Renowned journalist, newspaper manager, media consultant and former Commissioner for Information and Culture in Imo State, Chief Innocent Eberechukwu Oparadike, passed on in his Lagos residence on Monday.
Many Nigerians have expressed shock over the passage of the veteran journalist who died at the age of 65. The immediate past President of the Igbo Think Tank, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, described Oparadike as a motivator and a philosopher par excellence. He has also been severally described by his admirers as a straightforward person and a man of great conviction, strong principles and a cast-iron will.
Oparadike was one of the earliest Mass Communication students to graduate with a First Class degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He obtained his M. Sc degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. He made history as the first Southerner and Christian to become the Editor of the Kaduna-based, Federal Government-owned New Nigerian Newspapers. He capped this up by becoming the Managing Director of the Daily Times. He served as the Commissioner for Information and Culture during the administration of Governor Evan Enwerem in Imo State.
No doubt, the death of Chief Innocent Oparadike has robbed Nigeria of one of its cerebral and courageous journalists. He was made the editor of New Nigerian by former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. The late journalist said much on this development in his moving article on Babangida last year: He wrote: “In 1985, Babangida broke a glass ceiling. He brushed aside threats, blackmail and high-level conspiracy to make me the editor of the Federal Government-owned New Nigerian Newspaper. I thus become the first and only southerner and Christian to edit the New Nigerian.”
Born in Owerri, Imo State on November 22, 1950, the deceased attended Ogwa Central School, 1956-62 and Obazu Community Grammar School, Mberi, Owerri, 1963-71. He later went to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 1972-76 and University of Lagos, 1980-81. He served at the Programmes and News Department of Radio Nigeria during his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) from 1976-77. The deceased was a Management Trainee, Centre for Management Development (CMD), Lagos, Kano, 1977-78. Later, he became Editor, News Agency of Nigeria, 1978-80 and Columnist/Group Political Editor, National Concord Newspapers, 1980-83. He worked as the Editor of The Democrat, 1983-84; and Deputy Editor, Editor, New Nigerian Newspapers, 1984-87. Oparadike was the National Director, Information and Publicity, Directorate for Social Mobilisation, 1987-90; Leader, Freedom Communications Ltd, 1990; and Group Managing Director, Daily Times of Nigeria Plc, 1995-96. He was Consultant, Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation; Council Member, Commonwealth Press Union, and Governing Council, Imo State Orientation Agency.
Oparadike was also a member of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs; Nigerian Economic Society; Nigerian Union of Journalists and Nigerian Guild of Editors. He was a Knight of the Order of St. Christopher and held the traditional title of Chinyereugo of Amurie Omanze.
The late Oparadike will be remembered for giving his best to his chosen profession and using it as a veritable tool to serve his fatherland. He was a good role model and mentor to many journalists in the country. He should be immortalised for his numerous contributions to the journalism profession and national development.
We urge upcoming journalists to emulate his shining example of dedication to duty and high professionalism. We commiserate with his family, the government and people of Imo State, the media and the nation on his demise, and wish him a sweet repose.