Former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Ndutimi Alaibe has expressed shock over the death of he Former President of the Umbrella body of Ijaw Elders, worldwide, the Ijaw National Congress(Inc), Professor Kimse Okoko last Sunday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
According to Chief Alaibe, the news of late Kimse Okoko death was unexpected, shocking and unthinkeable.
Chief Timi Alaibe, in a statement issued and signed himself yesterday in Yenagoa via electronic mail, stated that the news of Prof. Okoko demise broke like the crack of a cherished shell, “completely unimaginable. It tasted like sour grapes. No! Certain things should rather not happen. We have lost a gem, a leader, an inspiration.”
According to him, “The death of Professor Kimse Okoko, at 5pm on Sunday September 13, came with unbearable pains. He left us at a time we are yet to get over the shock of the death of his beloved son, Keniebi; who passed on about five months ago. We still have tears in our eyes and sorrow in our heart. How could death be so heartless!”
“A respected political scientist, Okoko was top-of-the-pack in his calling as an intellectual. He moulded great minds and shaped many lives. I was, far back in 1979, a beneficiary of Prof. Okoko’s selfless service in preparing indigent youth of the old Rivers State for the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) examinations, a new initiative established in 1978 by the Federal Government to harmonise admissions into tertiary institutions. Hitherto, respective Universities conducted entrance examinations in accordance with their respective autonomous status.”
“Professor Okoko diligently organised and personally ran several gratis preparatory classes at the Port Harcourt Primary School (Old GRA) to guide and enlighten intending students to tertiary institutions. A distinguished Professor Emeritus of the University of Port Harcourt, he later became Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the Niger Delta University, and Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, University of Uyo. ”
“Born in Obunagha Community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Okoko remained one of the indisputable leaders of Ijaw nation. He was a former President of the pan-Ijaw group, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and Leader of the Conference of Ethnic Nationalities in the Niger Delta. At 80, he was still physically energetic and intellectually sound.”
“Gentle in speech, and humble in character, Okoko was a man of unfailing tenderness. Such a person should live and not die. He was a mentor to many, a senior brother and a friend to others. Even from a distance, Prof, as we called him, was an embodiment of discipline: tender in love and strict on morals. Most of us looked up to him for inspiration and leadership. We learnt a lot from him. But today, he is no more.”
Alaibe said Professor Okoko typified the yearning of Ijaw and the Niger Delta people for resource control,” . He was an unrepentant believer in restructuring and true federalism. He spoke about it. He campaigned for it. He taught it in the classroom. We trusted him to speak for us because it was a collective vision. He did not disappoint.”
“We will surely miss this great man. He belonged to a special class of patriots. There is no doubt that we will all answer the call of death someday. But we wished Prof. lived a bit longer. His likes are rare. Our challenge now is to step into his big shoes, grow into them and continue from where he stopped. This is exactly what he would expect of us. May the Almighty God grant his family the required strength to bear this monumental loss.