By Chioma Okezie-Okeh
President Muhammadu Buhari has confirmed the death of Dr (Mrs.) Bolere Ketebu Okehie, former Nigerian Ambassador to Ireland who died at the age of 66 on January 16, 2020.
In a statement by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President, Buhari recalls that the deceased served her country creditably in several capacities, including President, National Council of Women Societies, Secretary to Bayelsa State government, Member, House of Representatives, and Ambassador, among others.
President Buhari prayed that God should grant repose to the soul of the departed medical doctor-cum-diplomat, and comfort all who mourn her especially her immediate family, Bayelsa State government and others.
Born in February 25, 1954 Dr. Bolere Elizabeth Ketebu Okehie devoted her life to the championing of women’s rights.
A qualified medical doctor and community physician, she rose through the ranks from local government officer of the NCWS (Nigeria National Council of Women’s Societies) to become the National president.
After graduating from the University of Lagos, she embarked upon a postgraduate degree in Medicine, became a fellow of the West African College of Physicians and studied Public Health and Community medicine at the Nigeria Postgraduate Medical College. She practiced as a city health officer for some years, became a director in the federal service in 1989, and was selected at the College of Medicine to train doctors.
From there Dr. Bolere Ketebu Okehie went to the House of Representatives (representing Yenagoa Constituency, Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1992 – 1993). While she still remained active in politics, she also became a public health consultant and continued practicing medicine and founded and co-ran a home for motherless babies.
One of the major contributions Dr. Bolere Ketebu Okehie made to Nigeria is conceiving the micro credit scheme, for women’s groups and associations. She toured Nigeria for 62 days and administered the loan, but was later wrongly accused of defrauding the country and found herself remanded in police custody.
In September 2001, she was elected Advisor, Habitat to the International Council of Women (ICW). She was elected in 2003 as International Board Member to ICW, position she held till 2009.
As a board member, she coordinated the National Council of Women in Africa and was Chairman, United Nations Status of Women ‘Project Five 0’ On Girl Child Education.
In May 2007, she was appointed Secretary to State Government of Bayelsa State.
In 2009, she was appointed council member, University of Lagos, a position she held until her appointment as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Republic of Island with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Iceland in 2013.
Years after separating from her first husband Chief Alabo Graham-Douglas who is the father of her 5 kids, she got remarried to Dr Collins Okehie, a renowned lawyer based in United States on February, 2017. Both lived together in Richmond Texas before she returned to Nigeria in October 2020 when her party the National Rescue Mission (NRM) in Bayelsa called her to participate in the Bye election for Bayelsa Central senatorial zone but lost the election.
Siting irregularities, she filed a petition at the tribunal and was awaiting the outcome of the trial before her untimely death on January 16, 2021.
Her husband Collins Okehie described her as a loving wife and a great mother.