Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City and Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Francis Okpozo is dead. He was aged 81.
Okpozo died in Benin City on Monday night after a brief illness.
Okpozo who was one-time Deputy Speaker of the defunct Bendel State House of Assembly on the platform of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and was later elected to the Senate on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Speaking with journalists at the father’s residence off Ekenhuan Road, Benin City, eldest son of the deceased, Edgar Okpozo, expressed surprise at the death of his father, saying though the man was elderly, he should have stayed much longer..
Sympathisers thronged the residence of the deceased to console the widow, Mrs. Anna Okpozo.
One of the sympathisers was a former Commissioner for Health in Delter State, Dr. Alex Ideh.
The former deputy speaker was reputed to be the one who presided over the bill establishing the then Bendel State University, Ekpoma, now Ambrose Alli University as well as the then Bendel State Polytechnic, Ozoro, now Ozoro Polytechnic, Delta State.
Okpozo, a consummate politician, was a former chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta sSate.
Meanwhile, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, has commiserated with the family of the deceased, urging them to take solace in the fact that he left behind a string of achievements as a legacy.
In a statement yesterday in Asaba, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said Okowa was saddened by news of Okpozo’s death of the former Deputy Speaker of the defunct Bendel State House of Assembly.
The governor also extended heartfelt condolences to the Isoko nation and his party, the APC, where he was a member of the Board of Trustees, over the loss.
Also, the immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has described the death of Okpozo as “a very painful exit of an iconic politician who loves telling truth to power always.”
Uduaghan said: “This is one piece of news we do not need to end the year,” asserting that the politician was “a man of truth who hates oppression, he was a constant ally in our struggle for the greatness of the Niger Delta. I recall my several consultations with him as Governor, where he always gave me undiluted, invaluable advice on peace and stability of the state.
“At times of crisis, political or otherwise, you would always want Okpozo to be on your side. As Deputy Speaker of the then Bendel State House of Assembly and senator in the Second Republic, he was a lawmaker of uncommon wisdom who used his background to marshal issues for the common good of all.
“The great people of the Ozoro Kingdom will miss his presence and invaluable service, the state has just lost a great and influential voice at the national level, Nigeria will miss a fearless elder statesman who believed in service before self.
“I pray God to give all those he left behind, especially the wife and children, the fortitude to bear this great loss and to continue his legacies of equity, justice and fair play,” Uduaghan said.
Similarly, the leader of the APC in the state, Olorogun Otega Emerhor, has described Okpozo as a great nationalist and one of the key foundation members of the party in 2013.
He said in a condolence message to the Okpozo family that “it is with great shock that I received the sudden passing away of Okpozo. A great nationalist, a renowned statesman in Delta State and an Iion in Isoko land, Senator Okpozo has been a leading light and a grand commander in the camp of the progressives in the sate for ages.
“A grand father and elder of the APC in Delta, it is unfortunate that he died when the Delta APC house is in the final stretch of full reconciliation; an ideal of his life long struggle. We, in Delta APC will miss him sorely. We pray that his death will spur those of us left behind to honor him with a final unity.”