Exactly three years ago today, on February 18th, 2020, Lucky Omoluwa tragically died suddenly. It was one of those tragedies that would live forever, for all those who knew, related with, or had an encounter with the man. People would continue to ask themselves, where they were on the morning, that Lucky passed. For me, his death was so intertwined with a very difficult moment in my life, and the dialect was also the obverse, the triumph of defeating adversity, at the same time.
Five days before Lucky died, on February 13th, 2020, I was suspended from my position as Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC. Lucky had been particularly worried about what seemed, with hindsight, an inevitable course of action. A man of tremendous connections and goodwill within the structures of Nigerian society, Lucky had made herculean efforts to understand the forces at play in the saga that we faced. For him, it was the height of travesy that he would have put huge sums of money to ensure the success of Nigeria’s DSO and yet would be confronted with a criminal case.
The DSO after all had been saddled with the peculiar mess of strange bed fellows, opportunists and even a stakeholder, that was disqualified from an open competitive bidding, and yet, was the body that was given uncommon powers, and rewarded with over one billion Naira, that it was not entitled to, even before it was registered as a company in Nigeria. The owners of that controversial entity became the drivers of a process that they were patently not qualified for. But they walk free today, uninvestigated, not indicted, nor arraigned in court.
Three years down the line, Lucky’s death has allowed us to appreciate the incredible strengths of the man. Omoluwa was truly a man of uncommon kindness who saw the wealth that he possessed as an opportunity to do good. Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to reflect on so many acts of generosity that he effortlessly offered to people, without taking into account where they came from, what their religious confessions were, nor their stations in life.
Lucky Omoluwa could not exist without the people that surrounded him. He was always at the centre of conversations and of gatherings; you could not miss his exclamations and very hearty laughter. Lucky was the quintessential Nigerian. His mother was a Northerner, the father, a Southerner. Kaduna was his home, and he spoke several Nigerian languages. His mum was a Muslim, a Hajiya, while his father was Christian. He was a Knight of the Catholic Church, yet I can state that most of his friends were Muslim. He was very proud of his religion, but he respected the confessions of his many friends.
Lucky Omoluwa had a magnetic personality that drew others to him, and because he was a very wealthy person, he naturally had access to people from all stations. But he never forgot his very humble origins. I think more than any other virtue, it was his experience of a difficult life as a young person, which made him so kind and generous. Yet, he was also a very vulnerable person, and I think some of the closest people to him also made an effort to manipulate his large heart to extract advantages for themselves.
Death is a very difficult part of the process of existence. Sometime this week, I went to the offices of Pinnacle Communications Limited in Asokoro. What struck me was the frightening hollowness of the space. Before three years ago, it was one of the busiest spots in the FCT. On a typical afternoon, it was often very difficult to get a parking space, as the city’s nomenclatura come and go, each having one or the other thing to discuss with or extract from Lucky. His tragic death has changed the equation, and those who used to visit have moved on.
Yet how can those very close to the man forget that every evening, we’ll return to his residence for dinner. It was literally a ritual. Many of the members of his entourage would have converged at the office and then drive in a convoy to his palatial residence. Lucky would call me: “”Modibbosky, we are on the way home. Papa (his chef) has made vegetables; chicken stew; goat meat, and different foods. We are waiting for you to join us. ” Just before all tuck into their plates, a Christian would pray and that would be followed by a Muslim, usually Senator Bello Tukur or myself.
Each year, Lucky Omoluwa attended the annual.gatheting of the American National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in Las Vegas. He would sponsor several people connected with Nigerian broadcasting to the gathering. His American business partners had tremendous respect for the accesses that he opened for them in the Nigerian broadcasting market. They genuinely used to show him incredible respect, and with so much modesty, he would accept their various awards.
Lucky was very committed to the Nigerian Digital Switch Over (DSO) project. That was the reason that he pulled all stops to ensure that his company, Pinnacle Communications Limited, became the second National Signal Distributor. He was the single highest financial contributor to the process, and he installed state-of-the-art transmission systems in all the locations allocated to him: Abuja, Kaduna, and Gombe.
It is poignant that today, the third anniversary of his passing, the Pinnacle Communications Limited Signal Distribution Centre is being launched in Lagos. That means that Lucky’s vision of taking the process around Nigeria is being achieved posthumously. He had worked assiduously to ensure that the Lagos transmission site came on in good time. Unfortunately, Lucky was not destined to be around to see the fruition of what he laboured for.
On a final note, I think Nigeria has not been fair to Lucky Omoluwa. He put his resources into the actualisation of the DSO. He was working on a very tight leash when he delivered the Abuja DSO in 2016. Yet, instead of giving him the recognition that he deserved for his uncommon patriotic commitment to the process, the man was arraigned in court. It was always such a painful sight, to share the dock with him over the past four years. Those who benefitted from Lucky’s generosity, including very top people in government, who ordinarily should have spoken for his tremendous sacrifice, kept quiet, and watched the man go through the humiliation of a trial. How they sleep with their troubled consciences must be a mystery that only they can attest to. Their treachery did not diminish Lucky Omoluwa. And long after they have become non-persons in the annals of history, Lucky Omoluwa’s name would be written in gold.
May the Almighty God rest the soul of Lucky Omoluwa.