President Muhammadu Buhari has joined his predecessor, former president Goodluck Jonathan, and some groups in Ogoni land in mourning the death on Tuesday of Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., the eldest son of late Ogoni and environmental rights activist.
Mr. Saro-Wiwa Jr., 47, was adviser to three presidents, including Mr. Jonathan.
He had slipped into coma on Monday after suffering a stroke on Saturday. He was placed on life support, but he died on Tuesday evening in a London hospital.
President Buhari, through a statement by his media aide, Femi Adesina, sent his condolences to the Saro-Wiwa family as well as the government and people of Rivers State.
“The President also commiserates with the people of Ogoni Kingdom over the passage of their illustrious son, author and environmental activist, who was an ardent believer in the unity, progress and stability of his community”, the statement continued.
“President Buhari, who has initiated the process of cleaning up the Niger Delta region, urges family, friends and associates to honour Saro-Wiwa’s memory by making his dream of an environmentally safe, secured and prosperous Ogoni land a reality”.
In a post on his Facebook account, Mr. Jonathan said: “A bright star has been prematurely plucked from the Nigerian firmament. Ken Wiwa, like his father was a patriot. Adieu great son of Nigeria”.
Also, commiserating with the family, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said Mr. Saro-Wiwa Jr.’s death was a major loss to the state, Nigeria and humanity.
The governor said the deceased devoted his life to humanity. He added that his passage has left a vacuum that would be difficult to fill.
The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, co-founded by the deceased’s father, Ken Saro-Wiwa, to press for the rights of the people and resist exploitation of their environment, also expressed shock through a statement by its publicity secretary, Fegalo Nsuke.
“We are deeply pained by this tragic incident, the loss of our dear “Ken Jr.” – son of our celebrated hero, Ken Saro-Wiwa. We express our deepest condolences to the family of Wiwa in particular and the Ogoni nation in general”, the group said.
The President of Ogoni Central Indigenous Authority, OCIA, Goodluck Diigbo, in his reaction said “the sudden news of the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jnr. shook the people of Ogoni tonight, October 18. We do not know the details. We are upset.
“He was such a bright reminder of the brightness of his father, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who sacrificed everything to try to lead the Ogoni people out of the woods.
“The perspective of Junior, as he was popularly addressed by the Ogoni, was that ‘every problem and every conflict has a solution’. This belief guarded his own quiet approach in tackling the dilemma of the Ogoni people,” Mr. Diigbo said.
Saro-Wiwa Jr., who served as aide to ex-presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Mr. Jonathan, had his education at Stancliffe Hall School and Tonbridge School in England. He then proceeded to the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, also in the United Kingdom.
He would have been 48 on November 28.