Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Rivers State APC governorship candidate in the April 11 election, has commiserated with the family of Mr. Oronto Douglas, Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Research, Documentation and Strategy who passed away last Thursday.
Peterside, who described as heart-rending, the untimely death of Douglas, widely believed to be one of the president’s most trusted aides, also offered condolences to Mr. President.
In a statement by the Director of his campaign organisation, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, Peterside expressed shock over the unfortunate incident and prayed God to grant the family and people of Bayelsa State the fortitude to bear the loss.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]
He described Douglas as a very articulate and analytical student of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, the renowned environmentalist and author who fought uncompromisingly for the environment and rights of indigenous people.
“I first encountered Oronto nearly three decades ago during our university days. We were school mates and he was one of those who recruited me into the students’ movement struggle of 1990. In fact, Justice Joffa, Danny Hailsham and Oronto Douglas handed over Kampuswatch, a prominent campus journal to me as Editor.
“For many years, Douglas represented in many ways, our collective struggle for global attention on the dreadful conditions of our environment in the Niger Delta. He fought, even at the risk of his personal comfort, to draw attention to the despoliation and degradation of our environment.
“And with like-minded friends and associates, he co-founded Environmental Rights Action, ERA and led one of the most enduring struggles to save our environment. I still remember vividly how Nnimo Bassey, who was then ERA’s Executive Director, Oronto and I did a lot of collaborative work with Development and Leadership Institute DLI, the NGO I founded.
“Aside being at the centre of Kaima Declaration of Ijaw National Congress and Ijaw Youth Congress, he was also among the top leaders and thinkers of the intellectual wing of the Niger Delta struggle.
“Therefore all of us in the Niger Delta are in Douglas’ debt for leading the fight for environmental justice and minority rights.
“But it is satisfying to note that Oronto has already immortalised himself with some thought-provoking books and journals he authored
“I am also aware of the departed comrade’s courage as an activist who played a laudable role from the June 12, 1993 annulment to the return of democratic rule in 1999. He was a regular face among human rights campaigners of that turbulent era who made sacrifices for liberty and freedom.
“Therefore, we in the Niger Delta and the entire country will surely miss this rare patriot and human rights advocate who committed his productive life to the good of society. May his soul find peace”, the statement said.