Monday Column by Emmanuel Yawe
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Last week was a sad one for me. Two of my great friends that I cherish, MallamTukur Abdulrahman and Adeyemi Adekoya were claimed back by mother earth.
“We have just lost a good friend and brother Malam Tukur AbdulRahman, Managing Director of New Nigerian Newspapers and former Deputy President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors when Gbenga Adefaye was President. He was Vice President (North) when I served as the Guild’s President,” declared Baba Dantiye on his facebook page on Thursday 17th May.
I was at the private hospital where the late Tukur was admitted the previous day 16th May with Mike Reis the New Nigerian Chief of Bureau in the Federal Capital Territory to see how he was responding to treatment. I ought to have been there on Tuesday 15th May but I was held up somewhere and Mike who knew the hospital waited for me and when I did not show up on time left.
On Wednesday when we got there, we met Tukur in a serious debilitating condition. Mike who had seen him the previous day could not believe what he saw. He told me that his MD was in a fairly stable condition the previous day. They chatted joked and laughed before he took his leave of him. Suddenly, his condition deteriorated. There were all kinds of gadgets attached to him. Two all three close relatives and his son were with him in the ward, all wearing grim, melancholic looks.
Mike wanted to go in but the look on the faces of those who were with him in the room were not inviting and I signaled to him to hold back. Then his son got the message and came out to brief us on the turn of events. It was not an encouraging report at all.
Given the turn of events, we decided not to go there the following day, hoping to give him space for a full recovery before we could visit. On Thursday evening, Mike phoned to tell me that we had lost our friend!
The Tukur Abdulrahman I knew was an exceedingly polite gentleman. I am not sure he met me at the New Nigerian where I worked and left in the early 80’s. But every time we met, he gave me a kind of respect that humbled me. Naturally, when he vied for the Presidency of the Nigerian Guild of Editors at the Premier Hotel in Ibadan, I voted for him. Sadly, he lost that election to Femi Adesina who now works for President Buhari.
Then his health – a heart problem – took a dive. He had to go for a surgical operation abroad. He faced the challenge with the problems of an equally terminally ill newspaper, the New Nigeria which the Federal Military government took over with force of arms in 1975, thoroughly mismanaged and run it aground.
Mallam Tukur faced all with a disarming courage. He was neat in appearance with his simple native attire. Always he wore a friendly infectious smile. Here was a Muslim who sent me messages of goodwill on every Christian festive event. He was laid to rest in his Daura home, Katsina State on 18th May. I will miss him a great deal.
A day after the burial of Tukur, Mr Adeyemi Adekoya also went back to mother earth. He had died some weeks earlier but unlike the Muslims who do not waste time in burying their dead, his own burial was delayed.
Adekoya was a professional Insurance man whom I met through the efforts of an old friend and professional colleague, Nojim Jimoh. Some years back, he wanted to start a specialized magazine on Insurance business to deepen Insurance penetration of the industry in Nigeria. He needed a professional journalist to show him the road map. Nojim nominated me.
Our first meeting took Nojim by surprise. Immediately Nojim introduced me, he observed that “you must be a Tiv man” I said “yes”. Then he switched over to Tiv language, leaving his Yoruba “brother” Nojim who hails from Ogun State like him stranded.
Adekoya was a man with humble beginning who struggled against all odds to the pinnacle of his career. After his secondary school in the 70’s, he worked in Express Insurance Company Ltd as a Filling Clerk and later as an Underwriting Clerk from 1978 till July 1980. In July 1980, he joined Peugeot Nigeria Ltd (PAN LTD) in Lagos as an Insurance Supervisor. He was transferred when the Insurance Department was moved to the head office in Kakuri Kaduna.
He joined B.C.C Plc Gboko as the head of the Insurance Department from 1987 till 1999. He left B.C.C when the company was sold to Dangote Cement. In 1987 he registered the brokerage company, Union Provident Insurance Brokers. He later bought over James Sanfol Insurance Brokers Ltd which was renamed First Dominion Insurance Brokers Ltd. He was the Managing Director and CEO of First Dominion Insurance Brokers Limited, Abuja with branch offices in different parts of the Country.
He continued his education while juggling career demands. Adekoya was an HND Marketing graduate of Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo, held a Diploma Certificate in Insurance Management from Cardiff Institute of Management and Business Studies, as well as a master Degree Certificate in Business Administration [MBA] from Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma. He attended several management and Professional courses both locally and abroad. He was an Alumnus of the Prestigious CII College of Insurance Sevenoaks, Kent and London School of Insurance, both in the United Kingdom.
Our experiment with our Insurance Magazine – Dateline Insurance was not the expected success due to many factors. I still share his vision that Nigeria needs the kind of medium he tried to set up to educate the public on the advantages of Insurance. On his own part, he did not only have the vision but invested heavily in the project. We produced a first-class magazine which eventually went under due to lack of advertisement patronage.
Adekoya was a great Nigerian. I often told him that the future of Nigeria is the hands of people like him. A Yoruba from Ogun State who married a lady from Edo State and lived most of his working life in the North. He built his first house in Gboko. Both him, his children and wife spoke perfect Tiv. He was the kind of broad minded Nigerian that this country needs.