Congratulations To V.O Adefela At 70 The Celebrated “E in C” of The Famous NAN

The month of June 2008 marked a significant month in the life of Mr. VO Adefela. I did not realize that I am part of a significant history until I experienced the clamor and caliber of people who went out of their ways to grace the “church thanks giving” of Mr. Adefela’s quiet way of celebrating his birthday. He was 70 years and friends, colleagues and well wishers came from very far and very near to grace the occasion. Today I dedicate my pages to celebrating Mr. V. O Adefela at 70.

The process of making this country Nigeria great has many paths and so many people; individuals and groups had tolled that path and had paid supreme prices for it and or received commendations for the efforts they put in. While some had lost their lives in the process; (we remember Pa Alfred Rewane, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola the “Ogoni 9”) some have suffered repeated consequences of repeated imprisonments (like Chief Gani Fawehimi, Mr. Wole Soyinka) and so many others. There are then some who silently paid the supreme prices of making this country great. They suffer in silence and some cry out foul at the way the country in which they invested so much has disappointed them.

I remember when for several years we persuaded Mr. Adefela to accept our gift of a generator but he refused claiming that it is the place of the Nigerian government to provide electricity for which he paid. He did not want to “join” in the craze and noise pollutions of the neighborhood with the noise from his own private generator. And many times I saw Mr. Adefela shaking his head in regret over what Nigeria has become. He even says without consciousness that “this is not the Nigeria we envisaged. This is not the same country we worked for.

I was listening to one television newscast when they were reporting about people dying during verification for their pension and showing horrific pictures of old and retired civil servants who served Nigeria as they perched in the scorching sunshine while they waited to collect the meagre sum that Nigeria was going to offer them after so many decades of serving Nigeria gloriously. Daddy shook his head painfully and I saw him shedding invisible tears of regrets as he declared “I do not regret returning to this country when I did. We had goals, we were encouraged by our vision of creating a better world. But I regret what Nigeria has turned into and how people are currently behaving.” I fell so silent and did not know what to say in answer to what he said. I saw pain in his voice I witnessed hurts and I could only sense the gravity of his hurts and pain but not the particles of the pains.

I remember many years ago when the name NAN was all over the news channels. You tuned in to the radio news and almost every news item was “according to the news agency of Nigeria”. You wanted to watch news on television and every caption and prime report was provided by “the News Agency of Nigeria” then all of a sudden NAN became silent and perhaps one heard of no quotation from that agency anymore. I little knew then that I was going to come so close to the man who was responsible for this period of news at its excellence. Daddy had recounted severally his days at NAN as the best period of his career. He was ever satisfied with his professional experiences during that period and had even confronted President Shehu Shagari when the president threatened to remove him from office because of a news item they carried and the Editor in Chief refused to disclose his source because he knew journalists had the exclusive right not to disclose their source. They had then carried a news item detailing the statistics of crime rates in the country at that time. Their source was the black boards behind the police stations where names of criminals detained were recorded. The president had displayed his anger that such analysis should be an exclusive record of the security agents not knowing that the journalists knew of such from the public displayed on their own notice boards.

I recall one other account that Prof. gave us about when SSS had clamped down on the agency for financial misappropriations. They had arrested the leaderships and he was the only one of the three that was not found wanting. The men of SSS had expressed shock that so much money was being stolen while Mr. Adefela was on duty and he did not join the race for the loots. At that time daddy’s personal account was almost in red and his main concern was his job and not the treasury. Such was the intensity of his professional attitudes and his vision for this country and his profession. He aimed at the sky of professional excellence, he achieved greatness, and he became remarkably satisfied that he did his best possible under the circumstances. He retired successfully from service but remains active in his desire to make this country greater than it is. It is only a pity that such men see their contributions going down in the slop of falling standards. And they are helpless while younger journalists now aim at brown envelopes and “pocket money” journalism instead of investigative, creative and innovative journalism that Mr. Adefela trained younger journalists under him to achieve.

Happily, past and current staffs of NAN who were under Mr. Adefela’s tutelage and those who have heard so much being said about the first Editor in Chief all trouped in to wish the gracious Mr. Adefela happy birthday and to let him realize that Nigeria aside, they from NAN know his worth, his immeasurable contributions to journalism. They came in their numbers; significant enough to be noticed as NAN Crowd and gracious enough to cause people to nod in agreements that these are grateful former staffs and already challenged new colleagues. And like the biblical three wise men, they all came bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh. NAN was led to the birthday by the gracious and jovial Mrs. Oluremi Oyo, the present MD of NAN.

Mr. Adefela marked his birthday this last month of June 18th. I think we owe him a huge congratulation and wishes of many happy returns. We use Mr. VO Adefela as contact point to a great many Nigerians who are anonymous who are as patriotic as he is or even better at loving Nigeria more than those of us in the contemporary times.

Dear sir, Nigerians who appreciate your lofty works congratulate you today. We wish you many happy returns and we promise you that in our little way, we shall do our best. God helping us, perhaps our little best will be significant enough to give you a renewed assurance that Nigeria will soon be greater than it is at the moment.

Today, we offer a renewed prayer, that “may the labors of our heroes (past and present) not be in vain.” May your life, your career and your inspirations be our repeated motivation as we journey the long path of Nigeria nation building. Amen

Written by
Dele A. Sonubi
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