Dreams are better recalled than the vanishing visualization of
the boisterous Edo State Government Press Crew that ended tragically midday,
after it arose militantly the early hours of 6 am on April 28, 2012. Like every
day engagement, since Governor Adams Oshiomhole assumed office, the Press Crew
arise exorbitantly, and dutifully, too, to cover all the assignment of the state
as scheduled and dictated by the minders of the energetic Governor’s Protocols.
The Press Crew as early as 6 am had accompanied the Governor on town storming
tour of the Benin City centre, otherwise known as walk-to-fit exercise,
organized by the state chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and Trade Union
Congress, TUC. The purpose perhaps is to boost both the mental and physical
alertness of those in positions of authority to be alive to their contractual
obligation to the electorate as well as the general public that exercising is a
metaphor of human longevity, as envisaged by psychotherapy.
My understanding of the draw on is that the organized labour which has been out
of sync in recent times with modern day usefulness of labour activism and now
essentially entrapped by governmental patronages is simply seeking an escape
route in a clumsy road.
The episode has hardly ended around the King’s Square when the Governor hooped
on his car and whoosh for onward journey to Owan East Local Government to
kick-start the flag off of his campaign train for his re-election bid on July
14th, 2012. As steadily, storming and briskly as the journey was, one was but
certain that like the days gone by, the journey would end resplendently as ever
since I joined Governor Oshiomhole government on January 1, 2009, with dazzles
and relish. Alas, it ended with cadavers!
As we depart the historical Pa Imoudu College of Physical Education, Afuza – a
college now robustly transformed by Governor Oshiomhole administration – with a
ground swell of teaming defectors from the People Democratic Party, PDP to
Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN – the Governor sauntered into his car en-route
Afuze through Auchi, to meet other scheduled engagement at Auchi before heading
for Benin for another 3 pm flag-off in Edo South Senatorial District.
Meanwhile, the party stalwarts in Owan East were still feting themselves with
banters over the newly harvested members of the PDP in the locality who joined
the party on the auspices of Hon. Pally Iriase, the former Secretary to the
State Government and a member of Federal House of Representative to further
enhance and secure the victory of ACN in the coming election. They too did not
have the slightest premonition that the unusual was going to happen.
A tipper truck had emerged from the pit of Hell between Warrake and Auchi and
from the opposite direction and rammed heavily into the flag vehicle of the
Governor before crashing into several other vehicles in the convoy, leaving
three people dead and several others in critical condition.
The Governor’s back-up car was badly affected as well as three others vehicles
conveying security officers and members of the Governor’s Press Crew; and the
Governor’s vehicle escape by the whiskers. In the mix of the seemingly arranged
accident and pandemonium, the homicidal truck driver attempted to escape before
he was apprehended by sympathizers.
Instantly, I felt silence and cold twilight dropping in awful desolation over
the motionless bodies; I felt despair, dejection and death. I realized once
again that a dying man is more of the survivor’s affairs than his own. It
becomes vividly clear to me that we all have a limited time on earth whose
period is unknown to anyone. It is not better we constantly look forward to
death more than we do?
That way, we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only
one we had to, with a clear admonished that man should not leave this earth with
unfinished business; rather he should live each day as if it was a pre-flight
check and should ask each morning, am I prepared to lift-off? On this occasion,
of course, death didn’t change its tactic; it sneaks up like a silent kitten,
surprising all with its cold touch!
The three of them were my journalist comrades, brothers and friends, and were
true explorers who did extraordinary things and went places with the Governor
more than anyone else has done.
I’m not so sure anyone of them had the least of inclinations that the sun was
going to set on their lives in so short a time and in a horrid tragic manner;
particularly that they are in their earliest prime of 30s’. It is somewhat
pathetic that the Governor’s Press Crew had to be gruesomely depleted by a
murderous mendicant who treats human being on his daily hubris along the road
like the debris he conveys in his distended truck.
This is, indeed a supreme price that would hardly lose on the state. Everyone
who came across the three of them has attested to their sense of duty,
dexterity, brilliancy, talent, fabulous sense of industry and professionalism
that they brought to bear on their job. No wonder that the grave is often
referred to as a place that is richly endowed and inhabited by the best and the
Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, in the Northern Exposure, Lost and Found has
this to say of death: ‘‘it’s no accident that the church and the graveyard stand
side by side. The city of the dead sleeps encircled by the city of the living’’.
Again, the incident has reestablished one thing we often shy away from: that of
a true, man’s existence and its boastful grandstanding are just the fluff of
which pillows and the dreams of the powerless are made. We are simply in
captives of our live than we are captains of it. Man is absolutely nothing of
his own but what is eternally designed for him by his maker.
We are largely consoled by the immortal words of Thomas Moore that addresses the
issue of immortality based on the legendary impact made by individual creative
gaiety and contribution towards humanity. ‘‘from my rotting body, Thomas said,
flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity’’. This, of course, is
in profound recognition of diligence, ingenuity and devotion to noble course.
Governor Oshiomhole has mourned Olatunji Jacob, a reporter with the Independent
Television, ITV, Africa Independent Television, AIT, camera man, Fidelis Okhani
and George Okosun, Independent Television, ITV camera man with the deepest sense
of regret over the passing of these dutiful, dedicated and far-sighted
journalists who were at the forefront of correcting the rots that was visited on
the state by the previous administrations.
‘‘These young men were among the finest journalistic talents I have ever known.
Had they lived longer, they would undoubtedly have come to be recognized as some
of the greatest journalists and documentary makers of their generation. As it is
they leave a journalistic legacy of immense worth’’, Oshiomhole said.
It is unfortunate to mention that their death occurred at a time their
employers, Edo State government, the good people of Edo and their young families
needed them most. We can only hope and wish that the mercies and blessings of
God Almighty remain permanently with those who benefited directly or indirectly
from their professional and fatherly care.
May the soul of these diligent, devoted and hybridized professional colleagues
rest in perfect peace and, may the earth rests gently on their mortal body.
Erasmus Ikhide is the
Senior Special Assistant
(Media Affairs) to Edo State Governor,
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.