When I embarked on this journey of writing a column for the Tribune titles many years ago, I had no inkling that I would be writing this column for this long. The column FRONTROW was started in the Sunday Tribune on September 16, 2001, making it 15 consecutive years that I have had the privilege of interacting with the readers some of whom have stayed with the column for that long, while some of course, have moved on to other things. Looking back, I find it amazing that those readers who stayed could be that faithful. They contributed their opinions every week and by their actions urged me to go keep on writing. The relationships established and nurtured over the years have grown so close that during festivities, I feel overwhelmed by their good wishes for me and my family even though we never had the opportunity of meeting physically.
Whatever has a beginning must surely have an end. And it is with a very heavy heart, that I announce that this is the last time I will write this column through this medium. FRONTROW is not dead it is only exiting the pages of the Tribune titles. It has been a very long journey, sometimes smooth, sometimes rough. I admit that in the course of writing this column, I have stepped on some toes (some powerful ones at that) with threats following; but the joy of it all is that I have made more friends than foes along the way. Those friends have stuck like a leech (not in the negative sense) over the years and I am happy to have made their acquaintances. Indeed, the past 15 years have been very adventurous, especially with feedback from readers and calls from much unexpected quarters – calls that opened doors for greater and better things.
Of course, there were times when I felt like stopping writing completely; but such times were minimal compared to those times when the adrenalin was upped, and one could write pages upon pages without stopping. The most frightening period is when there is an onset of those debilitating writer’s block especially when there is a deadline to be met. However, the thought of those readers who would spend their money to call, or send an SMS to find out what was wrong, kept me going. And, there were those who would call and brusquely demand an explanation for why I thought I could miss our weekly appointments on Sundays.
These interactions kept the column going and I am surely going to miss them, yet, they have moved the column from an impersonal one-way communication into a robust and interactive one. I thank you all. Some of the contacts I made, some in academia, some in other spheres of life, but mostly simple every day Nigerians have become like family and although some have moved on, we still interact on other platforms. Can I thank you readers enough! You have been most wonderful – keeping me on my toes, commending me when you think I have done well, and giving me real ticking off when you think I have gone off the mark. I must confess that in my slightly over four decades in print journalism, these fifteen years have been the most fulfilling for me as we been able to discuss current affairs, politics, sports, lifestyle – name it, we have touched all subjects as the fancy took us.
Yet, none of these would have been possible without the encouragement of the Tribune management, which made available to me, the platform where I could express myself without unnecessary censorship. Sometimes, I wonder how they tolerated me so for so long. Looking back, I have worked with five wonderful gentlemen who edited the Sunday Tribune at different times and four different Editors – in – chief/Managing Directors during this fifteen year period. I thank also those staff who took their time to plan the column and made it camera ready every grueling week, even though I may annoyingly be far behind schedule or call in late Friday afternoon in the thick of production to inform them that my article wasn’t coming in after all; yet they took it all in their strides. My profound gratitude and appreciation go to them all.
I wish I could continue writing the column but as King Solomon said, “There is a time for everything, a time to be born and a time to die.” September 16, 2001 was the time for this column to be born. Today, September 25, 2016 is the time for it to, not die, but be rested. It is now time to move on to other things and as I do so, I wish you all, my esteemed readers and those I have had the privilege to work with at the Tribune the best in whatever your hands find to do. Those interacting with me on other platforms should please keep it alive. Thank you all for taking me the way I am – warts and all – it’s been a wonderful experience.