MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
I am certainly not one of those who show appreciation to only those who have built mansions or bought big cars for them. I naturally belong in the camp of those who show appreciation for every little assistance in life because the N100 recharge card given as a gift by someone to another in desperate need can be the vehicle through which the receiver of the card gift can make a call that would fetch him multi million naira contract that would ultimately redefine his life.
It is in the light of this understanding that I pay tribute to a celebrated media practitioner; Mr. Emeka Obasi, publisher of Hallmark Newspaper whose death was announced on Thursday. He may not have built a house for me nor bought me a big car, yet his little kind gesture left me with an ever lasting positive impression about him.
During his reigning days as the publisher and chief executive officer of National Mirror newspaper, I never had occasion to meet with him one on one since event did not really call for it. However, sometime in 2007 few months after my disengagement from the National Clearing & Forwarding Agency (NACFA) as Corporate Affairs Manager following the privatisation of the company by President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, I had reason to visit his newspaper’s headquarters in Ikeja area of Lagos in search of job.
I did not set out to see him as a person since there was a functioning management in place. So on arrival, I requested to see the Editor since I was looking for job as a journalist. The sitting Editor welcomed me nicely as I introduced myself and my mission.
Regrettably however, the Editor told me that there was no vacancy to take me as a line editor in the editorial department. Neither could I be engaged as a reporter since I had left Post Express Newspaper as Deputy News Editor before joining NACFA.
Having finished with the Editor and on my way out, I ran into a journalist colleague who was working with the National Mirror. As we were exchanging pleasantries, he saw a copy of my first book TERRORISM: THE NIGERIA EXPERIENCE (1995-1998) in my hand and quickly requested to flip through it.
Just by some instinct, as the guy was asking me my vision in their place, he remarked that “Oga Emeka will like this book. Can I show it to him?, he asked. I responded that he could go ahead and give him as a complimentary copy from me.
The guy left me at the reception office and took the book to Mr. Obasi. In about twenty minutes time he returned with some crispy naira notes in his hand handing same over to me with a heart warming story that apart from the cash gift to me from Emeka, he as the publisher of the newspaper had directed that I should resume work with his company as Deputy News Editor.
He had directed my friend who went to him with my book to take me back to the Editor with firm instruction that I should be employed even though the same Editor had earlier told me there was no vacancy. It is only a man with GOOD HEART that could instantly give out such favour to a man he had no relationship with.
Out of excitement and heart of gratitude, I tried to go to Emeka’s office to personally see and thank but I could not have my way as he was in a very serious meeting. I never had opportunity of meeting him personally for the short period I worked them before I got another offer elsewhere.
However, nature has a way of arranging things. So it came as a surprise a few years later during an early morning visit to Abba Johnson Estate, Ikeja one Saturday that I ran into him. I was driving out of the Estate when I saw him doing early morning road walk to keep fit. Immediately I recognized him, I pulled up and walked out of my car to meet him.
Initially, he was taken aback since I was a total stranger briskly coming his way. He looked at me with suspicion until I respectfully said “Oga Emeka, I am the journalist you gave employment the day my book on TERRORISM was given to you even without knowing me one on one. I never had opportunity of meeting with you until now. May the good Lord bless you sir.”
Politely, he responded in a few words thanking me and asking after my family and business. And off he went and that was the first and last time I saw him flesh and blood.
To some other persons, he may have been a bad man but to me, he was certainly a good man. May God bless his soul as I pray that the same God Almighty will give his wife and children the fortitude to bear this great loss at the unripe age of 58 years. Adieu the boss!