President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed sadness over the death of his Special Adviser on Research, Documentation and Strategy, Mr. Oronto Douglas.
Douglas, who battled cancer for a long time, died in the early hours of yesterday in Abuja.
“President Jonathan extends his heartfelt condolences to the Douglas family and the government and people of Bayelsa State on the death of one of their most distinguished sons who served his country, state and the Niger Delta region, passionately and diligently, during his very impactful years on earth,” a statement by Presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati said.
Douglas was President Jonathan’s personal aide for close to a decade.
According to Abati, “The President will always remember him for his passion for work, excellence, inspiring creativity and outstanding commitment to his duties.
The President remains thankful to God Almighty for the brilliance and resourcefulness that Oronto brought to bear on every assignment as a loyal and dutiful aide during his tenure as Governor of Bayelsa State and as Vice President, Acting President and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
President Jonathan believes that Oronto will remain a shining and worthy example for every young Nigerian who seeks a life of service and achievement.”
He prayed the Almighty God to grant Oronto’s soul eternal rest, and the Douglas family and everyone who knew and loved him, the fortitude to bear the pain of his death.
President Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo yesterday led other senior government functionaries to the Abuja home of the late aide.
The President eulogised Douglas, saying he had not seen a more brilliant, passionate and dedicated worker like him.
Jonathan said even when Douglas had been told by doctors that he would die in three weeks, he still saw in him a strong will and passion to continue to serve his fatherland.
“It’s quite a sad moment… Douglas and I are from the same local government in Bayelsa State. I knew him first when I was doing my PhD research work when he was environmental activist; I was doing some aspects of the ecology of the Niger Delta and my supervisor then, one Canadian, Prof. Powell knew him and we met in his house.
But when I came into politics as the deputy governor, he was the Commissioner for Information then and we were very close. He came with me as my adviser as vice president ‎on research, documentation and strategy, a post he held until this morning.
He is a very committed and dedicated young man. I was here last Saturday, even though he knew because the doctors told him in America that he was going to die in three weeks, he was still very passionate about his work. I have never seen such a person with such strong will. Oronto was a good man, he left us too early but God knows best. I only pray that God should provide for the family and pray that his soul should rest in peace,” the President said.
Also speaking, Vice President Sambo said the country has lost a great patriot and a man of integrity.
“It is a very sad day for us; we have lost a very good friend, a brother and a patriotic Nigerian. He is a person of integrity, a patriot and we pray to Almighty God that his soul shall rest in perfect peace. We pray that the family he left behind will have the fortitude to bear this great loss. Nigeria has lost a very good man, a person that has contributed positively to the development of this country,” Sambo said.
Some of the early callers at Douglas’ house were former Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyesigha‎, who described him as someone who never slacked in any assignments he was given.
“We have been praying and trusting God for miracle. There are a lot of things we did behind the scenes together to strengthen this government, he never slacked on any assignment given to him. When he served as Commissioner for Information during my government, he was always meticulous and turned in his assignments on time,” DSP noted.
‎The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Igali, said Douglas was a great thinker that will be sorely missed.
He said: “He is a great man that will be sorely missed. He was very cerebral and respected in the entire international community. He was a great thinker a environmental rights activist‎.”
Others are seen at his residence were the Managing Director News Agency of Nigeria, Ima Niboro, famous writer Ike Okonta, Sen Nenadi Usman, Executive Secretary National Christian Pilgrims Board, Kennedy Opara‎, who prayed for the family.
His younger brother, Otonye Douglas, said the family will meet in Bayelsa as tradition demands and draw up burial programmes.
Douglas is survived by his wife and two sons.

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