I was dictating my reports on phone (the mode which we used to send stories then) to Vanguard office in Lagos, sometimes in 1991, when a young smartly dressed chap was ushered into my office at “Fleet Street” in Area 3, Garki, Abuja. The street is officially named Jos but we called it Fleet Street because of the concentration of newspapers offices there then.
I offered him a seat while I continued with the dictation. But as this was going on, I saw the man surreptitiously jotting down the story but I pretended not to have noticed his action. Through with my story, he introduced himself as Osita Izunaso, the new correspondent of Jim Nwobodo’s Satellite newspapers just posted to Abuja. I welcomed him and took him round the other newspapers offices in the three-storey building the government gave to the newspapers then. We met Camillus Eboh of the Guardian, Jide Olawuyi (late) of Sketch, Ebun Obadofin of Concord, Nike Adelegan of Punch, Hadiza Abdulahi of Triumph, Razak Mogaji of Newswatch, Innocent Nwobodo of Champion, Anselm Okolo of Tribune, Felix Onuoha of Reporter, Sherif Muhammed of Democrat.
Thereafter, he followed me back to my office where I entertained him. But as I was doing that, I asked him how he was going to send the story he just got. In bewilderment, he asked which story? And I told him the one he jotted while I was dictating. He burst into laughter saying that he did not know that I noticed him. I told him I did and that I love smart people. From that day we became close pals.
Within days, Osita turned out to be the toast of all journalists, depicting a good understanding of the profession. In less than two months of practice in Abuja, the politician in Osita manifested, as he, against all odds, became the Financial Secretary of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria union of Journalists, FCT Council. As a member of the committee under my chairmanship, Osita was very diligent, committed and resourceful with a lot of great ideas.
Socially, Osita is very warm, amiable and extremely pleasant, a delightful company any day. Our mutual friends, His Royal Highness, Chief Emmanuel Nnabuife, Chief Pat Oramah, Josie Adokuru and Camillus Eboh usually refer to him as the humorist in the house.
Out of journalism, Osita served as the Chief Press secretary to a Minister of Sports; SA Media to Speaker of House of Representatives; CPS to President of the Senate and SA Media to a state governor before he contested and won elections first to the House of Representatives and later to the Senate. He is at present the Chief Strategist of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) as the National Organising Secretary, performing excellently.
In two of the four places Osita served as aides, he eventually became a principal and served by aides. The two places left are a Federal Ministry and the Government House, Owerri. With his natural qualities and prodigious achievements, it is almost certain that he would be served by aides in these places too. The one that would come first is what one cannot say for now. And the good thing that is going for Osita is that he grows and matures with all the virtues I knew him with since our first meeting 25 years ago.
In all, the Almighty God has continued to increase him in wisdom, intelligence, knowledge and realism. His sense of humour too has deepened. While I wish Senator Osita Izunaso, my friend and brother a happy 50th birthday anniversary, I pray that God gives us smart children, like Osita. Omo bi Osita lo wu mi!
- Olaosebikan, Chief Consultant, Midas Communications Ltd writes through [email protected]