(By Femi Folaranmi – YENAGOA)
Foremost Ijaw politician and former Presidential candidates of the Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria (LDPN) and Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the 2003 and 2007 Presidential election respectively, Chief Christopher Pere Ajuwa, is dead.
A family source said Ajuwa who has been battling a terminal illness passed on at an undisclosed hospital in Port Harcourt Rivers state at the age of 76.
Ajuwa a native of Gbaraun community in Southern Ijaw local government of Bayelsa had before his emergence as the Presidential candidates of LDPN and AD has been a Presidential candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
He was originally a member of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but was forced to step down for then General Mohammadu Buhari who was picked as the party’s presidential candidate forcing Ajuwa to leave the party.
The family source said since the news of his death has been broken to his political associates and the Governor of Bayelsa state; visitors have been trooping to the family in Port Harcourt to condole with the family.
He said the family members have been contacted and are to meet in Port Harcourt to plan a befitting burial for the elder statesman.
Governor Henry Dickson in his statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Iworiso Markson described his death as sad, shocking and a monumental loss to the Government and people of Bayelsa State.
According to him Ajuwa’s untimely passage was a great and painful loss to the Ijaw Nation and the political landscape of Nigeria.
Dickson who recalled Chief Ajuwa’s forays into politics, which saw him contest for the governorship of the old Rivers State and later for the presidency, making him one of the very few minorities of the Ijaw stock to run for the highest office in the land.
According to him, the efforts of the late Egbesu of Egbesubiri greatly inspired the younger generation of Ijaw politician and gave a greater insight and meaning to why “ we should legitimately fight for what rightly belonged to us, without resorting to violence”
Dickson also recalled how Chief Pere Ajuwa supported every genuine effort of the Ijaw people to be properly recognized and be accorded their pride of place politically, economically, and in other areas of human endavour by using his personal resources to fight for the political and economic emancipation of the minorities of the South-South, especially his tribesmen and women, who had suffered years of neglect and deprivation from the activities of oil companies. He noted that even though Chief Ajuwa is dead, his worthy legacies and strides as an Ijaw patriot and a fighter for the rights of the minorities of this country would live long after him.