My dear good people of Bayelsa State, I have cause to formally come before you today to thank you for the overwhelming reception you accorded me on my arrival a few days ago from London, where I had been held against my will on charges of money laundering.
I assure you that I have been a pawn in an elaborate power game staged in a foreign land. I have been used as the guinea pig in an awful experiment that goes to confirm how far political vendetta can go when you fight a minority cause.
The responsibility of leadership is to strive to meet the expectations of the people. I have always exercised the generous goodwill I harbour for my land and people. I have the potential to do much more.
Fellow Bayelsans, my story is a familiar one now. I have reportedly been under investigation since March this year. On September 15, as fate would have it, I was intercepted in London aboard a British Airways flight on my way from Germany where I underwent surgery.
I was humiliated in the most unexpected manner, and put behind bars. The Metropolitan Police imposed illegal bail conditions on me. I challenged the bail conditions. The judge ordered that I be allowed to exercise my freedom.
As I stepped out of the court, however, I was hurriedly re-arrested Nigerian-style. I was slammed with a three-count charge of money laundering. This provided the excuse that the court needed to place me under custody. From that time on, the police applied for one extension after another to keep me away from the warm embrace of justice.
Let it be on record that I have a high regard for the British judiciary. In the past thirty years, I had been a regular visitor to Britain, and at no point had I fallen foul of the legal system.
The repeated extension had begun to raise questions as to whether the British Metropolitan Police had not played into a wider political plot back home, the focus of which was to remove me from office by way of impeachment.
Today, I am glad to be back home. I dare say that I am being persecuted on account of the convictions I have continued to promote about the need for justice, equity and fair play in our nation. I take it all in good faith.
This is the land of my birth, and I am back here in one piece because God took an interest in the matter, and God will continue to intervene in this case until His will is perfected. The bible tells us in the book of Romans 8:28 that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose."
My good people of Bayelsa State, I appreciate the emotional agony you felt in my absence, and the spiritual support you gave through prayers and fasting in the course of my incarceration. Indeed I am grateful for what you accomplished on my behalf, individually and collectively, in kind and in deed, while I was away.
I am gratified by the role played by every government official, traditional rulers as well as women and youth groups, to keep the state together. In particular, I have cause to thank His Excellency, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, for his loyalty, for soliciting my cause before the powers that be, for rallying our people together, and for holding the forte for me.
I have cause to appeal to you today because, six years ago, you voted me into office. You gave me the mandate to serve. On the strength of my performance and, going by your better judgment, that mandate was renewed for another four years through your votes as expressed in the 2003 General Elections.
I consider that mandate to be sacred and sovereign. I will continue to defend it. Indeed I have every reason to be accountable to you.
Fellow Bayelsans, you know where we were six years ago. You know how far we have come. Among the states created alongside Bayelsa, we are arguably the fastest growing in terms of infrastructural development. Our profile has continued to be on the rise. That is because, as a government, we have been steadfast in pursuing our manifesto of growth and development.
Any critical observer who is not economical with the truth will testify that Bayelsa State is not what it was six years ago. For instance, Yenagoa our capital city has been rapidly transformed from a village setting to a fast growing modern cosmopolis.
Our achievements in virtually all sub-sectors of the state economy are clear indications of our undying resolve to improve the lot of our citizens. The numerous awards and prizes conferred on us by government and non-governmental organizations from within and outside the country testify to the giant strides of progress we have taken as a state.
I address you today on account of recent unfortunate developments in our polity. Never in the history of this nation has it been said that the Federal Government would so willfully deny a serving Governor his identity, and work spiritedly against his return to his homeland.
Our detractors have indeed given us a bad name in a bid to take the wind out of the sail of our just demand for resource control and true federalism.
We have been castigated, but we have a duty to exonerate ourselves and live up to our reputation as a peaceful and law-abiding people. The least we can do is to remain on the path of sanity and rectitude.
Be reminded that the modest triumph and pride I brought to the Ijaw nation in the recent past was won on behalf of all our people. That is why the persecution I suffer today amounts to the persecution of all Bayelsans and the Ijaw nation.
The battle is not simply against Alamieyeseigha. It is against every Ijaw man, woman and child. It is a calculated attempt to discredit all we have achieved so far as a people.
But we must not relent. Our detractors are treading a well-beaten path, believing as always that the only way to silence the agitation of our people for a fair deal in the Nigerian federation is to haunt and hound the minority leadership.
Remember that I am not the only son of the soil who has suffered this kind of fate. The enemies of Ijaw land have repeatedly done everything they can to bring prominent sons and daughters of the Ijaw nation to an inglorious end.
The fate I am suffering today is what befell our revered leaders, both past and present. We should recall what happened to Isaac Boro. We should askourselves why Pere Ajuwa, Zebulon Abule, Dan Etete, Ebitimi Banigo, etc were persecuted and their hard earned properties seized.
The simple truth is that they are proud Ijaw leaders who stand up for their own. It all goes to underscore the need for all well-meaning Ijaw leaders to compel the support of our people.
Unfortunately, our own people always provide the weapon for the enemy. Only yesterday, some youths took to the streets of Yenagoa, carrying placards against my person. Given the tumultuous welcome I received only a day before, it is clear to any discerning mind that the agents of destabilization are at work.
As I speak to you, Mr Stephen Enamamu, the Account General of Bayelsa State, is in a prison cell in Abuja, and an invitation has been extended to Mr Solomon Apreala, Commissioner of Finance, to join him.
All this is being done to deny Bayelsa State of the federal allocation, and bring the affairs of the state to a halt in order to bring pressure on the House of Assembly to hasten my removal.
I dare say that the new face of democracy in Nigeria today is one defined by coercion and intimidation. We have clearly entered a new season of aggression and half-truths.
Today, contrary to democratic practice as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, there is an unconstitutional intervention in the affairs of Bayelsa State by the Federal Government and her agents, especially the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), to rubbish the state and bring her leadership to disrepute.
Nothing explains this better than the fact that members of the state House of Assembly were invited to Lagos by the EFCC under the pretext of investigating their constituency project allocations.
Instead, they were compelled to endorse my impeachment from office in the full glare of the camera, and made to address a press conference orchestrating my notice of impeachment.
As I speak to you, the said notice of impeachment has not been served on me, in spite of what is being repeated in the media. The legislators involved in this show of shame have tendered the excuse that they are obliged to make the pronouncement in Lagos, because Bayelsa is unsafe for them.
Every discerning Bayelsan and the security agencies themselves will acknowledge that this is far from the truth.
Indeed there is a plot to convey the said legislators to Yenagoa under tight security, and have them summarily announce my impeachment against all due process.
To say the least, this is not in the best interest of democracy. Neither is it in our national interest. It is simply scandalous and unacceptable.
I also have it on good authority that a phoney letter of resignation purportedly signed by me is about to be given wide publicity. It is a mark of just how desperate my detractors want to hound me out of office. Let me state categorically that I have not resigned, and until I see good reason to do so, I remain the chief executive of Bayelsa State.
Needless to say, Bayelsa State is peaceful, and everyone is going about their business without molestation. At any rate, all of this adds up to my suspicion that there is a grand plan by the Federal Government to induce unrest in Bayelsa to give room for the declaration of a state of emergency.
Bayelsans and indeed all Ijaws have come a long way to assert our pride as a people. Too much blood has been shed in the past to make us tow a line of least resistance in order to keep our people in perpetual servitude.
We have paid an enormous price for peace. We should not allow our enemies to take it away.
My dear citizens of Bayelsa State, there is no doubt that we are passing through a trying period in our existence as a state. I enjoin you to remain vigilant, peaceful and law-abiding and go about your normal duties without fear or favour.
Even as I speak to you, I have it on good authority that there is a plan to assassinate or kidnap me. As a prelude to that plan, my official security is already being withdrawn. This is a repeat of the Anambra scenario. It is bound to fail.
I urge you to pray without ceasing in the belief that, in the fullness of time, the Almighty God will bring this drama of desperation to a close.
May God continue to bless the land and people of Bayelsa State and guide us safely to our assured point of fulfilment.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Long live the land and people of Bayelsa State
Thank you for your kind attention.
AMEN - AND GOODBYE.
Thursday 24th November, 2005