Pius Adesanmi: Adieu To A Distant Close Friend, By Kayode Odunaro - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Pius Adesanmi: Adieu To A Distant Close Friend, By Kayode Odunaro


The cyber space brought us together in the first place and our relationship was conducted therein as adversaries and later friends. When I took the job of Special Adviser on Communications to the then Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt.Hon. Dimeji Bankole, I expected media attacks on him for which it was my primary responsibility to rebuff as well as try to build a better public perception for the head of the largest parliamentary body in Africa. Ordinarily my experience on the job in similar capacities as Chief Press Secretary to Military Administrators and Governor of Ogun State in the late ‘90s to 2000 requires me doing the job mostly in mainstream media. It was yet not the time for the full blown social media revolution of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and online publications among other platforms on the cyberspace that connects people and that lend itself to image and perception building of present day.

The most active platform then was the Yahoo groups on various subjects and interests. It was here I first met Professor Pius Adesanmi living in Canada in exchanges that has to do with my work for Rt.Hon. Bankole. At that time Professor Adesanmi usually writes for Saharareporters and his writing gets to my notice in Nigeria Politics ‘Yahoo group’ and other such groups where his prodigious writings were in circulation. In retrospect, one would say these platforms then introduced me to many Nigerians across the world with tie to spare commenting on Nigerian affairs. Most of them are in the caliber of Professor Adesanmi as professionals in various fields with wide knowledge of world affairs and the decrepit level that Nigeria fits into the scheme of things. Some of them actually sought me out when they visit Nigeria on the basis of our exchanges on the cyber space.

Professor Adesanmi’s  take on Rt.Hon  Bankole was his seeming disappointment with the performance of the Speaker as a youth of less than 40 on assumption of the high office and his Oxford University education. The Professor had a huge expectation from the Speaker but was soon disappointed that the revolutionary changes he expected of Bankole based on age and education did not show up and it was from such prism that this gifted intellectual writer, satirist and humourist  all rolled into one usually criticized Bankole and I had the job of responding to his assertions with mostly information that are not and cannot be expected to be at his disposal on the level of our socio-political and economic development in relations to where he is operating from. In this exchanges, one of my younger colleagues then, Morgan Omodu, the Special Assistant on Youth usually join in my effort and over time Professor Adesanmi jocularly took us as a tag team to take him out on cyberspace.

With the effusion of time and the cordial manner I presented issues, Professor  Adesanmi took an interest in me beyond the anonymity  of cyberspace and requested to have my phone number which I gladly sent to him leading to further private discussions on issues of national importance. Without meeting physically, we became quite close particularly on issues of the state of our nation. He appreciated the job I do while we agonized over the absurdities of Nigeria government and public life. I was sure he had an impression of me as a good man working in a difficult environment. This situation went on for years without meeting until I left office on May 29, 2011. But he kept in touch and when he was announced as a Guest Lecturer for an event in Lagos sometimes in 2012 or thereabout, I made sure I was there without his knowledge as a way of surprising him. What a pleasant surprise it was for him when I went to the lectern and I introduced myself. I got a shout and a big hug from him. He was pleasantly surprised at my relatively young age as I just turn 50. Apparently from his assessment of my writing and ideas, he would have expected to see a man in his sixties. I listened to his well delivered lecture which as usual has all the pungency of a patriot agonizing over what ails his home country. That was the first and last time I met my very erudite Professor friend whose life has now been cut short by the ill fated Ethiopian Airline crash on the morning of Sunday March 10.

After that meeting we kept in touch in the usual places on cyber world, mostly on Facebook, which was where I learnt he was aboard the ill fated flight. Last year when I learnt of his near fatal accident in Nigeria for which he miraculously survived, I tried every ways to reach him to no avail. All his phone lines at my disposal were not connecting, understandable in such situation. I drop messages in his inbox and followed on his recovery on his pages and those of his friends that were in touch with him physically. It was on his wall that I learnt of his full recovery and his dotting on his family.

Sometimes after his recovery, he wrote a piece on his Facebook wall on approaches to image and public perception management in public office in Nigeria using Lere Olayinka, the media aide of then Governor Peter Fayose of Ekiti State and myself as opposite examples with much praises for my professional and conciliatory manner in rejoining or refuting negative attacks on my principals that I had worked with over the years. He contrasted this approach with that of Olayinka. For me that write up was a positive professorial assessment of my public service as media and public relations manager. I profoundly thanked him for his unsolicited professorial assessment. Later I was to research that write up to rebut someone that had the gut to challenge my professional competence. The write up shut up my traducer even while I was sure the challenge was motivated by extraneous issues unrelated to professional competence.

On my birthday this year on the 19th of January, I missed his Facebook Messenger phone call and he later wrote a message that he called to wished me Happy Birthday. I wrote back to thank him profusely and retaliated when he recently celebrated his birthday.

Now my distant but close friend is no more. I am saddened and diminished by his demise. I am extremely sad about his young daughter that he always writes about even in relation to his Nigerian root. Who will console the daughter? I sympathize with the widow on this irreparable loss of her better half.  I feel sad for his mother in Kogi State who he recently wrote about as his sounding board to gauge the despairing Nigerian Situation. And I feel sad that Professor Adesanmi will not read this to offer any correction or literary critic. May God grant the family the fortitude to bear the great irreparable loss and grant the professor eternal rest in peace. Amen.  Adieu my dear friend, Professor Adesanmi.


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