Cancer Claims Oronto Douglas Life at 49

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Oronto Douglas

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Oronto Douglas, special adviser to the president, 49, dies of cancer at the State House Clinic this morning

Oronto Douglas, 49, an environmentalist, activist and presidential special adviser on Research, Documentation and Strategy, has died of cancer this morning at the State House Clinic. Douglas battled the illness which took him in and out of the hospital both at home and abroad for a long time

Douglas, who recently travelled to the United States for medicare, came to national and international prominence as an environmental activist on behalf of the oil-producing communities of the Niger Delta.  A lawyer by profession, Douglas worked over the last few weeks for Jonathan’s reelection. He is survived a widow and children.

Born 1966, Douglas is described as one of Jonathan’s most brilliant and influential aides, documenting the President’s achievements and legacies, and helping coordinate parallel media and campaign strategies for the presidency.

He was a commissioner for information in Bayelsa and a delegate from the state for the 2005 National Political Reform Conference organised by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. He emerged one of the shinning stars of that conference as the Niger Delta region pushed for improved revenue allocation to the area to mitigate the effect of oil exploitation.

A leading human rights attorney in Nigeria, Douglas served as one of the lawyers on the defense team for the Ogoni leader Ken Saro Wiwa, who was executed by Nigeria’s military rulers in 1995. Douglas co-founded Africa’s foremost environmental movement, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria and has served in the board of several non profit organisations within and outside Nigeria. Though he has been arrested and tortured by successive military regimes, he continues to work for and speak out on issues of social justice in a corporate- military state.

He was the first Niger Delta activist to be hosted by a serving American President when he presented the Niger-Delta struggle at the White House to President Bill Clinton. Douglas, who advises the Nigerian Vice President on strategic issues of community and the environment, is a fellow of both the George Bell Institute (England) and the International Forum on Globalisation (USA). Widely traveled, Douglas has presented papers in over 200 international conferences and has visited over 50 countries to speak and present on human rights and the environment. He is the author of several works including Where Vultures Feast: Shell and Human Rights in the Niger Delta which he co-authored with his friend Ike Okonta.

Douglas has been named among the 20 most influential writers, thinkers, and activists in the world. He was listed in a recent book Political Awakenings: Conversations with History by Harry Kreiser, executive director of the Institute of International Studies, University of California. Douglas was selected with 19 others, from 485 interviews of people which the book described as “distinguished men and women who by the power of their intellect and strength of character shape the world.” He also made the Science, Food and The Environment: Movement for Justice category which comprised select individuals that have challenged corporate power which seeks to disproportionately reap the benefits of science and technology to the detriment of the society.

— Apr. 20, 2015 @ 1.26pm prompt

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