By Ola Ajayi
IBADAN â€” DEATH has further depleted the ranks of the journalism profession with the death, Sunday, of the former General Manager of Sketch Press Limited, Mr. Peter Ajayi, at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. He was aged 73.
Pa Ajayi who was a native of Usi Ekiti, who was also Editor of Herald, was said to have been on admission at the hospital for three weeks before he breathed his last in the early hours of Sunday
According to one of his children, Mrs. Adebola Badejo, he was diagnosed of cancer of the liver.
Immediately the report of his death was announced, scores of sympathisers thronged his Oluyole residence to commiserate with the bereaved family.
Acording to Adebola, â€œI was there at the UCH at exactly 6:10 am. By the time I got there, he was already wrapped up ready to be taken to the mortuary. I met him around 9pm on Saturday. We were prepared for his death. He was gentle. He was my love. No doubt, we will miss him.â€
When asked if she had any inkling that he would die, she said, â€œI visited him on Friday, the way I saw him on bed, he was not talking again. And the doctor called us and told us that his organs were collapsing. He was diagnosed of cancer of the liver.â€
His three widows â€” Florence, Iyabode and Kemi â€” described him in various ways but all agreed that he was a very nice husband who took adequate care of them all.
According to Iyabo, his death â€œwas shocking and a kind of relief because he lived a good life. He was my friend not just my husband. I give glory to God for the kind of life that Peter led. A responsible, reliable and very nice man.
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Action Congress governorship candidate for Ekiti StateÂ in 2007 elections, while describing the late Ajayi as a man of exemplary character, said, â€œhe was an exemplar of phenomenon in Nigerian journalism and polity.
He was the very best in character, integrity and in compassion to the people and in society. When people like that die, one is bound to feel the sense of considerable loss and pain.
â€œHe was a mentor in many regards and an inspiration to many of us. He represented many things in Ekiti. He was an exemplary Nigerian whether as a Chief Press Secretary to late Col. Adekunle Fajuyi or as a General Manager to Sketch and Editor, Herald Newspaper and as a retired, veteran journalist, he never compromised on the principles of integrity. Iâ€™m proud not only as an Ekiti man but as a Nigerian for associating with him.
â€œWe in Ekiti, will, sooner or later honour him for the meritorious service he rendered to mankindâ€, he stated.
Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State said he belonged to the first generation of modern journalists in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Public Communications, Prince Dotun Oyelade, theÂ late Ajayi represented that genre of quintessential newspaper reporters honed in the best tradition of news reporting, editorials and production.
His death, the statement added, coming in the wake of that of Mr Bayo Ohu of the Guardian Newspaper has sorely depleted the ranks of credible professionals in the journalism firmament.
Mr. Tunde Akingbade, immediate past Chairman, League of Veteran Journalists, Oyo State Chapter, said, â€œHe was one of the pillars of the journalism profession.
But sadly, a pillar was removed by death today. He was an incorruptible Nigerian. He would not eat the food he was not expected to eat nor drink the water he was not supposed to drink. He was one of the best reporters Nigeria has ever produced and will ever produce.â€
And in Lagos, the arrow of the three musketeers, Chief Olusegun Osoba, former Governor of Ogun State broke the news of his death at the 70th birthday of Chief Duro Onabule, yesterday.
Mr. Felix Adenaike, a close associate who was with him for 56 years noted that they started as friends but ended up as brothers.
â€œHis death is indescribable. I canâ€™t find words to describe it. I will miss companionship and counsel. We never did anything behind each other.
â€œHis death will leave a yawning gap in the journalism profession. He was one of the professional titans. You canâ€™t replace them. The current trend of journalism is coming from a different direction.â€