Igwe’s Death, A Most Painful Exit

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Family friends, media colleagues and people from different walks of life mourn Dimgba Igwe, a fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and a renowned journalist, who died as a result of injuries he received after an unidentified motorist hit him near his residence at Okota, a Lagos suburb, on Saturday, September 6

By Olu Ojewale  |  Sep. 22, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THE Nigerian journalism community was thrown into mourning on Saturday, September 6, when the news of the death of Dimgba Igwe, a renowned journalist and vice chairman of The Sun Publishing Company, hit newsrooms across the country. Igwe, 58, died from the wounds he received from a hit-and-run driver after doctors at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja, Lagos, battled unsuccessfully to save his life. Since the news of his demise hit the airwaves, many personalities from different walks of life have been sending in condolences and pouring encomiums on the veteran journalist.

In a message of condolence, President Goodluck Jonathan described the sudden death of Igwe as shocking and sad. In a statement by Rueben Abati, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, the president commiserated with the family members, friends, associates, Guild of Editors and publisher of The Sun Newspapers on the irredeemable loss. He said the late journalist would always be remembered as a hard working and dependable professional and therefore, urged Igwe’s relatives, friends, associates and professional colleagues to be consoled by the fact that the deceased lived a purposeful life by putting his God-given abilities to the best use.

The statement read in part: “Mr. Igwe… through his various writings as a columnist, author and public speaker, demonstrated a special ability to convey the truth and his convictions in lucid, compelling prose, and in a style that was shorn of cant and foppery.” The president prayed that God should grant the family, friends and associates the fortitude to bear the loss of “the very forthright journalist and media administrator, and also grant his soul, peaceful repose.”

Orji Kalu, publisher and chairman of The Sun Newspapers, described the death of the vice-chairman of the newspaper as “shocking, tragic and a darkness in the annals of journalism in Nigeria.” He added: “Dimgba Igwe was too much of a gentleman, and a fine brain and mind to die tragically like this.”

In the same breath, Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, described the death of Igwe as shocking and unbelievable. “The tribe of great journalists in Nigeria has again been depleted by this sudden and most heartbreaking death,” Tinuhu said in a statement last Saturday, September 6, adding: “It is, indeed, a sad day for the Nigerian media and all those that were associated with Dimgba.  He was a thorough-bred journalist and writer, who remained steadfast and lifted The Sun newspapers to a position of reckoning.” Tinubu, who recalled some of his encounters with Igwe and Mike Awoyinfa, his close professional  associate and friend, also described the circumstance of Igwe’s death as painful and avoidable.

Expressing a similar view, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, in a statement through Eni Akinsola, his chief press secretary, said Igwe’s demise had robbed the journalism profession of a great intellectual and one of the finest brains of the profession. “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.”

Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, in a tribute issued by Olayinka Oyebode, his chief press secretary, described the loss of Igwe at this time in Nigeria’s history as devastating. He noted that Igwe “served the journalism profession with zeal, candour and integrity,” adding that the deceased secured his place in journalism history as an editor, columnist, manager and administrator.

The governor said that Igwe’s column in The Sun was a must-read for Nigerians who looked forward to his incisive analysis on burning issues. Fayemi also commended the late writer for using his pen to speak the truth to administrators through which he assisted in reforming the society.

On his part, Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State 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, expressed shock over Igwe’s  sudden death. Amaechi’s letter said in part: “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.”

Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State regards the demise of the celebrated columnist as a big blow to the media. In a statement signed by Felix Ofou, his press secretary, Uduaghan recalled how Igwe’s elevated piece on Delta on his bold effort at transform­ing the state opened the floodgate for the many awards bestowed on him this year. “I take this loss as personal. It is also a loss to Delta since the wife is from our state. He was a dependable partner and we were looking forward to a more fruitful rela­tionship before death struck,” the governor said.

In his own reaction, Gov­ernor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, said Igwe’s death was a great loss not only to the journalism profession, but also to the nation. In a statement by Jackson Udom, his special assistant on media, Akpabio described the de­ceased as “a fierce and fear­less columnist, who became a household name because of his incisive and revealing analysis of local, national and inter­national issues. This quality and fearless write-ups by Igwe would be missed by his teem­ing admirers.”

Lamenting the death of Igwe, Peter Ozo-Eson, secretary general of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, said the death of the late journalist through a hit-and-run driver called to question the mental fitness of most drivers in Nigeria. “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.”

Holding a similar position is the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, which described his death as a great blow to the journalism profession. The NGE said in view of the circumstance of his death, security agencies, especially the Nigerian Police Force, should find “the cowardly driver who committed the dastardly act and inflicted this pain on the Igwes and the Nigeria media,” and bring him to justice.

The Guild, in a statement by Isaac Ighure, secretary general, described the late fellow of the Guild as “a peaceable gentleman,” who had only gone jogging near his Okota home at about 10:00 am to keep fit, only to be knocked down in a fatal accident that claimed his life at the LASUTH where he was rushed to 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,” the statement said.

In a similar message, the Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, 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 on Sunday, September 7, by Deji Elumoye, chairman, and Sylva Okereke, secretary, urged the Lagos State police command with the support of both the state government and the State Security Service, SSS, to, as a matter of urgency, track Igwe’s killer and bring him to justice. The council also described the death of the seasoned journalist as a rude shock and a monumental loss to journalism industry, thereby leaving a vacuum very hard to fill.

Igwe is survived by a wife and four children. The Sun newspaper will announce his burial plans later.

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