The conference hall of the Legacy Center, secretariat of the Center for Human Rights and Development, CEHRD, Port Harcourt, came alive, Thursday, August 25, 2022, as environmentalists, human rights activists, academics, media and other professionals gathered at the instance of the Civil Liberties Organization, CLO to celebrate the second anniversary of the demise of a worthy colleague, journalist and activist, Patrick Naagbanton who departed two years ago.
Declaring the gathering open, chairperson of the occasion Chief Constance Meju, chairman CEHRD and managing editor National Point Newspaper commended CLO for choosing Patrick’s birthday for honour. She said the late activist touched many lives and left a legacy worth being remembered for.
Speaking, Prof. Lucky Akaruese of the University of Port Harcourt, regretted the death of Patrick Naagbanton, saying he was unable to attend his burial due to circumstance.
“He was my student, his zeal was something commendable. Patrick was a courageous person, a mobilizer, a prolific writer with great ideals,” Prof Lucky Akaruese noted, adding that Patrick and Nsirimovu Anyakwee had the same characteristics”.
He lamented that the activists circle was thinning out.
According to him, Nigeria cannot be peaceful with all that is happening, as he bemoaned the educational system in the country. He described late Patrick as an ebullient, huge, fearless and somebody who believed in the Niger Delta.
The UNIPORT senior lecturer thanked the family and the organizers for the honour done Naagbanton and Nsirimovu, assuring that their ideals cannot die.
In his contribution, Comrade Sam Eke informed that he was appearing for the first time since the demise of Patrick, saying that it was obvious that the late activist fought a great battle for the betterment of the society.
“Patrick was upright, a forthright man who imbibed the ideals of Ken Saro Wiwa and the likes of Beko Ransome Kuti, Gani Fawehinmi and other great men.
“He was a fearless person and phobia was not in his dictionary. For us to fight any battle we should remove phobia from ourselves and be focused,” Comrade Eke charged.
He further pointed out, “We have lost a fearless prolific writer who has left an indelible footprint on the sand of time”.
Speaking on the state of the nation, a journalist and South-South coordinator of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Sir Karl Chinedu posited: “What we inherited was not a nation but a British colonial enterprise that doesn’t suite all. Nigeria was a country that was rigged to fail right from the onset, and not to survive. The tripod in Nigeria (WAZOBIA) was also a failed idea.
“Nobody can rescue Nigeria. Obi, Tinubu and Atiku cannot rescue Nigeria,” stressed.
Sir Chinedu wondered how a section of the North swallowed all the ethnic tribes in that region, and is also advancing to swallow all the other ethnic nationalities in the country.
“Other minorities in the North have been swallowed by a particular Northern group. The Hausas are even saying they are not Fulani, and that Fulanis are killing them,” he said.
The human right activist further stressed that he is envisaging a time bomb, adding that the 2023 general election year will still be as usual, hence, “we don’t have a country called Nigeria yet”.
While making his remark, an academician, Prof. Nunebari Zabbey, coordinator of CEHRD recounted that late environmentalist and human right activist, Patrick Naagbanton made an indelible contribution for a better society, and commended him for his investigative journalism.
“In a day like this, it is very remarkable gathering here for the good work of Patrick Naagbanton”, he said, pointing out that, “the economy is collapsing, and as such, everybody must come together and salvage it for future generation and in remembrance of our great souls”, Prof Zabbey advised.
Highpoint of the day was the cake cutting/presentation of a book in honour of Comrade Patrick Naagbanton, On the Trail of A Town Crier edited by Comrade Didi Orike.
Dr Orike said the book was motivated by the fact that while alive, Patrick was informal and never celebrated a birthday publicly so putting a work highlighting the varied segments of his life as activist, journalist, environmentalist and travel writer.
Chairman of Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) in Rivers State, Comrade Christopher Solomon thanked all for coming to pay tributes to Patrick Naagbanton and his great works in spite of the short notice.
“A lot has been said about Patrick Naagbanton, and I am very encouraged for that. In Civil Liberties Organization, the fight is on, and we will continue to push forward for the voice of the people to be heard”, he stated.
Comrade Solomon reiterated that Nigeria has collapsed and that nobody is happy and proud of the country anymore.