By Uduma Kalu & Benjamin Njoku
LAGOS—Vanguard newspapers, and indeed Nigeria have lost one of the greatest entertainment writers this country has ever produced.
The cold hand of death, Wednesday, night snatched, Mr. Ogbonnaya Amadi , 49, Vanguard Entertainment Editor.
He had worked very hard throughout the day in the office and was about leaving for home when a massive bout of asthma hit him. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. The ever vivacious entertainment guru died less than 30 minutes after he took ill.
A pall of disbelief descended on his colleagues and the entertainment industry when words went out that Mr Ogbonna had died.
The Vanguard management has opened a condolence register for him in its corporate office in Apapa, Lagos.
At his Ogba, Lagos residence yesterday, the atmosphere was one of grief, silence and disbelief. Some of Ogbonna’s colleagues and friends in the entertainment industry stormed his residence to commiserate with his family.
Amadi’s favourite quote was ‘Love me, don’t hate me.’
Also, at Vanguard’s Corporate Office where Amadi worked for 27 years, his colleagues were still in shock, finding it difficult to accept his death.
He would have been 50 this December.
From the Vanguard corporate office to his Ogba, Lagos residence, family, colleagues and friends of the veteran entertainment journalist expressed their grief with prayer, tears and anguish.
Until his death, he was the Group Entertainment Editor of Vanguard Newspapers.
Amadi hailed from Okagwe, in Ohafia, LGA, Abia State. An entertainment journalist for over two decades, Amadi is survived by his aged mother, brothers, sisters, wife and three children. His first child, Jude, 19, just secured admission into the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO).
Reacting to his death, the Editor, Vanguard newspapers, Mr. Mideno Bayagbon, said Amadi had an asthma attack that black Wednesday and was rushed to hospital where he died.
He said Late Amadi was a dependable staff who covered not just the entertainment beat but also, other beats.
Speaking further, Bayagbon said he met Amadi at the vanguard in 1985, when the late Vanguard’s Group Entertainment Editor was being groomed by late Mr. Hakeem Ikandu, Vanguard’s pioneer entertainment editor.
“Amadi was a great telecoms reporter”, said Bayagbon. In those days unlike now that reporters have only on beat, we covered many beats.”
The Deputy Editor, Eze Anaba said Ogbonna “was very creative and hard working. “I worked closely with him when I was Saturday Vanguard Editor. I found him, and his team to be very competent and creative. Working with him was fun. Although we had our differences at times and we did argue and quarrel, such arguments usually led to very good ideas that enriched us all. Even as deputy editor, we still argued. What you wouldn’t take away from him was that he wasn’t malicious. He took criticisms in his stride and tried to improve on his work. Until his death, he worked hard to be acknowledged as the don of entertainment journalism. He was indeed the don. We will miss him.”
Group Sports Editor, Mr. Onochie anibeze, said he and late Amadi were interviewed and employed in Vanguard on the same day.
“This informed our great relationship. He showed great interest in sports and made entertainment reporting very entertaining. I cannot find words to capture his death. I’m still in shock”.
News Editor, Kayode Matthew said “it is difficult for me to believe that Amadi is no more; such an entertaining, jolly good fellow. A very pleasant colleague who is truly a friend.”
“But I am consoled in one unshakeable fact. When he resumed from his annual leave, he confidently told me that the greatest thing he achieved during his leave was that he reconciled with the creator,” Matthew added.
The Sunday Editor, Mr. Jide Ajani said, in his tribute to Amadi, wrote: “To a dear friend snatched from us by death. May his soul rest in perfect peace. Sun-re-o omo Amadi (sleep well, son of Amadi)”.
Miss Chioma Gabriel, Saturday Editor said she met Amadi in August 1995 when she started working at the Vanguard. “It is really difficult to refer to him in the past. He was a show guy, an entertainer, comical but at the same time, serious. He can dance, laugh and sorrow with you depending on the situation. He was a free soul, you know. There is a difference between having a bad habit and yet a free soul. Amadi had a free a soul.
“We were like Tom and Jerry because we fought when it was necessary but we always reconciled. He didnt harbour grudges but usually spoke his mind on any issue. We were together Wednesday in the office when I accused him of killing entertainment on Saturday. In his usual manner, he explained that if I compared entertainment on Saturday with other days, that I would discover that it was still the best. He even conducted an interview with a Nollywood star that Wednesday but at a point, he started acting strange and I didn’t understand
him. That was the worst kind of death, it was so sudden, giving nobody any chance to care for him.
“As the Group Entertainment Editor of Vanguard, the best thing anybody, especially those he worked with would do to keep his memory alive, is to keep up the good work. They should maintain the tempo of the job. Strangely, he did all the job he had for Saturday edition before he died. Somebody has to pick up from where he stopped and maintain the tempo because as a show guy, he wouldn’t want the show to die.”
Assistant News Editor, Kenneth Ehigiator said Ogbonna would be remembered for being one of the journalists who electrified Vanguard newsroom and made production effortless.
Delta State government said through Mr. Oma Djeba, former Information Commissioner, that he “was one of the greatest entertainment icons and journalists in Nigeria. We shall miss him.”
Deputy Features editor, Mr. Mike Ebonugwo, too stunned to say anything, wrote in the condolence book. “But for sure, you are a big loss to all of us who knew you and value your worth.”
Theo Opara, also a deputy Features editor, wrote: “Senior, when you told me you would have loved to compile all your works, I didn’t know you knew the time was up. May the almighty God grant you eternal rest.
Foreign Editor, Mr. Hugo Odiogor, in a philosophical musing,described Amadi’s death thus: “Life is like a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets upon the stage, it’s heard no more. It is a brief candle that expires in a single breath.”
Victor Gotovbe, Administration Manager said, Amadi’s death was a big shock. ”Sometime yesterday, he came to my office and we chatted. About an hour later, I got a call from one of our colleagues that the doctor called to say that Amadi had asthma attack and at the end of it, he couldn’t make it. I asked him, what do you mean by he couldn’t make it.
“I could remember when I started Weekend Vibes column. He gave me a lot of useful advice. He was a man full of ideas. Every moment he looked for some ideas to pass across to people, he might not be the one to execute. He was such a simple guy to work with. To me, he was more than a colleague, he was like an elder brother. I will miss him so much. He had dreams and is always passionate about the young people. With his death some of those dreams are gone.”
The Nigeria entertainment industry has lost some one, a rare gem who took entertainment to an enviable height.
Mr. Adeleke Adeseri, South West Editor, exclaimed: “We were very close. We used to greet with latest issues from our beats. You were such a decent man – committed to your work and family. I can remember vividly how you settled rifts in families especially of characters on your entertainment beat. I know we will meet to part no more.
Sleep well Ogbonna
And from Labour Correspondent, Mr. Victor Ahiuma-Young, “Like the Bible said, it will come like a thief in the night. But Amadi’s death came in the bright day light. Though death is a necessary end, the way Amadi died is too difficult to comprehend.”
I think I saw him last on the fateful day around 2pm when he was concluding an interview with a lady right in the reception of Vanguard Newspaper close to the newsroom. I think we have to leave it to God we cannot ask why, only God knows why. There is no doubt that Amadi would be missed.