach.

I am therefore calling on Ijaw sons and daughter of goodwill, good sense and common sense to condemn the impending stupidity. We cannot and must not keep silent when our land is about to go up in smoke. We cannot fold our hands and watch from a distance while our youths engage in or threaten to engage in criminality. We cannot keep silent when we know that some of our leaders contributed to our sorrow and underdevelopment and or are involved in criminal enterprises.

If we do not speak up — to condemn, caution or counsel or act to prevent the calamity that is about to be unleashed — then history and posterity will be harsh on us and we may remain in the Nigerian wilderness for a very long time.

So, please let the laws of Nigeria and of Britain take its course. Do not burn those oil installations. Do not attack British or other nation’s oil and economic interest. Do not kill or kidnap anyone. Yes, we have a long list of grievances; but these and other issues can be solved or resolved through constitutional means. And constitutional means is what I favor because at the end of the day, we all want peace and stability and harmony and legitimacy. So, please let the laws take its course.

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anonymous December 14, 2005 - 12:35 pm

exquisitely and eloquently presented. Pin point acuracy and a recipe for moving forward if we are sincere to ourselves.

studded with wise council

Anonymous October 27, 2005 - 12:16 pm

I salute your courage and wisdom and hope these virtues will prevail in these pending calamity. Well balanced.

Olumide Ogunleye

Anonymous October 14, 2005 - 12:04 pm

Well I am very sorry i didnt complete my previous

thread.I would like to complete what i was saying about the killings in my home state(Riveres State) of

Late Chief Marshall Harry and Late Chief A.K.Dikibo

(both Ijaws and many less known individuals).When Chief Marshall Harry was killed in Abuja it was very

clear to even a blind man that it was a pure politically motivated killing and then what happened

We were informed that he was killed by armed robbers.

What was his crime he said that Nigerias resources

were being distributed to the detriment of the Ijaws

who are the rightful owners of over 85 percent of the

resources of the Nigerian state.In the case of Late Chief Dikibo what did Obasanjo say.This is the same

Dikibo that served the nation and their party with much dedication.Mr president said he was killed by

armed robbers when the police hadnt even begun investigation.Our visionary leaders are always being killed by these devilish men in Abuja who would do anything to satisfy their personal interest even if it would mean destroying every soul in Ijaw land.The

Obasanjo game plan seems to work on people like you. To make people like Alamieyeseigha to look like demons while they make themselves look like angels.The purpose of this arrest was to prove that the Niger Delta state governors were only backing the resource control war because of their selfish interests.Do yu know how much Obasanjo and his cronies have made from our oil wealth since in the seventies till this very moment.

Can you say any petroleum minister has served Nigeria better than Proffesor Tam Daid-West hjas done

during the pereiod he served Nigeria as petroleum ministerWhat did he get as reward for his outstanding performance as petroleum ministerImprisonment. Afterbeing tried with aid of some trumped up charges of corruption.His Chief Acusser Babangida was implicated by the okigbo report for diverting the 12 billion dollars gulf war oil windfall.What about Abachahis family and their assosiates.Havent they traced up to 4billion dollars to themAre you going to say these men were also IjawYou mentioned Timi Alaibe as one of the problems of Ijaw land for God sake how much is the NDDCs annual budget is it up to a percentof what the Nigerian heads of state have stolen from Ijaw landProffesor West was punished because he did not support their evil deeds.What of the loan Babangida took to buy sardines for the military.Let us leave all these Ijaw leaders you may suprised on what we would here when the drama unfolds fully.What of the 2billion naira that disappeared from our crude oil account when Obasanjo was Military Head of State

You say you are from Bayelsa state why should Kano state have 44 L.G.A.s and Bayelsa 8 L.G.A.sIs Kano

state not getting at least 98 percent of its government resources that come from Ijaw land

You also made mention of Chief Dan Etete as one of the problems Ijaw land has i think you are making a mistake our problem mainly lies on how the the elites from the three main ethnic group decided to play politics.When Proffesor West decided not to be corrupted people called him all sorts of names he was the example people used to highlight the Ijaw mans laziness now that Chief Etete has acted differently is also a problem.

What would you say about an Army officer like Danjuma who can now boldly say he is trying to sell his stake in an oil bloc for 1 billion dollars iis that not still Ijaw oil Can his military salary and pension finance thje purchase of an oil bloc.How many Ijaws have been offered oil blocs when it is even a crime for an Ijaw to work in NNPC.As i said earlier on and i still repeat on the issue of visionary leaders how do you know Ijaw land has no visionary leaders when they had no oppourtunity to prove if they are or not.From the end of the second republic in 1983 down to the beginning of the Fourth republic in 1999 the Old rivers state(including Bayelsa) was ruled by other Nigerians.If you would rermember the only short time an Ijaw man was in charge of the state was during the failed transition period of Babangida when Chief Rufus Ada-George was

governor from 1992-1993.In the case of the newly created state of Bayelsa DSP became the first Ijaw governor.That is Bayelsa what of the other five states that have Ijaws but have governors of other ethnicity would you say they are also the architects of their own woes

The last thing i would talk about is the arrest of ther two Ijaw gentlemen that have been overseeing the affairs of All states trust bank for the past few years.Why is Obasanjo locking them up When a similar thing happened to the Societe Generalle bank mainly owned by the Sarki family what did he do he bailed them out with Ijaw oil money.Iwould not be suprised if All state trust bank suffers the same fate with Jim Nwobodos Savannah bank.

I would advice you to be careful before you join the

Band wagon because most of these people are the most dangerous and potent enemies this is not to say there are no enemies within.

Anonymous October 14, 2005 - 10:04 am

It is rather unfotunate that Nigerians have decided to be short-sighted and myopic in their accessment of the Nigerian issues . Only too recently Atiku bobo's (the VP) latest wife transfered 600million dollars to a swiss account that warranted the search of Atiku's home . Nowif his wife were to pay her thite that would have been far more than the 10 million pounds you claim would have made serious changes in Ijaw land . On the other hand if Atiku were to take the same amount every year in the past 6years how much would he have embezzled . Besides the Nigerian state have become so decayed that national interestssincerityand dialoguehave been cast to the dogs . The Nigerian state endorses and encourages corruption so that while the North was paying hairdressers with oil blocks sincere Ijaws like Professor Tam David-West were being put behind bars . It is rather unfortunate that your transparency and accountabilty scale seems to be faulty . When Muritala Mohammed started purging the Nation before his unfortunate demise he declared his assets . However when Obasanjo took over the reins of government why didn't he declare his assets or if he was the political Messiah like he wants people to believe why did he have to wait towards the end of his second democratic term before declaring that his chickens lay golden eggs . Moreover we do know in the 1970s that some little minded Nigerians lost their lands to an Obasanjo scheme OFN ( Operation Feed the Nation ) which metamorphosised into OFN (Obasanjo Farms Nigeria) . Currently The president is " on the march again" to accquire land properties for his Bell University His private library and so on . Still in this year His wife Stella's son who graduated only too recently acquired a block of 6digit dollar flats in the US . How did he accquire the monies for the flats . Did he use his passport as colateral and how possible is that Besides Obasanjo told an international journalist that he had told the EFCC to carry out a clinical search and expose any shady dealings made by him . Under normal circumstances the patient is at the mercy of the doctor during clinical procedures . In the case of the EFCC and Obasanjo it is the other way round and I wonder what becomes of the search

On the other hand I really wonder if you a supposed ijaw a diaspora ijaw that have been born and bred abroad who relies heavily on TV footages and newspapper headlines for his views on ijaw maters or an ijaw by convienience thanks to the Kaiama declaration because the Kaiama declaration and the Ogoni bill of rights have led to the adoption of our identities by other Nigerians in other to achieve – economic bliss – outside the shores of our Country . Or have you become so engulfed in the praise singing that occurs here Whatever you do always remember a son will always remain in the house . God bless you .

Sabella Abidde October 13, 2005 - 12:56 pm

Please dont feel sorry for me. I dont need your sympathy. You should feel sorry for our people and our land. Because of people like Alamieyeseigha Etete and Timi Alaibe Ijawland is in shambles. The vast majority of our people live in the margin in penury. Can you imagine the positive difference 10 million British pounds would have made in terms of building schools or just three hospitals in Ijawland Alamieyeseighas children are in schools in the US and the UK while our youths attend crappy schools in filthy environment. Our thieving-greedy-money laundering governor and his cronies are busy siphoning the public treasury and you are feeling sorry for me Ole boy dont blame me dont blame Obasanjo; and please feel sorry for yourself ooo as me and you no dey for the same boat.

Anonymous October 13, 2005 - 12:34 pm

Those of you making comments about Chief Alamieyeseigha and Asari-Dokubo have you paused for a moment to think of the damage past leaders have done to Nigeria (Ijawland in particular)since independence.Wasnt it in Babangidas regime we started getting 3derivation that was still perfectly controlled by the military junta.I am an Ijaw man from rivers state and i would use my state as an example.You people accused our leaders from being very ineffective and this is very far from the truth.From 1983 when Shagari was overthrown till 1999 when the civilian government of Obasanjo took over only one rivers man ruled the state and that was during the failed transition period Babangida set up.The then rivers state governor ruled for less than one year and six months.I want to tell all those people antagonizing and demonizing the Ijaw People they should countinue.I feel sorry for people like Sabella Abidde because the killers of our fathers the killers of our brothers are the ones potraying themselves as people who want to clear Ijawland of demons.Where was Obasanjo when we the Ijaws in river state were crying for our sons that were killedespecially Chief Marshall Harry and C

Anonymous October 8, 2005 - 8:05 am

Itis really interesting to know that there is one learned person or group of persons that reason intelligently and has value for life.most of the Ijaw youths need to read this articlemay be they wil have reason to allow justice to take its course on this case.The day of reconing has come.

Goddy October 7, 2005 - 12:18 pm

Good talk!

And by the way instead of wasting energies on past heads of stae and presidents why is it that no one is confronting Niger-Delta leaders with necessary questions! What have the Niger-Delata leaders achieved for their people since the second republic!

They held sensitive positions such as senate leader governors ministers (including that of petroleum) local govt chairmen etc. What did they do for their people!

And what about the money-spinning OMPADEC! Why is no one talking about all those Niger-Delta chairmen and executives who were in charge of the so-called developing agency where biliions of Naira was allocated!

From the days of IBB all these privileged individuals got rich built mansions in Lagos rode exotic cars and sent their kids to foreign schools……all at the expense of the poor people of Niger-Delta.

What is more…..these individuals did not build houses in Niger-Delta. They did not invest their ill-gotten wealth in Niger-Delta. They did not send their kids to Niger-Delta schools. And they guess what they don't have a stake or anything to lose in Niger-Delta!

Asari-Dokubo can burn down the whole of Niger-Delta the corruptly rich privileged Niger-Delta leaders have nothing to lose except the poor Niger-Deltans!


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