BY OBINNA F. NWACHUKWU
SUCCESS according to Ralph Walter Emerson means “to laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people, and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better than you met it, and to know that even one person’s life has breathed easier because you have lived”.
In a nutshell, this is the summation of the story of the life and times of Chief Pini Jason Onyegbaduo, the amiable veteran journalist, publisher, writer, columnist and author who like a colossus bestrode the pen profession for 40 years before joining his creator on Saturday May 4, 2013. He was a maternal uncle and brother I loved so much.
During his life time, he distinguished himself as a reputable, dependable, responsible and patriotic servant of his fatherland and mediator in turbulent national issues. His hard work, articulation of issues, sagacity and oration were of tremendous assistance to the nation in periods of difficult issues, including those that almost tore the nation apart and brought social and economic activities to standstill. Pini until death remained a formidable patriotic voice on all issues of national importance and had the rare privilege of serving in several capacities, including the Imo State government where he was the Special Adviser (Special Duties) from 2007 to 2011.
Pini Jason Onyegbaduo (better known as Pini Jason) was born in 1948 to the family of Onyegbaduo of Umuawam Umuosisi Obizi Autonomous Community, in Ezinihite Mbaise Local Government Area, Imo State. A former Customs officer, he left the job for full time journalism, writing mostly for foreign-based publications such as African Now magazine before writing for local publications. He was with The Week, Nduka Obiagbena’s defunct news magazine that debuted in 1986 before joining Sam Amuka’s Vanguard Newspapers as a columnist. He later established his own newspaper called The Examiner in 1998 at Jibowu Lagos. The paper did not last long before it went the way of others. His weekly column in Vanguard would be what most people would remember him for. But he was also an author, communications consultant and orator.
In all his writings, he handled issues with a candour that challenged positions and often left an impression on whoever read him. He was fearless but humane, dogged, could be ruthless with his pen when he wishes, but above all, showed respect to human dignity. He valued and defended his friends and never compromised on any issue he believed in. Even with the most vitriolic criticism of his romance with the former Ohakim government of Imo State, Pini defended and continued to defend that administration until his death.
He was a man whose life was a hallmark of sterling qualities, excellent record of service, credibility and patriotism to both humanity and nation. Indeed, in good and difficult times, in youth and age, he remained a patriot. His life was a source of inspiration to many people, including the youths many of whom benefited from his milk of human kindness by way of educational scholarship, provision of basic amenities, donations to innumerable orphanages, medical support and other selfless services. To his associates, family and relations, Pini meant so many things – reliable friend, business partner, charming and handsome youngman, caring brother, guardian and counselor, grass-root mobilizer, community leader and above all honest man.
A devout Christian and community leader, he held various key posts both in the church and the community. As a Christian father, he had the reputation of molding his children in the Christian way of life. He abhorred wickedness, inhuman treatment, fetish sacrifices, ostentatious lifestyle and criminality in all ramifications. Pini was able to do all these because he had a supportive wife who provided him care, advice, comfort and solace in times of difficulty. To the children, Daddy was a moralist, teacher, adviser and sometimes chief whip- often whipping them to order with one hand when they derail and at the same time ready to cuddle them with the other hand. He encouraged his children to imbibe the tenets of Christian living, and never supported immorality, corruption and indecent dressing. His children described him as nice, kind, loving and jovial.
At any point in time his esteemed presence graced a public arena, Pini did not hesitate to disseminate, with unusual candour and simplicity, his invaluable tutorials for grassroots leadership, moral living and community development. As a panacea for positive transformation of self and society, he insisted on the need for well-rounded development that comprised the following: total education, the maximal use of one’s intellectual capabilities and physical endowment, volunteerism, self-employment as well as the cultivation of a personal resolve to solve problems.
As this Mbaise man departs this earth, the legacy he so faithfully espoused and lived by ought to be a lesson for many Nigerians of means. His lesson was this: in the face of corruption and underdevelopment, genuine leadership emerges when one steps out of the anonymity and apathy of one’s closet to advance the cause of his immediate environment through uncommon sacrifice.
Adieu great brother. Adieu my maternal uncle. Adieu Pini Jason Onyegbaduo.