The 50th birth anniversary of the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, has come and gone. The August occasion, which metamorphosed from “a morning of reflections” to a frank talkshop on burning issues confronting the nation, was a clear pointer to the qualities of the man for whom all had gathered. BODE GBADEBO in this piece, presents some of the news-behind-the-news at the memorable occasion.
The ‘loud’ silence of General Muhammadu Buhari:
Either by design or otherwise, General Buhari’s silence throughout the event remains the loudest. Unlike the other generals who spoke, the former head of state, who sat next to the celebrant, chose to remain silent throughout the occasion. But his silence reverberated throughout the hall and it elicited the question: “who planned this?”
The damning verdict on the media:
The guest speaker, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, pronounced a damning verdict on the media, saying it was yet to change from its old ways, even since independence. He was however quick to add that LEADERSHIP newspaper is “an exception of crass journalism” and Sam Nda-Isaiah is one of Nigeria’s best journalists.
General Jeremiah Useni let out a sensitive cat out of the bag:
While talking about the level of insecurity in the country, former FCT Minister, General Useni, wittingly or unwittingly revealed how a fellow general on the high table refused to head the state because, according to him, the army was “scattered” then.
Tinubu as a 60-year-old young man:
The chairman of the occasion, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, announced the name of the former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as one of the elders to make comments after the presentation of the lead paper.
Tinubu, who recently celebrated an elaborate birthday, was aptly described as an elder. But to the surprise of all, Asiwaju declined the “elder” status, saying he is a “young man” like the celebrant.
An elderly Senator Ken Nnamani suddenly turned a young man:
The chairman of the occasion did it again by calling former Senate president, Kenechukwu Nnamani a “young man”. Senator Ken, as he is fondly called, took perhaps the “insult”, with a pinch of salt. He went straight and made his contribution on how our leaders barefacedly tell lies with impunity.
After his submission, he reminded Gen. Danjuma that he was no longer a young man but he would forgive the retired army General for the joke which he attributed to the General’s “four sights”.
How Femi Fani-Kayode carried the day:
Fiery-talking former Minister of Aviation Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, was listed among the young men to make contributions; and trust him to seize the occasion. He spoke eloquently even making startling revelations.
He said Sam Nda-Isaiah gave the Obasanjo government a nightmare and that most of his (Sam’s) warnings turned out to be prophetic later. After speaking ex-tempore for about a couple of minutes, the ex-minister received a standing ovation.
The unusual quieters:
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, walked in to the executive hall of the conference centre mid-way into the programme almost unannounced save for the retinue of aides who saw him to the platform. Despite the brief remarks he made, the glitz associated with the office and person of the speaker was remarkable.
Other newsmakers who joined the list of the unusual quieters at the event by quietly coming in and leaving after the event, were the presidential spokesperson Dr. Reuben Abati, former EFCC chairman Malam Nuhu Ribadu, former governors Adamu Mu’azu and Danjuma Goje, among others.
...Of LEADERSHIP GMD, MD and protocol:
Mr. Azubuike Ishiekwene and Mr. Abraham Nda-Isaiah are Group Managing Director and Managing Director (Holdings) of the LEADERSHIP Group respectively.
But in a rare show of humility, both Ogas abandoned their reserved seats and assumed the duties of protocol officials from the start of the event to the end. A lesson on leadership by example at no cost you may say.
Between Mallam Abba Kyari and the essential Sam Nda-Isaiah:
Not a few guests and LEADERSHIP staff members were stunned when the man of the moment got emotional and “abandoned” his speech, midway into his vote of thanks. At a point, he mentioned the name of a person very dear to him – Mallam Abba Kyari.
Since then, tongues have been wagging over who Mallam Abba Kyari is he does to Sam which made him shed tears of joy. But like the celebrant was to later reveal, Abba Kyari “calls me everyday”.
But again, the trust vintage TY Danjuma who said, if the daily calls were responsible for that kind of emotion; then jokingly warned: “Mallam Abba Kyari stop calling the celebrant again!”