WE were not too many, but Pastor Dimgba Igwe who would have been 60 on May 16, 2016, would not have wanted it any better way: a room filled with his family, my family, close friends, his church people, old Weekend Concord staffers and journalists from The Sun who had all come to dine in this Chinese restaurant somewhere in Ikeja, GRA.
We had gathered here this beautiful Monday evening for the posthumous celebration of a man whose life was brief like a candle in the wind, but impacted positively on so many of us.
Let me start by thanking you for your responses to my last Saturday’s piece on “Unforgettable Dimgba Igwe @ 60.” I was overwhelmed by your appreciative text messages, emails and phone calls. My prayer is that none of you will die before your time. And may you accomplish your mission and purpose here on earth to the glory of your Father in heaven.
On Sunday, while praying and meditating in church, the still, small voice of God simply whispered to me this great idea of marking my friend and brother’s posthumous 60th birthday by gathering 60 “Dimgba Igwe people” and feasting them to a night of tributes and remembrances. By “Dimgba Igwe people” I am referring to Dimgba’s inner caucus—the people he felt so happy and comfortable around him during his lifetime. Immediately after church, I broached the idea to my wife and children and they instantly bought it. And we got cracking, making phone calls to Dimgba Igwe’s disciples in the church, in the newsroom and wherever they may be, inviting them for a love feast to the departed brother.
I called Eric Osagie, the managing director of The Sun and he instantly jumped at the idea and committed The Sun into bankrolling the dinner in honour of their departed vice chairman Dimgba Igwe. That is the joy of having your professional sons on top. I have been so blessed to have my sons and Dimgba’s sons from the Weekend Concord days to The Sun occupying various strategic positions today: Femi Adesina, Shola Osunkeye, Dele Momodu, Eric Osagie, Aliu Mohammed, Steve Nwosu, Onuoha Ukeh and the rest of them. Then there is our great friend and columnist from the Weekend Concord days Sam Omatseye (Editorial Board Chairman at The Nation) who was at the dinner in spite of the very short notice and the fact that he was preparing for his own book launch last Thursday. True leadership, I am told, is the ability to build people who will eventually become bigger and greater than you to the glory of God.
Dimgba Igwe was a builder of people. He groomed so many. He simply wanted all his disciples to succeed in life. He was always mentoring people in his two constituencies of church and the newsroom. He was such a great teacher, a preacher, leader and an achiever.
On our way for the dinner, I found myself ministering to Mrs Dimgba Igwe sitting next to my wife at the backseat while I sat next to the driver. I urged her to be strong, to be cheerful, to exile her sorrow because the long night of sorrow had passed, ushering in a new day of joy. Quoting Psalm 30:5, I said to her: “Weeping may stay for the night but joy comes in the morning.” She kept faith to my preaching. It was great to see her so happy on that night of her emotional transfiguration.
For us, May 16, 2016 was indeed a day of joy and a night of sweet and pleasant memories with everyone going on memory lane to remember funny anecdotes about Dimgba Igwe, the man not many people knew had his comical side and could give some professional comedians a run for their money.
There were all kinds of testimonies—from the young and old. Forgotten tales from the newsroom of the past where we created some of the best story ideas and headlines, concocted from beer parlours and pepper soup joints. No, Dimgba Igwe was not part of the beer parlour and pepper soup joint story. He was not part of our journalistic peccadilloes—what he called “Mike and his iniquity people.”
As editor, Mike Awoyinfa was said to be the one whose head was always in the clouds in search of “fantastic” ideas while Dimgba Igwe, the deputy editor, was the one whose feet were firmly on ground to instil sobriety, maturity and a sense of calm.
Yes, we were birds of different feathers, two opposite fellows, yet in our diversity, we stuck together through thick and thin. That is how Nigeria should be. We should learn to live together as one in a country so diverse. In our diversity, let’s find unity, let’s find strength, let’s find love, let’s learn to be tolerant.
I have been asked: How is life without Dimgba Igwe and what lessons have I learnt from his death? All I can say is that Dimgba Igwe is unforgettable. Every minute, every second, I think about him. I pray to God to give me strength and wisdom to be able to cope with the task ahead. And God has been faithful. God has been good to me. I know my friend is in a better place where he is praying and interceding for me not to fail and not to disappoint him.
The lessons I have learnt from his death are many. Time waits for no one. Whatever you want to do, don’t procrastinate. Do it now. Tomorrow might be too late. Everything and everyone has an end. Live every day as if it is your last day on earth. Do good and serve the Lord your God with all your might. Keep a good name. A good name is better than all the riches. Do the little you can to move another person forward. Above all, be strong and be rich in the Lord. These are the values that Dimgba Igwe lived by and taught me in the short and memorable time we spent together before he flew into the clouds. Now that he is in the clouds, it’s my turn and my time to keep my feet firm on solid ground, time to grow up, time to give up certain things, time to act maturely and with sobriety, time to act like Dimgba Igwe, the good servant of God who is gone to rest with his maker. May God help me!