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Nigeria Police Force, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who, until last Friday the Acting Governor of Bayelsa State, was yesterday sworn in as the substantive governor of the oil and gas rich state.
Jonathan Sworn-in, Says Alamieyeseigha's Tragedy was Avoidable
From John Iwori in Yenagoa, 12.12.2005
Amidst heavy security led by soldiers and the Bomb Disposal Unit of the Nigeria Police Force, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who, until last Friday the Acting Governor of Bayelsa State, was yesterday sworn in as the substantive governor of the oil and gas rich state.
Speaking at the occasion, the new governor lauded the people of the state for their various roles in the circumstances the state found itself in the last three months.
He said: “Today marks a turning point in the history of our state. Needless to say this solemn but historic ceremony comes with a cloud of mixed feelings, which we need to dispel”.
According to him, “For three months, this avoidable episode in the life of Bayelsa State was the subject of daily discourse in the media. The integrity of the people of Bayelsa State, and indeed the entire Ijaw race was put to test”.
Jonathan maintained that there was a need for the people to redeem the state’s image and regain what he called “our pride as an enviable state in the comity of states”.
He said that three core areas would form the new policy thrust of his administration, which he tagged “a Government of Regeneration”.
Singling out poverty reduction a major plank of his policy, he stated, in the course of my tenure as Deputy Governor, especially in the recent past, one disturbing reality that I could not shove aside was the growing level of poverty in the state. Whenever I got to my office and saw people who are healthy and yet cannot make ends meet, I was saddened. My priority, therefore, will be to endeavour to reduce the poverty rate, and ultimately provide fertile grounds for wealth creation in the state.
“A major hallmark of our goals for growth and development will be to do all we can to improve the status of Yenagoa, the state capital, as well as other parts of the state, with an emphasis on infrastructure maximisation especially with regard to roads, potable water and electricity supply.
“To further improve the quality of life of our people, we shall attract investors and well-meaning agencies to assist in the development of the state. To achieve this, we shall consciously cultivate the confidence of the Federal Government, multi-national corporations as well as the oil companies.
“My approach to achieving this target will be clearly outlined in my 2006 budget presentation to the Bayelsa State House of Assembly”.
He praised the State House of Assembly and the Federal Government for providing adequate security in the state and for resisting the temptation to declare a state of emergency.
Continuing, Jonathan said, “Let me use this opportunity to restate my belief that Bayelsa State belongs to all of us. Having been formally sworn in to serve as the Executive Governor for the next 15 months, my reading of the situation is that I now bear a mandate as the number one messenger whose singular duty is to carry out the directives of our fathers, leaders and the good people of Bayelsa State.
“To serve and serve selflessly, is a great assignment. I crave your support and co-operation, therefore, to enable this government meet the expectations of our people.
“We can achieve much if we are united in service. Unity is the only instrument that will put the state on an even keel for poverty reduction, human and infrastructural development.
“Believing as I do that the state belongs to all of us, I shall not discriminate. I enjoin us all to come together, so that we can collectively develop our land in the interest of future generations.
“Mr. Speaker, my Lord the Chief Judge, our royal fathers, elders, opinion leaders, my brothers and sisters, I thank you once again for your great show of solidarity. My commitment to the development of Bayelsa State is total.
“In the course of the week, I shall address you in detail on our line of thinking as a government. In the mean time, rest assured that Goodluck Jonathan would rather fail himself than betray the trust and confidence you have reposed in him.”
Dignitaries from all walks of life, including royal fathers, stalwarts of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), members of the National Assembly from the state, members of the State House of Assembly and the former deputy governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Mr. Christopher Ekpenyong, graced the occasion.
Commissioners, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants and other close aides of the former governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyesegha, were also present.
However, the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Timi Alaibe, was conspicuously absent, although most of his loyalists and supporters were present.
As part of the security measures, the swearing-in ceremony took place at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa. Swearing-in ceremonies in the past, particularly May 29, 1999 and May 29, 2003 took place at the more spacious main bowl of the State Sports Complex, Ovom, the heart of the state capital, Yenagoa.
The oath of office was administered on Jonathan by the State Chief Judge, Justice Emmanuel Joel Igoniwari.
Meanwhile, the British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr. Richard Gozney, yesterday in Kano said that the High Commission was closely working with the nation’s Accountant General office, as well as other foreign agencies, with a view to getting back money laundered by the impeached governor of Bayelsa state.
He, however, stated that both the Nigerian and British governments were handling the matter with utmost care as any slip could derail the court proceeding in London when the former governor is eventually extradited to England.
Fielding questions from newsmen shortly after paying a courtesy call to Kano state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, Gozney said the impeachment of Alamieyeseigha has provided an opportunity for the British government to continue with the court proceeding against him.
“We are working closely with the Accountant General office and the foreign office to see if we can use this as an opportunity to get the process in London back on the rail. But it has to be done properly through judicial process here and then in London, then we may be able to continue with that process in Britain interrupted when he jumped bail and ran away,” he said.
Speaking further, the envoy pointed out that “what we all want to see is a judicial process. The man has been charged, he is the one to go to court, we want see that continue that is our focus.
“As we are working closely on this subject, we ‘ve got to do it the right way otherwise if we do it the wrong way it will derail the court process in London.”
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