Second Republic senator, Francis Okpozo, dies at 81
• Ozoro community plans statesman’s burial
• Okowa, Uduaghan, APC, others mourn
Second Republic Senator, Chief Spanner Francis Okpozo has died in Benin City, the Edo State capital after a brief illness at the age of 81years.
The eldest son of the deceased, Edgar Okpozo who confirmed the development to The Guardian, said his father died after a brief illness at an undisclosed private hospital in Benin City on Monday. He he had earlier been discharged from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) where he was receiving treatment.
Late Senator Okpozo had been battling with an undisclosed ailment. Until his death, he was one of the chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta state.
According to Edgar, the sad incident occurred at about 7.00pm Monday night in Benin City, four days after he was discharged from UBTH.
Meanwhile, the Ozoro community in Isoko North council area of Delta state, where Okpozo, hailed from, is planning a burial ceremony befitting a statesman, said the spokesman of the Ozoro Elders and Leaders Council, Chief Fred Obey.
Obey told The Guardian, that Ozoro community wants to make his burial a community affair in view of his political status and contributions to the development of the Ozoro community.
He disclosed that discussions between the Okpozo family and the leaders of the Ozoro community will take place to plan on how to give the distinguished politician a befitting burial.
He described Okpozo’s death as a big loss to the Ozoro, Isoko, Delta state and Nigeria.
Also yesterday, the state Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa commiserated with the Okpozo family. Okowa who received with sadness, the death of the octogenarian politician and former Deputy Speaker of the defunct Bendel State House of Assembly, extended his heartfelt condolences to the Isoko Nation, his party, All Progressives Congress, (APC) over the loss.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, read: “Governor Okowa recalls that Senator Francis Okpozo was a vocal voice in the Senate and until his death he has remained a consistent critic and commentator on National issues.
“He affirms that the then Senator, served his country and humanity with all his God-given strength and talent, noting that the distinguished Senator was a worthy leader in the Niger Delta.
“We have lost a great man whose contributions to the literary world can best be described as legendary, inspirational and worthy of emulation.
Okowa prayed God to grant Okpozo’s immediate family the strength to bear the irreparable loss, pointing out that his achievements in different areas of national life will always be remembered.
Similarly, the immediate past Governor of the State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan described Okpozo’s death as “a very painful exit of an iconic politician who loves telling truth to power always,”
“This is one piece of news we do not need to end the year with; he was a man of truth who hates oppression, he was a constant ally in our struggle for the greatness of the Niger Delta. I recall my several consultations with him as Governor, where he always gave me undiluted, invaluable advice on peace and stability of the state.
“At times of crisis, political or otherwise, you would always want Senator Okpozo to be on your side. As Deputy Speaker of the then Bendel State House of Assembly and Senator in the Second Republic, he was a lawmaker of uncommon wisdom who used his background to marshal issues for the common good of all.”
In like manner, the Senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District, Ovie Omo-Agege described Okpozo as “one of the giants of Nigeria political life, a long time opposition leader in Delta state, a mentor and a father.”
He said that with his death, to the Isoko nation, the APC family, Deltans and the nation at large have lost a leading light.
He recalled that late Okpozo brought great passion and energy to all the causes he championed; whenever he decided to take on any issue, he gave it his all.
On his part, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, described the late Senator as a great nationalist and one of the key foundation members of the party in 2013.
According to him, “it is with great shock that I received the sudden passing away of Senator Francis Spanner Okpozo. A great nationalist, a renowned statesman in Delta State and an Icon in Isoko land, Senator Okpozo has been a leading light and a grand commander in the camp of the Progressives in Delta State for ages.”
Okpozo was the Deputy Speaker Bendel State House of Assembly under the UPN until 1984 when the army seized power before the creation of Delta state and also Chairman Senate Committee on Environment in 1992 after been elected to represent Isoko, Itsekiri, Ijaw Senatorial District in the upper chamber.