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One year in our hearts, the unforgettable Prince Emeka Obasi lives on

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Ex-Ekiti Gov, Fayemi, to deliver Prince Emeka Obasi Inaugural Memorial Lecture May 2

By OBINNA EZUGWU 

Tuesday March 15, 2022 was the day he breathed his last, the indefatigable Prince Emeka Obasi, publisher of Business Hallmark Newspaper. It was the day the ace journalist and publisher, a public relations whizkid; tireless warrior, finally succumbed to the inescapable end of mankind; the cold hands of death, after nearly a decade of battle with a debilitating health challenge. 

Obasi was bugged down but he refused to stay down, and when it was ultimately time, he took it with grace, and an unflinching believe and commitment to God. One year on, we remember a man who truly lived, even if not for many decades.

It was George Eliot, a 19th century English novelist, who wrote that our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them. But some of our dead, by the way they lived, cannot be forgotten. Prince Obasi was an intellectual giant, whose analysis of contemporary issues had echoes of prophesy.

He foretold the future with the accuracy of a true prophet. And today, the things he said years ago about the country’s politics and leadership are still playing out, such that he always became a reference point in conversations in and out of Business Hallmark newsroom.
“Emeka’s bright ideas and successes are remarkable and, of course, enviable. His imprint was loud and undebatable,” noted Anyim Pius Anyim, former president of the senate.

Obasi was a dreamer, who saw visions and translated them into physical realities. An intellectual heavyweight, he stood shoulders higher than his peers. He was a true giant, who would never be cowered. His story tells the Nigerian story of rising from grass through grace and stepping to the palace. He was a man of ideas and excellent writer. He read voraciously and was a leader, who led from the front.

“Prince Emeka Obasi was serious minded, committed to any cause he sets his mind on – highly focused. He had a high sense of humour and was sociable,” said Mr. Silas Udo, a journalist and course mate at the University of Calabar
Though fragile looking, Obasi was a warrior in every sense; a persistent fighter, whose debt of knowledge stood out in every conversation. Every engagement, every meeting with him was an enriching intellectual intercourse. Restlessness was a dominant trait in his genetic makeup.

“Publisher was unique and irreplaceable. I remember him for the intellectual discussions, and journalistic scoops,” said Mr. Chris Uche, managing editor of Business Hallmark.

“He kept everyone around deeply informed given his rich network of social contacts. I miss him for a day like this period in our political transition and the challenges inherent, and the deeper understanding he would have brought into the development. With him around, it would have been a completely different experience and learning process.”

There is no overstating the fact that Obasi was a cerebral colossus; an award wining journalist, author and a public relations expert, who always strived and made success of all his endeavours. He always persisted, even in the face of heavy odds. While he battled the ailment that eventually took him away, he carried on as though it was nothing. He wore a smile, always, and boisterously engaged in intellectual debates, his sonorous voice defying his hard breath, which was only made possible by oxygen tubes, to ring out loudest in the room.

“I remember Emeka as a fighter. He lived with a debilitating illness for years, but he didn’t allow it to stop him,” said Chief Goddy Uwazurike, president emeritus of Aka Ikenga, a think tank. “He lived an active life. He believed in Ndigbo till the end.”

Uwazurike recalled an encounter with Obasi during his late father’s burial, noting that it was an event that brought together the who is who in Nigeria.
“IBB and other top Generals attended the burial of the father of Emeka in Umuahia Ibeku some years ago. I teased him that he is a great man to have IBB at his Dad’s funeral. His answer? Small me!!!”
It’s a vintage Emeka response to anyone once he is presented as an influencial man !!.

“Zik’s Leadership Prize became an international success essentially because of the drive of Emeka. He was very intelligent and never accepted excuses for failing to do a satisfactory work,” Uwazurike said.

Obasi was a phenomenon; a rare breed whose kind comes once in a generation.  His work ethic was something out of the ordinary. He always dreamed big, and he accomplished great things. His catch phrase was always “go big or go home”.

“Emeka 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,” said Evangelist Elliot Uko, activist and founder of Igbo Youth Movement.

“I remember him as a man, whose bright ideas and successes, are remarkable and, of course, enviable. His imprint was loud and undebatable.”

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Prince Obasi did so much in so little time, such that when he passed away, aged only 58, his accomplishments were as though he had lived for a hundred years. He started his career as a reporter with Newswatch Magazine 1987 and went on to etablish such notable publications as National Mirror, Hallmark Newspaper and later, Business Hallmark. He was also a public relations expert. He established Cameo Adventures Limited, Lagos in 1990 and served as its president untill 1993.

From there he moved on to set up Patrioni Limited. A public policy expert, he created such profound forums as Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre, organisers of the prestigious Zik Prize in Leadership Award Scheme; The Mohammed Bello Endowment; The Queen Amina Foundation; The Yakubu Gowon Centre; The National Arts Foundation amongts others.

Obasi made a lot of positive impact during his lifetime, contributing meaningfully to the growth and development of journalism in Nigeria as well as politics at the state and federal level. He groomed stars and brightened many’s paths.

“Obasi’s landmark achievements in the media industry are unprecedented as he managed several newspapers, among which are National Mirror, Hallmark and Business Hallmark, thereby providing job opportunities for hundreds of people, especially journalists in different parts of the country,” said Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State governor in a tribute to the departed journalist.

Though he is no longer with us in the physical world, Obasi’s legacies live on. It was just like yesterday when the news of his passing broke, but it’s already a year.  Many more years will pass, but one thing is sure: Obasi would continue to live in our hearts, and in the heart of all, who encountered him in his lifetime. He was here, never to be forgotten. May his gentle soul continue to rest in the bosom of the Lord.

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