In the company of some classmates, I was at a marriage ceremony at our old school, CMC Grammar School, Bariga, Lagos. The bride was the daughter of one of us, Kayode Ogunbela. Other classmates on the same table were Dele Sodimu, Afolabi Kehinde, Jide Ladenegan and Busola Awojobi, younger brother of our late senior, Professor Ayodele Awojobi.
On the premises where, over fifty years ago, we were moulded against the future, inevitably, we strayed into discussions of school days pranks and the joy of remembering those happy days. We also remembered those among our classmates, who had gone and how everybody has a date set by God. Ever disagreeable, I argued against impliedly blaming God for every death. The case I made was that while God might have set a date for everybody, occasionally human beings fast-track the sad event. What is more, God does not endorse human calamity.
Our discussion was quite innocent or, at least, completely ignorant of what might have happened at Okota much earlier in the day. Three hours later, I was at MUSON HALL, Onikan, Lagos, for another wedding reception. I was welcomed to the table by Bayo Onanuga, Publisher of the NEWS magazine. Minutes later, Bayo rushed to me with his I-PAD, drawing my attention to the sad news of Dimgba Igwe.
What happened? Was he ill? But Dimgba Igwe attended last week’s Guild of Editors’ meeting at Katsina. Bayo explained that Dimgba Igwe was jogging along the road when he was killed by a hit and run driver. Instantly, I remembered my argument with my secondary school classmates only a few hours earlier that God’s appointed day for everybody apart, human beings occasionally fast-track the last moment.
Circumstances of the killing of Dimgba Igwe vividly illustrate the point of my argument with my classmates. When a man dies, yes, perhaps, his appointed day. But when killed as in Dimgba Igwe’s case, that is not an act of God or appointed date. God does not endorse murder (even if manslaughter in Dimgba’s case).
Journalists, including editors, did not help matters when they variously and mostly reported the following day that “DIMGBA IGWE DIES.” Only one or two sections of the press got it accurately that Dimgba Igwe was killed, which exactly was what happened. Apart from attributing criminal act to God, failure of Nigerian press to accurately report that Dimgba Igwe was killed completely diminished the gravity of the tragic event.
If Dimgba Igwe died naturally, that would have been peacefully in his sleep, during illness or even by slumping. None of these happened since Dimgba was killed by a criminal driver.
Now in death, Dimgba Igwe, from nationwide tributes and shock, is known by more Nigerians. But who was he? Dimgba Igwe was a complete gentleman in every aspect. An assistant Christian pastor, his writing well reflected his more of persuasive preaching in the mould of Redeemed preacher, Enoch Adeboye. This is unlike the fake, fraudulent, unnecessarily aggressive Pentecostals, intimidating their congregation, shouting and, sometimes, assaulting their followers all over the place.
By the way, Dimgba’s tragic exit ranked him among three gentlemen, who have just returned to their maker. The other two were gentleman Albert Onyeawuma and ever peaceful Professor Francis Idachaba. The three would, in the popular parlance, not hurt a fly.
Dimgba Igwe showed his gentle nature in our days at the defunct Concord Group of newspapers when emergency situation warranted his service under the temporary supervision of a demented fellow, who saw himself as a boss to slander gentleman Dimgba. Unlike most of us, who would return fire for fire on the spot, Dimgba Igwe merely left the scene and tendered his letter of resignation.
Just as rabble rousers would easily impact with their nuisance value, gentlemen of Dimgba Igwe’s class would also not go unnoticed in any environment. At least, not by a team leader of Doyin Abiola’s stature, as Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Concord Group.
Surprised at the sudden resignation of such a self-respecting fellow (Dimgba Igwe), compassionate boss like Doyin Abiola sought reasons, full of which Dimgba Igwe gave, following which his tormentor was forced to apologise personally to Dimgba Igwe, to pave for the withdrawal of his resignation.
It was remarkable that Dimgba Igwe resurfaced, as one of the two-member founding team of SUN Group of newspapers, the other being his virtual twin brother, Mike Awoyinfa. As a further sign of his enviable character, Dimgba Igwe in his top position at the SUN Group, was magnanimous enough to endorse a badly needed opportunity of welfare for his traducer of yesteryears.
Dimgba Igwe was also a man of appreciation. About three years ago, a scooter-man in the employ of SUN newspapers, Elijah Sampson, was killed in Lagos traffic. Virtually unknown to readers of this column, the deceased (scooter man) was a major facilitator in the uninterrupted appearance of this column every week for almost ten years.
The scooter man, therefore, had to be so appreciated in this column for his dedication to duties and regret for his death. On the very day of publication, Dimgba Igwe phoned (me) to appreciate what he called the rare gesture of elevating such a lowly man on his death, to the class of prominent figures with a glorious tribute.
And then, irritatingly, this must be mentioned. Dimgba Igwe’s manslaughter evoked shock, sadness and widespread tributes. In the process, the media allowed the sad event to be exploited for cheap publicity. Or what was the silly impression created that Nigeria Police was treating Dimgba Igwe’s killing, as a sad event to be specially investigated on the directive of Police Inspector-General?
Otherwise, Nigerian media should have assessed the police boss’ directive for investigation of the killing of Dimgba Igwe for what it is – a normal ritual, which should not have been celebrated. It is a ritual of the police aimed at playing down public outrage at such unsolved crimes.
For the media in particular, did the police not similarly instruct investigation into the murder of Guardianman, Bayo Onu, inside his house on a Sunday mid-day? Was there any outcome or did the media follow up police failure to prosecute that crime?
Godwin Agbroko of THIS DAY, newspaper was murdered along Daleko market in Lagos, driving home from work. What was the outcome of the promised police investigation? A lawyer and visiting member ofGUARDIAN editorial board, Kunle Fadipe, was murdered in his house at Ifako, Lagos. The murderer (not the suspect) was arrested during the crime and handed over to the police. Has there been any police prosecution since then? That particular murder crime already investigated itself. The trick in the delay is for Nigerians to forget all about the murder crime. In Dimgba Igwe’s case, Nigerian media will emerge with its traditional role of leading Nigerians to forget.
No newspaper will follow up the public pledge of Nigeria Police to investigate the manslaughter of Dimgba Igwe. Any concern currently being expressed, especially by the media will end with the coverage of the commendation service for Dimgba Igwe in Lagos and the burial in his hometown.
Readers should take note.
As Idachaba and Onyeawuna depart
This is a solemn week, marking the departure of real gentlemen from the Nigerian scene. Apart from Dimgba Igwe, two other widely acknowledged decent fellows, who (have) died are Professor Francis Idachaba, one of our finest intellectuals and ace international footballer, Albert Onyeawuna.Professor Idachaba will be buried today at his private residence in Idah, Oyi, Kogi State. He made his mark as a Vice Chancellor at Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, where his tenure was one of the few crisis-free among his generation, a reflection of his appointment based purely on merit. And when the (then) newly-found Kogi State University developed teething problems. Professor Idachaba was easily at hand for a rescue job. How much he succeeded.
Francis Idachaba’s main distinction was that he was a silent achiever, far away from his noise-making fellow academics whose stock in trade is the hypocrisy of hustling around government circles from one administration to another. Witness the shameless accomplices, as so-called returning officers in rigged elections, collecting, in the process, huge sums from Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), as remuneration for about half an hour hatchet job and on which they don’t pay a kobo tax to Inland Revenue Service.
Even if he were still alive, Professor Idachaba would not have joined the hypocrites.
What can we say about Albert Onyeawuna, who, most likely, is virtually unknown to millions of today’s Nigerians, including fervent football enthusiasts? Onyeawuma was a Nigerian international footballer in the fifties through early sixties when the national team was known as the Red Devils.
Onyeawuma and his colleagues were household names in those days. Thanks to Nigeria’s unrivalled sports commentator, Isola Folorusho, who, from Onikan Stadium in Lagos, beamed the performances of Onyeawuna and his colleagues to his listeners around Redifusion boxes in almost every home in Nigeria in those days. That was the equivalent of modern day satellite radio/television transmission.
Either in international engagements or the Port Harcourt football team in governor’s (today’s challenge) cup competition, Onyeawuma and his other colleagues, the other three Onyeas, did Nigeria proud. They were Onyeali, Onyeador and Onyeama. Others were centre forward Francis Uwalaka and left half back one way, Alabi Ntephe.
Despite team work, Onyeawuna earned, from spectators and the media, the personal distinction of the master dribbler. Theirs was a national team of unforgettable glory.
Surely, God will grant the two decent men everlasting peace.
Obasanjo, Jonathan and now Fintiri?
Already making history, speaker of Adamawa State House of Assembly, Ahmadu Fintiri, assumed office as acting governor and continues to head for extra history. After helping his party to impeach former governor Murtala Nyako, Fintiri was almost crushed by the national leadership of his PDP in his attempt to get elected as substantive governor.After initial disqualification inside the party, Fintiri surfaced again as one of four or five candidates cleared by PDP to seek nomination. After winning the primaries, Fintiri was effectively checked by the PDP, which leaked to the press an alleged agreement by Fintiri not to contest the 2015 elections. Even if such an agreement exists, Ahmadu Fintiri will retire as an ex-governor of Adamawa State with all the accruing allowances.
However, in PDP, are they honourable in any matter of gentleman’s agreement? Did the PDP, this time, based on past experiences, get Ahmadu Fintiri to sign any document, pinning him to the gentleman’s agreement not to contest a re-election next year?
That was the case of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, alleged to have agreed to serve only one term, ending 2003. Obasanjo not only reneged but also challenged the whole party or anybody on his way. Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, former President Ibrahim Babangida, serving governors like James Ibori, Rasheed Ladoja, Joshua Dariye and Alamieyeseigha. Not to be done, even after serving second term, Obasanjo still plotted to perpetuate himself, as life president, starting with a third term under a proposed new constitution, which was aborted by National Assembly.
Following in Obasanjo’s shoes, President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly agreed to serve till 2015 and no more, all for the support of the North in the 2010 elections, Jonathan is now seeking re-election in 2015. Challenged to honour the agreement, limiting his tenure to 2015, Jonathan dared his party opponents (specifically, Northerners) to produce any agreement he signed with anybody or group to serve only till 2015.
With this background, should Ahmadu Fintiri renege on his alleged agreement NOT to contest in 2015, he will merely be observing the tradition in the party and will be in good company.