By Sam Kayode
Dear Mr B, it’s so painful to accept that you are gone to the great beyond. Your demise early this month was a shock to most of us. But the reality that death has finally showed it’s fangs on a believer of Christ is staring us in the face. Oh death! Where is thy sting? 1corithians 15:55.
Comrade Ortindi Baka, I cannot allow you go without recalling the days we shared together as a family and practitioners of this noble profession of Journalism. It was a pleasure meeting you first in Voice newspaper published by the Benue State government. Always neatly dressed with your photographic materials tucked inside your bag, ready to explore nature and come out with something unique for your department.
Ortindi, I remember those days in the early 1996 when I was posted to Makurdi as the daily times correspondent. My office was directly opposite the Aper Aku stadium on barracks road. It was time for the national sports festival and I was directed to go and cover it by my then news editor Solomon Odewinge.
You were one of the few people I came across as detribalised friends who shared his humanity with all. You captivated me with your ability to speak many languages outside tiv including mine.
I could stroll down to your home and spend time and learn more about photography or catch up with something that happened way in the hinterlands of Benue State. While I greeted you in Tiv I found out your Yoruba language was equally attractive being a barracks boy who grew up with your soldier uncle and traversed the entire country. You were worried about the state of the nation, Benue and the electricity supply in Makurdi because the defunt National Electric Power Authority NEPA treated Makurdi like a glorified village. Electricity was a luxury in Makurdi in 1996 and the military administration never cared about it.
Our interraction increased when you left the Voice newspaper to write for the pavilion and later starting your own publication “the target” magazine which had a major impact in the political space of the state. “Boki” as I called you sometimes, we shared a lot in common when I left the Daily times at the edge of the demise of the oldest tabloid in the land. However in 2001,I joined the source magazine after a short romance with the Vanguard newspaper in Zamfara and Eko today in Ogun state. I was mandated to cover the north east and central and that off course used to take me down to Makurdi for Interviews. Whenever I was in Benue your doors were opened to me to rest my tired body in doing the job we both enjoyed so much in spite of it’s limitation in terms of financial returns. You kept the flag flying for a long time before writing your first book.
YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE PROPHETIC TIMES MAGAZINE
Life for both of us was like brothers because you always made me to feel at home regardless of the circumstances.
My days in the guardian newspaper would have been uninteresting if I was not dashing across to see you while in Lafia as the Correspondent and learning new skills from you and Babs Osigbe who was also at hand to help in the early stages of the formation of my magazine.
When I started the publication of my own magazine, called the “Prophetic Times” magazine, it was another level of comradeship. I really enjoyed your input in the technical aspects of getting the magazine out. I could not spend a week at high level area where my printer of the 70 page magazine was located without seeing you and your family. And that is why I had to write this tribute for you before your final rest this week. You were a true friend who took life seriously and was determined to create and impact on humanity.
GOOD BYE MY DEAR ORTINDI
It was never in our agenda to part this way. We planned to grow old together. But as you traverse into the yonder before us, be rest assured that I will never forget the good times we spent in your modest parlour at kwararafa quarters waiting for time to pass and for the heat from river Benue to subside especially during those long nights when Makurdi was in candle light darkness. Where the electricity was not good enough for us to put on your computer and edit some of your works sister Nancy must have typed. Your wife Mrs B was a good host never complaining that we have turned her parlor to a newsroom or we chatted into the wee hours of the night tormenting her sleep or that of the neighbors. Sister Cathy always ready to run errands for us and make us less tensed up. You made your household mine too. You were a well balanced professional with so many good thoughts for your state and this country that hardly recognises merit. Good bye Comrade Baka. As you begin your long journey into the bosom of the Almighty, I wish your family and dependants you left behind long life and the best.
My regards to all our Comrades who gave injustice a good fight before they left. This is because Journalism is a profession that takes a lot out of a good man and hardly gives back. It creates several enemies for a practioner. If they command you to stand down a story and you refused. You are stubborn and not humble. You must be killed. Their definition of humility is so corrupt that it takes the grace of God to stand alone with your dignity intact. If you are not assasinated by the enemies of progress, you will be knocked down by illness acquired from a God forsaken country where the political class delibrately steals the billions that should make the hospitals work. Your persona, your spirituality and many more has been transferred to many of us who believe in being detribalised and working hard together as a team to defeat corruption and hunger in the land.
As you go my friend, at the end of your interment this week, we are left at the mercy of a brutal government which will never listen to good reason when it comes to so many things that touches the life of practitioners of humanity. A wicked health sector that cannot guarantee wellness for it’s own people. A system that can not keep it’s medical practitioners after training them. Even the good things of life we fight for others to get, we hardly have to ourselves because of a bad political system.
Aboki na, ore mi (my friend) as you used to call me. You fought a good fight and touched many lives using the target magazine which we proof read together when ever I was around to print mine.
For some of us who had the opportunity to come across you, it was a worthwhile meeting because your self, Jimmy Ogebe and Alhaji Shaban of the economics magazine equally impacted in some of my production which I will never forget till I join you guys where immortality defeats mortality.
High five to Alhaji Shaban our own Shabi Doo, one of the matured hands you introduced me to but has also gone before us. Too many of them have gone, from 1996 till date. We pay homage to all of them. Give Samson Sambe PhD my hi five too. Tell him that we are still in the trenches where he left us. Looking for the salvation of this country and the people we owe our allegiances to.
Good night aboki na. And enjoy your long sleep till we meet at the appointed time.