It’s sad that, as we are gathered here today, we’re compelled to speak about Ambassador Ejeviome Eloho Otobo’s good works in the past tense! In as much as we, at Prime Business Africa, concede that this is what mother nature compulsorily makes of all mortals, Amb. Eloho’s case still remains a hard pill to swallow.
It is even much more difficult for me on a personal level, considering the special and professional moments I shared with him for six (6) of my 16 long years as editor at The Guardian Nigeria, and later as CEO and Publisher/Editor-in-Chief at Newstide Publications Limited, publishers of Prime Business Africa (PBA), where, until his death in June 2022, Eloho was a Board Member.
In making these brief comments today, it’s indeed apt for me to again align with the eternal truism resonating in the words of Francis Bacon, an English Philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England and whose works are seen as contributing to the scientific method and remaining influential through the later stages of the scientific revolution: ”If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end with doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties”, Bacon said.
Indeed, ‘Prof’, as I fondly called him, lived those ‘Bacon’ words in his personal and career life. His solution to every work challenge began with a question, and in a moment, ‘Prof’ would have proffered solutions. As a diplomat, he was an extraordinary communicator, avid researcher, compelling writer, eagle-eyed editor and articulate speaker.
‘Prof’ was, above all, expert in human relations. His attention to details was legendary! Ambassador Otobo never left anything to chance; and the certain indelible marks he has left in the lives of his wife, children, colleagues and friends through quality relationship and hard work are all evident in the mind-blowing testimonies trailing his demise.
Only 24 hours ago – precisely on Thursday August 11, the Board and Management of our company back there in Nigeria organised a virtual colloquium to honour this great Nigerian diplomat, and we had quite some bucketfuls of genuine testimonies from his friend-turned brother Ambassador Oseloka Obaze and his other colleague diplomats, including Ambassadors Joe Keshi and Akpata, among many others who were all livid with kind words about Eloho Otobo’s life well lived to the glory of God and good of mankind.
‘The Africa of Ambassador Eloho Otobo’s dream’ – the topic for that ‘Tribute Thursday’ speaks volumes of what the man in whose honour we are all gathered here in New York, stood for. He was indeed an expert in African Diplomacy, Trade and Policy Governance.
Nigeria’s Presidential Spokesman, Laolu Akande, who at a time was The Guardian Correspondent here in New York when I was heading the News Desk of the newspaper’s weekend (Sunday) title, also spoke glowingly about his personal experience with Ambassador Otobo as diplomat at the United Nations Permanent Mission.
Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the chairman and CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) also had tons of kind words for Otobo: ”I heard so much about him and tried so hard to meet this wonderful man but was not able to encounter him personally before he died,” Abike-Dabiri said at the Prime Business Africa Colloquium for Otobo on Thursday night.
Late Otobo’s son, Oheri would confess that the PBA colloquium made him ”know my dad beyond just being my beloved father. Thank you Prime Business Africa.”
Again, how sad for us as humans to say farewell to a good man! Yet, for ‘Prof’, it’s nunc dimitis! At 70, he passed on as a righteous man, having also reached the Bible’s benchmark for righteous life.
Since I cannot be physically here in New York for circumstances way beyond my control, I have requested Reverend Father Vitus Mbamalu, my blood brother and a Catholic Priest also here in New York to represent me and express our condolences to Otobo’s wife, Esther, his son Oheri and his siblings.
As I said earlier, Prime Business Africa, a Nigeria-based Africa-centered newspaper, where Ambassador Eloho Otobo was until his death a Company and Editorial Board Member, also sends its heartfelt condolences to the parish pastor and the Church where he worshiped God for many years of his life.
Again, let me put on record the fact that I met Amb. Otobo when I was working with The Guardian Nigeria as Editor after I did a three-part review of one of his three books on Africa – Africa in Transition – in 2017. He thereafter became more of an older brother than a friend. He was such a wonderful soul… a diligent selfless professional, always supportive and ready to provide answers to knotty issues without expecting a reward.
His attention span was legendary. This explains why I had no problem inviting him to the Board of Newstide Publications Limited as Director and on the Editorial Board of Prime Business Africa, the legacy online newspaper on the stable of Newstide, to serve as member. As expected, Ambassador Otobo discharged himself creditably among other board members, always going the extra mile to add real value. We miss him so much at Prime Business Africa.
He singlehandedly introduced our PBA Policy Briefing Series on key governance issues and solutions in Nigeria and the rest of Africa. We will also miss him so dearly on this score.
No doubt, Eloho’s was a heart of love and compassion for others. He had a special place in his heart for those who espouse excellence. This is why Prime Business Africa has publicly declared support for the move by a group of diplomats who were his colleagues and friends to establish a yearly Academic Award – the Ambassador Eloho Otobo Academic Prize For Excellence – at the prestigious University Of Lagos (Unilag).
We call on all well-meaning Nigerians and Africans to join in this bid to immortalise a man, whose selfless service to country, continent and mankind is to say the least remarkable, by contributing to this fund and other well-meaning programmes in Ambassador Eloho’s honour.
His love for excellence as replicated in his contributions at Prime Business Africa, the newspaper company I represent, is again examplary.
On behalf of the Board and Management of Prime Business Africa, I, therefore, wish Ambassador Eloho Otobo, a friendly and peaceful eternal rest. And to his beautiful wife Esther, and wonderful children whom he loved so dearly, I say: ‘Your hero lives on; cry no more.”
Fare thee well, Africa’s Ambassador Extraordinaire!
Dr Mbamalu, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Prime Business Africa presented this speech at the Memorial of former Director and Member of the Editorial Board, late Ambassador Ejeviome Eloho Otobo recently in New York, United States.