By Tobi Soniyi and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
President Muhammadu Buhari, former President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and others yesterday extended their heartfelt condolences to the Ken Saro-Wiwa family as well as the government and people of Rivers State on the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa Jnr.
The president, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, also commiserated with the people of Ogoni Kingdom over the passage of their illustrious son, author and environmental activist, who was an ardent believer in the unity, progress and stability of his community.
Buhari said he joined them in mourning the sudden and painful passing of a promising Nigerian whose willingness and dedication to the clean-up of Ogoni land inspired a healing process in Nigeria after the death of his father, Ken Saro-Wiwa.
As the world mourns Saro-Wiwa Jr, the president said he believed the commitment of the journalist in serving three Nigerian presidents in various capacities clearly exemplified his patriotism, statesmanship and foresightedness.
Buhari, who initiated the process of cleaning up the Niger Delta region, urged family, friends and associates to honour Saro-Wiwa’s memory by making his dream of an environmentally safe, secured and prosperous Ogoni land a reality.
On his part, former President Jonathan expressed grief over the death of Saro-Wiwa Jr, describing him as a bright star and patriot.
Jonathan stated this in a condolence message to the family, adding that the late Saro-Wiwa, who served in his government as Senior Special Assistant on Civil Society and International Media, was a strong advocate for a just society.
In a statement issued yesterday by Ikechukwu Eze, Jonathan’s media aide, the former president further said: “I am deeply saddened by the passage to eternal glory, of Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr, who died at the age of 48. A bright star has been prematurely plucked from the Nigerian firmament. Saro-Wiwa Jr, like his father, Saro Wiwa, was a patriot.
“He was a consummate writer, highly driven and determined crusader with an undiluted sense of citizen rights, equity and justice.
“Ken was friendly, humane, idealistic and selfless, giving freely of himself in service to humanity, without expecting any personal reward.
“My prayers are with the family he left behind. Adieu great son of Nigeria.”
On his part, Saraki he was deeply shocked by the demise of the son of renowned Nigerian environmental activist, late Ken Saro-Wiwa, in London.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser, on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described the death of Saro-Wiwa Jnr. as a monumental loss not only to the people of Niger Delta but also to the country and the world at large.
He said: “I am shocked by the news of the untimely death of Saro-Wiwa Jr. This is one young man that has not only stepped into the shoes of his late father in fighting for the rights of the people, but has amply demonstrated his capacity as a leader in some of the private and national assignments undertaken by him. It is so sad that he left us too soon.”
Also, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said he received the news with shock.
Peterside, who was the Rivers State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 election, said he was still visibly pained over the sad development even as he recalled his long years of closeness with the Wiwa family of Bane in Ogoni.
“This is very sad news for me considering my many years of association with the Wiwa family of Bane. It’s indeed a very sad development and I am still in shock,” Peterside said.
A statement issued by his media office said the untimely death of Saro-Wiwa Jr is a huge loss not only to the immediate Wiwa family and the Ogoni but to the Rivers South-East, Rivers State and the Nigerian nation.”
Similarly, the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Magnus Abe, said he received news of the death of the young man with “shock and disbelief.”
He described Saro-Wiwa Jr. as “an Ogoni Patriot, the son of our great icon, nationalist and martyred environmentalist Kenule Beeson Saro Wiwa”, adding that “It took hours for me to fully comprehend this tragedy.”
In a statement he issued yesterday, Abe said: “This is indeed a great loss not only to the Ogoni people but to Nigeria. People have been calling me to ask why Ken junior? Why now? Why should a family and a people that have already sacrificed so much for Nigeria and the Niger Delta be required to make yet another sacrifice? I have no answers. In trying to look for answers I end up with more questions.”
The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) also expressed deep shock on the death of saro-Wiwa junior.
A statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of MOSOP, Fegalo Nsuke, said: “MOSOP is deeply pained by this tragic incident, the loss of our dear “Ken Jr.” – son of our celebrated hero, Ken Saro-Wiwa.
“We express our deepest condolences to the family of Wiwa in particular and the Ogoni nation in general.”
Not left out of the condolences was the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which expressed its sympathy with the family.
In a statement issued by the party’s spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the party also described Saro-Wiwa Jr as a rare gem that would be missed by all who knew him.
His short life journey no doubt, recorded successes on many fronts especially his contribution in journalism and literary work will not be forgotten in a hurry. Adieu!
“We pray the family to bear this irreparable loss of a great son, father and patriot of Ogoni kingdom, Rivers State,” it said.