Tuesday, 15 April 2014

To My Friend, Tochukwu With Tears...Nigerian Guild of Editors mourns Anambra ex-NUJ Chairman


By Victor Agusiobo

Mr. Victor Agusiobo, Vice Chairman of NGE
A lot brought our paths together in this existential adventure called life. I mean Tochukwu Mabel Udoji and I.  She wasn’t comfortable with that middle name. We share the same nativity.
Tochukwu Chinwe Udoji Omelu
Late Tochukwu Udorji Omelu

We went to the same school at the Institute of Management and Technology where we were  brushed by some of the best brains in Mass Communication then.  I couldn’t have made any acquaintance of her in school, she was obviously my junior by  some years . But mother luck was to bring us back to practice a bit of what we read in school in a government parastatal, Anambra Printing and Publishing Company, an experiment that is somewhat of a regret today and made painfully so, by the government of Mr Peter Obi.
She was one journalist with whom I have travelled the length and breadth of this country several times over. She was therefore one journalist who couldn’t spend one full  hour in any press centre in Nigeria without her presence recognized and acknowledged.
The ranks of the sticklers for professionalism at least in our state have again been decimated by the loss of Toks as she was fondly called.
In one of those moments when one plays the death game sometimes with a simple but slightly  morbid query: what happens if I die today? Who and who will be there for me? Not just the crowd of humans one has come to be acquainted with in life. I find Toks in this unusual list. For those moments when I came out very professional  with the innocuous introspection who amongst the Journalists in our state can truly be enlisted to fight the cause of journalism even at some risks, I find in my list, Tochukwu Udoji. Who can supply information on some persons and books read. I still find the  amiable Toks, the voracious consumer of novels in  my list. She,  perhaps without knowing it filled my existential space with worthy substance.
So when she mooted the idea that she wanted to contest for the Chairmanship of the NUJ, six years after I had occupied that position, I did not consider it infra dig to personally take her round the chapels, so sure of her that I swore to the embarrassment of our colleagues that “cursed be the day I was born if this lady fails to do well as your chair”.
Today, we can see the NUJ  edifice that adorned her tenure; we saw the tooling of all registered journalists in the state; we saw activity, passion, focus and an unrepentant commitment to success.
So where is Tochukwu Udoji-Omelu? Oh! My head aches, this amiable, society Lady,  full of ambition is lying in the dreary cavern called a mortuary. Death is indeed a principled tormentor.
It is one thing you don’t have to do, it will be done for you.
When I met Toks in her hospital bed bounded by a right sided stroke, my only words to her were that she was passing through a health challenge that was usually made worse by regret, fear and worry. She braced up and told me that the Lord was in control.
She actually felt she could navigate through this ailment fast.  How far she managed those vile variables is totally subsumed to the ultimate will of the Almighty at this moment. We grieve because we are human. My thanks will always go to  Commissioners Stella Okunna, Joe Martins Uzodike for responding to my calls. Sen. Smart Adeyemi responded with alarming celerity and lamented that if only he knew in time he would have flown  her abroad. I believe him. For all those who assisted in ways unbeknownst to this writer, may God bless you all.
Sometimes in a moment of self torture, I wonder whether we did all the correct things to save her life but I am consoled by the thoughts of one introspective Philosopher when he mused: we die not because we are sick but because we are alive.
To a great journalist, to an achiever, to a good and versatile writer, to a strong spirit, to a  ferociously single minded amazon, to a fearless scribbler, to my friend Toks, if there is no compensation hereafter then the world  is indeed a cruel jest. May you regret your earthly sojourn in the Elysian Fields.



Etiam at libero iaculis, mollis justo non, blandit augue. Vestibulum sit amet sodales est, a lacinia ex. Suspendisse vel enim sagittis, volutpat sem eget, condimentum sem.