From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State renowned politician and elder statesman, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, is dead.
Report said he died in a private hospital in Abuja from an undisclosed ailment on Monday, at the age of 82.
Born May 8, 1939, in Abonnema in the Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, Chief Graham-Douglas was the son of a native court judge in Abonnema. His brother, Napo Graham-Douglas, was the first indigenous Attorney-General of Nigeria,
The four-time federal minister attended secondary schools in Lagos and Port Harcourt. He studied at Acton Technical School, London (1963 – 1965) and then at the University of Lagos (1965 – 1969). He earned a BSc. in Botany and Zoology.
Chief Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas had worked with the Nigerian Petroleum Refinery Company, Port Harcourt (1969 – 1977). He became managing director of Togiscani Nigeria, a construction company (1978 – 1985) and CEO of Road Haulage Company and Magroad Enterprises.
He was also chairman of Binterteco Nigeria, Pabod Finance and Investment and Waterglass Boat Yard. In 2000, Graham-Douglas was appointed Provincial Grand Master of the Freemason’s Lodge in Calabar.
In 1986, Graham-Douglas was appointed Commissioner for Youths, Sports and Culture by the Rivers State government. In this role, he completed the Alfred Diete-Spiff Civic Centre, founded the Sports Institute of Isaka and initiated construction of the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt.
He also gained approval to establish the Rivers State College of Science and Technology. He created, produced and directed the first Rivers Carnival, Carnival ’88, with the theme of Unity in Cultural Diversity.
In 1989, the military government of Ibrahim Babangida appointed him Federal Minister for Social Development, Youths and Sports.
During his tenure, the Ministry of Women Affairs was established. He was moved to the Ministry of Aviation, where he oversaw the deregulation of the aviation industry.
Chief Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas was also a member of the Special Tenders Board, which developed the Abuja FCT.
In 1992, Graham-Douglas became chairman of the Southern Minorities Movement, one of the groups that eventually merged into the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He was a candidate in the PDP primaries for the presidential nomination in 1998, losing to Olusegun Obasanjo.
President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Graham-Douglas Minister of Employment, Labour and Productivity in June 1999. In July 2000, Graham-Douglas was re-deployed to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
In November 2000, he headed a delegation that visited China, where he signed the 2000-2002 Executive Plan of Cultural and Educational Exchange between China and Nigeria.
In December 2000, he hosted the Africa Travel Association’s Fourth Ecotourism Symposium in Abuja.
Until his death, he was married to Muriel, and blessed with 12 children and many grandchildren.