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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Rains of Tributes for Dame Oyo

yo Rains of Tributes for Dame Oyo Posted by: Peter Dada and Dele Bodunde in Featured, News 22 mins ago When beggars die, there are no comets seen, the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes, says William Shakespeare, the world’s pre-eminent English poet in one of his books–Julius Caesar. The expression is apt to describe the passing on of Dame Felicia Oluremi Oyo, the immediate former Managing Director (MD) of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). Following her death on October 1, the media world convened on Oct. 21 in Lagos, to pay the last respect to their own, who unarguably is the best female journalist the country had had so far. As an accomplished journalist and extraordinary public relations expert, the media world organised a “Media Afternoon of Songs and Tributes” to honour her at the NAN Media Centre, Iganmu, Lagos. Mrs Oyo, as the MD of NAN, built the centre to increase the internally generated revenue base of the agency. In a unique manner, Oyo died on Nigeria’s 54th Independence Day in a London hospital, barely two weeks to her 62nd birthday on October 12. She was the first female presidential spokesperson, the first female President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the first female MD of NAN. The Usi-Ekiti born daughter of a carpenter and petty trader mother, Mrs Oyo attended Universities of Lagos and that of Kent at Canterbury on scholarship due to her brilliance. She was awarded the National Honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) by the Nigerian government and was made a Papal Dame by Pope Benedict XVI for her contributions to the preservation of her Catholic faith. Mrs Oyo was also recognised and appointed a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee in 1998. Paying tribute to her, the President of the NGE, Mr Femi Adeshina, said: “Oyo broke through the glass ceiling. “In a profession where the glass ceiling for women is bullet proof, she simply shattered it. Today, Dame Oluremi Oyo is known for many firsts, the first woman to lead NGE for two terms with panache and decorum,” he said. Adesina recalled Mrs Oyo’s efforts at transforming NAN into a household name within the Nigerian media industry and the world. “What do we say of her work in NAN as MD? Another glass she shattered in style. Her foot prints are indelible in the agency in terms of professional, human capital and infrastructure developments. These works will follow our dear Dame and be a testimony that an Amazon was here,” he said. The NGE, in a tribute signed by Mr Isaac Ighure, the Secretary-General of the Guild, stated that Oyo would be remembered by the Guild for her exemplary leadership qualities. “These brought the Guild out of near comatose state, with about 200 members, and transformed it into a vibrant association of senior editors with more than 400 members. “Her tenure as the NGE president marked a new beginning for the Guild as she laid a solid foundation for its transformation into a force to be reckoned with in the country,” Ighure said. Sharing similar view, Mr Gbenga Adefaye, former President of the NGE, said that Oyo showed the light for others to follow in the leadership of the Guild. “The greater impression for me came from her performance in office as spokesperson for former President Olusegun Obasanjo and later as the Managing Director of NAN. “In office as Obasanjo’s spokesperson, it was a job she did diligently and to the applause of many; for me, it was a new definition of loyalty, faithfulness and sense of responsibility. “It was no surprise that Mrs Oyo made me to feature more in the public interrogation of the president, even when she was not expecting friendly questions,” he said. Another former President of NGE, Baba Dantiye said: “Oyo’s death is painful to me, members of my family and indeed all my friends who knew of our relationship. “She impacted so much on my life by taking me and treating me as her younger brother,” he said. In the same vein, Mr Jide Adebayo, the Executive Director, Marketing and Head of Lagos Operations of NAN, lauded the achievements of Oyo while she was the MD of the agency between 2007 and 2013. “To NAN, Mrs Oyo was everything and knew everything about the agency,” Adebayo, who said he worked with her cumulatively for 30 years, recalled. “She recorded great achievements and left bold footprints , took NAN from ground zero to its peak as the Chief Executive Officer for two consecutive terms ,” he said. He also recalled that the agency had serious challenges with its communications facilities, which were at their lowest ebb, when she assumed office in 2007 as the MD. “She faced the challenges by procuring new and modern communication facilities to the agency and its story production rose from 60 to between 250 and 300 per day and the client-base also rose from 70 to 274. “She brought the agency from a monolithic news agency that was based on text to a multi-media content provider. The agency was able to attract more clients to it and continued to earn more revenues. “Mrs Oyo delivered 19 state offices across the country and she was the architect, designer and deliverer of the NAN media centre, where we are having this night of tributes. “When she mooted the idea that we were going to build the media centre, we asked where the funding was going to come from and she said that we were going to work for it. Today that dream has become a reality,” Adebayo said. Mr Lateef Ibirogba, Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos, said that Oyo would be remembered for her professionalism and excellence. He said: “We are gathered here today to celebrate professionalism, excellence and a knack for standards. “We are gathered here to celebrate a woman who came, saw and conquered. She made sure that whatever she laid her hands on prospered.” The commissioner said the life of Mrs Oyo was an example for all journalists and a pattern on which to build a professional journalistic career. Mrs Comfort Obi, the Executive Secretary of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), described Mrs Oyo as a friend, sister, colleague, mentor and confidant. Obi said since her paths crossed with that of Mrs Oyo at a meeting in NAN many years ago, the deceased had been a major influence in her private life and her career. “We (Oyo and I) were a formidable force. For female journalists, for years, women journalists were not looked upon as unimportant in the industry. We were only allowed to cover mundane beats, the consequential beats were considered to be for men; but we broke that ceiling,” she said. Mr Lanre Arogundade, the former Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Chapter, said that Oyo was a dominant and prominent force in the campaign for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill into an act. Arogundade said Mrs Oyo was one of the journalists who stood to be counted in the 1990′s, when journalists were being jailed, exiled and persecuted in the country. “She was a river who never forgot her source, particularly after she became the Senior Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo. “She kept an open door policy in all her positions. She also made NAN a media conglomerate, introduced radio productions and sent journalists to NAN offices all over the world with limited funds,” he stressed. He said Mrs Oyo would be remembered for her candour, charisma, love and laughter. Dr Nwabu Mgbemena, a former General Manager of NAN, as well as its first MD, said that Mrs Oyo would be remembered for her hard work and as a very outgoing and friendly person. He said when Mrs Oyo came to NAN for the first time as a member of staff; he had no idea of the quality of the person the agency had just recruited. Similarly, Pastor Moses Ihonde, Chairman, Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME), commended her dedication to duty and professionalism while she was alive. He said this manifested in the way she handled her job as the Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to former President Obasanjo. “From when we met I knew that Remi would go places. I was expecting that she would be a state governor, a senator or the first woman to be president of Nigeria. But God knows the best,” he said. Interspersed with religious songs and pictures and video clips of some of Oyo’s outings, the event was witnessed by who-is-who in the Nigerian media. They included Mr Vincent Maduka, a former director General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA); Mr Sola Odunfa; former Editor of Punch Newspaper and BBC correspondent, Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye, Head, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos. Richard Ikiebe of Pan-African University, Dr Elizabeth Nkem, Provost of the Nigeria Institute of Journalism, Mr Louis Odion, the Commissioner for Information in Edo, Rep. Abayomi Are, the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Information and National Orientation, National Assembly, among others. List of NAN former members of staff who worked with Oyo and came to honour her included Victor Udom, Mike Osunde, Ben Isichie, Jide Akerele, Segun Adeyemi, Goddy Ikeh, Segun Aribike, Ade Obisesan and Mrs Toro Oladapo. Others at the event included Okey Ifionu of This Day and Mrs Tinu Odugbemi of Media Review. “So wise so young, they say do never live long,” says William Shakespeare in his book — King Richard III. In literal translation Shakespeare’s expression, the Yoruba will say: “Igi t’odara kii pe nigbo”, meaning a good timber will not last long in the forest. Farewell, Oluremi Oyo, a rare woman. Mrs Oyo is survived by her husband; Vincent, a son and a daughter, grandchildren, brothers and sisters. Dada and Bodunde are of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)