By Victor Ahiuma-Young, Dayo Johnson, Gbenga Olarinoye & Gbenga Ariyibi
POLITICIANS, including three governors, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Nigeria Guide of Editors, NGE, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, among others, yesterday paid glowing tribute to the late Vice Chairman of The Sun Newspapers, Dimgba Igwe, who was killed by a hit and run driver on Saturday.
The three governors are Dr Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State,
Governor Mimiko, in a statement through his Chief Press Secretary, Eni Akinsola, said Igwe’s demise had robbed the journalism profession of a great intellectual and one of the finest brains of the profession.
According to him, “Dimgba Igwe, through the practice of journalism and his weekly column blazed the trail in professionalism. He was sensitive to national development and a worthy role model in mentoring younger Nigerians. He was thorough in his writings, deep in his views and convincing in his logic. His death at just 58, notwithstanding, he led a remarkable and impactful life and left behind legacies, which will serve as a template for would be successful journalists.”
The governor said “the late Igwe was a rare breed among his peers and one of those who raised the bar of journalism profession in Nigeria.”
His death sad, devastating, says Fayemi
Governor Fayemi in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Olayinka Oyebode, said losing a media icon with a deep understanding of public affairs like Igwe at this time in Nigeria’s history was devastating.
He said Igwe was one of the pioneers of human angle genre in the print media which brought freshness and excitement to newspaper business and journalism in the country.
The governor said “Igwe served the journalism profession with zeal, candour and integrity,” adding that Igwe’s place in journalism is firmly secured as he gave much to the job as an editor, columnist, manager and administrator.
Fayemi recalled Igwe’s trail-blazing roles at the defunct Weekend Concord and The Sun titles, which recorded great success in the print media.
He added that Igwe’s column in The Sun was a must-read for Nigerians who looked forward to his incisive analyses on burning issues. Igwe, according to the governor, used his pen to speak truth to power and assisted in reforming the society.
Recalling his last encounter with the late Igwe, together with his partner, Mr Mike Awoyinfa, in Ado-Ekiti earlier in the year, Fayemi said it was painful realising that the celebrated writer with fecund imagination was no more, saying “We will surely miss his frank and deep analyses of issues. On behalf of myself and the good people of Ekiti State, we commiserate with members of Igwe’s immediate and extended family, the management of The Sun Newspapers, the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ and the Nigerian Guild of Editors,NGE, and pray that God grants the family and associates of the deceased the fortitude to bear the great loss.”
One of journalism finest — Amaechi
On his part, Governor Amaechi described the deceased as a thorough professional who contributed immensely and impacted greatly on the practice of journalism in the country.
The governor in a condolence letter to the Publisher of The Sun Newspapers, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, expressed shock over Igwe’s gruesome and sudden death.
He urged the publisher, management, staff of the newspaper, colleagues, family and friends of late Igwe to find strength in the abilities possessed and displayed by the deceased during his lifetime, particularly in his field of journalism, where he stood out as a true and thorough professional.
“It is indeed a sad moment for all of you at The Sun Newspapers, the family of the late Igwe, journalists and all who knew him. However, you are not alone. We mourn with you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and many others whom the late Dimgba Igwe had touched their lives one way or the other.
“He was one of the finest in the media industry. His Sideview column was always insightful, analytical and compelling to read. His well informed presentation of facts was indeed remarkable. From scratch, Dimgba Igwe was a leading member of the team that grew The Sun Newspapers to national tabloid that is widely enjoyed by many. He will surely be greatly missed”, the letter read.
Similarly, Minister of State for Works, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye, described his death as “one death too painful!”
Adeyeye said; “This is another dark day in the journalism profession. It is a loss of one of the biggest Iroko tree in the forest of journalism profession in Nigeria and I am very sad.”
He said; “It is one death too painful! All that we can do now is to pray for the repose of his soul and counsel his family members, friends and associates to take the death as the will of God. It is my prayer that the Almighty God, in His infinite mercies will grant the staff and management of The Sun Publishing company, members of the pen profession in Nigeria and the Igwe family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”
A big assault on quality journalism in Nigeria —NLC
Lamenting the death, NLC in a statement by its General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said “We received the sad news of the unfortunate death of the Vice Chairman of The Sun Publishing Company, publishers of The Sun Newspapers, Mr. Dimgba Igwe, who was killed yesterday, reportedly by a hit and run driver as he jogged around his Okota, Lagos residence. We remember him as one of the founding editors of the defunct Concord newspapers and until death, a versatile columnist, whose writings have contributed immensely to shaping thoughts, contemporary political discourse, and progressive journalism in Nigeria.
“The circumstance of Mr. Igwe’s death calls to question the mental fitness of most drivers in Nigeria as we wonder as to what was the speed level of a vehicle that could run down a man within a small street, resulting in his untimely death in few hours.
”We call on the Federal Road Safety Commission to investigate, apprehend and prosecute the driver of the vehicle that allegedly ran down Mr. Igwe. Once drivers who derive joy in reckless driving get to know they could end up in jail, accidents such as this will be reduced. We condole with Mr. Igwe’s family, The Sun Publishing Company, the Nigeria Guild of Editors and indeed, the entire media community in Nigeria as we share in the collective agony his death has brought to all of us.”
A great blow to the journalism profession, says NGE
In the same vein, Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, said his death was a great blow to the journalism profession.
NGE in a statement by is General Secreaty, Isaac Ighure, described him as “a peaceable gentleman, Mr Igwe was said to be jogging near his Okota home at about 10am to keep fit, when the fatal incident occurred. He later gave up the ghost at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, where he was rushed for medical attention. It is painful to recall that only recently, between August 27 and August 31, Mr Igwe was in Katsina, where he actively participated in all activities at the 10th All Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC).
“His death, therefore, has dealt a great blow to the journalism profession to which he and his inseparable colleague, Mr. Mike Awoyinfa, had made invaluable contributions. Igwe was deputy to Awoyinfa when the Weekend Concord hit the newsstand in 1989. The partnership was replicated when The Sun Newspapers came on board in 2003, and the various books that they co-authored.
”Finally, the Guild wishes to use this medium to urge the security agencies, especially the Nigerian Police Force, to fish out the cowardly driver who committed the dastardly act and inflicted this pain on the Igwes and the Nigeria media.”
Reacting, governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the August 9 governorship election in Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, said “I received the news of the untimely death of Mr. Dimgba Igwe , the vice-chairman of The Sun Publishing Company with shock and disbelief. It is unfortunate that the media guru, who bestrode the journalism profession like a colossus had to take a bow when his service is most needed at this moment of our nation’s history.”
“His weekly column in Daily Sun was a must read for policy makers and politicians because of his elegant prose and an attempt to proffer solution to the problem besetting the country through an informed commentary.” .
The PDP chieftain however urged members of his family, associates and colleagues to take solace in the fact that Mr. Dimgba distinguished himself as a thorough bred professional who came, saw and conquered.”
Lagos NUJ wants killer driver found
On its part, Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, has called on the security agencies to bring to book the hit and run driver that killed him
The council in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its Chairman Deji Elumoye and Secretary , Sylva Okereke, said Lagos state police command with the support of both the state government and the State Security Service should as a matter of urgency track Igwe’s killer and bring him to justice
Describing Igwe’s sudden death as a rude shock and a monumental loss to journalism industry, the Council said the vacuum left by Igwe in journalism would be very hard to fill.
According to Lagos NUJ, Igwe, was a seasoned journalist and a media collosus whose wealth of experience and words of advice to young journalists will be missed at this crucial period of the nation’s development.
The Council, while commiserating with the management and staff of The Sun Newspaper also prayed to God to give his immediate family the fortitude to bear the loss.