Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday identified a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, as the person responsible for the political height he attained in Nigeria.
Jonathan made this known during a special thanksgiving service in his honour at the St. Peters Anglican Church, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
He said, “I will not forget to thank Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Without him, I would not have been talking about being a former president.
“At a time I was not thinking about being a commissioner in the state, he came to me and said I should run with him. That is why I am here today. So, without him, it would not have been possible to hear about Jonathan.’’
Jonathan added that Alamieyeseigha came to him to run with him as deputy-governor of Bayelsa at a time he was not thinking about being a commissioner.
“I appreciate all who make this reception a reality. My wife and I appreciate Governor Seriake Dickson, his wife, Rachael, and the people of Bayelsa State for organising this reception. Also, I appreciate our good friend, the new Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who came with the Acting National Chairman of our great party, Uche Secondus, and my brothers and sisters from Rivers.
“Let me also thank a leader and friend, the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor as well as many Christian brothers and sisters who have been praying for me, most of them I have not seen in my life. They cut across the country. Most of them never expected a bottle of coke from me because they know I will never see them, I thank all of you.
“But as you know, some people will offer prayer for you and send text message to tell you they are praying for you. They expect you to know that they are praying for you. But people who do not even want me to know they are praying for me are the people I think God really wants. I really thank them. For the Christian family, I thank all of you for your support.”
Jonathan also thanked the Chairman of Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, King Alfred Diete-Spiff and royal fathers in the state for supporting him.
“When I was the deputy governor, I supervised the council and they all saw me as their younger brother and they have related wonderfully well with me,” he stated.
The former President came to the venue in company with his wife, Patience.
The event was attended by Dickson, his wife, Rachel, Wike, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Ayim and Senator Emmanuel Paulker.
Others were former Governor of Adamawa State Boni Haruna, King Diete-Spiff, Bayelsa House of Assembly Speaker, Kombowei Benson, Secretary to State Government, Prof. Edmund Allison-Oguru and a host of his former ministers and aides.
The CAN President, Oritsejafor and Rev. Uma Ukpai, were also part of the attendees.
The church was carnival-like as its choir rendered many wonderful songs. Even the Boys’ Brigade of the church was not left out as the group thrilled the congregation with a lot of musical renditions.
Niger Delta women, dressed in colourful attire as well as some women led by Onyeka Onwuenu added glamour to the event.
In his remarks, Dickson described Jonathan as the hero of Nigeria’s democracy.
Dickson, who also described Jonathan as a true statesman, said he had entered the league of national and international statesmen.
In his short exhortation, Ukpai urged Nigerians to dedicate themselves to God, saying God is the circle of people’s lives.
He described Jonathan as a humble man, adding that only humble people know how to thank God for what He has done for them.
However, since Jonathan returned to his home state of Bayelsa, the state has become a beehive of activities.
Many activities were organised by the Bayelsa State Government and the people of the state to welcome the former President after his six years in Abuja.
At the Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, Jonathan, who claimed to be amazed at the large turnout of people, simply said he was short of words to describe his feelings.
He had said, “After six years in Abuja, I thought Bayelsa people will curse and boo me. Because you are exposed to the decisions of high office and the thought that you may not have satisfied the people, sometimes you think they will curse or boo you. But, instead, the people have decided to celebrate me.”
After the reception at the centre, it was the turn of his family and friends in Otuoke to receive him.
At Otuoke, the rustic town in Ogbia Local Government Area, Jonathan and his wife, Patience, got a heroic welcome at the Dame Patience Square.
Otuoke was agog with dignitaries from all walks of life, with residents displaying different banners with the inscriptions, ‘You are welcome back our hero’, ‘You are the hero of Nigeria’s democracy’, ‘You are a man of peace’, ‘Our ambassador of peace’ and ‘you are welcome home” among others.
The former first family also acknowledged the trekker, Oladele Nihi, and his two female counterparts, who trekked for 19 days from Abuja to Otuoke to honour Jonathan.