By Omeiza Ajayi
It was an out pouring of emotion yesterday as family, friends and well-wishers paid flattering tributes and related their experiences with the late Chairman of Leadership Newspapers, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, during a virtual service of songs held in his honour in Abuja.
Nda-Isaiah’s immediate younger brother, Joseph,who described him as a blessing, stated that the deceased lived a life of loving deeds and impacted on the lives of all he came across.
Joseph Nda-Isaiah said he felt blessed to have had Sam as a brother, noting that his legacies would live on in his children.
According to him, “We knew a day like this would come, but we did not know it would come this early. My brother loved us (siblings) and our mother dearly. I feared how my mother would survive. She trusted him so much that she knew that everything she asked from him would be given to her.
“We took Sam like our father. We even ‘feared’ him more than our father, because he was a strict man. But he had touched lives and impacted even those that he did not know. We miss him.”
Speaking, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State, said the deepest memories of the deceased were his love for life, family, friends and a better Nigeria.
According to Bello, Sam Nda-Isaiah never minced words about what he wanted, saying “Uncle Sam was a fantastic man who knew what he wanted. He was a man of the people and a very good man. On the 17th of November, when he couldn’t speak to me on the phone because I was breathless, he sent me a message advising me on medications to build my immunity against COVID-19. He never knew that the same COVID-19 would be the cause of his death. But what can we do when God says it is your time? When things like this happen, we can only pray to God.”
On his part, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Revered Matthew Kukah, in a video message, described Sam as an extraordinary man who was very passionate for a better Nigeria.
He lamented that those in power did not take advantage of Nda-Isaiah’s sterling qualities in the task of rebuilding the nation.
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Bishop Kukah said the best legacy the deceased’s friends could give to him was to accelerate the speed of building a better country for all Nigerians.
He said, “Anybody who knew him (Sam) would testify that he was a man in a hurry about literally everything. I think one of the greatest things about him was that no mountain was too high for him to climb and no ocean was too deep for him to swim as far as making Nigeria what he thought it should be was concerned. It should be a pity, and unfortunately, that we did not take advantage of Sam’s capacity, sheer energy, dedication, and commitment to helping to change Nigeria. But, indeed, he served his country, in another way, in his own private engagements and foray into business.
“He brought urgency, sincerity, finesse, and constructive anger. He was quite impatient with the incapacity of the Nigerian state to deliver good things of life to its people. I shared this same passion with him. We, as Christians, believe he is in a better place. So, the best legacy we can give him is to increase our speed on the oath of rebuilding our country. If we can contribute to his legacy, that would be to see Nigeria attain its place in the comity of nations.”
Kukah assured the deceased’s wife and children that God would look after them and prayed that they would not only step into their father’s shoes but also excel in their individual endeavours.
In his tribute, the Secretary of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, lauded the deceased’s love for truth, stressing that he encouraged others to speak the truth always.
“He was like the Barnabas in the Bible – an encourager. I was one of those he encouraged to write and get my voice heard in his Leadership Newspaper just like his father, Clement Isaiah, encouraged my father Rev. Canon Ezekiel Fearing to write for the New Nigerian Newspaper,” he said.
Nda-Isaiah’s business associate, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed, stated that the deceased’s family was his first and last investment.
Mohammed said, “It was an honour to have known him and have him as an in-law. We are here out of love for him. He was truly an amazing man, patriot, nationalist, and serial entrepreneur. However, the greatest legacy Uncle Sam left were not his businesses, but his family.”