At 76, Chief Francis Doukpola, a former governorship candidate of the PDP in Bayelsa State and until recently, the chairman of the Bayelsa Elders Forum was a strong believer in a better future for Bayelsa, a state he worked hard to see to its birth.
He was full of life and even with his old age, never got tired of contributing to the development of the state. He had a dream to govern the state right from inception, because he felt he had all it takes to take the state to greater heights. The closest he got to achieving that ambition was when he emerged candidate of the PDP for a few days, after the then governor and former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan got nominated as vice presidential candidate. Other considerations were muted and he lost the ticket to Chief Timipre Sylva who emerged second during the primary election.
He still gave it another try thereafter but could not make it. He then decided that even if he could not get elected as governor, he could still serve his people. So, as chairman of the elders forum, Doukpola was here and there, rendering service to his country people.
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Doukpola, an affable and humble politician and grandfather, played his politics with so much decorum. After giving the late Chief D.S.P Alamieyeseigha a hot fight for the seat of governor, they were to eventually reconcile during his 60th birthday party in his Port Harcourt residence. At that event, he did what many politicians have never done: he invited his followers to witness the reconciliation and urged them to work with the late governor-general of Ijaw Nation. Doukpola was such a gentle man politician who did not believe that any life should be lost because of his ambition.
He contributed so much to the development of the Niger. Until recently, he was the deputy national chairman of PANDEF-the Pan Niger Delta Forum-a group of Niger Delta stakeholders who have been struggling for the good of the region. He gave his all for the development of Bayelsa and the Niger Delta.
Since his death on June 17, 2020, a lot has been said about him. For example, the immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson said in his condolence message that “Doukpola lived a lifetime of dedicated commitment and service to God and man.The late Political leader would be remembered for his wonderful services as a banker of repute to the good people of Rivers and Bayelsa.
He said that Chief Doukpola was a role model who was indeed a major pillar of support to him throughout his eight years as Governor of Bayelsa State. My family and I received the news of the death of our leader, Chief Francis Doukpola, with great shock and pain.
“Bayelsa State and indeed the Ijaw nation have lost a great son, brother and leader who put years of dedicated commitment to the service of humanity.
“He was one elder and leader who was always present to give quality advice and was indeed a stabilizing force throughout my two tenures as Governor of Bayelsa State.
“As a man of proven integrity and accountability, I did not hesitate for one minute before entrusting sensitive responsibilities to him and he never failed. While we are pained, we should be consoled by the fact that he lived a great life worthy of emulation. I pray for the eternal repose of the soul of this great Ijaw son and for God to give his family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.
Also, the national chairman of PANDEF, retired air commodore Idongesit Nkanga said Doukpola was “a steadfast, committed and dogged crusader of the Niger Delta cause, and the national quest for the restructuring of Nigeria.
A former president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who also issued a condolence message to the people of Bayelsa State
“I condole with the Doukpola family and the people of Bayelsa on the demise of Chief Francis Doukpola. Chief Doukpola was a renowned banker and a pan – Niger Delta leader who was dedicated to the development and peace of the Niger Delta. He was involved in the political development of Bayelsa state from inception and made significant contributions to the growth of the state in various areas. He will be missed by many members of our society, especially for his patriotism, commitment to peace, and justice. May God comfort his family and all sympathisers and grant them peace and strength during this moment and even beyond.”
Doukpola happened to be one of the victims of the dreaded COVID-19. The battle to save him yielded no results and he eventually gave up at the Niger Delta Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri. About three days later, his wife also joined him. She could not bear the pains of living without her husband. He left behind children and grandchildren.
Perhaps, one of the best ways of immortalizing Doukpa would be for the government of the day to ensure that Bayelsa State is developed and the people properly empowered in line with the dreams of the former patriot. If this happens, the man would be happy even in death. We commiserate with the immediate family and wish them the fortitude to bear the double loss.