Former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, yesterday reflected on his prison experience in the United Kingdom and said he drew his strength from God throughout the period of his incarceration.
Speaking at a special thanksgiving held in his honour yesterday by his kinsmen at the First Baptist Church, Oghara in Ethiope East Local Government Area of the state, Ibori noted that all the period he was in prison he was more concerned about the wellbeing of his people than his personal ordeals.
“When the organisers approached me that I will be giving my testimony, I was seated there battling with the confusion if I should accept or not. And this is because I don’t know where to start because my entire life is full of testimonies right from birth till today and if I decide to start giving all my testimonies, time would not be enough for us here today.
“ When I reflect on my experience, I can only but thank God that all your prayers for me during those periods I was away from you have been answered.
“During those periods, I was not particularly bothered about myself. All that I was more concerned about was the well being of my people back here at home as I could feel your pains.
“I drew my strength from God to overcome those trying periods because I knew a time like this when we all would come together once again will surely come.
“The only testimony I can give today is that, ‘I am back’, am healthy and am back in your midst again,” Ibori said.
Earlier in his sermon, Rev. God-Do-Well Awhomakpa, the general overseer of Christ Missionary Crusaders Church, had acknowledged the contributions of Ibori not just to his people and state alone, but the entire Niger Delta region while in government.
Speaking on a message entitled: “Knowing The Gift of God,” the preacher, who made reference to books of John and Luke in the Bible, noted that any man sent as a gift to mankind displays a rare attributes of a true leader on whose shoulders lie the responsibility of putting smiles on the faces of God’s people”.
In his remarks, the royal father of Oghara kingdom, Noble Eshemitan, Orefe Ill, eulogised Ibori for the landmark development he brought to the Oghara people and said the people would be grateful to him.
While he likened him to the biblical prodigal son who was welcomed back home by his people, the monarch insisted that even Jesus Christ in his teaching admonished people to embrace their loved ones no matter how others tries to despise them.
Meanwhile, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was not among the political bigwigs who converged on the church for the thanksgiving organised for the former governor.
This may not be unconnected with the allegations that state funds were released for the programme.
The governor is an ally of Ibori, and Daily Sun gathered that he had visited the politician since he returned to the country.
Okowa does not hesitate to shower encomiums on Ibori whenever he has the opportunity.
The former governor returned to Nigeria last Saturday after serving a jail term in the United Kingdom.
Some of the notable politicians at the programme were Emmanuel Uduaghan, the immediate past governor and cousin to Ibori; Monday Igbuya, speaker of the House of Assembly and Festus Ovie-Agas, secretary to the state government.
Others were, Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, former managing director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); Patrick Osakwe and Ighoyota Amori, former senators.
Traditional rulers, who attended the occasion were Noble Eshemitan, Ovie of Oghara Kingdom, and Pere Kalanama, Pere of Akegbene-Mein Kingdom.
Ras Kimono, Orits Wiliki and Ras Father, who were also in the church, were expected to perform at a reception scheduled for Oghara stadium yesterday.
Okowa’s absence at thopportunity to do so.