FIGHTERS DON’T SAY GOOD BYE: Tribute to Comrade Chief Frank Ovie Kokori


Tribute to Comrade Chief Frank Ovie Kokori

The management and staff of MICHEAL IMOUDU NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR LABOUR STUDIES ( MINILS) join in grief and solidarity with his family, comrades, compatriots for his passing from the earthly glory to heavenly blessings. Chief Frank Ovie Kokori lived from December 7th 1944 to 7th December 2024. Very few humans are so privileged to exit same date he was born. Comrade Kokori’s datelines at birth and death truly point to the miracle of God manifested in him. He was uncommon from cradle to grave. May his soul rest in perfect peace . 


He was the 7th Chairman of the 7th Governing Council of MINILS from 2019 – 2022. I bear witness that comrade KOKORI left worthy sustainable achievements that make up the legacies of the Institute today. MINILS has been promoting labour education since 1983. However KOKORI further raised the tempo willing to give inspired talks at every encounter with the working people.


He reconnected MINILS back to the Labour movement. He was the first comrade Chairman of the Governing Council. He led from the front. He personally together with Comrade Issa Aremu (mni), the Director General/Chief Executive led the management/ training faculty to the NLC Labour House on historic novel, unprecedented courtesy call on NLC Leadership under Comrade Ayuba Wabba mni. That singular visit led to the novel Memorandum of Understanding ( MOU) that made NLC to domicile it’s harmattan labour Relations School at MINILS in Ilorin. The current leadership of NLC under comrade Joe AJEIRO should sustain this legacy !

2. He helped to diversify the mandate of the INSTITUTE from conventional short courses for workers, employers of labour and government officials to B.Sc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management programme with affiliation to University of Ilorin.

3. He helped to Renovate the Institute’s football sporting field, the Institute Auditorium’s


4. Initiated the Institute’s E-library project (2021),

5. He initiated a partnership between MINILS and National Institute for Security Studies Abuja.

6. Presided over the MINILS’ MoU and collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation (2021),

7. Chaired Friedrich Ebert Stiftung MINILS’ Transformative Curriculum Design for Effective Workers’ Education (November 2021),

8. Chaired Friedrich Ebert Stiftung/ILO sponsored workshop on MINILS’ Strategic Planning, Facilitated by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Resident Representative, Daniel Mann(2021),

9. Influenced the visit of the Regional Director of International Labour Organization (ILO) and subsequent MoU to use MINILS as a centre for ILO sponsored programmes (October 2019),

10. Chaired MINILS/ILO Validation Workshop for MINILS’ Strategic Plan 2022 -2026 (April 2022, which produced the first Strategic Development Plan for the 40 year old Institute. 


He was certainly more than the Chairman of the tripartite Governing council of the unique institute named after no1 Labour leader Micheal IMOUDU! He was a foremost unionist to come from Africa. Chief Frank Ovie Kokori, was the former General Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and National Gas Workers of Nigeria (NUPENG), a leading affiliate union of of NLC. He fought for the defense of workers’ rights to living wage and dignified working environment. He was an organizer who dared to organize workers in big multinational oil companies. 


He was a great democratic statesman, a global comrade and fighter for justice and democracy that military dictators dreaded. He paid the prize like Nelson Mandela for his principled defense of the mandate of Nigerians criminally violated with the annulment of June 12 1993 election. He was imprisoned for 4 years by Abacha military dictatorship. 


The best tribute to KOKORI’s legacy is for Nigerians to deepen democracy through good governance and perish any thoughts of military intervention in Africa’s polity. Military regimes like colonial regimes under-developed Africa. Forward Ever with deepened Democracy, Backward Never to military dictatorship!!. Indeed military dictatorship almost shortened the life and times of Chief Frank Kokori. KOKORI’s life showed that it could be long and well too. He died as a progressive politician as an Octogenarian at the age of 80 years.


At personal level, I lost a mentor. Comrade Chief Frank Kokori served on the National Executive Council ( NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC) led by Comrade Ali Chiroma in 1987. It was that NEC that brought young university graduate activists, comrades like Dr Yahaya Hashim, Salisu Muhammad, yours comradely Comrade Issa Aremu mni , Chom Bagu Deme, Chris Uyot and John Odah to the labour movement. Alhaji Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, Frank Kokori, Late Comrade Pascal Bafyau, Comrade S O Z Ijorfor, Comrade Adams Oshiomole mni were our enthusiastic promoters and mentors to whom we are indebted for the opportunity to serve the labour movement. 


Long live KOKORI’s legacy! 


Forward Ever, Backward Never ! 



Issa Aremu (mni)

Director General/Chief Executive.

MINILS, Nigeria.

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