The Coal City: A Special Travelogue By Omoniyi Ibietan, Phd

‘Oga na master’, is a popular Nigerian sociolect that speaks to the undisputable invincibility of great leaders. So, I am in the Coal City to see my master, Dr. Tony Ojobo (yea, the PhD is done and dusted), and to deliver the autographed copy of my book to him which he had ordered. He was an enabler from day one of our meeting, so it’s befitting that I come properly to make this presentation.

As Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ojobo was my boss at NCC. When I decided to take time off public service to return to school, he gave his blessings and God answered. After all, he’s a minister of the Gospel. I was in school when he retired from public service in 2018 and I told the world how much he means to me, in an article published by many online newspapers and blogs. The link below is one of them. (

Dr. Ojobo wasn’t just my boss, he is my friend and leader, who tellingly shows real leadership by his antiseptic transparency. So, at a point in our journey in the public service, I could speak for him and I knew what his position would be on an issue. As I had noted five years ago, in the narrative in the link above, Ojobo’s distinctively a brand oxygenator who could turn a mere accidental meeting into a signature event. I consider the fact that I was his supervisee, and even now still his mentee, as one of my fortunes.

An institutional repository of NCC, Ojobo is in the pantheon of my smartest bosses, a builder, a leader, and an exceptional enabler. I was a level 13 officer when he made me to head a strategic unit of the Public Affairs Department. I took over from a level 16 officer who’s also among my nurturers and Ojobo nudged me to make a history of the use of social technology as a measure of NCC’s effectiveness. “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Ojobo implied as Jesus had told Simon in Luke 5:4. I will remain eternally grateful for this and many more things he had done.

Today, after a great reception at his home, we went outdoor, sat for hours at Roots, Enugu’s leading restaurant and cafe, to savour the antioxidating flavour of our regular tea, the best tea is always green, especially if it is organic.

Then, I summoned my mentee, Ekene Ngwu, who came under Ojobo’s tutelage too when I sought greener scholarship. “Where are you? I am in town and with Oga?” I asked inquisitorially. “I will be with you in 10 minutes, sir” Ekene responded, and did so with precision, accuracy and promptness, just the way he carried out his duties as my supervisee when I returned to NCC after my scholarly sojourn.

Ekene was an asset to my team. He was a striker in my squad. I remember when one of our bosses woke on the wrong side and asked me to issue Ekene a query for an act I actually thought should be rewarded. I politely told that boss to issue the query to me and I would respond. I have never issued anyone who worked with me a query and I am unlikely to do so, and certainly not to Ekene. An alumnus of University of Nigeria where he studied Agriculture, then flew to New York to earn a diploma at the Film Academy before going to the University of Newcastle to take a masters degree in PR.

What manner of man would embark on such eclecticism! Only one that is intentional, who knew where he’s headed. Son of a professor, nephew of professors, only for rhetorical purposes would it require I mention that Ekene is from a lineage of scholars. It stands to reason. Ekene knew his job and he did it with little supervision. He did so too at Multichoice to discharge the burden of proof that he had studied at one of the world’s leading film academies.

Ekene soon joined our tea fiesta at Roots. Then suddenly, our erstwhile stakeholder, Hon. Emeka Ujam, PhD, mni, former deputy chairman of House of Representatives’ Committee on Communications fortuitously joined us. He had set out to nourish both the flora and fauna of his gut then he ran into friends catching up on old times. It was not a planned meeting yet it became an evening to remember. He was excited to see my book.

Ujam was educated at Kent, Nsukka and Kings College London, where he earned a PhD in cybersecurity at age 30. Scion of a family of scholars, he would deploy his intellection in the cyber sphere to bear on the processes of the Committee on Communications while his tenure lasted. He’s indeed a jolly good fellow.

I have had the privilege of good companions. The reason I never took for granted the serial, unceasing excitement about my book. It was well-received and Ojobo was particularly proud to behold the literature as I solicited an objective review. I got a positive response as usual, and got what I never bargained, a promise to attend the public presentation of the book on the 25th of July, 2023.

I have been greatly honoured by the reception that has attended the appearance of this book many have described as seminal, and that of Enugu is indeed exceptional. I am so glad to be back in Enugu, a city of living histories, the home of great men, including the inimitable Frank Nweke Jr.




*Ibietan, a Communication Analyst,is the Author,Cyber Politics: Social Media, Social Demography and Voting Behaviour in Nigeria

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