… Founding DMD of The Sun gets glowing accolades at posthumous birthday
- He still communicates with me, says Awoyinfa
IT was an endless deluge of eulogies, flowing forth continuously from every mouth at that evening event in Ikeja, the Lagos State capital. On Monday, May 16, the accolades poured down relentlessly from guests at the posthumous 60th birthday get together held in honour of Pastor Dimgba Igwe, the late former Vice Chairman of The Sun Publishing Limited.
Born on May 16, 1956, Igwe died on September 6, 2014. He would have been 60 last Monday.
From his colleagues, friends, sons and daughters in journalism, especially from The Sun newspapers as well as his spiritual sons and daughters at the Evangel Pentecostal Church (EPC), where he was Deputy General Overseer, it was a torrent of praises.
Founding Managing Director of The Sun, Mike Awoyinfa, Dimgba’s ‘twin brother’, lifelong friend, colleague and business partner, hosted the event. He told the gathering that since Dimgba’s friend, the deceased had not stopped communicating with him.
“It is not fiction,” he told the guests. “I still hear Dimgba always. He ministers to me on how best to approach certain issues. And I mean it.”
Those in attendance all agreed that indeed, the late journalist, author, administrator, cleric and one of the founding fathers of The Sun Publishing Limited did not die. He was just taking a nap in the bosom of His Lord, they asserted.
The birthday dinner was graced by renowned journalists, especially from The Sun family, EPC church members as well as family members of Dimgba Igwe and Awoyinfa.
General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Services of The Sun, Mrs. Neta Nwosu, who declared the event open, stated that Dimgba was a good model and a boss par excellence. Gloria Oriaku, another lady that worked with both Dimgba and Awoyinfa, described the late icon, as one of the best experiences she ever gained in life.
Said she: “It takes greatness to build other great men. My boss built so many great icons in journalism today. He was a good mentor, who stood for integrity, hard work, equity and human capital development. He made marriage beautiful through his relationship with his wife. He played a great fatherly role in his relationship with his children. He stood out in the Christian world and was always willing to help.”
Master of Ceremonies at the event and one of the ‘sons’ of Dimgba, Aliu Muhammed, affirmed that great men never die. He noted: “Me, Eric Osagie, Femi Adesina, Dele Momodu and so on were among the direct products of Dimgba Igwe. How can you be seeing these wonderful products of his and say Dimgba is dead?”
Mike Awoyinfa was later asked to reminisce over the times he shared with Dimgba. Awoyinfa took the microphone and charged the gathering to always celebrate his partner and best friend. He declared that the meeting was not for mourning, noting that it was to celebrate a life well spent. Awoyinfa averred: “The darkroom of sorrow is over; we are now out with the picture of happiness. I know my friend never died. Ever since we were physically separated, I have heard his voice doubtlessly many times. I had always looked forward to celebrating his 60th birthday. So, when the day came, I kept ruminating over what to do or how to do it. Then, he inspired me that he would like to see people of Dimgba Igwe and Mike Awoyinfa. Immediately I heard it, I knew I had struck it. I knew he was referring to his family in journalism, in the church and our immediate nuclear families. This marks the reason we are here today. It is basically to celebrate his iconic posture. He was a hero and a mentor for all.”
Another mentee of Dimgba and current Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Eric Osagie, then took the microphone. He agreed that the gathering was not a congregation of mourners. He gave kudos to the late icon for breeding editorial giants in the nation.
“It is the first time in Nigeria’s history and under Dimgba’s watch, that a particular newsroom – the old Weekend Concord’s newsroom – would be producing three Managing Directors/ Editors-in-Chief at the same time. Mr. Femi Adesina was the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, I was the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of New Telegraph, while Shola Oshunkeye was Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Ghana. Three of us were in charge at the same time. Dimgba played formidable roles in what we are all doing today. One unique thing about him was that he recognised hard work, resilience and creativity. He was the boss that was managing everyone’s dreams, which has given us a fulfilled dream today.
“He who is not forgotten is not dead. To die is to forget completely and also be forgotten. Physical separation is not the end of life. There must be life after life, I believe. When you see his beautiful family, The Sun as a company, and other friends and family, you know Mr. Dimgba Igwe lives on.”
Deputy Managing Director of The Sun, Mr. Steve Nwosu, also confirmed how kind-hearted his late boss was. He said Igwe was a great writer, a mentor, a giver, a lover of mankind and a total blessing to all. He was always willing to teach the lesson of good life and how best to approach challenging situations, including marital issues.
Editor, Daily Sun, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, said Igwe is unforgettable and will forever remain in the hearts of those who came close to him. According to him, the late DMD was always ready to be of assistance in professional life and personal matters.
The Sun’s Associate Editor and Head, Education Desk, Chika Abanobi, said Dimgba was a man he cherished so much. Said he: “He really did put me through a lot of editorial jobs at the beginning of my career. I will miss him.”
The Sun’s General Manager, Finance, Obioma Ogukwe, testified to Dimgba’s warm advice and counsel. He said the path his late boss laid for him had ensured a successful career that he now enjoys.
According to the Chairman, Editorial Board, The Nation Newspapers, Mr. Sam Omatseye, the values that Dimgba stood for could not be over-emphasised. He said the deceased understood details and knew how to deploy resources. He was a careful and peaceful leader, Omatseye asserted.
Then, the discourse shifted from journalism to the spiritual and fatherly strides of the late Igwe. General Overseer of EPC, Pastor Paul Toun, a retired Army General, paid tribute to his late deputy. In his words, Pastor Dimgba lived to preach the gospel and he was an ambassador of Christ.
Said the G.O: “As far as God is concerned, the transition of our brother was precious to Him. He stayed around the church so much and taught all about godliness. He was humorous and always willing to help. I am delighted to celebrate him and celebrate the special calling of God upon him. A great teacher he was. He had great legacies that he passed down to the upcoming generation.”
Mrs. Oby Ugbo, Dimgba’s friend, asserted how helpful the late journalist was to her family. She described Mr. Dimgba Igwe, as a caring friend and father, who would always ask about the welfare of others. According to her: “He ensured I had a good job and kept following me up. He made sure I did not spend my salary anyhow. He encouraged us into buying a piece of land and into developing it early enough. He introduced my family into shares, instead of buying gold. He was just there for us all through and always wanted us to be, at least, an inch ahead of where we were yesterday. He was a wonderful man of God.”
Dimgba was also a great family man and a wonderful father, according to his children. Chinaza Igwe, his son, said his father impacted all his children in the best possible way. “He taught me everything I know today. He wrote his first book at 26; I wrote mine at 13. He taught us the value of reading and a good home. You could not disturb my father anytime he was reading, writing or talking with my mother,” he added.
Another family member, Kehinde Awoyinfa, son of Mike Awoyinfa, also had tips about his father’s ‘twin brother’. He stated: “Through my father, I have enjoyed double blessings all through my life. I have a twin brother, and I have two fathers and two mothers. Mr. and Mrs. Igwe are my other parents. My father and his friend were one of a kind.”
Mrs. Igwe, Dimgba’s widow, sat calmly on her seat, as different speakers took turns to pour encomiums on her late husband. Eventually, when she was invited, she took her time to thank all the attendees. She said the many accolades that her late husband had received that evening were a reminder to her and to everyone at the event to keep doing good.
“If tomorrow I am not around, will I receive such tributes? That is the question we should ask ourselves,” she counselled.