7th December, 2023.
COMRADE FRANK KOKORI’S DEATH AND THE AGONY OF AN UNGRATEFUL NATION
“Who can live and never die? How can we humans keep ourselves from the grave?” Psalms 89:48
The eventual exit of Comrade Frank Kokori though may be as ordained by God yet he probably could have tarried for a while more if he got the required Government care, support and welfare when he most needed them. Comrade Kokori was a rare ideological specimen in trade unionism and the democratic struggle that Nigeria has passed through in the last 40 years and counting. He was a rare nationalist, committed ideologue, genuine patriot, who risked even his own carrier and family comfort as well as possible prospect to speak truth to power on behalf of the down trodden Nigerians.Comrade Kokori was well educated and well trained in the management of human resources to balance up with capital for productive growth of the state economy.Comrade Kokori’s sagacity and courageous leadership came to national limelight much more in 1993-1994 through to 1998 .
As the General Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum Employee and Natural Gas Union, NUPENG, which was registered in 1978, Frank played a pivotal role in making the organisation to become a most critical trade union in the democratic struggle of Nigerians to restore democracy to Nigeria.Comrade Kokori was enticed severally with tantalizing offers from Generals Babangida and Abacha but he rejected all allurements.
When the NLC under Comrade Paschal Bafyau became unwilling to pressure the military junta to deannul the victory of Basorun MKO Abiola in 1994, Comrade Kokori and his NUPENG President Comrade W. Kodjo Agamene mobilised their Union along with NUBIFIE and other democratic bodies to organize the most prolonged national strike in post-independence Nigeria.Comrade Kokori and I as the General Secretary of NADECO met many times at odd times to fine-tune their strategy and commencement of the strike.
When he was arrested through the conspiracy of an insider in Yaba, he was taken eventually to Bama prison for Four years without any charge against him. The strike continued but could not be sustained after a month because the Abacha junta had frozen the NUPENG accounts thereby making it impossible to pay their Union staff. NADECO volunteers were able to source for fund to pay a month staff salary. Eventually Comrade Agamene himself was captured. He, Baba Omojola and I were transported in a presidential jet on a particular morning of October 1994. We were later dispersed in Abuja to different prisons, they to Katsina and I to Central Prisons in Kano.
Comrade Kokori suffered the painful loss of his wife later on and the Nigerian State did not deem it fit to recognize the selfless and patriotic commitment of the comrade to our democratic struggle.
The most painful part of the national neglect of those who lost their sweet, blood, possessions, liberties and even lives in order to birth the 4th Republic is their wanton abandonment to their fates while the fair weather elements who remain surrogates, loyalists, sympathizers, acolytes and supporters of the military agenda to stay in power are the beneficiaries of the gains of the activists.
The fact that Comrade Kokori could not get the best treatment by the Nigerian State thereby hasting his eventual demise is shameful and condemnable. Even when the past Buhari’s administration tried to make him the Chairman of NSTIF, he was frustrated and denied. WHAT A COUNTRY? I pray that the good Lord will console his family in Kokori in Warri LGA and may the Lord soothe their pains with the balm from Gilead. And may the soul of Comrade Kokori rest in the bossom of the Lord.