You wonder what a man of more than 80 years of age will be doing at 2.00 am. That is him. He is as alert as when he was a young reporter in the mid 60’s and 70s when he broke major news for the Nigerian and world media. He used his reportorial comb to discover the bush where the coupist deposited the body of the late Prime Minister of Nigeria Alhaji Tafawa Balewa after he was brutally murdered in 1966.
In 1976 he was right there at the office of a police commissioner in the East when the leader of the coup that killed Muritala Mohammed was apprehended. He earned many laurels for breaking earth shaking news .
In retirement he is not tired . It has become a part of his being and only death could separate him from the practice of reporting. Even after he might have gone his prowess as a reporter and the luck of being at right place at the right time will be a reference point in newsrooms journalism schools.
I was therefore not surprised when at exactly 2.50 am my phone beeped and a message came in from this veteran , that Chief Richard Akinjide was dead. I can stake my reputation for his accuracy. He is well connected and has a network of sources within Nigeria and across the world.
On the high table with him recently at a book launch in Lagos, he leaned across to me and said the election in Bayelsa has been reversed. I couldn’t believe it . Chief, don’t share, it could be fake I cautioned. He said : “Distinguish you can take that to the bank . Wait a while and check your phone , the story will soon go viral”.
I was so apprehensive. The swearing in of the governor was a day away. How could that have been possible. I took his words for it and we both agonized over that decision. Lo and behold 10 minutes after my phone went riotous with the news.
When it was time to make a speech and I referred to myself as a former reporter he rebuked me for it. ‘ You can never be a former reporter. You remain one for life”, he said.
When this morning I got that WhatsApp message from him informing me of the passing of Chief Richard Osuolale Akinjide, I know that our leader and very senior colleague is still much of a reporter.
Well done Aremo Olusegun Osoba.
For the young ones who do not know Chief Akinjide he was a brilliant lawyer and politician who bestrode the legal and political landscape in the first and second republic. He was Attorney General and Minister of Justice under the regime of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. He came up with the legal technicality of 12 2/3 that gave the presidency Shagari of the NPN in 1979 .
Akinjide was exceptionally lettered. He had a grasp of Nigeria’s history and jurisprudence.
Even though you may not agree with his conservative politics you cannot but admire his facility with the English language and the use to which he put in propagating his twin love of law and politics.