President Bola Tinubu on Thursday mourned the passing of former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Frank Kokori, whom he described as a thoroughbred activist and an exemplary comrade.
The late elder statesman, who passed away at about 1:30 am Thursday, was a foremost figure in the June 12 struggle.
He was aged 80.
The Kokori had been in a private hospital in Warri, Delta State, undergoing treatment for a kidney-related ailmen
“Chief Frank Kokori was one of the arrowheads of the June 12 struggle and the enthronement of democracy and the rule of law in Nigeria. He was a labour leader per excellence, chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and an elder statesman. His love for Nigeria was unparalleled,” the family said.
Reacting to the news, President Tinubu condoled with the Kokori family, the civil society, the government, and the people of Delta state over the deeply painful loss.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, the President described the former labour leader “as a man of conscience; highly principled, courageous, and true.”
In the statement titled ‘President Tinubu mourns hero of June 12 struggle, Frank Kokori,’ Tinubu said, “Frank Kokori was a thoroughbred democrat and activist. He fought for democracy at a great personal cost.
“He surrendered his liberty to fight for truth and justice. He was the finest among reformers and champions of civil rights in Nigeria.
“He was a brother in the June 12 struggle. He was uncompromising, unbending, and irrepressible. He was an exemplary comrade.”
Tinubu prayed for the repose of Kokori’s soul and encouraged those he left behind to take comfort in his peerless legacy.
Also, NUPENG said Kokori was a beacon of democratic struggles in Nigeria and he remained an advocate of democracy throughout his life.
President of NUPENG, Williams Akporeha, said on Thursday in Lagos that Kokori would be missed greatly by the labour and pro-democracy movements.
He said, “He stood firm and continued to speak for the downtrodden until his last breath on earth. We wish he lived longer. It is a sad day for us in NUPENG and will continue to celebrate him.
Akporeha said, Kokori “spent a life of “Sacrifice” to struggles for emancipation of the working class globally and enthronement of democratic rule in Nigeria,”.
According to him, Kokori spent years in prison and was severely brutalised in his struggles for not only the trade unions but also against military rule in Nigeria.
He said the late unionist spent the later years of his life nursing some of the vicious wounds inflicted on him in the course of those struggles.
Also, the President, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, and Deputy President, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria; Tommy Okon, said Kokori’s death was very painful.
“The trade union movement will miss him seriously, but his contributions to the growth and development of the trade union movement in the country can never be forgotten.
“Let me use this medium to extend my condolences to the family and the trade union movement, in particular the NUPENG family, for the loss.
“Also, I pray for the repose of the soul of the erstwhile General Secretary of NUPENG, Chief Frank Kokori; may his soul rest peacefully,“ Okon said.
Also, Programme Manager, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Mr Okeke Anya, described Kokori’s death as a very sad one.
“Chief Frank Kokori was not only a great labour leader, but also a great patriot, who fought for the entrenchment of democracy in the country.
“We console the family and pray that his soul rests with the Almighty, “ Anya said.
The Delta State Governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Kenneth Gbagi, described Kokori’s transition as “a great loss to the Urhobo nation”.
Gbagi, in a condolence message, said Kokori’s transition had come at a time Nigeria, Delta and the Urhobo nation needed him most, particularly at a time when we are supposed to mark his birth anniversary”.
Also, Senator Ede Dafinone, representing Delta Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, described the late Kokori as “an iconic labour leader, a staunch progressive politician, and a fearless defender of democracy”.
“He was a compassionate and determined administrator, a peacemaker and bridge builder who stepped in and led a section of the oil sector at a very difficult time in the history of the country.
Former Deputy President of the Senate and governorship candidate of the APC in Delta State, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, in a tribute, eulogized Kokori as an advocate for the people and accountable governance.
“He deliberately put his life on the line when he mobilized workers in the oil industry to fight the Abacha repressive regime. They could not buy him over, they could not handle him and it required the use of undercover state operatives to render and detain him.
“It cannot be faulted to say that he is one of the main pillars of the birth of democratic rule in May 1999. Chief Kokori epitomised the virtues of the advocacy of father of labour activism in Nigeria, the late Pa Michael Imodu, who used the platform to fight irresponsible and dictatorial tendencies in government,” Omo-Agege stated.