Comrade Patrick Naagbanton
Since the cold hands of death snatched our dedicated comrade and the people’s dependable ally, Comrade Patrick Naagbanton late hours of Saturday September 21, 2019, expressions of disbelief and shock have been the reaction from across the globe.
Colleagues in activism from the Niger Delta, all around Nigeria, to Europe, US, Canada, everywhere Patrick crossed, have been sending in condolences and tributes.
Constance Meju, Managing Editor National Point Newspaper, chairperson, CEHRD
A great tree has fallen. Patrick Naagbanton, a giant in size and heart, a fearless journalist and human rights defender has left for the unknown.
This great soul who has worked tirelessly to defend Niger Delta communities against injustice at great personal risk, died on Saturday after being in coma for eight days.
The only Nigerian I know who can walk away from earthly riches, Patrick was a rock to homes, individuals and institutions. Nigeria, Niger Delta, Rivers State and Ogoni land have lost a great soul
Pat, I’m yet to accept this blow.
Rest in Peace Patrick, Your memories are evergreen, your kindness, smile and professional tenacity can never be forgotten. Adieu brother; friend & colleague.
God Almighty grant your family, the fortitude to bear this sudden goodbye.
Peace of God be with your Soul, in Jesus name.
My eyes are misty! There is pain in me. I wished it was false news. Patrick Naagbanton gone! What a huge loss to our country.
PATRICK NAAGBANTON: GOOD NIGHT TO MAN WITH A CLEAN HEART
By Emmanuel Obe
The news of the death of Patrick Naagbanton was shocking to me. I did not in my wildest imagination think that his time to go, was anywhere near now. The last time I met him at 24 Aggrey Road, Port Harcourt in 2017 where some poets met to romanticize the martyred environmental rights champion and Ogoni leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Patrick was full of life. He had expressed a desire for us to meet. But we couldn’t because time was running out on me as I had to leave Port Harcourt before nightfall.
Patrick was a self-made man, who emerged in the hard days of the Ogoni struggle in the 1990s. He wrote, he organized, unionized, protested and confronted the powers of that time with his bare chest. He had no money, no clout, no godfather, not even the international connections as many activists today have. But he was resilient. He was quick to respond to issues about Ogoni and other national issues with press releases and opinion articles. At some point, he worked with media houses without pay if that was the only way he could push forward his views and position on prevailing public issues.
He got himself educated while still in the struggle. And when the struggles got internationalized, he coordinated many ends from Nigeria. But in all he refused to take material possession as reward for all his works. When Nigeria returned to civilian rule and pro-democracy activists tempered their agitation, Patrick went into writing, churning out poetry, prose, drama, textbooks, biographies and more.
I believe that one of his regrets was the regress of the Ogoni struggle, which was hijacked by self-seeking individuals that found it an avenue to amass wealth.
After initially fighting off those elements, Patrick retreated and joined in the more global fight for the restoration of the environment in the larger Niger Delta and the uplift of the downtrodden in society whose rights were being trampled on because they were too powerless to fight back.
He was among Ogoni activists that believed that the Ogoni must not accept anything less than the restoration of the Ogoni environment, control of their resources and political autonomy.
Patrick Naagbanton left with his hands clean, knowing that whatever material possession accumulated here on earth would remain here when one left here. The thing is to leave behind a clean environment for those that are left behind, to make their stay on earth worth the while.
Just Can’t Process It–Betty Abbah
Just can’t process it. NO! Profound scholar, Niger Delta activist, senior friend. How do I write RIP to u, dear Patrick Naagbanton? My dear Patrick Nagbaaton, I still can’t process this. You still had so much more to contribute to the Niger Delta environmental justice struggle.You still had so much more to contribute to the Niger Delta environmental justice struggle. You still had so many more books and so much more scholarly thoughts on the state of the nation to churn out.
This sudden exit leaves us all numbed with shock.
I can’t process it, can’t accept that that hit and run driver would end this story, this colossus, this asset, this inspiring friendship just like that.I can’t.
Patrick Was A Good Man who spoke for the truth-Judith Asuni
I am so sad at the death of Patrick Naagbanton after he was hit by a car in Port Harcourt. Patrick was a good man who spoke for the truth. He was the first person to stick out his neck and speak in my defense during my detention in 2007. Others hid to protect themselves, including another expat working for a major NGO in Port Harcourt. That organization had just hosted the German filmmakers, who were linked with my arrest. They kept quiet and did not speak the truth. But Patrick, who had no professional connection with me, spoke up loud and clear, against this human rights abuse. He was a giant figure, physically and morally, and Nigeria is the worse for his passing. RIP.
A Spontaneous Personality, a Mass of a Man- Didi Orike
About two years ago I called him on the phone. He replied that he was in Abuja and will be leaving the next day to PH. I told him I will still be in Enugu where I was looking through some colonial documents at the National Archives around Colliery Road, Enugu. I was researching for a book on my Ogba tribe and the Nigeria Police. The next morning, he called me stating that he will change his flight to Enugu to be with and possibly travel along with me by road to Port Harcourt. He did arrive Enugu in good time, we ate together and we retired to our different hotel rooms. The following morning, we set off to Port Harcourt through a bus owned by Rivers Transport Corporation. There, I discovered a young man who was of my Egi clan. His name was Promise. He was working and schooling in that area. I remember giving the young man a book titled, ‘The Niger Delta Crisis, the Ogba People and the Future’ written by me in 2008. We parted with the young man but not without advising him to keep the struggle alive. We got into our bus and the driver snaked through the remnant contours of Enugu roads and hit the Enugu/Port Harcourt expressway. At Okigwe, my man called the driver to stop. He quickly jumped out of the vehicle.
When he got back, he was in possession of four heavy wraps of Suya. Everyone was shocked even as he was distributing the wraps to passengers seated on every row of the bus. While eating the roasted beef, he and I started talking of the need to set up a writers club. He started immediately taking notes on the proposed workings of our club. We were to change the club to a forum which we named “Port Harcourt Writers Forum’. We did not want the encumbrances of registration and politicking of almost every organization of nowadays. We just wanted a forum we can relax and encourage one another to write and appreciate our own works very informally. He named me the president, while his unassuming self became the secretary.
On another occasion within the same month, I called that we may talk about our forum but he asked me to meet him at “The Canopy.” in the D-Line area of Port Harcourt. He was a member of “The Canopy” group of friends. On my arrival there he simply took me on a short walk to a nearby supermarket. He started buying stuff like beverages and all what not for his son, who was about going back to school. I protested that I was not there to waste time but, he replied stating “Oh boy, take something for your family…o.” I told him I don’t understand. He went ahead to pick bread, Ovaltine, Peak milk, sugar and other things I cannot now remember. He said they were mine while I just moped at him in confusion. “Oh boy take more…if you like.” This was more than a bribe for wasting my time. My man had money and simply wanted to share it with me unsolicited! Choi!
He was a spontaneous personality, a mass of man- tall and big- yes, a giant, a self-confessed humanist, investigative journalist, small arms and light weapons researcher, writer of books, biographer, essayist, poet, human rights activist and above all Marxist revolutionary thinker who made it a lifetime ambition to successfully visit the grave site of Karl Marx at the Highgate Cemetery, London, United Kingdom. He eventually did.
His name is Comrade Patrick Naagbanton.He died two days ago and I still can’t find the guts to say “RIP” or talk to more than one person about him.
May Heaven Grant You Space-HON PATIENCE OSARO-EJIJI
May God grant the wife, family members and friends the fortitude to bear the loss. I also pray God replace him with one who can wear those shoes he wore. For it takes the real grace of God to stand against the odds in present day Nigeria. May heaven grant you space if the voice of men is the voice of God.
His philanthropy and kindness were mind boggling. His courage and bravery, audacious–Karl Chinedu Uchegbu
There are simply no words to convey our deep anguish and sense of loss. Where can one start? In journey that spanned over 20 years of being “decisively engaged” in the struggle to free Nigeria from the yoke of the most irresponsible and destructive political elite in recorded history, a brotherly bond developed. He was a man of many parts- Cerebral yet unassuming; strong yet humble and meek. His philanthropy and kindness were mind boggling. His courage and bravery were audacious. Always there for his friends and comrades. He was so simple and full of life, that I often wondered if he had enemies. He showed love and understanding for even those who offended him. His humour was infectious and his booming laughter was unmistakable.
During my wedding reception, he was the Master of Ceremony, and verbally murdered the names of my village people and in-laws in his gallant attempt to pronounce the Igbo names that often came with titles.
Our paths in life so often crisscrossed. He led our movement to The Beacon newspaper, a move that radicalized the newspaper and shot it to the apex of journalism in Rivers State. He was my predecessor as chairman of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) Rivers State. I was to later succeed him as the zonal chairman of CLO, South South and member of the Board of CLO.
During protests, he was our “Field Marshall” as not only could he mobilize huge crowds in a jiffy, but would also police the crowd to avoid infiltration from agent provocateurs and fifth columnists.
He was a marvel to behold in the field as an investigative/travel journalist, human rights campaigner, environmental justice crusader, etc.
He put his beloved Bodo City, which he often humorously harangued us, was the largest indigenous city in Africa, on the global map.
Our last discussion just a day before the accursed accident, was on plans for a surprise birthday for our senior comrade Che Ibegwura . We had agreed to meet on Tuesday at the ‘CANOPY’ to set the plans in motion. But my Sunday Liturgy was shattered by news of his death.
Patrick Naagbanton, this is not the death we envisaged for ourselves. Having survived the onslaught of the military during the pro- democracy struggle; At Mile 3 Park, during the anti Abacha protests, we still made it out, after being surrounded by soldiers and policemen. Having escaped the Gestapo clutches of security agents at Odi, Uyo, Kaiama, Miniama and other theaters of confrontation, we had every right to expect to grow old and watch our grand-children play, while we reminisce on the struggle that was our life.
Who will I call IGBIGI now that you have gone forever? Who will I call MAYOR of Obonwanboko?
So long and fare well SOLDIER OF THE REVOLUTION. Rest in Peace SON OF BODO.
It’s a Black Day for the Black Man -Prof Scot Pegg
It’s a black day for the black man. Tijen and I are just stunned and dumbfounded by the news.
Too sad a news! As I said earlier, his tragic death may slow down the Ogoni and Niger Delta transformative development. He accepted the fact that science and positive reasoning define human civilization. Counting on those who made a turn around for societal drastic change for the better, his record will remain evergreen.
He could be counted among the 20 greatest Ogoni men. He was Prof, for all intent and purpose, an Ogoni Super Hero.
CPN Rives State Will Not Forget Your Contributions to the Network
CPN mourns the passing on of our dear Comrade, rights activist, environmental justice campaigner, poet, author and seasoned journalist, Comrade Patrick Naagbanton.
The civil society family in Nigeria and Rivers State will miss your input and contributions to the fight against the agents of oppression in our country. CPN will not forget in haste, your contributions to the network in Rivers State.
We pray God to grant to grant your family the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss. Rest in Peace.
You Are A Niger Son-Ken Meju
Against the will of hearts brave
Tears flow into belly of the River
Endless surge from brave of hearts
Whose joy are smothered by murdering hand
Drunk and drawn from it of hell
To pelt and rain but sorrow and tears
Our fears are great like simmering flame
Devouring hopes that on future lie
Ample hope of apple great
The food and relish of growing minds
That nurture and nurse the strength and might
From Aba to Abak the river flows
From Ogoni to Oregon the drums are heard
Patrick has parted to rest in Peace
As we gather his pieces to paint and post
In rhyme and rhythm of poems and prose
Rest in Peace, Rest in Peace
Naagbanton,you are a Niger Son!
Patoo, Son of my Earth Mother,Wayingi -Ibiba DonPedro
We got to know ourselves as activists in the 1990s, as the crisis in the Niger Delta began to bubble, then exploded. Me, coming in from The Guardian Lagos, him providing background information, contacts and guides that only he could provide. Yet, a bond existed between Pat and I.I feel I have known him from ancient days.We share a very similar worldview and passions, a love for nature, justice, a disposition to face life tough questions rather than hide under superstition. He inspires me. I’m deliberately doing this in the present. I’m in denial. Patrick’s just too vital, too vibrant, too much in the present, a gentle giant you cannot ignore. He fills the spaces, where he connects with us all with such positive energy, so when he leaves a room, we are often quiet for a while.
I met him covering the Ogoni crisis from the early 1990’s. He played a major role in my work in the Niger Delta, an undeniable part in the reports covering Ogoni, the Ijaw territory and others. On the surface, I have known Patrick for about 25years. Yet, my soul tells me we have known ourselves from the beginning of time. I tell my Ijaw brethren that Pat is my Ijaw brother, a son of Wayingi, our Earth Mother, born in Bodo. I feel it more today.
Pat strengthened me and his presence calmed me. Knowing he was there working fearlessly, confidently standing on high moral ground, the like of which we may never again experience, Patrick,made it easy for me , a woman covering conflict to discover my real self. Patrick is my soul brother. I feel so alone today
Patrick Barigbalo Naagbanton, I feel lifted just knowing you, knowing you are my brother, my friend.