By OBINNA EZUGWU
More Nigerians have paid tribute to Prince Emeka Obasi, ace journalist and publisher of Business Hallmark Newspaper, who passed passed away on Tuesday March 15.
Obasi, a PR guru and founder of Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPAC), organisers of Zik Prize in Leadership Awards, will be buried on April 14 at his home in Umuaroko, Ndume Ibeku, Umuahia North Local Government of Abia State.
As the family prepares to commit him to mother earth, more Nigerians are paying tribute to the departed.
The traditional ruler of Azueke Ibeku acient kingdom, Eze Okechukwu Onwubuariri, the Agukwunechemba of Azueke Ibeku authonomous Community, in a tribute to the late journalist, said he was rare gem.
The traditional ruler who spoke while siqning the condolence register extoled the award winning journalist, who was also a formal Commissioner of information in Abia State, as a patriotic Nigerian.
According to the traditional ruler, Obasi’s death was not only shocking, but also a monumental loss to the good people of Azueke Ibeku Authounous Community and indeed to Nigerians at large .
The traditional ruler, condoled the immediate family and prayed the Almighty God to grant them and indeed Nigerians at large, the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.
Also paying tribute, Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, founder of Igbo Youth Movement and Secretary, Eastern Consultative Assembly, described the late Prince Obasi as a bright star who helped to brighten his path.
Evangelist Uko said Obasi was a major pillar of support for his Igbo Youth Movement, noting that the movement may not have achieved prominence without him.
Uko remarked that the late Prince Obasi was a hardworking and creative genius whose ideas bore impressive fruits.
“Prince Emeka Obasi left an inspiring legacy of hardwork, networking and creativity. He made friends easily, got along with a lot of people and experimented with a lot of ideas, many of which bore impressive fruits and impacted positively on the nation,” he said.
“Emeka’s bright ideas and successes, are remarkable and, of course, enviable. His imprint was loud and undebatable.”
Evangelist Uko noted that, “While mobilising Igbo youths in the 1990s, our paths crossed and my testimony is this: The support Emeka and his Hallmark Newspaper gave me and my Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), propped me and my young organization up. He gave us massive publicity, of which we remain deeply grateful to this day.
“Hallmark Newspaper generously covered all my IYM seminars, talkshops and rallies.
“The story of my IYM would be incomplete without the role Hallmark Newspaper played in the early days of my activism.”
According to Uko, Obasi had informed him about his health challenge few years ago, which saddened him.
“When Emeka called a few years ago and told me about his health challenge, I was saddened. When I read the book he sent me, I realised it was more serious than I thought.
“When he called me one Sunday morning, six months ago, to confirm from me about the passing of Dr Obadiah Malafiah, I had no idea we were speaking for the last time.
“Emeka was a bright star, a unique inspiration to all he met, he shone so others would benefit from his light.
“Emeka has gone the way of all mortals, may the good Lord strengthen and console his family.
“Emeka was a friend, and a brother. A workaholic and a motivator. He left too early.
“A lot of people have many positive things to say about Emeka.
“I state for the records, that the IYM wouldn’t have become what we became, without the remarkable support and assistance we received from Prince Emeka Obasi and his Hallmark Newspaper, over two decades ago.
“We remain indebted to him.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, among other prominent Nigerians, had fortnight ago, paid tribute to the late Obasi.
Celebrating the man he was in a condolence message to his family and the body of journalism in Nigeria, President Buhari had affirmed that Obasi lived a patriotic life, contributing to the growth of the nation and welfare of citizens.
Speaking further in the condolence message signed on his behalf by his media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina, on Thursday in Abuja, the president noted that the deceased had set up legacies like the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC), which organises the annual Zik Prize in Leadership Awards.
He prayed that God would accept the soul of the departed and comfort all those mourning him.
Similarly, Anyim Pius Anyim former senate president; Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State governor; Senator Hope Uzodinma, governor of Imo State; Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State governor, and Chief James Ibori, former governor of Delta, among several others, had paid glowing tribute to the late publisher whose death they noted is a colossal loss to the media industry and the country as whole.
Meanwhile, according to a programme of event announced by the family of the late Obasi, the funeral rites will commence on Friday, April 8. 2022 with service of songs at the Trinity House, Trinity Avenue by Water Corporation Drive, off Ligali Ayorinde Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
This will be followed by another service of songs on Wednesday April 13, 2022 at his home in Umuaroko, Ndume Ibeku, Abia State.
An interdenominational service will hold on Thursday, April 14 at Community Primary School, Ahiaeke Ndume, Ibeku, before interment.
Post-graduation, Obasi who died at 58, started his career as a reporter with Newswatch in 1987, before joining Classique Magazine as an editor in 1989.
Between 1990 and 1993, he was the President and CEO of Cameo Ad Ventures Limited, Lagos and Patrioni Limited, both Public Relations Consultancies.
Obasi went on, in 1998, to set up Hallmark Newspaper, before setting up National Mirror in 2005.
When he sold National Mirror to billionaire businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim In 2009, he proceeded to set up Business Hallmark, a weekly newspaper.
About 2012, he went daily and changed to Hallmark Newspaper before returning to Business Hallmark in 2015.
He was the founder and Executive Secretary, Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC), organisers of Zik Prize in Leadership Awards, as well as being the founder and secretary, Mohammed Bello Endowment in Jurisprudence, among others.
Obasi was equally the founder and initiator of the National Arts Foundation, Awolowo Foundation and The Yakubu Gowon Centre
He was a special adviser on media, research and strategy to then governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and later commissioner for information, culture, and tourism.
He was Head of Media Advisory Committee, Imo State in 1998.
Obasi who hailed from Umuaroko,Ndume, Ibeku, Abia State, is survived by his wife, Dr (Mrs.) Betty Mankini Emeka-Obasi and four children, Emeka Jnr, Dikachi, Kamsi and Chizaram.