The other Friday, some of us met at a restaurant in Lagos, at the instance of Mr. Lanre Idowu, a veteran journalist, a very dear Egbon of the boys, mentor to a younger generation of journalists, and the spirit behind the annual Diamond Awards for Media Excellence. His co-conspirator was Azubuike Ishiekwene, ace prose stylist, newspaper columnist, author, mediapreneur, editor of editors. What could a group of notorious, middle-aged journalists be possibly up to wining and dining in an upscale restaurant?
We were not planning any form of secession or an assault on the Buhari administration with our pens – two things I hear give them insomnia and acute indigestion in Aso Rock these days. We were there to celebrate two of our own, drink to their success and share in the glow of their achievement: Debo Adesina, former editor of the African Guardian, former Editor of the Saturday Guardian, former Editor of the Guardian, former Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian who is now Nigeria’s Ambassador to Togo. And Oma Djebah, ex-Guardian, former Political Editor of ThisDay, former Commissioner of Information, Delta State, former Special Adviser on International Affairs to Delta State, publisher, entrepreneur, writer and artist, who is now Nigeria’s Ambassador to Thailand and Myanmar.
Nigerian journalists do not often celebrate their own colleagues. They prefer to promote others and pull down their own. But I am glad to see a changing trend. You needed to have been in the room. We were all so happy that President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen to include two journalists in the recent list of non-career ambassadors. For us, this is an achievement for the media industry. The Nigerian media, one of the oldest institutions in the making and the unmaking of Nigeria, has over the years occupied the frontlines. The industry has produced leaders and icons. It is good to see that the tradition is alive and well, and that again and again, the quality represented by the profession is acknowledged. Debo Adesina, a man we usually call The Prince found it a bit difficult being addressed as Your Excellency, Ambassador Adesina. Oma Djebah didn’t even know whether to sit or stand up, at a reception in his honour by some of the persons who used to be his Editors. We told both of them they will soon get used to it, and that they can rely on the support of the Nigerian Media Mafia and Cabal as they go forth to represent Nigeria!
We had a good time. As I left the event, I also remembered my dear brother, Alhaji Sarafa Tunji Ishola who has been appointed Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the Court of St. James, that is the United Kingdom. President Buhari could not have made a better choice in that regard. Sarafa Ishola is a natural diplomat, a very loyal, disciplined and honest man. He has been Chairman of Abeokuta North Local Government, Special Assistant to a Minister, Secretary to the Ogun State Government, Minister of Steel and Mines Development. He is also a community leader, an astute campaign manager and a very responsible man in his immediate community. He is fair-minded and completely without malice- qualities that will stand him in good stead. He is the right kind of person who will help deepen Nigeria-UK relations. I can vouch for him, and for Debo Adesina and for Oma Djebah. Thank you, Mr. President.