By Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY – THE Nigerian media has again been thrown into mourning as a foremost journalist and cultural activist, Alhaji Usman Abudah who was also the Dania of Auchi Kingdom in Etsako West local government area has reportedly died in Auchi General Hospital after a brief illness.
He died last Friday and has been buried according to Islamic rites.
Abudah who was a first cousin to the late Former Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh has been described as a principled man who did not compromise professionalism for any sentiment.
A former Chairman of the Bendel State Council (Now Edo and Delta) of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Dele Ailemen described Abudah as a remarkable media correspondent in some of the most tyrannical era of military rule when the practice of journalism proved precarious, “Abudah never retreated or surrendered, he was a source of pride and inspiration to me then as the young Chairman of the defunct Bendel State Council of the NUJ. I will tell the story of how one of the dreaded security agency influenced by military governor Jerry Useni tracked Usman up Ikpoba Hill late one night and how Usman remained unbelievably calm as we met in front of Bendel Brewery at 12.30 a.m even as the security agents maneuvered their car menacingly to intimidate Usman .
He still delivered the confidential documents in his possession to me for safe keeps. He rejected my appeal that he should go and sleep in a distant hotel that night. Usman was an epitome of journalistic courage, Jerry Useni ultimately “influenced” his transfer from Benin as the Guardian Correspondent.”
On his part, a founding member of the Nigerian Observer and Columnist, Dele Olowu described Abudah as a cultural activist and a self made man.
He said “I am saddened to learn of the passing away of Alhaji Usman Abudah, journalist and cultural activist.
Usman called me up from nowhere some six months ago. This was after a long interregnum of silence which lasted 30 years. In Benin where I was active in journalism in the very early 70s , Usman was one of the very varied practitioners which gave the capital its special exceptional fragrance. Usman, I recall, started as an independent but later became rather well known also for his cultural activism. He was an intense advocate and seemed to provoke and even enjoy controversy. A largely self made man, he was yet at home in the universe of intellectual disputations.”
Former Chairperson, Edo state chapter of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) Ijeoma Umeh in her tribute said “I think of him now with a smile as he would sit in his office in the premises of the NUJ Edo state council, flipping through papers and looking out for trouble, for who would mistakenly step on his toes.
“A man who had carved a niche for himself as a warrior without guns or knives yet he was feared, hated by some, yet admired by many.
“Whenever he appeared at the Congress of the NUJ, albeit, a rare appearance, everyone would sit up, leaders and followers alike, and speeches become ordered and streamlined while body movements become coordinated. No one wanted venom from Alhaji Abudah’s palate. He spewed it forth; unmindful of whose ox was gored. He spoke truth to unionism and helped shape the thought processes of some leaders of the union.”
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