[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 09:21 GMT
Nigeria's runaway governor
The BBC News website profiles Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the Nigerian governor who is under investigation after jumping bail in the UK.


Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, governor of Nigeria's Bayelsa state, has an official CV that boasts awards including Best Governor on Security and the Golden Trophy for Good Governance.

British prosecutors argue that his achievements also include money laundering to the tune of 1.8m ($3.2m).

The governor denies this charge - but responded to it by developing a new talent as an escapologist as he jumped bail and fled the UK, eventually reappearing back in Bayelsa.

Nigeria's anti-corruption agents also say he is a master of disguise, donning women's clothing as he fled - though the governor denies this. But he told the BBC that he does not remember any other details of the long journey home.

Rumours

One Nigerian paper claimed that the rumours of cross-dressing were in fact put about by British intelligence.

Whatever the true details of his escape, the governor has not gone home to a warm welcome.

The present democratic system in Nigeria is faulty as it is incapable of producing visionary, selfless and popular leaders
Government critic
On the contrary, no sooner had he arrived than demonstrators began calling for his departure from office, and the state assembly served notice of impeachment proceedings.

If removed from office, he would lose the immunity from prosecution that he enjoys in his office as governor.

In fact, he is already being prosecuted by the Kaduna Code of Conduct Tribunal - the only court which has the power to remove his immunity.

Projects

Those who are being kind say Mr Alamieyeseigha is a product of Nigeria's corrupt democratic system.

Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha
Mr Alamieyeseigha portrays himself as a hero of the Ijaw people
"The present democratic system in Nigeria is faulty as it is incapable of producing visionary, selfless and popular leaders," says one critic.

His opponents say "Alamco" - he got his nickname from the Alamieyeseigha Campaign Organisation of the 2003 general election - is hardly a charismatic leader, and has abused the trust of Ijaw people he claims to represent.

They feel he has spent state money on unnecessary projects like building a new government house at the cost of over 10bn naira ($77m), an airport in his native town of Amassoma, and an Olympic-sized stadium in the state capital, Yenagoa.

Poverty

They argue that these and other projects have no direct benefit for the people of the state who are living in abject poverty.

Meanwhile, a general hospital he started building about six years ago is still to be completed.

Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha's official residence in Yenagoa
Mr Alamieyeseigha has been criticised for spending state money on a luxurious mansion
Since the state is yet to be connected to the national electrical grid, the state depends on an ageing gas turbine that was out of order for about eight months earlier this year.

Mr Alamieyeseigha began his career as a civil servant before undergoing military training and joining the Nigerian Air Force in 1974.

He served in the force until resigning voluntarily in 1992 - but allegations about his military career came back to haunt him in the 1999 elections, when his opponent claimed that Mr Alamieyeseigha had resigned hastily from the Air Force before being expelled for cheating in exams.

Since his arrest and arraignment in a London court for alleged money laundering, jumping bail and return to his state in Nigeria, he has been under extreme pressure to resign.

Thousands of Bayelsans - men, women and youths - have staged peaceful protests demanding his resignation or his impeachment by the state house of assembly.

Investigation

The state assembly is now waiting for a judge to complete an investigation that will guide assembly members on whether to vote for impeachment.

His supporters, who are few compared to the opposition, have also staged peaceful demonstrations calling for him to continue in office at least until 2007 when his tenure expires.

These supporters, who feel the governor is being witch-hunted by the federal government, say he should be left alone as he is not the only corrupt government official in the country.

As one of them puts it: "Corruption has become part and parcel of our national life, there is hardly one official that is not corrupt, so Obasanjo should leave Alamco alone."

Some of his supporters feel that Mr Alamieyeseigha is being victimised because he is seen as being close to Vice-President Atiku Abubakar - Mr Obasanjo's rival to contest 2007 presidential elections on behalf of the ruling People's Democratic Party.


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific