Reacting to criticism that greeted the state pardon granted to the former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, by the National Council of State, the presidency on Thursday said apart from him being remorseful, the former governor has been silently playing a key role in stabilizing the volatile Niger Delta region.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe, also appealed to Nigerians and members of Civil Society Groups for open mindedness on the pardon granted Mr Alamieyeseigha.
Mr Okupe, who reminded Nigerians that Mr Alamieyeseigha was removed from office in a manner that was not being entirely above board, he said the former governor has been adequately punished for his misdemeanour and demonstrated enough soberness after he served his sentence.
“It is out of place to suggest that the pardon is tantamount to abandoning the fight against corruption in Nigeria. This is too far from the truth,” he said.
The president’s spokesman argued that after all, the former Bayelsa State Governor’s prosecution was politically motivated.
“Gentlemen of the Press will recall that former Governor DSP Alamieyeseigha was removed from office in a manner that was suggested by many as not being entirely above board,” he said.
Mr Okupe said the former governor served his time, lost his position, “forfeited the property illegally acquired and has demonstrated enough soberness after he served his sentence.”
“It has often been said that there is always a season for everything under the sun, a season to punish and a season to forgive. Distinguished gentlemen of the press, fellow Nigerians, this is the season to forgive and to heal. May God forgive us all and bless our country Nigeria,” Mr. Okupe said.
Citing a dossier of state pardons by American presidents, Mr. Okupe said Nigerians should recognize Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s role in keeping the peace in the restive Niger Delta, which is vital for steady oil sales and a running national economy.
“But in truth Alamieyeisegha since he left prison has been working strenuously and silently to assist the President stabilize the amnesty in the Niger Delta Region. Alamieyeisegha is a foremost leader of the Ijaw Nation, and his political and stabilizing influence in that region have impacted positively on the overall economy of the nation, bringing crude oil exports from the abysmally low level of 700,00 bpd, to over 2.4 million bpd!
“Therefore, it is obvious that, Alamieyeisegha has been a major player since his release from prison in ensuring that the blood that runs through the Nigerian economic artery is not cut off,” he said.