I left Abuja early this morning for Yenagoa to join our governor, leaders and good people of our dear State to observe our annual Thanksgiving which holds every November 2nd by Law.
Congratulations once again to the state, the governor, the government and all the people of Bayelsa. As I said in my brief remarks at the occasion, we commend and congratulate the governor for continuing with this initiative which pleased the Lord to use me, my government and my team to initiate in 2012 as Governor.
How time flies to note that today was the 11th Edition of the State Annual Thanksgiving Service. It was a pleasure to join all our Leaders and especially to have met our leader and father, the Former President of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who also found time to grace the occasion as he always does and I expressed my appreciation to him for his encouragement and support to the state. I call on all our leaders to join hands at moments like this to together in unison irrespective of differences, be they political or otherwise.
As time goes on, we hope that the Thanksgiving service will be observed by all Bayelsans even in their homes and it will be an opportunity for all leaders of the state and people to meet together and praise God for his faithfulness, that is why it is a public holiday by law.
Not everything is politics and we should learn from others. Certain things transcend politics. Our Social activities, Burials, deaths, celebrations, State occasions etc are beyond politics and it was gratifying that the Governor led the state and all of us in thanksgiving even amid this devastating flood.
As I said at the occasion, I was speechless flying into Bayelsa and seeing all our communities and homes still submerged up to roof level. As everyone knows, Bayelsa is the Basin of the Delta where all major rivers in Nigeria flow through to empty into the Atlantic.
While other states like Kogi, Benue and Anambra are affected, Bayelsa and the surrounding neighbouring states, parts of Delta, and Rivers that share the same environmental and climatic conditions suffer much. The entire Bayelsa is under water and I once again use the occasion to call on the Federal Government, International community and well-meaning persons and agencies as I have earlier done.
We have all tried, the government itself has tried, all individuals and leaders, but the devastation is simply overwhelming. I found time also to visit some of the camps along the airport road to Amassoma that have been split into 3 or four places and interacted with some of the Internally Displaced People and as someone who managed several floods and other natural disasters in the course of my 8-year tenure as governor, I know the distraction, the toll it takes and I call for understanding as I did earlier.
Let us again, use the opportunity of thanksgiving to reaffirm our resolve as one Bayelsa people, one Ijaw people and join hands to support our state and our people and the government of the day. When it is time for politics, we can play the politics but this is the time to empathize, to support and work together for the survival of our people.
It was refreshing flying again to the airport that I built as a governor in a recession. That is the only gateway into Bayelsa as all road routes have been cut off which was the reason my government at the time, even in a recession gave priority to have a gateway for the Ijaw nation.
This is the first airport in the heart of Ijaw Land and right now, it is our gateway to the rest of the country and the World as all other routes have been cut off. I believe that as time goes by and the years roll by, this Airport will even be more valuable, as it is intended as a free trade zone. All the propaganda, blackmail and allegations were thrown at me were a small price I and my team paid in service of our people. I was glad that our airport even in this unprecedented deluge, is not flooded. I commend the contractor Dantata & Sawoe and the supervisory team for a job well done. The airport was dry and busy with commercial flights.
Finally, it was a pleasure to be in the company and gathering of our people to support the governor, the government and our state in today’s thanksgiving service. I thank all the clergymen especially the guest minister Dr Paul Enenche and his wife for finding time to officiate at the service.
I pray that in-spite of our imperfections as humans, and as shortcomings as leaders, that God continues to have mercy and accept our offerings of thanksgiving and usher in greater stability, unity of purpose, divine guidance and inspiration for our leaders, tolerance and understanding for all our people, more developments, stability and peace.