Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Jonathan, Obi, Chime, Eulogise Olusola

President Goodluck Jonathan was among several Nigerians who paid tribute to late Ambassador Segun Olusola, one-time Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia and a cultural icon yesterday. Olusola, 77, died in a Lagos hospital Thursday.

Aside Jonathan, those who mourned Olusola included Governors Peter Obi and Sullivan Chime of Anambra and Enugu States respectively, the Minister of Culture, Chief Edem Duke, and Oba Dejumo Lewis among others.

He was a renowned broadcaster and playwright who produced the popular television drama series "Village Headmaster" which ran on Nigerian television stations for many years.

His death coming on the heels, also early in the week ,of the sad demise of another significant cultural Amazon and accomplished socialite, Ms. Angela Onyeador in faraway, United States of America, become for the culture and tourism tribe, a death too many to comprehend.

In his tribute, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan extolled the virtues of late Amb. Olusola, saying his commitment to the promotion of excellence in the arts and culture sector, broadcasting and public service, are worthy of emulation.

Jonathan recalled that the late Ambassador Olusola's popular television drama series, "The Village Headmaster", thrilled television viewers for decades, while commending the selflessness and professionalism he demonstrated in broadcasting and all his other ventures, including his frontline role as a member of the Iperu Remo Community in Ogun state.

President Jonathan also acknowledged Chief Olusola's distinguished role as Nigeria's Ambassador to Ethiopia, as well as his promotion of peace in Africa under the auspices of the African Refugees Foundation, AREF, which he founded.

He noted that Amb Olusola's dedication to selfless service and his peace-loving nature, even at an advanced age, will surely be missed.

While commiserating with members of the Olusola family, President Jonathan asked them to take solace in the fact that the late Ambassador lived a fulfilled, memorable and exemplary life, and prayed God to grant his soul peaceful rest.

Governor Peter Obi described Olusola's death as a tragic loss to the country.

In his condolence message, Obi described Ambassador Olusola not only as a former Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia, but a worthy ambassador of Arts and Culture of all times. He said that though he died at the ripe age of 77, he was one of those he wished had lived a little longer because of the experience he garnered over the years which was always valuable in nation-building.

He however prayed for the repose of his soul even as he condoled with the government of Ogun State and the immediate Olusola family.

Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State in his own message to the family of the deceased expressed regrets over the death of foremost Nigerian broadcaster and former Ambassador to Ethiopia Chief Olusola, describing it as a huge loss to the nation.

Chime in his message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Chukwudi Achife, described Ambassador Olusola as a committed and influential patriot who inspired many leaders in different walks of life.

Expressing his condolences to the family, friends and associates of the deceased statesman, Chime however urged them to find consolation in the solid legacies he left behind.

The Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke described the death of Ambassador Segun Olusola as a monumental loss to Nigeria. In a statement issued in Abuja last night, the Minister said Chief Olusola was a total man of culture who used all resources at his disposal to promote indigenous values and norms.

Duke further said that the late Culture Icon and Ambassador was a man of peace who believed strongly in Nigeria and in using the mechanism of culture to attain peaceful coexistence and enduring development. He also noted the late Ambassador's untiring contributions to activities and policies of the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation and other national and international culture agencies.

Also reacting, Prince Yemisi Shyllon, founder of OYASAF described the late culture icon as a great man of tradition and culture who spent his time promoting tradition and culture. He stated that he was a very amiable and sociable human being who related well with all.

"He has done his own bit but like other mortals has gone to meet his ancestors. We will all miss him for all that he has done. I had interactions with him on many occasions and found out that he was a great man who loved culture".

On his part, Dejumo Lewis, a.k.a Kabieyesi of the Village Headmaster fame said that an elephant has fallen.

According to Lewis, "his death calls for mourning because no one expected it at this time. The last few occasions we attended together, he was hale and hearty. So, it is shocking news to me and others. But we are consoled by his achievements and the life that he lived while on earth. He lived the life of a great man, a mentor and a leader. He was a great man, a culture man who spent his life promoting culture to the highest level. In fact an elephant has fallen and we will miss him."

In the same vein, the Director General of the Centre for Black African Arts and Civilisation, CBAAC, Professor Tunde Babawale described the late Ambasdor Segun as " an intellectual per excellence whose contributions to debates are deep and influenced decisions regarding cultures issues," saying, " he was a barometer which was used to gauge the feelings of Nigerian people on issues relating to culture. As journalists, he was a broadcaster par excellence, world class broadcaster with an in impeccable diction."

Artistic Director of the National Troupe of Nigeria, Martin Adaji described late Olusola as one of the most consistent supporters of the arts," pointing out that he "never turned down any invitation regarding the arts. He was very supportive of all art activities and we must appreciate him."

Also, Bolaji Rosiji, a former President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN, told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Lagos that the late Olusola was an icon whose shoes would be difficult to fill.

He described him as a legend, statesman, philanthropist and universal ambassador, who was a very close ally of the arts industry.

He was always there for anyone whenever he was called upon to assist in any form in any event.

"He came early when invited to events and I wonder where he got his strength from," he said.

Rosiji said that Olusola also played a remarkable role in African peace by helping displaced people and would always be fondly remembered.

"A musician and actress, Ms Stella Monye, told NAN that the late Olusola was an upright and serious-minded person in whatever he did.

"He contributed to anything arts and he was passionate about it. He did not get involved in anything shaddy and was always ready to help positively," she said.

This was even as a veteran artist, Bruce Onobrakpeya, said that Nigeria had lost a great man and the arts sector, a huge icon.

"The arts sector will greatly miss his contribution following his sudden exit.

His literary advice will be missed," he said.

In his own message, a poet and playwright, Odia Ofeimun said that the late Olusola stood up for the arts at all times."It is sad, we will miss him," he said.

The Chairman, National Association of Theatre Arts Practitioners, NANTAP, Lagos State, Mufu Onifade, also told NAN that the late Olusola was "a mighty tree with deep roots in virtually all areas of the arts.

He was a market with many roads leading to him and every individual chose his own route to benefit from him. He was more than an icon," Onifade said, describing him as a "cultural legacy personified and a compulsory factor in the media."

The NANTAP chairman noted that Olusola's play, "Tears of Sympathy", culminated in the establishment of AREF.

"He is a great loss to the Nigerian theatre, arts, diplomacy, humanitarianism and the Nigerian nation at large. "He is a great loss to Africans too," he said.

NAN reports that members of the Pro-National Conference, PRONACO, also described the death of the ace broadcaster, as a big blow to the organisation.

In a statement signed by its spokesman, Mr Wale Okuniyi, the PRONACO expressed regrets that Olusola was to participate in a parley of its national steering committee next Tuesday in Lagos.

"Olusola, an illustrious son of Ogun and a close associate in the struggle to restructure the country for harmony and stability, died at a time when he was most needed by the country.

"While commiserating with his family and the entire citizens of Ogun, we regret the reality of missing his usual robust and ebullient interventions."

"Olusola has already indicated his interest to participate fully in the renewed process of stemming the ongoing bloodletting and killings in some parts of the country before being suddenly snatched away by death," PRONACO stated in Lagos.

It described the late ambassador as a role model with unparalleled diligence and commitment to issues affecting the masses.

"He was hardly provoked on any matter; rather, he devoted most of his adult life to settling disputes.

"He is indeed an eminent leader of thought and remains one the greatest Nigerians who bestrode the social plane of our country with first class impacts.

"Olusola is indeed a hero in death.

"One of the ways Olusola can be honoured is for eminent national leaders meeting in Lagos next Tuesday to ensure that the latest process of national consultations lead to proper negotiations and reconciliation," it said.

Mr Afolabi Adesanya, the Managing Director, Nigeria Film Corporation, NFC, also described the death of Mr Segun Olusola, creator of popular television drama series 'Village headmaster'as tragic and painful.

In a statement issued by its Head of Public Affairs,Mr Brian Etuk, in Abuja yesterday, Adesanya said that Nigerians, enthusiasts of television drama, theatre and film would surely miss the brilliant and ebullient personality.

According to him, Olusola, along with other Nigerians spearheaded the revolution that also aided the emergence of the present day Nigerian motion picture industry.

Adesanya said that because of the depth and passion with which the late Olusola carried on his trade, and his quest for excellence, NFC had instituted one of the coveted prizes of ZUMA Film Festival after him, adding that he would be remembered for his television credits namely: "The Palm wine Drunkard", "Song of a Goat", and "The Trials of Brother Jero" among others.

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