The news of the death on Thursday of the Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Strategy, Research and Documentation, Oronto Douglas, has thrown Bayelsa into a mourning mood even as the gloomy atmosphere left by Mr.Jonathan’s loss is yet to depart the state.
Mr. Douglas, an environmentalist and lawyer, hailed from Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa. He died on Thursday.
The Ijaw Youths Council, in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Eric Omare, expressed sorrow over the demise of Mr. Douglas.
“The Ijaw Youth Council and indeed the Ijaw Nation is in shock over the news of the demise of Oronto Natel Douglas, who until his death was the Special Adviser to the President Jonathan on Research and Documentation,” Mr. Omare said. “His death is shocking and a big blow to the Ijaw Nation, the Niger-Delta and Nigeria in general.
“As a founding member of the IYC and member of the collegiate leadership, Oronto was central to the conceptualization of the historic Kaiama Declaration and formation of the IYC in 1998.
“As an environmentalist, Oronto’s efforts together with other Niger-Delta activists brought the deplorable condition and degradation of the Niger-Delta environment to the attention of the international community.
“Oronto died at this critical time when the Ijaw nation needed his services most. This is truly a very testing time for the Ijaw people. We commiserate with the Oronto family, the Government and people of Bayelsa State and President Jonathan on the demise of Oronto. Indeed, we are in pains.”
Benson Ekio, the special assistant to the Bayelsa Governor on Radio Communications, said Mr. Oronto’s demise was a great loss to the state. He described him as a reliable friend and patriotic Bayelsa and Niger Delta indigene.
“I have known him for over a decade and he takes the affairs of Bayelsa very seriously, even during his health challenges; he will be greatly missed by many,” Mr. Ekio said.
“He was a very diligent person and brought that to bear on his job as the former commissioner of information. he had wonderful relationship with media practitioners in the state till his death.”
Nathan Egba, a former commissioner for information in Bayelsa under DSP Alamieyeseigha, described Mr. Oronto as a man of impeccable integrity.
“Oronto was a man of many parts,” Mr. Egba said. “He succeeded me as commissioner for information and he did that job to the best of his ability. He will be remembered for his commitment and the many spheres of life.
“He is an intellectual with a difference and he left memories in the state before he joined the Presidency. In the legal field, he was also outstanding. He was also an activist of note. His death is a big loss to us and the world at large because he also operated at the international level as an activist.”
Godwin Ojo, executive director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of Earth Nigeria described Mr. Oronto as a committed and selfless activist.
“The demise of Oronto is shocking to me as a co-founder of ERA in 1993 along with Nnimmo Bassey and myself,” Mr. Ojo said. “He was very hardworking, dedicated and selfless. The human rights community, the government and Nigerians will miss him.”