By Rume Oyitso
Nigeria has lost a visionary son and an outstanding contributor to nation-building in the person of Prince Emeka Obasi. The news of his death sent chills down the spines of all who heard of it. It cut through the heart like a steel blade. He was known as ‘’Publisher’’ by some of us who worked for him and he was friends to all, whether you are Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba or Urhobo like me. He was everyone’s brother, making the pain of his loss heavy in the minds of all his associates and friends. His death was a thunderclap, which deafened ears and froze minds.
Publisher had carried a cross of ill health for eight years before he departed this earth. He fought hard to overcome it because he loved life and was very enthusiastic about work. He refused to be weak and kept coming to the office despite the challenge until he couldn’t come anymore. One would think he wouldn’t be able to work again. Instead, he invited us to his house, where we held meetings with him and strategized for the progress of Business Hallmark Newspaper and the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC), two organizations he founded.
His foresight when celebrating excellence and outstanding performance in business and governance is second to none. Through his Zik Prize in Leadership and The People of the Year awards, many Nigerians have been celebrated for their immense contributions to the nation’s growth and development. The awardees have become examples and symbols of success for the upcoming generation, especially when it comes to role models to look up to in the country.
From November 2021 to January 2022, some of my colleagues and I were with Publisher to plan an event which held at the beginning of the year. On his last birthday in February, I was so happy to send him a message, wishing him a happy birthday. He made it through another year again. I prefer to send him messages at times so as not to disturb him in case he was resting. He needed rest a lot. He was hardworking, and his mind was always active, bubbling with ideas even though his body was weak.
Publisher had this contagious excitement about life. You couldn’t but want to be a part of what he was doing. Even after I resigned from working for him, he wouldn’t let go completely. He made me consult for him as he tried to figure out how to factor me back into his organisation. He called and invited me at will to discuss new project ideas. And I was always available for him, especially because he was a very inspiring person and I loved listening to him. We talk about politics, the economy of the nation and about our faith in God.
In March, I received a message to keep lifting him up in prayer. He had fallen sick again. I prayed fervently for him those days and recorded some of my declarations concerning his health and sent them to him. I was glad to see that he opened the messages. By this time, he was in ICU. I enquired about his health from his brother-in-law, Henry Amune. And as a positive thinker that he is, Henry would say, “thank you. And please continue to pray for him”. His calm response would make one think things have gotten better and there is no cause for alarm. So I thought he would come out of the situation alive as usual because he had become a dogged fighter. And he was always winning his battles. But I was surprised to hear that he didn’t make it this time. It is well and God knows best. In everything, we give Him thanks.
Publisher and I spoke about the healing power of God and His grace alot. I usually tell him that his being alive after the attack on his health by a mysterious sickness was by the grace of God. And he always agreed. The fact that the ailment was not responding to treatment had made him to turn to God for his healing. And he kept drawing closer to God even as the ailment persisted. This cause him to grow so much in his faith, overcoming all of the challenges with God on his side. Thanks to his beautiful and god-fearing wife who ensured that he had people who helped uplift his faith around him most of the times. So for sure, we will see him again.
My joy is that he held on to the Lord till the end. He fought a good fight. There is no doubt that he is with his creator in heaven. What better place to be; a place of no pain or sickness but eternal rest. We will all miss him. We will miss everything he represented. We will miss his brilliance, his intelligence, his resourcefulness, his analytical reasoning, and his friendship. The entire media industry and the country will miss him greatly. I pray that the Lord will continually comfort his dear wife and children and grant them the fortitude to bear his passing on and to carry on with his legacy. He departed this earth in Christ, therefore, we will see him again.
Good night Publisher.