The news broke last Thursday, of the death of a former commissioner of agriculture in Bayelsa State, Chief Lionel Jonathan-Omo, causing ripples across political, social and professional divides.
Not many who heard the sad news took it seriously, especially those who were not aware of his fall from his storey-building, in his Nembe home, a few weeks ago.
But even those who knew about the accident still did not believe the news of his passage because as at Wednesday, there was nothing to show that he was going to pass on. What was seen as a successful operation had been carried out in a Port Harcourt Hospital and he was recuperating.
Even last weekend when the leader of the APC in his state, Chief Timipre Sylva visited him in the hospital, there was no inkling that death was on the door, waiting for the lawyer and highly brilliant former politician, technocrat and farmer.
That was why, when the news broke last Thursday that he had passed on, scores of Bayelsans, especially Nembe people, went into the streets in tears. Those who have benefitted from his investments in the Achievers Farms project wept even much more.
It has always been said that death is a necessary end for all mortals. His death is a sad reminder of the popular saying of the late Dr Myles Munroe, who said the cemetery is the wealthiest place on earth. That assertion cannot be faulted in times like this.
Jonathan-Omo was a warehouse of knowledge and ideas. One of his visions was to have a farm that would stand out as the best in the country. He worked towards it, building the Achievers Farms from the scratch and mentoring a lot of farmers along the line. If he was not in his library reading and researching, he was in his farm. If he was not engaged in political activities, he was busy mentoring young and up-coming lawyers.
Apart from his immediate family who may not recover for a long time to come, his political family, the APC, has been badly hit. An emotional statement by the party's spokesman in Bayelsa State, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, said it all. In it, the APC had said “all of us had hoped that Jonathan-Omo would recover from his injuries and get on with his life, particularly, at this time of intense political activities in our state and country when his experience and wisdom are seriously needed.
“Jonathan-Omo was a wonderful party man, a great Bayelsan, and an illustrious Ijaw son. He was at the forefront of every popular activity – politically, economically, and socially – to better the lives of people in his state and nation. He believed in truth and fought for it with every resource and avenue at his disposal.
“A democrat to the core, he always believed in dialogue and was always ready to listen to others. Lionel-Jonathan never forced his opinion on anyone. He characteristically gave room for the ventilation of opinions, even from his fiercest opponents. His valuable and truthful counsels are some of the things we will surely miss.
“Jonthan-Omo was focused and intelligent, a man of magically brilliant political ideas. The remarkable thing about his ideas is that they were always meant to help and better the society. He was sacrificial, but strong and hated being vulnerable. He was an incurable optimist and a huge encouragement to his political allies. He offered comfort and motivation to those around him.
“Our hope is that he rests in peace, knowing he fought a good fight and the legacies of truth, peace, and positive hope he left with us will endure and grow.”
His death has, indeed created a very serious vacuum in Bayelsa State. TNN wishes him an eternal rest in the bosom of the Lord.