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Jonathan, Dickson, Others Pay Last Respects To Oronto Douglas

President Goodluck Jonathan has acknowledged the pivotal role played by the late environmental and human rights activist, Oronto Natei Douglas, in sustaining the struggle of the people of the Niger Delta.[slideshow]39412[/slideshow]

Mr. Jonathan spoke glowingly of Mr. Douglas’s selfless advocacy for resource control and environmental restoration earlier today at the funeral service for the late senior presidential aide. The ceremony took place at the St. Peter's Anglican Church in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State.

The president said that Mr. Douglas introduced intellectual activism to the Niger Delta struggle for economic inclusiveness, noting that his late aide was articulate.

President Jonathan described his former aide as an academic icon, idealist, proactive, strategic, courageous, and humanitarian, adding that he never retreated once he committed to a cause he believed in.

He regretted that the late Oronto Douglas exited at a time when his wise and useful counsel was most needed. The president remarked that the former aide made a positive impact on the people of Bayelsa, the Niger Delta and the entire country within his short but eventful life on earth, adding that he would continue to be remembered by all who knew him.

In his remarks, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State announced the award of scholarships to the two children of the late Oronto Douglas to the university level. He added that the scholarship was in appreciation of their father’s selfless contribution to the development of humanity and the Niger Delta environment.

Mr. Dickson also directed the immediate employment of all the teachers of the Edwin Clark Preparatory School in Okoroba founded by the late human rights lawyer as well as support for his foundation and other legal projects initiated by him.

“The state government will give every necessary support to the children to have their education to university level, [and] the government will support all his dreams and what he lived for,” Mr. Dickson said.

In his sermon, the Anglican Bishop of the Niger Delta, West Diocese, Reverend Emmanuel Oko-Jaj, described death as the last enemy of mankind that will be defeated on the last day by Jesus Christ.

He admonished all to fear God in whatever position they find themselves and to always eschew evil, as God will only receive the righteous into his kingdom, where there will be no sorrow, pain, hunger or death for those who die in Christ.

Many human rights and civil society activists also attended today’s funeral rites for Mr. Douglas. Among those present was Nnimmo Bassey, a frontline environmentalist who co-founded Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (RA/FoEN) Nigeria.

Pupils of the Edwin Clark Preparatory School in Okoroba, founded by the late Oronto Douglas, also gave special renditions of songs in tribute to the late human rights activist.