WHEN I left The Post Express as its editor in controversial circumstances, the next port of call was New Age as a member of the Editorial Board and double-columnist. The moment I arrived at the Iganmu office of New Age, its editor and now media aide to the governor of Imo State, Steve Osuji, put a call to the Managing Director, Mr. Sully Abu, who invited us upstairs and within a few minutes of a largely informal discussion, I was offered the job on personal recognition. That was my first meeting with both men.
As soon as DAILY SUN berthed in Apapa, I moved to see its first editor and now Special Assistant (Media) to President Muhammadu Buhari, Otunba (Chief) Femi Adesina, one of the finest (in character and looks) gentlemen I have ever met. Without much ado in his office, he took me to the last floor of the complex where I was introduced—without any previous appointment—to the duo of Chief Mike Awoyinfa and the late Pastor Dimgba Igwe who at the time were the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Managing Director/Deputy Editor-in-Chief, respectively, of The Sun.
Again, to summarize the story because of exigencies, my reputational pedigree seamlessly took charge of the ad hoc interview-like session. The following week, the world knew that an eagle had landed on the firmament of Apapa with my editorial engineering in our soar-away Voice of the Nation. Now, you can understand why I have anchored this tribute on the late Pastor Igwe and Mr. Tunji Oseni, who meant much more to me than any other journalist—living or dead. I know they should be in the Lord’s bosom. Let me equally thank egbon Awoyinfa for unhesitatingly believing in me despite that first-time meeting. He declared that my media antecedents and testaments on my professionalism were far more than academic credentials (which I also have in abundance, by God’s grace)—I never disappointed him in my job execution which I did with panache.
The last time Igwe and this writer met was aboard a flight from Kano to Lagos after that year’s conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors in Katsina. When we landed in Lagos, we met at the car park where his SUV was already waiting for him. Surprisingly, he forgetfully, I believe, left without any parting word or even a handshake! I looked on as they drove off, bewildered! Then the next day or thereabouts, I got a call from a friend of mine, Charles Okogene, that the worst had happened: a hit-and-run vehicle had abruptly terminated the life of our own Igwe! Charles said I should confirm immediately and I did. You know the rest of the story.
As I marked my birthday on June 19, I inconsolably remembered, as always, some colleagues and friends of mine who died recently and years back. Please add to the list as I cannot recollect them all and pre-eminently thank God for their lives and ours, particularly, as it could have been any of us! Pray for their families and, if possible, mediate financially.
The names in no sequence: Dimgba Igwe, Tunji Oseni, Soga Odubona, Deji Onajobi (who died after a vehicular ghastliness), Afolabi Alo, Dr. Femi Sonaike (Quo Vadis), Godwin Agbroko, Ladi Lawal (Baba Nla), Abayomi Ogundeji, Mike Ekwuribe, Blessing Onumajuru, Femi Olatunde, Bukola Afolabi, Imokhuede Ogunleye, Ebenezer Edohasim, Johnson Ekarume, Ngozi Ogunde, Emma Omorodion, Kudirat Ehizogie, Moses Ezulike, Ebhohon Ikhurionan, Ogbonnaya Amadi (entertainment reportage maestro), Sam Odamo, Adolphus Okonkwo, Paul Ohia, Anene Ugoani, Remi Oyo, Kelly Ujor, Niyi Ogundare (DTN Motoring Editor), Saliu Aruna, Lucky Odigie (ace cameraman), Nnamdi Anazia (sports analyst), Austen Adamu, Gbadebo Oseni, Assumpta Ekpe, Sam Famakinwa, Baba Bayo Oguntunase (English language activist), Kola Danisa, Papa Chris Jones Ayaeze, Emma Agesse, Chike Akabuogu…almost all of them were close friends of mine.
Almighty Father, I thank you for the precious gift of life. I have passed through copious valleys of death and here I am alive by the instrumentalities of your awesomeness, grace, and faithfulness. I must adore, praise and worship you for the rest of my life.
As I marked my birthday with a remembrance note on colleagues and friends of mine that have departed, more and more names kept cropping up, endlessly!
Just before the additional identities, I thank one and all who noted my anniversary here and on other platforms. Excuse my non-personalization of this acknowledgment via individual replies because of the statistical poverty of responses that angered me. God will continue to bless us. Amen. I had expected a bountiful harvest of comments on the memorial of our colleagues—alas, most of us are unfortunately nonchalant and insensitive to issues concerning us either in life or death! In contradistinction, we run after other professionals and their engagements with morbid passion. Is it poverty or just a function of irresponsible character architecture? It is embarrassing, to say the least.
A few colleagues of mine like Ogbuefi Mike Nzeagwu, Pastor Osoka Okorie and Dr. Dele Omojuigbe, among others, stridently faulted my conclusion on indifference by most colleagues of ours. Three of them asserted that the response “coldness” had to do with grief, disbelief and shock. I totally accept these solicitous interventions. It is well with all of us by God’s grace. Apologies for my misconception of the lethargic feedback from fellow pen-pushers…the struggle continues.
Now the second list of the departed in no particular order: Emeka Enechi, Sylva Eleanya, Tunji Oyeleru, Oshe MacPhilips, Ken Tadeferua, Edna Agwuocha, Nat Amogu, Emma Enwose, Kanayo Nwabuno, Wahab Ahmed, Naphali Tope Brown, Momoh Kubanji, Henry Kalio, Sunny Oribioye, Chidinma Akubundu, Ernest Inyang, Chinaka Fynecountry, Funso Muraino, Ezekiel John Solomon, Tunde Sani, Biodun Ogunbiyi, Olu Akindele, Bayo Onakoya, Lanre Sorunke, Nelson Akinmusere, Ndagane Akwu, Soye Jamabo, Ibrahim Auduson, Gbenga Agbana, Lanre Ikoyi, Toyin Makanju (T-Makenzie), Tunde Oshuntolu (ESBEE), Tunde Ejalonibu, Jide Dehinsulu (multiple award-winning sports photographer), Modosola Olaniyan, Bosun Oladunjoye, Emma Ekpenyong, Victor Omoregie (popularly called Vikolo Muchacho), Sam Ojeme, and Alhaja Bolanle Fasasi (Iya Oyo).
How can I forget Kola Animashaun, Nats Agbo Onoja, Anane Ozoagu, Imam Imam, Nnamdi Iyamah, Bayo Ohu, Ben Akparanta, Remi Oyelegbin, Orezina Agbodo, Diran Oshe, Tunde Sadiq, Olumide Coker and Segun Opeibi (the quintessential golf reporter)…the list is inexhaustible!
As Joyce Cary would say, I look upon life as a gift from God. I did nothing to earn it. Now that the time is coming to give it back, I have no right to complain. Of course, I cannot complain about friends of mine who have translated. The only thing I can do is to periodically remember them and pay tribute to their departed souls.
Olaniyi Ogundare (Daily Times’ Motoring Editor in the mid-90s) and I were not just colleagues; we were friends. The Joyce Cary time for ‘Niyi came on May 14, 1996, in Paris, France, during an official tour. We shared so many professional experiences in the good, old Daily Times when the likes of Prince Tony Momoh, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, the late Tunji Oseni, Dapo Aderinola, Clement Iloba, Bob Ogbuagu Anikwe and Kenneth Chioma Ugbechie held sway, magisterially. Just the Thursday before the ill-fated Thursday, we were in the computer room producing our Saturday columns (Auto Clinic and Saturday Snaps, respectively) and exchanging ideas. We shared a passion for linguistic excellence. At Episcopal and social levels, he never gave me a breathing space. He kept on stressing every time we met the need for me to embrace God: “Eby, that’s the ultimate”, he would always say in fairly good Eastern dialect, amid joviality without losing the message.
I thank all those who added some of the foregoing names and those who also wished me well on the occasion of my birthday. May God navigate your ways with angelic compasses.
The souls of the departed will continue to rest in peace on grounds of God’s mercifulness.
– Wabara is a respected columnist