Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa said on Thursday in Yenagoa that he received the news of the sudden demise of Pastor Keniebi Okoko with great shock and pain.
The governor, who described the late 42-year-old Okoko as an Ijaw icon, pillar and astute businessman, said Bayelsa, the Ijaw nation and indeed Nigeria has lost a man with great potential whose philanthropism and impact as a young politician would be greatly missed.
Keniebi, son of former President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and former lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Kimse Okoko, died on Tuesday at a private hospital in Lagos.
The governor commiserated with his family, aged parents, the Obunagha community of Gbarain Clan in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state.
Diri recalled how Okoko was a co-contestant in the Sept. 4, 2019 governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and made an impressive showing.
“As a fellow aspirant in the course of the PDP governorship primary, I got to know him quite well, he said in a statement by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah.
“He always presented himself as a patriotic, intelligent, gentlemanly, courteous and devoted Christian. He was always passionate about the prosperity of our state.
“I was therefore not surprised when I emerged winner of the primary election, Keniebi showed great sportsmanship by immediately congratulating me and collapsing his political structure into mine and worked energetically to ensure our victory.”
He noted that Okoko’s death was a huge loss to the PDP family in Bayelsa, coming at a time the party had great hopes in him to further the frontiers of development of the state.
He prayed God to comfort and grant his parents and immediate family the grace to bear this painful loss, adding that as ordinary mortals, we could not question God even at a time as this.
His words: “The sudden passing of Pastor Keniebi Okoko came as a rude shock to me. It is equally painful just as it is tragic.
“This is a terrible blow to Bayelsa and indeed the Ijaw nation. We have lost a pillar of support and a great patriot, who believed in and was always ready to contribute his quota to the development of our state. He will be greatly missed.
“I commiserate with the Okoko family as well as the PDP family in Bayelsa over this painful loss of a young man with great potential.
“As mortals, we cannot question the will of God even in death, no matter how painful it is.
“Why his sun has set, so suddenly at noon is a mystery to all of us who love him. I pray God to grant us all the strength at this time and the grace to bear the pain of Keniebi’s sudden departure.
“Nonetheless, we take solace in the words of Apostle Paul in Romans 14:8-9: If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord,” he added.