From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Foremost Ijaw politician and former presidential candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria (LDPN) and Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the 2003 and 2007 election respectively, Chief Christopher Pere Ajuwa is dead.
A family source said Ajuwa, who battled a terminal illness died in hospital, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at 76.
Ajuwa, a native of Gbaraun community, in Southern Ijaw local government of Bayelsa State had, before his emergence as the presidential candidates of LDPN and AD been a presidential candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in the botched Third Republic.
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 presidential candidate, which forced Ajuwa to leave the party.
Since news of his death broke, his political associates and Bayelsa Governor, Seriake Dickson and visitors have been trooping to the family house in Port Harcourt, to condole with the family.
He said family members have been contacted and will meet in Port Harcourt to plan Ajuwa’s burial.
Dickson, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso Markson, described Ajuwa’s death as “sad, shocking and a monumental loss to the government and people of Bayelsa state.
He also said Ajuwa’s untimely passage was a great and painful loss to the Ijaw Nation and the political landscape of Nigeria.
Dickson recalled Ajuwa’s forays into politics, “which saw him contest for the governorship of old Rivers State and later, for the presidency, making him one of the very few minorities of Ijaw stock to run for the highest office in the land.”
The governor also said “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”
The governor also recalled how Ajuwa “supported every genuine effort of the Ijaw people to be properly recognised and be accorded their pride of place politically, economically, and in other areas of human endeavour 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.”