President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday, May 2, 2015 described his late aide, Oronto Douglas, as one who played active role in the advocacy for resource control and brought intellectualism to the Niger Delta struggle.
Douglas, an environmental activist and founder of the Chikoko Movement, was the President’s Special Adviser on Research, Documentation, and Strategy until he died on April 9, 2015 in Abuja, 4 months shy of his 49th birthday.
The President said in his tribute at the funeral service for Douglas at the St Peter’s Deanery of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Yenagoa, Bayelsa, that Douglas was also committed to his work until his death.
“Oronto played a key role in the advocacy for resource control on the need for people within the Niger Delta to benefit in the oil industry.
“I will miss him greatly and for the Niger Delta youths, they will also miss him, especially his own peers.
“The younger ones probably didn’t know much about how he brought intellectualism into the Niger Delta struggle; he worked very hard’’, the President said.
The President said Douglas was somebody dedicated to service and totally committed.
“If he believes in you, he will never betray you, he will stand by you until the end. Even if you are dying, Oronto will want to die with you.
“In politics, most people will be with you when things are okay but immediately the wind turns, they will disappear.
“But Oronto was not that kind of a character. I worked with him as a Deputy Governor when he was a commissioner.
“He has been with me for eight years in Abuja; so I am one of those who can clearly attest to the qualities of Oronto: dedicated,’’ he said.
Jonathan added that Douglas made him the most documented President in the country.
“I feel pained because Oronto was so committed by documenting all my activities; I am the most documented President for now because of Oronto.
“I don’t even know the number of volumes he has written. I just see the cover page of some of them and I don’t even have the time to look at the content. But he worked very hard.’’
Jonathan said the people were celebrating Oronto’s homeward journey as he played his role very well within his very short period in life.
He said it was not how long one lived that mattered but the impact made, adding that the deceased, in spite of his young age, impacted more lives than people older than him.
He prayed for the repose of his soul and commiserated with his family.
He told them to take solace in the fact that their father lived a life without stain which would carry the family through.
Jonathan praised him for his philanthropy, support for children’s education and courage up to the time of his death as how to discharge his job was his priority in his last days.
The President said he visited Douglas two weeks to the time his doctors told him he would die, “and I expected to see somebody who would be so sad, but it was not Oronto.
“All his discussions with me was how to document this, document that and immotalise this.
“In fact, he was not talking as somebody who was sick; he was very courageous; very strong willed. Oronto was Oronto until the last moment; you hardly see such characters.
“He was selfless, in fact he was not interested in accumulating wealth,’’ he added.
Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa said the state had lost Douglas’s wise counsel, support and collaboration.
“He lived a life of selfless service and dedication to our people but we must give thanks to God for his life of distinction and honour,” the governor said.
Dickson announced a scholarship up to university level for his two sons.
He directed the state to take over the payment of salaries to teachers in the E.K. Clark Nursery School founded by Douglas in Okoroba, Nembe.
In his sermon entitled, “Our last Enemy is Death’’, the Bishop of Niger Delta West Diocese, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Oko-Jaja, said death was inevitable but that the good news was that Christ rose from the dead that we might have hope.
The bishop advised Nigerians to shun vices and remember God any time they were in position of authority because they will give account to God in the end.
“Those that die in the lord do not die perpetually,’’ he added.