Ovie Okpare, Warri
Condolence messages on Tuesday trailed the death of Chief Francis Okpozo, a Second Republic senator and a top chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in the South-South, who died on Monday after a brief illness.
Okpozo, 84, who died in an undisclosed hospital on Monday, was born in Ozoro in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State and was one of the leading voices of the APC from the geopolitical zone.
His death was confirmed to our correspondent by a relative of the deceased.
The late octogenarian was also a one-time member of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Deputy Speaker of the defunct Bendel State House of Assembly before emerging the senator representing Delta South Senatorial District in the Senate.
Meanwhile, the state Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has expressed sadness over Okpozo’s death, describing the late senator as a consistent critic who brought the challenges of the Niger Delta region to the front burner of national discourse.
Okowa, while commiserating with the people of Isoko and the family of the deceased, noted that Okpozo was “a great man whose contributions to the literary world can best be described as legendary, inspirational and worthy of emulation.”
The governor’s statement, signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said, “Governor Okowa recalls that Senator Francis Okpozo was a vocal voice in the Senate and until his death he remained a consistent critic and commentator on national issues.
“He affirms that the then senator, served his country and humanity with all his God-given strength and talent, noting that the distinguished senator was a worthy leader in the Niger Delta. The late Senator Okpozo will be well remembered for redefining the place of service and patriotism in Nigeria’s development.”
Okowa prayed God to grant Okpozo’s immediate family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
Also, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, who is representing the Isoko nation, Mr. Leo Ogor, described the demise of the APC chieftain as a great loss and one that came at a time it was least expected.
Ogor, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone on Tuesday, said, “We, the people of Isoko nation, are mourning the demise of our leader and pacesetter. His death was a great loss to our people who I represent. We are in shock and pain because he brought us pride as a lawmaker.
“He’s a famous legislator who brought pride to Delta State and Nigeria as he used his political experience to liberate our people. He trained Isoko and Delta youths without expecting anything in return. This is a major loss to the Isoko nation.”
Reacting to Okpozo’s death, the Delta State Chairman of the APC, Prophet Jones Erue, said, “I am shocked to my bone marrow because no one saw it coming. Our leader was an astute politician and an elder statesman who will be greatly missed. I am particularly pained because he was one of those who inspired my career in politics. May his gentle soul rest in peace!”
On his part, the Executive Director, Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission, Samuel Adjogbe, said Okpozo’s death was a great loss to the APC, especially in Delta State, where he had been picked to lead the party to victory in the 2019 governorship poll.
Adjogbe said, “Why now that we need Papa Okpozo to help reposition our great party for victory in 2019? Why should the cold hands of death do this to us in Delta APC at this critical stage of our political restructuring? May his kind soul rest in the bosom of our Lord Jesus.”
While expressing his condolence, Chief Ayiri Emami also said, “Senator Okpozo will be missed. His shoes are too big for any of us to wear. He was a perfect gentleman and an experienced politician.”
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