Nda-Isiah’s death at 58 and Nigerian media’s 4 other losses

Nda-Isiah’s death at 58 and Nigerian media’s 4 other losses

Saturday, December 12, 2020 8:51 am

Nigerian media’s losses: Sam Nda-Isiah, left; Muyiwa Daniel, right; Ehi Asuelimen, bottom left; Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, center and Ms Iyefu Adoba, buttom right.

*Nigerian media’s other losses: Muyiwa Daniel, Soni Ehi Asuelimen, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo and Ms Iyefu Adoba

The publisher of Leadership newspaper, Sam Ndah-Isiah, died in the night of Friday after what family sources said “a brief illness.” He was 58.

The man who held the title Kakaki-Nupe in his home town, Minna, Niger State where he was born in 1962, studied Pharmacy at Obafemi Awolowo University.

Sam Nda-Isiah

As a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), he was a presidential aspirant on the party’s platform in the 2015 election.

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed shock and sadness at the death of Publisher of Leadership Newspapers, Nda-Isaiah, a man he describes as “a friend and ally.”

The President condoles with the media fraternity, the Nda-Isaiah family, friends and associates of the deceased, saying “the country has lost a man of conviction, a resolute and dogged believer in a better Nigeria.”

“He will be sorely missed. This is a massive fish gone out of the media ocean,” President Buhari further says of the pharmacist, renowned columnist, and one time presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC)


Nigeria media’s losses: Muyiwa Daniel, Soni Ehi Asuelimen  Gbolabo Ogunsanwo and Ma Iyefu Adoba

Muyiwa Daniel, right, and Soni Ehi Asuelimen

The Nigerian media, in recent times, lost Muyiwa Daniel, Soni Ehi Asuelimen of the Concord Group and Gbolabo Ogunsanwo of Sunday Times of old.

Below is what Lanre Arogundade, a journalist and media trainer wrote about the first two:

“Muyiwa Daniel’s death came as hope was getting brightened that as colleagues, associates and friends rallied round, he would overcome his challenging health situation. As he’s committed to mother earth today, one cannot but express sadness over his demise. A demise made the more painful because it came soon after that of Soni Ehi Asuelimen – world-Soni – another great journalist, who will also be sorely missed.

Muyiwa – MD – and Soni were two of a kind when it comes to wit, intelligence, power of the pen and firm belief in good journalism. At National Concord newspapers where we all sojourned before the Abacha junta put a death knell on the vibrant newspaper, they were easily recognisable for these talents.

Sports reporting came to MD naturally and his column was a reflection of his understanding of the happenings in the sporting world and the underlining fun, fury and intrigues. But it would be diminishing MD’s contribution to journalism to limit everything about him to sports reporting. For he too shared the vision of an NUJ that takes the professional issues of journalism and the affairs of journalists seriously. Thus ever before we worked together at National Concord, I had known him as a regular face at the monthly congresses of the Lagos NUJ, which held then at the NUJ Lighthouse, Victoria Island. As a close pal of late Ladi Lawal, he identified with and played a role in the crystallisation of the philosophy of journalism with social relevance as espoused by the NUJ New Trend Movement in the early 90s.

Back to the beats! If MD was an Admiral of the Fleet in the Sports reporting realm, world-Soni, was a General of the news who bestrode the newsroom like a colossus. He was Deputy News Editor when I joined National Concord as Chief Correspondent in 1991. My initial duty was to edit news reports from state correspondents and world Soni was quick to warn me: “always read the script to the end before you start editing because those correspondents would sometimes bury the real story in the last paragraph and you must make sure you exhume it”. On occasions I did that, he would tilt his head backwards, burst into hearty laughter and say: “didn’t I warn you?. Soni was also world-Soni because being intellectually inclined, he was at home with local and international affairs and loved to debate international political, commercial and military developments.

Sometimes the best of those analysis would come during the usual post-newsroom assemblies at the saint bottles cathedral. And when you encounter MD in such cathedral you realise you encounter a diminutive dynamite. In other words, in and out of the newsroom, MD and world-Soni were fun to be with.

Rest in peace dear colleagues.”


Gbolabo Ogunsanwo

Also, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, former Editor of Sunday Times, a great columnist who coined the words, “Tarka me I will Daboh you,” and “cement armada” also died.

He battled stroke at the end of his life. This was revealed by Tunde Rahman, a spokesman to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Rahman, in his reaction to a tribute written by Tunde Ipinmisho, another former Editor of Sunday Times, wrote:

“Thanks for this tribute Mr. Ipinmisho. I knew and had a profound relationship with Oga Ogunsanwo. I’m not too competent to talk about his journalism career, though I heard and read of his great exploits, of his brilliance. He was that Sunday Times Editor under whose watch the paper recorded close to a million sale every Sunday. I also read a few of his past articles.

I was quite young when he was editor and did not meet him when I joined DTN in 1991. But I could talk about his warmth and humaneness. He related to me more like we were professional mates, though the gaps in age and journalism brilliance were evident. After reading one of my articles on one occasion, he humored me, saying he did not know some beautiful prose-writers were still around.

Ms Iyefu Adoba

Another loss to the Nigerian media is Ms Iyefu Adoba of Thisday. Below is the tribute on her, written by Funmi Peter-Omale, another Thisday alumnus, now based in London.

“So many good and bad things have happened in 2020. This tops the bad ones, especially as Iyefu’s demise has happened in December, again. (again because Peter, my husband,also passed in December, and both of them were sister and brother from different mothers).

Iyefu was a lot of different good things to different people. For me, she was a big sister, a friend, sister in law and my boss. She was already a manager in the Abuja office of Thisday, when I was transfered in 2005, from Jos to Abuja. But you’d never know she was a management staff, because of how down to earth and simple she was. How she mixed and related with everyone, from the Bureau Chief down to the cleaners. 

She was young, but she was like a mother to everyone in Thisday, those younger or older than her alike. If you’re from Thisday, I’m sure you can testify to and relate with this. It’s not an exaggeration.

With Ms Adoba, everything is always alright no matter how awful they looked or felt. She had that disarming angelic smile, the twinkling eyes and the angelic aura around her that can vaporise the biggest challenges away.

She’d sacrifice her time, her money, and put her job in line just to make you comfortable and happy. So many times, she was suspended for taking decisions to assist staff and clients, which management did not like. She was like that, sacrificing herself, her comfort and all for others. She was as soft hearted as she was firm and stern all rolled into one; an embodiment of beauty and brains. 

Back in the days, when we are not being paid our wages, she’d move heaven and earth, even taking extraordinary decisions so that some of us can continue to feed our families and pay our bills.

I remember that more than a couple of times, she gave me her own personal money, when the publisher was owing us more than six months salaries, and my commissions from adverts were being withheld. (Thisday owes me at least nine months salaries and millions in adverts commissions up till today!) 

She taught me how to navigate Abuja, how to survive and more especially how to sort out my commissions from advert so I wasn’t short changed. She hated cheating, she hated sadness and she hated for us to suffer. My first accommodation in Abuja, it was Iyefu that organised it for me (Thisday House.) Even when I was expected to move out and get my own place after few weeks later; Iyefu extended my stay using her powers as one of the Abuja Bureau’s management staff.

Apart from my late husband, Iyefu was the only other person I loved and cherished wholeheartedly, in Thisday. There were no pretences, no fakenews and no scruples with her. She was straightforward, pure in and out. She was purity personified. 

I’ll miss you aunty, you’re one in a billion. I love you and look forward to catching up with you up there.

Good night, and sing and dance with the angels. For me, it is all fondest thought of you all the way.”


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