After weeks of feverish preparations, the public presentation of my new book, entitled: DELICATE DISTRESS, took place last Tuesday in Abuja. The event was a success by all standards and I must thank all those who made the day worth talking about.
The happy lot was led by the redoubtable Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. As chairman on the occasion, Ogbeni arrived the venue right on time. With equanimity of spirit, he patiently waited for other dignitaries to arrive. Thank you, Ogbeni, for your arresting grace and candour.
He was to be joined shortly afterwards by the stubborn intellectual and former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu. For a man who has the courage of his convictions, Prof, as some of us call him, does not suffer fools gladly. He displayed much of this at the event on that day.
Then enter the sharp-shooter and irrepressible former governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim. He left no one in doubt that he is still in his elements.
Others followed in quick succession. The eloquent former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho. He stepped in with accustomed confidence. Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, elder statesman and publisher of Champion Newspapers, came with his ebullience. He was accompanied by the gracious lady and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri.
Senator Ben Ndi Obi, the sure-footed patriot and Special Adviser to the President on Inter-party Relations, brought his clear-headedness to bear on the occasion. You can call him Mr. Bridge-builder.
The hard-fighting governor of Anambra State, Governor Peter Obi was represented by his Commissioner for Information. Obi personally called me on the morning of the event to explain his absence. Significantly, his Commissioner gave a good account of the Obi story, which is uncommon in the annals of Nigeria’s democracy.
Chief Emeka Ihedioha, the three-term legislator and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, came with his load of legislative experience. His delivery was short and sharp.
Then came the chairman of South East Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Cletus Ikechukwu Ilomuanya, in his royal splendour. He was the Royal Father of the Day.
Enough of this roll-call. Suffice it to say, however, that the assemblage of personalities was as variegated as the issues raised in the book.
The occasion was clearly marked out by its camaraderie and comradeship. My fellow commissioners, who served with me under the government of Ohakim came in their numbers. Thank you all for identifying with me and making me proud. The audience was, indeed, made up of people from different walks of life. The media, my primary constituency, was very well represented, regardless of the fact that the event was taken away from Lagos, the home and hub of the Nigerian media.
In fact, when a fellow writer, indeed, a kindred spirit, who had the privilege of going through the manuscript before its publication, got to know that the public presentation was to take place in Abuja, he almost flew off the handle. He accused me of committing class suicide. He said he did not understand the choice of Abuja instead of Lagos. His reading of the situation was that I had chosen to cavort with men and women of power and influence, who populate the federal capital. Interestingly, he was at last Tuesday’s event and had to confess copiously that the choice of Abuja made sense after all. He was able to appreciate the fact that neither Lagos nor Abuja was the issue. Our target audience had no problem with either Abuja or Lagos.
In all of this, special mention must be made of Engr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu (Ahaejiagamba). In the frenzy of the preparations, I had failed, rather inadvertently, to deliver a formal invitation to him. In other words, he had no official invitation for the event. Regardless of this, Chief Iwuanyanwu graciously made out time out of his very busy schedule to join us. I remain humbled by this rare display of statesmanship. Thank you, chief.
Adinoyi-Ojo Onukaba was the intellectual in the house at the event. His review of the book was excellent and his delivery was almost effortless. That is the stuff intellectualism is made of.
Sam Nda Isaiah, the publisher of LEADERSHIP Newspapers, was represented by Azubuike Ishiekwene, the Group Managing Director of the newspaper. Sam was to be the co-book reviewer. Unfortunately, we could not take his own review due to time constraint. Please, accept my apologies, Brother Sam.
The publishers of the book, Stirling Horden Publishers Ltd., were duly represented. Again, we could not take the remarks of the Head of the Publishing House, Prof. Andrew Okwilagbe. Time was our greatest constraint on that day. However, I have the text of Prof. Okwilagbe’s remarks. There is so much to learn from it, especially his espousal on bibliotherapeutic paradigm in publishing. Prof. Okwilagbe had written as follows;
“Dr. Amanze Obi is certainly a Journalism-Bibliotherapist of our modern Nigeria. We at Stirling Horden Publishing House are professionally trained publishers, specialists in scholarly, general and bibliotherapeutic books for national construction and reconstruction. This is why we have assiduously worked with this author, who is a scholar, public intellectual and practising journalist…. We are glad to be part of this treat event.”
Thank you, Professor Okwilagbe, for shining a unique light on the genre that this book explores. By the way, Okwilagbe, who has a Ph.D in publishing, is of the Publishing and Copyright Studies Unit, Department of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of Ibadan.
The Executive Chairman of DAAR Communications PLC., High Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi, was a pillar of support in this book project. A few weeks to the public presentation, l had approached the media guru on the project at hand. He made it possible for me to appear on the Kakaaki slot on African Independent Television (AIT) to talk about the book 24 hours to its launch. Thank you very much, High Chief, for this kind gesture.
Back to Ogbeni. He deserves a special mention. As chairman on the occasion, he displayed an uncommon example in steadfastness. He was the first to come. He was not in a hurry to leave. He patiently and diligently conducted the affairs of the day to the very end. He was not discouraged by the fact that some who came at the middle of the programme left before the event ended. All this point to the fact that Ogbeni can be relied upon when it matters. At the thick of the planning of this event, I had taken a trip to Oshogbo to confer with Ogbeni. He assured me that he would be at the event. This was in spite of the fact that the 22nd anniversary of the creation of Osun State fell on the day of the book presentation. Ogbeni restlessly combined all of this and made it as chairman. I am really humbled by this man’s commitment and sense of duty. That is the stuff integrity is made of. Thank you, Ogbeni.
I thank Suleiman Baba-Ali. He was the ultimate go-between between me and Ogbeni. Even though Suleiman was in the United States in the last days of the planning of this event, he played the linkman’s role very well. Thank you, my brother, Suleiman.
Chief Athan Nneji Achonu, a man of his words. I thank you for the support. May your coast continue to enlarge. I trust that you will go places.
And to the rest of you whom I have not mentioned here, owing to space constraint, I thank you all for being a part of this delightful book presentation.