The scheduled day of battle for the soul of Bayelsa state is just five months away from now. It is based on this that a frontline governorship aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Franklin Erepamo Osaisai on Saturday formally declared his intention to govern the homogeneous Izon speaking state.
Osaisai's declaration was solemn and unique. It was solemn in the sense that in the history of Bayelsa state, no governorship aspirant has deemed it necessary to go to the house of God to formally declare an intention to contest. The declaration is also unique because Osaisai is seen as the most courageous among the aspirants, being the first to officially make his ambition known to the public.
St. John's Anglican Church, Koluama 11, his ancestral home, in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State was filled to capacity as his kinsmen watched with admiration and solidarity, the declaration of their son's gubernatorial aspiration. The King, Paramount Rulers and Council of Chiefs of Koluama Kingdom were fully in attendance during the solemn service.
Also in attendance were dignitaries such as a former president of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and commissioner for works, Charles Ambaowei, a former commissioner for special duties,Chief Ayakeme Whiskey as well as Ms Rosemary Graham-Naingba, chairperson of the Bayelsa Women Connect (BWC), who led a group of women from the state capital, among others. The choir and choristers of St. John's church did not disappoint the audience. With sonorous voices they presented melodious renditions that saturated the church auditorium with the presence of God.
When the officiating ministers gave him the opportunity to speak on why he invited them to the church, Osaisai first of all led the congregation through a brief but touching session of hymns, starting with "count your blessings, name them one by one" and ending with "rock of ages, cleft for me". It was indeed a solemn gathering. He told the congregation that the need to lay a divine foundation for his political trajectory towards the development of the state brought him to his ancestral church where he was groomed with the fear of God, from cradle.
"I come here today to once again go before the Rock of Ages for His protection and for His guardian and to move on. That is why I felt it's appropriate to come here to commit my governorship aspiration to God and after that, every other thing will be fine. The basis for everything you do, for you to have success, you have to do what is physically possible but there is an Almighty God that directs all affairs. That is why we call it a solemn declaration. We are committing the project into God's hand to guide and give us the necessary wisdom and also to give us the perseverance and courage to do the right thing so that we are victorious and serve as the next government of the state".
On why he wants to be governor of Bayelsa state, the erudite scholar did not mince words when he noted that inside of him was a burning burden and strong desire to render selfless service to humanity, to the glory of God. As he spoke on, one could deduce sincerity of heart and his readiness to serve his people.
He said: "The only way we can satisfy ourselves is by our service to humanity and to the glory of God. Everybody that is interested in the leadership of Bayelsa State is for the sustainable development of the state. You must do everything that is humanly possible to ensure that there is development in the human level and also at infrastructural and environmental levels. That is what I believe in. That is what any reasonable person that wants to be governor should believe in. My message to Bayelsans is that they should see my effort as one that is meant to serve them and bring development to them and will be enshrined in the principles of fairness to everybody here in the state. I will unify them in such a way that everybody will be happy and united".
When elected, the former commissioner for works and pioneer Director General of the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission promised to embark on massive youth engagement programmes to stem the tide of youth restiveness which, according to him, was responsible for the insecurity being experienced in the state. Noting that Bayelsa had made appreciable developmental progress since inception, Osaisai said there was the need to improve on the achievements the state had made so far.
Delivering a sermon, Bishop of the Anglican Communion, Diocese of Niger Delta West, the Rt. Rev'd Emmanuel Oko-Jaja stated that Osaisai had won a plus in his heart by deeming it fit to begin his leadership project from the house of God. Quoting from Romans chapter 13, verse one, Oko-Jaja posited that leaders were ordained by God and that those seeking for the position of leadership should have the mind of pleasing God as well as mankind. Declaring that God was going to grant Osaisai's request for the leadership of the state, the man of God reasoned that considering the remoteness of the communities in Southern Ijaw Local government area, it was necessary that a man who comes from and bears the brunt of underdevelopment of the hinterlands be made governor of the state so as to attract the presence of government to the rural areas for even development of the state.
Oko-Jaja further said "if there has been a road from Yenagoa to Koluama, the journey won't be more than 40 minutes. But we spent more than two hours on the waterways. If you ask me, l won't hesitate to make a Koluama man the next governor of Bayelsa State." He enjoined the governorship aspirant to be detribalised and selfless in discharging his duties when finally elected as governor of state, describing Osaisai as a determined, intelligent and humble man.
High point of the solemn service was a moment of prophetic declaration of blessings on the aspirant by bishops Oko-Jaja with the assistance of Bishop Ebiye Swaweri of the Nobles Family Church International, Abuja.
Speaking on behalf of Koluama Council of Chiefs, the King of Koluama Kingdom, HRM, Solomon Ebipatei said the aspirant had the capacity to take the state to enviable heights. "This is the first time somebody is coming from the Koluama area to contest for governor. We are calling on the people of Bayelsa state to support us because if a son of Koluama becomes the governor of Bayelsa, l know it will go across a very long way in the Niger Delta area. This is because Koluama is in the coastal area and everybody knows the distance between Yenagoa and Koluama. So, if a son contests from Koluama, he will bring a lot of development to the area. Every Bayelsan should support us because I know our son is generous and he is going to work for every Ijaw man. Describing the declaration of Osaisai as the first of its kind in the history of the clan, Ebipatei appealed to other sons of the area who may be nursing the aspiration of contesting the governorship election to jettison the idea and support Osaisai to succeed.
Sir Benedict Guembe from Ekeremor Local government area of the state, told TNN that he was part of the solemn declaration because he believed in the leadership qualities of Osaisai and his ability to deliver if given the opportunity to steer the ship of the state. Guembe said "l have known Dr. Erepamo Osaisai for the past 42 years. I know him to be a very consistent man for those 42 years. He is a man that loves his people; he is a real nationalist and patriot. When I heard that he is doing this kind of occasion, I said l must be here to honour the occasion".
Also, Chief Festus Beredugo from Koluama 1 community, while speaking to TNN, glowingly described Dr. Osaisai as a man with a very mature heart who believes that God must be placed first in all his affairs. He pointed out that as the pioneer director general of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, Osaisai influenced the employment of many Nigerians, including Bayelsans, stressing that if elected, Bayelsans would not regret having him as governor as he would bring his wealth of experience to bare in the leadership of the state.
In the same vein, another opinion leader from Koluama 1, Chief David Tukuru, also described the aspirant as a very dynamic leader. "I believe in him so much. He is a very good and dynamic leader who will be able to deliver quality leadership for all Bayelsans. He is a detribalised leader. That is why l am fully part of his project to govern our state. Dr. Osaisai is strict and at the same time very humble; he is straight forward and accountable. These are some of the qualities that I found in him"