REMI OYO, former MD, News Agency of Nigeria; former Senior Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo and a former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), died on October 2nd, of cancer-related ailment in England, a few days before her 62nd birthday.
She has rightly been mourned by people from all over the country, but especially by her colleagues in the media and top representatives of officialdom. Remi Oyo was one of the most generously spirited human beings I ever met.
And we first met in March 1980. I was a near-twenty year old, and had been sent from Ilorin to Lagos to become one of the newsreaders on the National Network Service of Radio Nigeria.
That evening of our first meeting, Remi Oyo was the News Editor on duty and I was the newsreader for the Seven PM, half-hour NEWSPANORAMA news programme.
Soon as I finished reading the news segment, Remi walked up to me to tell me how well I read news; I was slightly embarrassed and she then asked where I came from. When I told her I was from Ilorin, her face lit up, telling me she had also been born in Ilorin and that her mother still lived there. And to make it even more interesting, she lived not too far from my family’s compound!
In the next couple of weeks of my engagement on the Network Service, I saw Remi Oyo every week and we became very close friends. There were far too many tales of Ilorin childhood, in the same neighbourhood of the city that we could share and when I returned home after my tour of duty, I went to see her mother; it was remarkable to discover that she knew my parents and practically every member of our family. The Ilorin town of those years seemed to be so close-knit, that families literally knew each other and the children were collectively taken care of, by everybody.
It was that sensibility that Remi Oyo belonged to, and I used to tell her that she formed her persona and her humane spirit in the wombs of my hometown that she was equally so proud of.
Over the years, our different career trajectories took us in different directions and we were not as in touch as hitherto; and I think my very critical pieces against President Olusegun Obasanjo, especially in the months of struggle against the Third Term Agenda, affected our closeness somewhat, but Remi Oyo was always a dependable sister whose support I could always take for granted, no matter the anger she felt about my writings.
In 2004, when my twins were born and there was a problem with passport formalities in England, it was Remi Oyo I turned to, in order to get our old boss at Radio Nigeria, Dr. Christopher Kolade, who was then Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, to help sort out the logjam.
She obliged with tremendous efficiency and passion just as our boss, Dr.Kolade ensured that the problem was cleared within 24 hours and my wife and twins could return safely home to Nigeria. I am therefore not surprised that practically everybody has had a very good thing to say about a truly remarkable Nigerian woman; a mother and wife; top notch professional journalist, broadcaster, editor and media leader; and for me, a wonderful sister and friend.
May the Almighty God give former ace Announcer/Newsreader, Vincent Oyo, Remi’s husband and the children and the entire family, the fortitude to bear Remi Oyo’s tragic passing.