I ran into Olayide Akanni last week while catching the Number 8 bus in Geneva. Most of you reading this blog will know that Layide is the acting Executive Director of the Journalists against AIDS in Nigeria (JAAIDS). We went for dinner in Geneva..and inevitably ended the evening talking about my dear friend, her former boss…Omololu Falobi, a man whose ideas were well ahead of his time, founder of JAAIDS. It was 2 days to the day…2 years on when
we lost Omololu to yet unknown assassins on the streets of Lagos on the 5th of October 2006.
Do you think it has stopped since then?
…shortly after Omololu, Godwin Agbroko Agbroko, editorial board chairman of ThisDay, was found shot to death in his car in Lagos and just in August 2008, Mr. Abayomi Ogundeji also of Thisday who was shot dead in his car. Reading through these three stories …you really dont have to be Gil Grimson of CSI to think of what we think. …but as we say in Naija” God deh”!
We missed Mexico this year…The International Conferences on AIDS always attracts a large Nigerian contingent. This is certainly not unrelated to the role of Journalists against AIDS in Nigeria have played in shaping the national response. I make bold to say that no one involved in the national response to HIV/AIDS in Nigeria over the past decade has not been influenced by JAAIDs and by its erstwhile indefatigable leader Omololu Falobi. It was in Mexico, 3 months to his death that we spent our last days together…trying hard to put our country on the map.
I remember when we asked Omo…how come he left his journalistic profession to join our public health arena…today I wonder what he would think of the blog we write, encroaching on a terrain that was herethereto not accessible to non-professionals.
How much the world has changed….but one man saw it well ahead of the rest of us.
Omololu saw the commonalities long before our time…
Rest in peace my brother
You remain always in our hearts.
…and for the rest of us..the struggle continues…
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead
I do feel your sense of loss still on the death of Omo’. That day for me two years back was one of those days you wish never came. I was shaken to the roots of my hair and my heart contracted at the thought of the loss of one of the finest men I did ever meet.
While I’ve been involved in the HIV/AIDS question (being my union’s HIV/AIDS focal person till I came for further studies in Germany a month back i.e. Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria), my earliest and fondest thoughts of Omo’ are incidentally not in that crucial field of a huge challenge to our generation.
In 1994, we were both part of the foundation of Masses Movement of Nigeria (then a pressure group and now a registered political party run-literarily speaking- by a charlatan of a rtd. major who changed her last name from adekunle to obasanjo after obj became president!). Omo served as the founding Publicity Secretary of the movement while I was the Secretary for Youth and Mobilisation). I can never forget the forthrightness, commitment and level-headedness he always brought into deliberation and action at both leadership and general fora. He had this admixture of simplicity (without being simplistic), soft-spokenness and tenacity, which endeared him to me. We became the two closest in the exco and we both left when moji adekunle began to show her true character. That period eroded omo’s belief in the outrightly political, but even in the struggle for an HIV/AIDS-free world which he chose and distinguished himself in eventually, that commitment to the cause of the downtrodden, that belief that the life of the masses could be better…if we dare to take action, never for once faltered.
Quite unfortunately our meetings after that period (when he was actively building JAAIDS) were mainly at the departure lounges of several international airports. We would sit together only twice again; at the Grand Regency Hotel in Kenya (he came for ICASA and I for a PSI Conference) and at a NHVMAG workshop where I represented Nigeria Labour Congress in 2005.
That omololu would die in such a manner and several prominent and not so prominent (masses) men, women and children THAT ARE NIGERIANS, in Nigeria is food for thought for us. We need to rededicate ourselves in our diverse endeavour to socio-political change in our dear country and the enthronement of an order where such painful nonsense would have been consigned to the dustbin of history.
omololu omo falobi….sun re o
Eeyah may His soul resp in peace
I do feel your sense of loss on the death of the three great men. i don’t really know Omo very well. I join THISDAY as a graduate reporter in 2006 when Agbroko was the Editorial Board chairman. For me and other reporters who joined the organization at that time working under him and Adeniyi was the greatest opportunity one can ever have in the profession. may their soul rest in peace Amen.
Time really flies 2 years already gone bye. It is like yesterday i met you and your crew in Kaduna educating and sensitizing your fellow journalists. Just watching you all try to pass the message was the first time I knew that truly the battle against HIV was going to be victorious in Nigeria. For me you were the future of the country empowerment of non medical people to take charge of their lives and make the difference to the reponse of the nation to the pandemic.
You might not be here today but your efforts will not go to waste in Jesus name. I do not know you personally but you have to be in heaven if only for the works of mercy and charity you did in the name of HIV therefore put up a plea for us to the big guy up there that we may all persevere in the battle globally till all affected and infected are sorted and a cure found.
Rest in peace gentleman till we all meet again.
Dr Ugo Amanyeiwe