By Chinwendu Obienyi
It was an emotion-laden atmosphere in Lagos where Nigerian media veterans, associates, friends and family gathered for an evening of songs for one of their own, Durojaiye Onabule, yesterday, evening.
The former chairman, Board of Directors, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and presidential spokesman during former military president, Ibrahim Babaginda, passed away at the age of 83.
Expressing sadness on the death of his former chief press secretary, Babaginda, in a penned tribute, said: “Nigeria has lost a colossus, wordsmith, a walking encyclopaedia, a reservoir of knowledge and a rich chronicler of history, whose worldview is defined by sheer intellect, content and a character.
“His death has surely left a huge vacuum to fill. Triple Chief will be sorely missed. It really hurts to lose such a close friend with whom I have shared decades of robust relationship. I will miss him dearly.”
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, described Onabule as a titan of journalism, remarkable presidential spokesman, great columnist, nationalist and a patriot.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina, described his death as a “library burnt down.”
He noted that he and Onabule started The Sun newspapers in 2003 and added that as a columnist, his strength was the power of recall, sense of history, frankness and unimpeachable.
Acting Director General, NTA, Saliu Dembos, said the Onabule always stood for the truth going by his write-ups and added that he lived a fulfilled life.
Other tributes came from Onabule’s family which included his children, grandchildren, Egbe Bobayo of Ijebuland, Banjo Ayiloge, other veteran journalists and publishing media houses that worked with him, former Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, Dolphin Estate Association, immediate past NTA director general, Yabuku Mohammed amongst others.
Speaking from the Holy Scripture, Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, Job 14:1-14 and Revelations 21:1-7, the officiating minister, Ituah Ighodalo, said death for everyone was inevitable and added that God’s plan for every human are true and faithful.
“We have, indeed, lost a seasoned media professional. But since man’s days are determined by God, he has set the world in their hearts so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end,” Ighodalo said.
The late Jagunmolu of Ijebuland was born on September 27, 1939 in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
He graduated from the CMS Grammar School and the School of Journalism, London. His first media work was as a reporter for the Daily Express in 1961; three years later, he joined the staff of the Daily Sketch. He spent some time with the Daily Sketch before going back to his previous employer, the Daily Express.
In 1969, he served as the London correspondent for the Daily Express. In the mid 1970s, he worked for the Daily Times, rising to become a deputy editor of the Headlines magazine. When MKO Abiola started the Concord Press, Onabule was appointed as the features editor and in 1984, he became the editor of the National Concord.