Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nosa Osaigbovo: Exit of a Quintessential Journalist

Death is by no means a democrat. It takes lives whenever it feels like doing so without consulting anyone. There’s nothing to do about it. You start to die the moment you are born. The whole of life is cutting through the pack with death – James Bond (Ian Flaming) in Live and Let Die.

“Jide, meet Sheriff Folarin, a student of History at the University of Ibadan” That was how Mr. Nosakhare Osaigbovo, then Features Editor with the defunct Daily Sketch in Ibadan introduced me to my best gift in my over 20 years of freelance journalism, sometime in 1993. I have met Mr. Nosa as I fondly called him sometime in 1990 at the beginning of my commentary writing in Nigerian dailies. I must have been introduced to him by one Mrs. Durojaiye, then a staff of Daily Sketch in Ibadan, Oyo State. He took a liking to me immediately, assisting with the typing and publication of my letters to editor and later full blown opinion articles. Nosa Osaigbovo was very articulate, frank, knowledgeable, conscientious, caring, humble, thorough and long-suffering.

I recall with nostalgia his honest advice to me sometime in 1995 when I wrote a critical opinion article on the prison condition in Nigeria titled ‘Thoughts on the Role of Prison.’  He told me point-blank,  after reading it, that he would not be able to publish it in Sketch being a government owned newspaper, more so at a time when military was in government. I took his counsel in good faith and mailed the article to Daily Champion, a private news medium in Lagos which wasted no time in publishing the piece. It was the same Mr. Nosa who informed me that the article had been published and therefore enabled me to get a photocopy of the article from Sketch’s library. Such was his generosity of mind.

I have followed Nosa’s carrier since his days in Sketch till he breathed his last on May 3, 2012 while working as a consultant (Editorial Board Member) and columnist with Nigerian Tribune. I am a regular reader of his column, MOSAIC on Friday in Nigerian Tribune and occasionally called, mailed or texted a feedback to him after reading his opinions. He was unfazed by criticisms; he took all with unusual equanimity. His last commentary was published on February 23, 2012 and when I didn’t see any fresh piece from him thereafter, I called his number only to be told by someone, a lady, at the other end whom I assumed to be his wife that he was very sick. I told our mutual friend, Dr. Sheriff Folarin about this development, asking him to put him in his prayers as I am already doing for him.   On May 5, 2012 I called again to know how he is faring only to be told he had died on Thursday, May 3. I was devastated! How come good people die early while the wicked live to old age? Only the Almighty knows.

Nosa, the intellectual juggernaut, a book worm, a philosopher king who is fond of showing off his in-depth knowledge of philosophy, Greek mythology and history is no more. Snatched off by the icy hands of death. The ever-considerate Nosa who will ask me gently to cut off our phone conversation because I am running too much cost speaking with him is no more. Pity, great pity! Nosa, a man of few words lived a Spartan and austere life. He shunned materialism and hate waste. He cultivated friendship only with people who can stimulate his intellect. How I my to know that we were seeing for  the last time in December 2010 when I met with you at Nigerian Tribune office in Imalefalafia, Ibadan where I presented a copy of my book, Nigeria, My Nigeria: Perspectives from 1990 – 2010 to you? 

It was a great pleasure meeting you, knowing you, learning from you and being your younger friend. My solace is in these eternal words of Adolf Hitler which says “All things will pass away. Nothing remaining but death and the glory of deeds” as well as Harold Robin’s thought in ‘A Stone for Danny Fishers’ which says “To live in the heart of those we leave behind is never to die” By your death, you have indeed paid all debts.  Adieu a great man, an unsung hero of Nigeria’s journalism. May the good Lord grant you eternal rest, comfort your bereaved family and meet them at the point of their needs.