I am alarmed that Alams is dead. I am alarmed that Alams died at 62. I alarmed that Alams could die. I am alarmed that Alams’ vault of stolen silver and gold could not buy him immortality!
Dieprye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha dead? The one and only Governor-General of the Ijaw Nation. First governor of Bayelsa State. The man who recruited the anonymous quantity that rose from being his deputy to the being the President of Nigeria. The man Goodluck Jonathan called ‘’my boss’’.
Alams reportedly took ill in his hometown, Ammasoma of Southern Ijaw Local Government Council, Bayelsa state. He was rushed to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital in Port Harcourt, Rivers State: Where he died.
One wishes it was possible to authenticate Alams’ death, lest an entire nation falls for a scam obituary. Because the rumored dead had proved he was capable of pulling make-believe stunts. Feigning death might well be another desperate gimmick to evade justice.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Pocock, had only last week indicated that the United Kingdom has sent a formal request to the Federal Government of Nigeria for the extradition of Alams to the UK.
Then Governor Alamieyeseigha jumped bail in December 2005. He was detained in London for money laundering in September 2005. At the time of his arrest, Metropolitan police found 1 million pounds cash packed in his London home. Further checks revealed he had salted away a total of 1.8 million in cash and bank account deposits across UK.
Alams creamed the money off the collective purse of Bayelsa people. And then went halfway around the world to hide it.
Alams escaped trial by cross-dressing and smuggling himself into a Nigeria-bound airplane.
Upon his re-appearance in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State House of Assembly impeached him. Stripped of immunity, EFCC charged him for sapping the treasury of Bayelsa State.
Alams pleaded guilty to six charges of fraud and money laundering on July 26, 2007. He was handed a two year prison term for each charge, with all the charges running concurrently. But he was released the next day due to the time he had already served.
On June 28, 2012, the US Department of Justice announced it had executed an asset forfeiture order on $ 401, 931 in a Massachusetts brokerage fund linked to Alams.
But on March 12, 2013, Alam’s protégé, President Goodluck Jonathan, granted the master plunderer pardon.
The revival of British interest in Alams trial could have forced him to try another evasion gimmick. This could be the escapologist showing his paces again. And that’s why this is an obituary that needs verification.
However, when it is confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that Alams has truly died, predictable things will start to happen.
One is that there will be ceaseless invocation of a certain blackmail of African superstition that purports to ban speaking ill of the dead. This is a time to mourn, not a time to critique. In mourning, edit the crimes of the dead man and fictionalize him as nicer than the life he led.
As people conform to the stricture of reverential referencing and remembering of the character of the dead, some posthumous plastic surgery will inevitably happen. Alams, the thief will metamorphose and become unrecognizable. And Alams, the saintly leader, will emerge and dominate.
The remains of Alams will not be covered with dust. It will be covered with roses of flattery. The priest who will preach at his funeral will race against time to exhaust the list of the virtues of Alams.
But if the preacher would not milk an opportunity to ingratiate himself with Alams’ political associates, he would preach an apt sermon. He will preach a message of sobriety and conviction. He will preach about the Parable of the Rich Fool.
The scriptures speak of a man who was obsessed with acquiring and hoarding worldly goods. His farms prospered, his barns burst with yield. But he would share his wealth with nobody.
In a certain season, his fields flourished more than he had ever seen. He was intoxicated. He proposed to himself that he would tear down his barns, erect more capacious ones and then retire to a life of ease and bingeing.
While he was fantasizing, God interrupted him: ‘’ You fool! This very night you will have to give up your life; then who will get all these things you have kept for yourself?’’
The rich man died.
The story ends with a warning: “This is how it is with those who pile up riches for themselves…’’
Reading the account of Alams’ death, you see suicide!
Alarms had access to all the money that accrued to oil-rich Bayelsa while he governed for one and half terms. He could have taken a portion of it and built world-class hospitals across the state. He elected not to. He couldn’t even complete one tokenism of a ‘’general hospital’’ before he was sacked from office.
He never reasoned that he would someday need urgent medical attention in his village. For the sake of positive selfishness, he could have built a twenty first century grade medical facility in his ancestral home. But he was confident that his reserve of stolen money could get him medical attention abroad anytime.
Turns out Alams had miscalculated. The ailment that killed him was in hurry to accomplish his expiration. It would not even wait throughout the journey from Ammasoma in Bayelsa State to Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
Another fact that is easy to gloss over is that scores of Alams’ kinsmen and fellow villagers routinely die under the same or worse circumstances. They are not news makers but they have been dying all along because the hospital that is competent to help them in the hour of need is too far away.
Had Alams built a respectable hospital in his neighborhood, he would have saved the lives of some of his people and possibly his own.
As it stands, a succinct summary of Alams’ death should read thus: He died in a fatal confrontation with one of evidences of his squandered leadership!
Alams and his ilk are given to think that they are immune to the disaster of their failed leadership. They imagine that their loot is a shield against the realities of an environment they neglected to improve. They think only commoners will be casualties of their ravenous greed.
They are wrong. The riches of their spoil only feed them the illusion of exemption. They are still liable to falling victim of their own delinquency. They remain somewhat vulnerable to the effect of their action of stealing and their inaction of providing of basic infrastructure.
When push comes to shove, the hospitals they didn’t build can’t save them. When they try to flee to a refuge elsewhere, they can arrive too late.
It is the avarice of those bestowed with the trust of public stewardship that keeps the life expectancy of Nigerians low. It is the relentlessness of the kleptomaniacs that perpetuate conditions that foster avoidable premature deaths.
People like Alams kill citizens by robbing them. It is uncanny that he died in an experience of ordinariness –in search of the common man’s answer to deprivation.
The fact of Alams’ death casts in bold relief the futility of covetous living. When the appointed time came, he succumbed. All the money he had stashed away could not buy him an extra second of breath.
Now that he is dead, Alams reverts to poverty. He owns no more now than he did when he emerged from the birth canal, naked and wrapped in blood. He owns no house. No car. No coin. He takes nothing into the afterlife.
An apocryphal story I once heard illustrates the vanity of materialism.
A mad man strayed into the burial of a certain rich man. He came in the nick of time, just as the committal was about to be made. The half-naked lunatic drew close to the edge of the yawning six feet-deep grave, looked into the space beneath … and laughed.
He marveled at the mourners. He queried them. Wait, were you all intent on shoving this affluent fellow into a grave of such small dimension. This grave is a mockery: it’s too small to contain the rich man’s mansions, his fleet of cars, wardrobe? The dead is supposed to be interred with his collection of toys!
Alams’ death is supposed to give pause to the Nigerian political class. It should ordinarily make them abandon their prehensile gluttony. But they will likely scoff at this chance to reexamine their ways.
Alams left a tarnished name. A name that will haunt his children. A name that has imposed a burden on every bearer of the Alamieyeseigha surname. That should make him a model not to follow.
But the tribe of compulsive thieves in this land will find Alams a patron saint. They will keep drawing inspiration from his chutzpah. And they will keep robbing their people as viciously as he did –while hoping to enjoy their stolen goods among their impoverished people.
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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